Tonje Lilleås

Road trip through Norway – EXPLORE LOCALLY S01E02

The summer of 2020 has been one of staycation for the most of us. We have however gained a bit more freedom since March, and so we headed out on our road trip through Norway.

Do you want to know more about the Explore Locally project? Check out the project page!

Want to see the short version of this post? Jump down to the bottom and watch the video!


Our road trip started through Østerdalen. There’s often not much to say about the drive through Østerdalen. Endless legs of dense forest with the occational house or river sighting every now and again. If you take a closer look though, it can be quite beautiful. And it gets more and more interesting the further north you get. Once I start seeing the mountains, I always think about how much I want to pay them all a visit. Or about the memories of the last time I indeed did pay them a visit.

A special visit

Our goal for this part of the road trip was the cabin at Savalen. Now I’ve written about cabin life at Savalen several times. Let’s just say I love the tranquil and serene locations in the area. Our reason for starting our road trip with a few days in Savalen this time around however was a bit different than usual. We were meeting up with the greater family on my wife’s side to pay our last respects to my father in law who passed away in January.

My wife and I have talked about how obvious it was to us that her father thrived when spending time at the cabin at Savalen. And so it was very special and moving to spend time there knowing the circumstances for this visit. We still did all the things that are cabin life to us; morning hikes with the kids, exploring the area around the cabin, going to the nearby beck to throw rocks into the water, having chocolate milk for breakfast every day. But it didn’t stop feeling strange that we can’t call him whenever we have a question about something concerning the cabin. And thinking about the fact that he won’t join any of us for a hike (or in his case a run) up to Bangardsvorda or Rødalshøa ever again still feels very unreal.

About Savalen

If you’d like more information about the area of Savalen, please check out some of the links below:

A paradise for easy hikes


Savalen Fjellhotell og Spa

Also; if you’re traveling with kids through Østerdalen in direction of Savalen, consider making Aukrustenteret a visit.

Heading west

Once our days at Savalen was over, we headed west to visit my family. Family visits are a great part of any vacation for us, so in that sense this year is just like any other year.

The route

From Savalen we drove through Folldal to Hjerkinn and back down to Dombås. This may sound like a straight forward leg of the trip, and it was. However anyone traveling with kids knows that road trips are never just straight forward. Our pit stop for fueling the kids we had after less than an hour of driving, at Grimsbu Turistsenter. Now my wife and I have been there several times before as it used to be one of the checkpoints at Femundløpet. And it really was a family friendly place to stop before pushing on westward.

We had planned to stop at Avdemsbue, but the kids fell asleep right after Dombås making our second stop of the day at Slettafossen. It really was special to see some of the touristy places on our route without the foreign tourists with their tourist buses all around. And I have to say that I loved seeing all the Norwegians experiencing the wonders of the country they live in for the first time.

From Slettafossen we drove to Trollstigen. We had planned to make a pit stop on top of the mountain road, but decided to keep driving as the rain came pouring down. Just the normal Norwegian vacation weather I guess. The road from Trollstigen to Gravaneset often is a race to make it to the ferry in time, and this time we were lucky enough to drive on board just as we reached the dock.

Almost home

On the other side of the fjord we could see the place I called home for the first 19 years of my life (and still call home to be honest, even if it is 17 years since I last lived there). This time around Stranda wasn’t the final destination of our westward drive from Savalen. We were heading to summer in Fausadalen.

Summer in Fausadalen

It’s weird how fast you build expectations and traditions when you start visiting a place. The last eight years visiting my mum and her husband in his summer house in Fausadalen has been a part of our summer vacation. And there’s some things we want to do each year. Like making the short hike to Skøggerøra ledge or hiking up to the pavilion at Furenakken for lunch. The kids want to go down to the pond to throw rocks, get their feet wet or look for small fish in the river. If the weather is nice we like to go for a swim in Nysætervatnet.

The thing that’s most important though off course is spending time with the people we love. The long breakfasts and wonderfully tasteful dinners. Playing board games and cards. Reading or just lounging on the sofa talking about whatever. Having lunch at my grandmothers after a nice hike. Together it all makes what summer vacation has become for our family. And we love it.

Friendship is magic

This year Big Brother also made a new friend in Fausadalen. I totally get that spending time with just us grown ups and Baby Boy isn’t always the most fun for a five year old. And I remember making new vacation friends was one of the most exciting things about summer as a kid.

About Fausadalen

Fausadalen is a small village in the municipality of Stranda. There are only eight farms in Fausadalen, but a few cabins as well. The village is situated approximately 250 m above sea level next to the fjord Storfjorden. The nature that surrounds Fausadalen is absolutely stunning, providing countless possibilities of beautiful hikes. Close to Fausadalen is Nysætervatnet, where you can go for a swim, paddle or try catching some fish. If you’d like to taste some local food, check out Gardskjøkkenet with their tasty smoked trout.

Visiting my childhood paradise

From our days in Fausadalen we went to visit my dad and his wife in Volda, as well as spending some time in my childhood paradise; our cabin by the fjord in Austefjorden.

It’s great to see my kids build their own relationship to the cabin by Austefjorden. I loved seeing their excitement when we went out for a boat ride or caught a fish. Both Baby Boy and Big Brother got a bit concerned when the fish started squirming in the boat. However I think it’s nice for them to see where the fish that we make for dinner really comes from.

Searching for crabs when the tide is low was something I did a lot as a kid. And it’s fun passing on the knowledge about where you’ll find them and their favorite hiding spots to my own kids. I also enjoyed showing Big Brother that mum doesn’t need anyone else to handle or steer the boat. I’m perfectly able to on my own. You see he believed only grandpa was able to do that. And even though my father is a way better captain than I am, it’s nice to show my boys that mum can do it too. Even if we had a nice boat ride just the two of us, I don’t think he was convinced though. I’ll have to work on that.

Summer means ice cream, right?

And even if I love just doing all the traditional stuff we usually do at the cabin, new additions and experiences are great. Like having home made ice cream for dessert. My dads wife made lactose free vanilla ice cream for us, and it tasted like heaven. Whenever we wanted ice cream at the cabin when I was a kid, we had to take the boat out at high tide so we could ride it all the way up to the small shop in Fyrde. Now that the shop is closed, making our own ice cream is the only possibility, and to be honest it tasted a lot better than the store bought kind.

About Austefjorden

If you’d like to know more about Austefjorden, check out this link.

Experiencing some of the area of my childhood paradise is possible if you pay Aurstad camping a visit.

About chasing the same locations (or lets be frank; images for social media)

This summer was the year where we were all going to stay at home. Or at least not travel abroad. I guess I thought it would be the year where people living in Norway would learn to appreciate how amazingly wonderful of a country we get to live in. And I think in a way we all did. Never before have I read so much about exploring your own country. Exploring locally. Mission accomplished for those of us who think that’s the way it has to be to preserve Earth right?

Almost. However I have observed how people aren’t really exploring locally. People aren’t choosing the road not taken. I think most people that have, like us, taken a road trip through Norway have travelled where they’ve seen it’s possible to get great images for Instagram. Don’t get me wrong; Loen, Olden, Geiranger, Lofoten, Vesterålen, Flåm, Trolltunga, Kjerag, Rampestreken, Romsdalseggen and Besseggen are amazing locations to visit. I’m pretty sure the baked goods at Lom are to die for. Or at least spend a few hours in line for. Being gluten intolerant I’ll take your word for it. But is exploring locally nothing more than chasing the same locations as everyone else?

I’ll admit it; I think images of Loenvatnet and the view from Rampestreken has become a bit boring. I’ve seen countless of them this summer. And I don’t want to spend my summer standing in line just to be able to say “I was there as well”. So this story about a road trip through Norway might not be what you expected it to be. But it is just what I told you it would be; a story about MY road trip through Norway this summer. Exploring locally with my family.

EXPLORE LOCALLY S01E02 – Road trip through Norway

I’m proud to present to you the second episode of the first season of Explore Locally. It’s a short edit with GoPro footage from our road trip through Norway this year. I hope you enjoy it! And if you do; please consider leaving a comment down below and subscribing to my YouTube channel. It would really make me happy.



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