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Weekend Warriors
By Trish Smith
12 October 2010

While I was in Oslo I asked a local what Norwegians do on the weekends. I expected him to say that they go hiking and boating and skiing and other outdoor pursuits, and he did, but then he said they also chop firewood and renovate their houses. I didn’t get any photos of people renovating their houses or chopping wood but I saw clear evidence of both.

firewood chopped and ready for winter

Everywhere I wandered, I saw beautifully manicured gardens and window boxes, freshly-painted front doors and recently-swept front porches. I did see one gentleman up high on a ladder, fixing something on his roof, and apparently this is very common in the months leading into winter as people fortify their homes against the freezing cold. The combination of pride in one’s home and instinct for survival has meant that many Norwegians live in beautiful, well-maintained houses.

a home with a lovely view of the fjord, in Drøbak

Houses in Drøbak have beautiful front doors

A lot of people in Norway have homes in the city, and then a country house, perhaps up in the mountains, beside a fjord or in the forest. One morning I took a scenic 40 minute bus ride from the middle of Oslo to the town of Drøbak, just south of Oslo along the Oslofjord. It is a small village that, during World War II, was responsible for sinking a German submarine thus saving Oslo from invasion and the Royal Family from a possibly nasty fate. I wandered around for a couple of hours, ordered a delicious focaccia for lunch from Cafe Teskje and ate it in the lovely, sunny garden across the road, and bought Christmas decorations from Julehuset (‘Christmas House’) which is open all year round.

Focaccia from Cafe Teskje

I also found a beautiful gallery and shop, Galleri Havstad, where I bought two long stemmed hand-blown Schnapps glasses (which, I’m relieved to report, made it home safely, wrapped expertly in a bubblewrap cocoon by the shop’s manager). There is a delightful marina where local residents and wealthy Oslogians with weekenders nearby keep their sailing boats. Along the fjord there are diving platforms from which, presumably, people dive when the water has reached a temperature that won’t immediately kill you.

The diving board into the fjord – if you look across the water you can see the gun turrets at the Oscarsborg Fortress that sunk the German submarine.

If you are visiting Oslo and want to get out of town for a couple of hours, Drøbak is definitely worth a look. And if you have a few million Norwegian kroner to spend, it’s a lovely place to have a weekend house.

sailing boat Coming into the marina at Drøbak.

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