Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rewind - Day 3 Juvet Landscape Hotel and Olav's trail

Our first night at Juvet, we arrived after dark. We checked in while guests were finding seats around a long family-style table for dinner. There were no parking spots available so I was told to park next to a black car with a big "AVIS" decal on the door. The very tall Norwegian who checked us in, walked us through the main room of, what I'm going to call the big house, and out the back door, down a set of stairs. He said, "these are your keys. This is a torch," meaning flashlight, "and that is your room." He pointed the torch down a gravel path, shining the light on three birch trees. "Your room is behind those three trees. You can pull your car up to this spot and empty your luggage, but you will have to walk it the rest of the way."

When we got to the three trees on our narrow path to the front door, we saw that one of the trees was right in the middle of the path and the only way to the door was the climb over the roots and around the trees. 

I reparked, settled into the room and went to blog in the big house. Krista joined me on an adjacent couch to read a book. It was darkly lit with a red fabric chandelier (I'm sure there's a better description for that, but I have no design training/knowledge/skill).  There was a fire going and a few tall candles around the room. The room felt like a mix between a farm house, bordello and intimate restaurant. 

Krista went back to the room for some sleep after a long day and I stayed to finish the blog until dinner was done and everyone retreated to their rooms. It was 10:30pm local time. I was looking forward to an amazing night's sleep and an incredible morning where the Juvet grounds would be revealed by the sun. 

At 3:30am Krista and I woke up. There was no falling back to sleep with this kind of jet lag. After an hour or so, we decided to grab our comforters and sit in the Eames chairs positioned in front of a floor to ceiling window. 

Sunrise wasn't until 7:06am.

The thing about the Juvet Landscape Hotel, from my understanding, is that the buildings/rooms were built to have minimal impact on the land. No one dug into the Earth to create a foundation. The rooms are built on super strong steal pipes/beams, leaving a very small footprint. The walls are dark wood, two walls are entirely windows (floor to ceiling, as I mentioned). The lighting is intentional (and lousy for actually seeing anything). The goal is to draw your attention to nature. 

Our room
Interesting side note, the bathroom, which was pained canary yellow, was one room. That doesn't explain it. Let's say you pull open the frosted glass door, "Whoa! Yellow" you say. Then you see a sink on your right, toilet in front of you, tall narrow window in the far left corner. "Wait, where is the shower?" When you turn to leave the bathroom you see next to the door a shower head. I did not take a picture of it, which I regret, but I'll see if I can find something later to show you. It is at this moment, you realize there is no wall or curtain to separate the shower from the sink or the toilet, the yellow walls are waterproof, the towels, toilet paper and hairdryer are all on the far left of the bathroom on a shelf under the sink...out of reach of the water from the shower head. Very clever. Very interesting.

Right, back to jet lag.

At 3:30, when we first woke up, it was pitch black. We could hear a river running outside through the vents on either side of the bed. Vents to let in fresh air and the sounds of nature.

For about an hour, we tried to go back to sleep. We got hungry and each had a banana. Krista tried watching a show on her tablet. Around 5 or 5:30, we could see light out of the window 5 feet from the foot of the bed. This is when we wrapped ourselves in the comforters and got comfy in front of the other window, deciding to watch the day wake up. 

As light began to illuminate our view, trees first took shape out of the blackness. Once fully defined, they became black themselves while light shone through their leaves and around their trunks. Krista said, "I wonder how much light it will take to see color. For the trees to turn from black to green." 

We sat as still as the trees. There was no wind. No leaves moved. No birds. No branches swayed. It looked like a two dimensional pencil drawing.

A river appeared. White and apparently still though we could hear it rushing. After a time, we could stare above the river itself and see it's movement. If you looked right at it, you couldn't.

At 6:30am we saw first movement. One bird passing by.
At 6:37am the trees changed from black to green.
Shortly after, the autumn colors showed themselves. Orange and red in the distance. The river started looking a little blue. We could see moss and make out ferns.
The sun wasn't due to rise for another 30 minutes.
At 6:46am the sun warmed the trees a little and leaves started to fall.
At 6:54am the colors deepened.
At 6:58am the first bird song of the day.

Because we were in a valley, there was no grand reveal of sun at sunrise. We stirred and woke like the nature around us.

After breakfast, we were told of a hike in the area that should take an hour. It started at the end of the driveway and went in a loop. Olav's trail. 

-- Reality here -- I am in the Oslo airport waiting to board a flight to Reykjavik and am running out of time and wi-fi to dive into Olav's trail. I will quickly summarize. 

  • At times tricky to navigate
  • It took 2 hours
  • No camera on Earth can capture how beautiful, unique and amazing it was
  • Standouts: vegetation and fungus, hills/mountains, fog/clouds, mud, rocks, fresh air...just everything.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Juvet Landscape Hotel and Olav's Path - Day 3

This morning, jet lag hit us hard and we both woke up at 3:30am. I'm going to give the super ultra condenced version of today due to extreme exhaustion and a filling dinner.

  • For at least two hours, we watched the sun light up the nature outside our floor to ceiling windows while sitting in Eames chairs while wrapped in big fluffy comforters. 
  • Went for a quick walk around the Juvet Landscape hotel grounds
  • Ate breakfast and packed lunch for later
  • Went for a 2 hour hike at Olav's trail
  • Napped for 3 hours
  • Played a game in the hotel room while we woke up
  • Enjoyed a three course meal at Juvet in a family style setting. Talked to two travel writers and a sports writer/editor/something fancy
It was a long, amazing day. The scnery was unlike anything I've seen and it cound not be captured by camera. 

Tomorrow morning, if I get a good night's sleep, I will blog this in much greater detail.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Oslo to Ă…lesund to The Juvet Landscape Hotel - Day 2

"What day is it," asked Pooh. 
"It's today," said Piglet. 
"My favorite day," said Pooh.

There are a couple of things I am aiming to do every day while on vacation. The first is to do my physical therapy exercises. That might be a blog post itself at some point.

The second is to meditate. I recently took a course at work on energy levels and focus. One of the things I learned is to take time out of your day just for you. Take a break. An honest to God break. I downloaded the app "Calm" which has different guided meditation. This morning's meditation was based on Winnie the Pooh. Specifically, The Tao of Pooh (an excellent book that I've read a couple of times). Specifically, Wu Wei, the Taoist principle of "not doing". Letting your life take it's course without over thinking or over complicating it. If you haven't read The Tao of Pooh, you should go do that right now.

Waking up this morning was quite difficult, after having been up until midnight last night with the blog. It was totally worth it though! And starting the day by laying in bed, meditating to Pooh Bear, well, that was just the right medication for me.

So, at 7:30am our alarm went off and at 8:30am we had breakfast with Chuck and Dag. Breakfast was a typical buffet style with eggs, bacon, fruit juice, yogurt. Then there was the Scandinavian twist of brown cheese and different fish options like mackerel and kaviar (a spread that comes in a big tube), pickles, olives, liver pate, very pink salami other meats, cheeses and bread. There was instant coffee available as well. 

Side note here: One of our big treats back home is a fortnightly (bi-monthly / twice monthly) delivery of Blue Bottle coffee. It is one of the happiest times of our month, especially for Krista who has a penchant for good coffee. I won't say she can't function without coffee in the morning, but she is certainly MUCH happier WITH a cup in her hand first thing. So, we decided to treat ourselves on this trip and bring a bag of ground Blue Bottle coffee with a pour over coffee maker, so Krista could brew some guaranteed good coffee first thing in the morning. And there she was, like a barista-for-one, brewing her tasty coffee next to a plate of brown cheese (which has the consistency of a slice of peanut butter) and waffles with nutella. I was very proud. Treat Yo Self, girl!

After breakfast, we found out that Dag would be our tour guide for the day. Last night, Krista had mentioned a park she'd seen on Atlas Obscura - Go to this website and see what cool things are near you! First stop, Vigeland Park.

This park is full of visually stunning and controversial sculptures. Apparently, it is a story of life - beginning to end, representing also the challenges of life - general struggles of man, having children and fighting you do. The women fair much better against dragons than the men. Guess we know how to handle ourselves.

I was completely in my element at this park. I love sculptures and I was not disappointed. (More photos to come for the below - Krista took some stunning photos that haven't copied to my tablet correctly)

Yes, there was a monolith of a pile of bodies.

After running around the park, we stopped a grocery store to see what fun food they have. We also grabbed some lunch before heading out on the metro to pick up our bags from the hotel. 

Jam that was promptly confiscated at the airport after we forgot it was in our carry on

After that, we took an Uber to the Opera house, where we were promised we could walk on the roof. We had no idea you wouldn't take stairs to get there. I don't know how else to explain it except the roof starts on ground level. SO AWESOME!

Krista giving it some scale

After the Opera House, we took a train with Chuck to the airport.

Thanks Chuck!
Then I got REALLY TIRED and passed out on the flight to Alesund. Krista took some amazing photos, which I will share later.

The Alesund airport was really cute. There is ONE baggage carousel and then you're outside.

We rented a car, stopped in Alesund city for lunch.

I thought pizza sounded nice, but accidentally ordered pizza with salted cod. Not my favorite pizza ever.

Then a two hour drive to our eco-hotel.

We arrived after dark and cannot wait to see the views! I'll fill you in about what so special with this hotel tomorrow. 

I can say that we are both blown away with Norway's beauty. The green, the nature, the water, hills, mountains, cliffs. It's shocking how gorgeous it all is. And we're pretty dang proud of ourselves for deciding to get out of the city and drive deep into the West. Getting away from it all. Taking in some stunning scenery. We're so happy...and tired.

Good night for now. More tomorrow.