(credit: c/o Visit Norway)
This experience began with PLAY, a no-frills airline that recently began operating limited flights from the US to just under 30 destinations in Europe. It fills a much-needed niche in air travel with budget-friendly flights for families, students and others who would prefer to spend their budget on the ground versus in the air. The stewardesses are friendly, and attentive and their red suits with white sneakers clearly embody the airline’s name of PLAY. A limited beverage and snack service offers several sandwiches, snacks and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options and after departing Boston Logan International Airport to the regular stop in Keflavik, Iceland, it allowed us to both stretch our collective legs and grab a much-needed incredible coffee before arriving in Trondheim.
Our host for the trip was sustainable luxury travel curator Up Norway and its Founder and CEO, Torunn Tronsvang, who met us at the airport. Torunn has worked in hospitality for over 20 years and returned to her native Norway in 2010 and started Up Norway in 2016 to show travelers a deeper side of the country and highlight sustainability in her native country. Her company is not just committed to promoting sustainable travel for the environment, Up Norway takes travelers off the tourist trail into remote locales, giving access to sites and stories hard to find on one’s own. Up Norway offers an extensive range of meaningful experiences by matching discerning travelers to its local partners who share its core values. The bespoke travel curator puts guests in touch with native Norwegians who take pride in serving local cuisine, show off their vibrant culture, and tell the story of what has shaped today’s successful, happy society based on trust and equality.
(credit: c/o Dreyer and Hensley)
Trondheim, and its surrounding region, Trøndelag, were recently named the 2022 European Region of Gastronomy, and as such it was appropriate that this trip was all about food. Surrounded by countless small- and large-scale food producers, Trondheim is the city in Norway with the strongest focus on local food, the true Home of Nordic Flavors.
We started our travels at the Britannia Hotel, built 150 years ago and recently restored to its full glory of European luxury with attention to green transformation. Britannia Hotel’s four restaurants and two bars work with local farmers and have grown much of what they serve to their guests. A highlight is the Michelin-starred Speilsalen where you are welcomed into a dining experience of culinary perfection. Chef Christopher Davidsen takes guests on an experience back to the grandeur of the opening of this historic hotel. Courses like local char with juniper and vin jaune and halibut, black currant and Norwegian curry are perfectly paired with wine and champagnes, from the hotel’s exclusive labels to Krug. The hotel’s cocktail menu is also of special mention, with each drink an ode to a historical event.
(credit: c/o Øyna)
While staying at the Britannia, in their elegantly appointed rooms that faced the city, we ventured around the city along its cobblestone streets (come prepared with umbrella and soft-soled shoes) to a wonderfully prepared meal at Bakklandet Skydsstasjon. The warm hospitality and farm-to-table food, a tomato-based fish and potato stew and warm home-baked bread, was a wonderful way to welcome weary travelers to this beautiful city. Later that evening, after spending some time settling into the city and visitingNidaros Cathedral, one of the most religious buildings in all of Norway and the largest medieval building in Scandinavia, we headed to Gubalari Restaurant, which is in Trondheim’s K-U-K Gallery. Here you feel like you are in the dining room of one of the artists where the delicious blend of flavors is as unique and unusual, as is much of the art in the building.
The next day after a breakfast buffet and a la carte options to die for at Palmehaven in the Britannia, we headed out on The Golden Road. Nestled in the hills of grassy Nordic landscape is the 16-room and two-suite Øyna Hotel which is the highlight of this region. It was built by the Sakshaug Family, who are third generation pig farmers – their farm is down the hill from the site of the hotel – who are proud of their decision to choose sustainability and responsibility over greed. From the front desk, an elevator takes you down what feels like a bunker but is actually to the rooms, built into the landscape. Each room’s view is that of the farms, idyllic rural countryside and fiords below. The food is prepared exclusively with ingredients from neighboring farms like fresh fish caught in the morning (for us it happened to be from the owner’s 6am fishing trip) or produce from local Inderøy farms.
(credit: c/o Naustet)
Beautiful green pastures and forests were the view along the way to the coast, more specifically Stokkøya Island. Here Up Norway introduced us to Torid whose husband Roar’s family have been farmers on the island since the 1600s. Torid and Roar built a totally environmentally responsible hotel Stokkøya Sjøsenter, Strandbaren beachside restaurant (menu primarily of items caught just off the island), glamping opportunities, a concert venue, bakery and small coastal homes.
After just a five-minute boat ride from Stokkøya Sjøsenter, we arrived at Naustet Stokkoya. The architecturally stunning boathouse, perfect for families or groups of friends, offered four lofts and two pods for sleeping, hot tub heated by wood from the neighboring forests, crystal clear water to swim in the sea, and a sauna. That night, owner Remy Nordvik, brought in award-winning chef Adrian Løvold to prepare dinner. A treat it was when Remy jumped in the sea below the boathouse to gather scallops for our starter. But it was a ceviche with local halibut, avocado crema, cilantro, radishes, mango, and homemade tortillas that stole the show. Everyone on the trip unanimously decided it was the best course of the whole trip in Norway.
(credit: c/o VG Partner Studio)
Then it was time to head back to Trondheim. On the way we stopped at Carl Erik’s biodynamic farm Skjølberg Søndre. From limiting the number of livestock to what his land can feed instead of buying additional food from which they don’t know the source, they have chosen quality and responsibility over profits. They use trees to help irrigate crops, the different areas of his land to grow fruit and vegetables, and once a month they have a nine-course tasting menu, where almost everything is grown or raised on their land. A highlight of the meal was the freshly baked bread and two types of butter, which were made just 20 minutes before we arrived.
These incredible forward-thinking Norwegians have chosen to be responsible to the environment ensuring sustainability for generations to come while providing Michelin star quality food. Enjoy this unique experience, you will be amazed and so touched by their commitment and hospitality. Nyt (enjoy)!