Posts Tagged ‘norway’

A Visit to a Norwegian Summer Farm

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Terje Leiren is Professor of Scandinavian Studies and History at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the current holder of the Sverre Arestad Endowed Chair in Norwegian Studies.

This summer Terje led a group of Smithsonian travelers on a Scandinavian Sojourn.


Amid the spectacular west Norwegian fjord landscape of two UNESCO world heritage sites (Geiranger and Naeroy fjords) lies the Herdal Mountain Summer Farm (Saeter). Here farming follows a tradition that dates back to the Vikings. The farm itself, run by Jostein Sande and Ashild Dale, has been in the Dale family for 300 years.

Herdal Mountain Summer Farm

The picturesque Herdal Mountain Summer farm. (Photo courtesy of author.)

The mountain summer farm consists of 30 small buildings with several hundred goats, scores of sheep, some cows and a dozen or so majestic Norwegian fjord horses. The animals graze freely in the open landscape of the mountain meadow from June through September. Goats are milked regularly for the rich milk that is used to produce brown and white goat cheese as well as goat’s milk caramels. Agricultural traditions going back countless generations thrive here, protected by international cultural agreements and the dedication of the Sande-Dale family.

Goat Cheese

Jostein Sande holding a large brown goat cheese produced on the farm. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

As visitors to the farm, we felt as though we had stepped back in time; a time before the industrial revolution changed the world, and Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe. We marveled at the smell and the taste of the dairy products, especially the pure brown goat cheese that has become the very symbol of Norway’s traditional culinary culture. Enjoyed with “rømmegrøt,” a sour-cream porridge, cured ham and lamb, and some traditional flatbread, the Norwegian mountain farm food experience was unique.

Norwegian fjord horse

Norwegian fjord horse searching for a treat. (Photo courtesy of author.)

The Summer Farm culture broadly represents a living tradition of small-scale dairy farming that still survives throughout Norway. However, because they are most often found away from the tourists’ mainstream and visited only by the most determined of travelers, our visit to the summer farm left us feeling quite privileged that we could enjoy such a unique historical and cultural experience as part of the Smithsonian Scandinavian Sojourn tour. A true surprise in the land of the midnight sun.


Read more about Smithsonian Journeys’ Scandinavian Sojourn trip here.

At the Summer Home of Norwegian Composer Edvard Grieg

Friday, August 24th, 2012

A Smithsonian group at Trollhaugen, the summer home of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg

Just in! A Smithsonian group poses at Trollhaugen, the summer home of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Next, the group leaves Bergen and heads for Geiranger, to what Study Leader Terje Leiren describes as “some of the most spectacular fjord country of the entire trip!”

Check their itinerary here to see where they’re headed!

Breathtaking Photos of Northern Lights From Norway

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Over the last few days, a powerful solar storm roared past the Earth treating travelers in the northernmost latitudes to a dazzling, supercharged display of auroras. The unusually bright colors resulted from a massive solar flare that erupted from the sun last Sunday, sending a wave of charged particles rippling across the sky. The recent show is likely just a taste of what’s to come, as scientists predict elevated solar activity to continue for the next couple of years.

Here are stunning images captured this week in Valvika, Nordland Fylke and Langfjordbotn, Finnmark Fylke, Norway:

Aurora Borealis - NorwayPhoto courtesy of Flickr user trondk.

Aurora Borealis - Norway
Photo courtesy of Flickr user The-Dan.

Aurora Borealis - Norway
Photo courtesy of Flickr user The-Dan.

If these images have piqued your interest, check out the details of our Scandinavian Sojourn trips headed north this summer!

For more information on the recent aurora borealis (and more stunning photos), visit “This Week’s Breathtaking Aurora Borealis” on

Mad About Munch: Norway’s Iconic Art

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Arne Lunde is an Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies at UCLA.  Below, he shares his thoughts about last year’s Smithsonian trip to Norway. To read more about Arne, click here.

To be able to see the many works of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch up close and in the country where most of his paintings remain to this day was an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I’ve long admired Munch’s artistic expressions. In Scandinavia he is considered one of the greatest visual artists, and his international stature has only grown with time. He’s also a far more diverse and complex artist than being merely the creator of The Scream, his immortal distillation of angst. Munch’s lifelong Frieze of Life project reveals an intense psychological vision into the emotional lives of himself and of human beings universally. And the beauty and dynamism of his colors and composition rival that of his contemporaries Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. (more…)