Among the four countries I traveled to in North Europe, my favorite is Norway. Apart from the magnificent natural scenery, I also love Maihaugen, an open-air museum in Lillehammer a lot. The original founder of the museum, Anders Sandvig, was a dentist. He started by collecting the farm yards and old houses from Gudbrandsdalen, a valley town in the north-west of Lillehammer. In the beginning, he placed his collections in his backyard, but as it grew, the town council of Lillehammer offered him a permanent site for the museum. In 1904, the city of Lillehammer set aside an area known as Maihaugen, bought his collections, and established the museum formally.
Maihaugen accommodates more than 200 buildings now, including houses, a school, a post office, shops, a train station and so on. It records the culture and history of Gudbrandsdalen from the Middle Ages to the present. Also, the museum also collects furniture, artifacts, etc. from the Middle Ages.
The main attraction is the Garmo Stave church, a wooden church with a history of 1,200 years. It was disassembled and sold to Sandvig in 1882, reassembled and shown in Maihaugen in 1920-1921.
The architectural style of the church is rather unique. I feel it is masculine and feminine at the same time.
Unlike many other luxurious and grandiose European churches, the inside of Stave is plain yet warm. I ran into one young staff member, Margot, dressed in the traditional costumes working there. I have to say, I really enjoy speaking English to Norwegians!
There are three sections in Maihaugen: the rural area, the town and the residential area. The rural area is scattered with many small ponds surrounded by green trees.
In the school, a group of French tourists seemed to be taking an extremely interesting class.
Ancient Norwegians built wooden houses on layers of stones so that the wood wouldn't be dampened. In front of the house is a pigsty.
The encounter between a little dog and a rooster is lovely.
Andy, our tour guide, commented that the way the staff farms the land isn't quite professional.
Strangely, the ancient houses are rather low-ceilinged for tall Norwegians.
When we sauntered into the house, the staff was plaiting hair for the little girl. She was quite shy about playing the violin in front of the visitors at first. Though she is just a beginner, her innocent and angelic beauty really won us over.
The view from the window is so poetic.
The classic red mailbox.
If I hadn't traveled with a tour group, I promise I could spend an entire day in Maihaugen! There are picturesque scenes everywhere, simple and everlasting.
One can find stories in every corner. On my way I ran into some fellow travelers taking care of a duckling. It is said to have been pushed into water by a group of ducks while it couldn't swim yet. However, it didn't feel like they did it out of good will.
They immediately appeared at the other end of the pond, looking for the duckling with hostility. The duckling, hiding in the grass, was shivering with fear. Oh, how we hope it would be safe and sound until it found its parents.
Then I strolled to the residential area. The architectural styles kind of vary based on the eras. However, the use of colors is bright and eye-pleasing without being complicated.
The interior design gives off a warm feel. We were constantly updated on one important fact about Norway: It used to be the poorest country in Europe, but after the discovery of the oil field in the North Sea in 1970, Norway became the richest European nation. The government shared the newly-found riches with its people.
Norwegians seem to have a thing for the red color.
I ran into the postman upon stepping into the town.
The town is lined with shops.
Fire-red post office and post office vehicles.
Also the post train.
We topped the trip off with a three-course meal in the museum. We ate goldenberries for desserts twice in North Europe!