By Elena Sargeant, Director at TransAberdeen Language Services and Tours
Many of us do not consider our neighbour Norway as an alpine skiing destination. Friends when asked before the start of the winter holiday gave Austria, France or Switzerland as their destination. When I mention that we were going to ski in Norway, they looked rather surprised. Norway and skiing? Isn’t Norway just a place you go on business in the oil and gas industry and come back as soon as possible?
No, it isn’t just that. The country is a skiing gem with (wait for it!) GUARANTEED snow from the end of November to the end of April, upmarket modern skiing resorts, very well groomed and staffed skiing facilities, minimal or no queues for ski lifts, excellent weather and scenery and mouth-watering local food. Also most everyone speaks fluent English. To my surprise the prices are comparable to those in the UK and infrastructure works like clockwork whether there is a snowfall or temperatures of -20 C.
The country has numerous ski resorts, the largest of which is Trysil with 65 prepared slopes for all abilities. It is located in the heart of Scandinavia only 30 minutes’ drive to the Swedish border, less than 2 hours by car from the international airport Oslo Gardermoen and about 2.5 hours’ drive from Oslo, the country’s capital.
The skiing tradition in Trysil goes far back with the first known organized ski race taking place in January 1862. Nowdays Trysilfjellet (Trysil mountain) is a very modern snowsports centre equipped with chairlifts, T-bars and drag lifts and manned by very hardy and hardworking lift attendants.
The resort is dominated by two luxury hotels owned by Radisson on the opposite sides of the mountain, Raddisson Blue and Radisson Park Inn, both with ski-in and ski-out access. We stayed in a large family room at the Park Inn and can personally vouch for their first class facilities such as a spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tubs, a steam room and three-temperature saunas. It was absolutely lovely to sit in a steaming hot tub at -15C outdoors after a day of intense skiing. One of the things to bear in mind while skiing in low temperatures is that at some point your hands and feet start freezing to the state of numbness. At -15 C one loses feeling in one’s extremities in about 3.5 hours in spite of two pairs of skiing socks and warm gloves.
The most amazing sight on the slopes are families with very young skiers - children as young as 8 months – learning to ski from the moment they can stay upright unaided. Absolutely amazing. By primary school age they fearlessly and competently whizz down the most difficult runs overtaking the grown-ups. We in Scotland should definitely aspire to such a healthy way of life.
To reach Trysil from Aberdeen you can take a direct 1 hour 20 min flight with BMI Regional to Oslo Gardermoen and then take a 2.5 -hour Trysilexpressen couch which runs between Oslo Central Bus Station, Airport and Trysil three times a day. However if you have a day or two to spare, why not to have a stopover in Oslo for some sightseeing?
Oslo is a modern cosmopolitan city with aspirational statement architecture, a beautiful harbour and a highly efficient public transport and outstanding infrastructure. The city is very large but thanks to the clever planning it seems compact with major sights grouped in clusters which makes it easier to visit them. The Bygdoy peninsula within the city is such a cluster housing no less than six major museums in close proximity to each other including the world famous Viking Ship Museum. The most cost-efficient way to visit them is if you buy the Oslo Pass.
You might have heard of Oslo in connection with the Nobel Prize ceremony. Since 1901 every year on the 10th of December the Nobel Prize ceremonies take place both in Stockholm, Sweden (the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature and the Prize in Economic Sciences) and in Oslo (the Nobel Peace Prize). There is a free entry to the Museum of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo where you can see, in particular, the exhibition devoted to 2014 Nobel Prize Joint Winners – Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education".
There was so much to see and so little time. We left Norway but promised to return at the earliest opportunity to explore and discover new places and experiences.
BMI Regional flies direct from Aberdeen to Oslo from £137 one way.
Trysilexpressen couch runs from Oslo Bus Station and Gardermoen Airport 3 times a day from £60 return.
Radisson Park Inn room from £160 a night in January 2016.