Odden’s Rural Life Tour 2021

Visit Norway!

August 6th through August 18th, 2021

Folk-Art, Fjords, Friends and Fun Tour

 Tour Norway with

Phillip Odden and Else Bigton


Email: nww@norskwoodworks.com

Phone: 715 468 2780


Else Bigton, a native of Ålesund Norway, and Phillip Odden from Barronett Wisconsin first met at the Hjerleid wood carving school in Norway in 1977. They were married in 1978 and returned to Wisconsin in 1979 to establish Norsk Wood Works, a woodcarving and furniture business. For 40 years they have made their sole living as artist-craftsmen in the Norwegian folk-art tradition. In recent years they have established a herd of Norwegian Fjord horses. The couple raises, trains and shows Fjord horses in the upper Midwest in Pleasure Driving competitions and Combined Driving Events. The horses are used for trail riding adventures and hunting expeditions. Else and Phil continue to enjoy working as artist craftsmen while keeping horses on their farm in rural Wisconsin and leading interesting tours to Norway.

Odden’s Rural Life Tours is in its ninth year of offering tours to Scandinavia focused on rural life, folk arts and learning how people live in modern Norway as well as how people lived at the time of immigration to North America. The scenery is spectacular, the people warm and interesting and modern day Scandinavian food is delightful. Our modern motor coach is incredibly comfortable. Else and Phil will be your guides as you experience Scandinavia with your fellow travelers.

Odden’s Rural Life Tour: Folk-art, Fjords, Fun and Friends will leave the US August 6th and begin in Norway from the Oslo airport on August 10th. The tour ends in Bergen, Norway on August 18th.

We have reserved tickets with Iceland Air for this tour but you are welcome to arrange your own air transportation or use our tickets and then adjust the arrival or departure dates to extend your stay. We are willing to consult with you regarding private travel arrangements occurring before or after our tour.

  Folk-Art, Fjords, Friends and Fun Tour

 In August 2021 we are again offering to lead a special trip that will focus on Rural Life in Norway. This will be a study tour to visit Phil and Else’s favorite places and people in Norway while traveling through some of Northern Europe’s most spectacular mountain scenery. We will become familiar with folk art and food traditions from different regions of the country.

Phil and Else will explain these traditions in the cultural and historical context of Norway. Often we will have local guest guides. These are people Phil and Else have come to know over many years and they will offer insights that would not be possible to hear or see otherwise.

 August 6th through August 18th, 2021

These travel plans may change a little due to some new and unexpected opportunities, but our plans are pretty firm now.

 Day 1 – Friday, Travel to Oslo. 

This is a Travel Day for those who wish to use our air arrangements with Iceland Air leaving Minneapolis from the Humphrey terminal at 7:30 in the evening. The first leg of the flight is to Reykjavik Iceland and lasts about 6 hours. From Reykjavik to Gardemoen airport takes about 2 ½ hours. If you would like to arrange your own air transportation we will arrive in Oslo at 12:20 in the early afternoon August 10th and you can meet us there. 

Day 2 – Saturday, Arrive Oslo and travel to Lillehammer.

Arrive Oslo Gardemoen airport. You will have an opportunity to exchange money at the airport. After the group is assembled at Gardemoen airport we will drive north along lake Mjøsa toward Gjøvik. You will visit the home and studio of master wood carver, cabinetmaker and silversmith Arve Mosand. Later we will have dinner and be welcomed at Gjestrum farm where we will experience rural Norwegian hospitality at its best. The people will explain how the farms in that area function and give us a tour of interesting buildings on the farm. After dinner we will travel on to Lillehammer to settle in to our hotel. This will be a long day but we are hoping to get accustomed to the time change as soon as possible with this schedule. For those who wish to stretch their legs there is a good opportunity for a pleasant walk around down town Lillehammer.

 Lunch on your own at the airport

Dinner provided at Gjestrum Farm.

Day 3 – Sunday, Lillehammer to Venabu Fjellhotel.

First up we will visit Maihaugen, a large open-air museum. Here we will experience how people lived in Gudbrandsdalen at the time of immigration to North America. Lillehammer, located in the heart of Gudbrandsdalen, was the site of the 1994 winter Olympics. Lunch on your own can be purchased at the museum cafe. After lunch we will board our motor coach and continue north toward Rondane National Park. On the way we will stop to visit the farm of Phil’s relatives near Fåvang and Ringebu. We will meet the three generation farm family, see their home and learn about how they live on a working farm. We will then continue on to Venabu Fjellhotel, a mountain hotel located on the edge of beautiful Rondane National Park. There will be ample time to rest and relax while preparing for the rest of our ambitious tour at this high mountain resort (don’t worry, it’s not high elevation). You can choose to hike on well-marked trails in the area or do a trail ride with horses (horse-riding would be an extra charge). We plan to have a musician entertain us with local folk tunes in the evening by the fireplace.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel.

Lunch on your own.

Day 4 – Monday, Venabu to Elveseter.

We will travel from Venabu through the Otta valley via Vågå and then to Lom. In Lom we will meet Edvin Espelund, a classmate and longtime friend of ours from back in the late seventies when we studied carving and furniture making at Dovre. He is a master craftsman and recognized expert on old buildings and building techniques. The architectural traditions are quite special in this area and Edvin is the Government’s representative to advise farm owners on how to preserve their old buildings. Edvin will give us a tour of his log home building business Stokk og Stein. 

In Lom we will have a guided tour of the Lom Stave Church. This is a very special Stave Church and the largest of its kind in Norway. Lom is an intriguing mountain village with a charming atmosphere and fun shops which you will have time to explore.

Afternoon coffee and cake with Kristian Sulheim on a very old and tradition-rich farm near Lom. This important farm has been in Kristian’s family for countless generations. The farm buildings are furnished with decorations one would see on a farm of very high status. Kristian also has an impressive collection of modern art he will show us.

Your hotel, Elveseter, is a hotel with a spectacular collection of carved and painted folk art as well as a fine art collection from several of Norway’s most important artists. We will take time to look through their collection and learn about rural Norway through the artist’s eye. Phil and Else have used the art at Elveseter as inspiration for many of their carved and painted designs.  

If you have time there are nice walking trails from the hotel.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel.

Lunch on your own.

Day 5 – Tuesday, Elveseter to Ålesund via Geiranger and Hellesylt.

Our travels this day will take us west along the river and over the mountain pass for a spectacular view of Geiranger, a World Heritage Site from Dalsnebba, provided the weather is clear. From Geiranger we will travel toward Ålesund first by car ferry to Hellesylt where we will see a collection of large carved panels depicting Per Gynt, a classic Norwegian folk story. Our destination will be Ålesund, Else’s hometown. Ålesund is a very picturesque city on Norway’s west coast known as the Art Nouveau City. Else proudly proclaims that it is the most beautiful city in Norway.  Many agree.

Dinner will await us at our Hotel by the picturesque harbor in Ålesund with ample opportunity to stroll around the intriguing city.

We will stay in Ålesund for two nights.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel.

Day 6 – Wednesday, Ålesund. 


This day can be a free day for those who may wish to rest at the hotel.

Another option is to take the coastal ferry to explore Geiranger Fjord.  (additional expense).

On this day we expect to have one or two guest guides to help us out.  For those who do not wish to do the scenic Coastal Steamer ( cruise ship ) to Geiranger there will be a full day of visiting museums and attractions in Ålesund, Else’s hometown. Ålesund is called the Art Nouveau city for the architectural style. The history of Ålesund city dates back to Viking times. Plan to visit Borgund Church where Else and Phil were married. This church has extensive woodcarvings done in the Jugend stil. We expect to have an opportunity to visit a fish processing plant since Ålesund is a city built around the fish industry. This day can also be an opportunity for people to explore the city on their own or take a rest for part of the day in the hotel.

For those who wish to travel to spectacular Geiranger by boat from Ålesund we have made arrangements for these connections at additional expense. Please let us know if you plan to take the Geiranger Coastal Steamer tour. It leaves the harbor at about 9:00 in the morning and returns around 5:00PM. While the last hour or so of the Coastal Steamer tour will be the same as the ferry boat ride the day before as it approaches Geiranger, most of the tour will be around islands and along fjords that can not be seen any other way.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel

Lunch on your own.

Day 7 – Thursday, Ålesund to Horningdal.

Travel from Ålesund to Ørsta crossing the fjord to visit friends in Ørsta on our way to Nordfjordeid.  We plan to visit a local museum on a small farm to see how immigrants would have lived at the end of the 19th century. From Ørsta we will drive aroute through the country-side to take another ferry and travel through some of Norway’s most spectacular West-Coast scenery on our way to a special event in the Nordfjord Region.

Those who wish to have the opportunity to ride a Fjord Horse can ride on this day.  (extra fee). The horses are provided by the Fjord Horse center at Nordfjordeid through a local concession. Riding will be on gravel roads in the mountains not far from Nordfjordeid. So the riders will be riding while the rest of the group will be visiting the fiddler. Phil will accompany the people who wish to ride.

Those who choose not to ride horses ( most of the group ) will travel with Else and meet Arne Sølvberg and his wife Asbjørg at Fjelli for a bit of fun and local culture. Arne will entertain us with his fiddle music. He is one of the most accomplished fiddle musicians in Norway, playing the Hardanger fiddle and traditional Nordfjord fiddle tunes. The cultural hall decorated with images from the early 1900’s is located just below his farm where he and his wife raise sheep and lambs with a spectacular view overlooking Nordfjord. The noon meal will be prepared by Arne’s cousin Nils and his wife. We will overnight at the quiet Raftevolds Hotel in Horningdal over looking the deepest lake in Europe. If its warm enough people can take a dip in the lake.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel, lunch provided.

Day 8 – Friday, Horningdal to Skei. 

The highlights of this day will be spectacular scenery, Fjord Horses and shopping opportunities in the Nordfjord region.

In the morning after breakfast we will travel from our hotel to Nordfjoreid where we will visit the Fjord Horse Center. We have arranged for a tour of the facility and some entertainment. We will have coffee and goodies and an opportunity to purchase Norwegian items with a Fjord Horse theme. From Nordfjordeid we will travel to Stryn where we will have an opportunity to stroll around a charming small west coast town. It will be an opportunity to do some shopping and have lunch. From Stryn we will travel to Breim to visit a farm family. The family operates a modern Dairy farm. Here we will see how modern farmers live on the West Coast of Norway. The family is also active in the Fjord Horse community and we could have another opportunity to ride Fjord Horses if you wish, for an extra fee.

There is a nice hiking path close to the hotel.

Our hotel is located at Skei close to a wonderful shopping opportunity.  

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel

Lunch on your own in Stryn

Day 9 – Saturday, Skei to Stalheim. 

From Skei we will head south into the Mountains and Fjords of the Sogn region on our way to Stalheim. Our first stop will be at the foot of a glacier. We will travel an historic route to visit one of the most celebrated Stave Churches in Norway. After visiting the Stave Church we will travel to Flåm where we will take a train ride up and down the mountain. We plan to arrive at our hotel with enough time to relax or take a scenic hike from the hotel.

Stalheim offers one of the most spectacular views from any hotel in Norway. They have a private museum with a tour guided by a man who has a wonderful gift for explaining the context of the artifacts in his museum. This is one of our favorite private museums in Norway. The view is unbelievable. For those who are able to walk mountain trails, the hike from the hotel is fabulous.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel.

Lunch on your own.

Day 10 – Sunday, Stalheim to Eidfjord. 

On this day we expect to visit the Voss area. Our local guide will be Torgeir Lirhus. Torgeir lives on an important and tradition-rich farm on the outskirts of Voss. He is a retired woodworking teacher at the Voss Folk School. Torgeir and his wife Astrid have invited us to their farm home for coffee and cake. Astrid is a very accomplished seamstress and she has reconstructed traditional dresses from the area. We might visit a wood-carver as well. By days end we will find ourselves at the Fjordhotel on the Hardanger Fjord. Some may wish to settle into the hotel and stroll around the small town. There is an interesting art display next to the hotel. We plan to take our motor coach a short drive to the Hardanger National Park museum where we can view a film of the park and see displays of the flora and fauna of the region.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel.

Lunch on your own.

Day 11 – Monday, Eidfjord to Bergen. 

On this day we will explore the magnificent Hardanger Fjord region while making our way to Bergen. We plan to visit Trollhaugen, the home of Edvard Grieg on this day. At Trollhaugenwe will tour Grieg’s home and experience a concert of his music. We will have a city tour and orientation of Bergen so you will understand what you may want to see and experience in Bergen the next day. Our hotel is conveniently located near Bergen’s famous fish market on the Harbor. 

Breakfast and Dinner at the hotel.

Lunch on your own.

Day 12 – Tuesday, Bergen. 

On this day you will have further time to shop and explore Bergen on your own or relax a bit for the trip home. We will have our last dinner together to recount the highlights of our tour and honor the wonderful people we have come to know.

Breakfast and dinner at the Hotel.

Lunch on your own.

Day 13 – Wednesday, Bergen airport.

After breakfast at the hotel, we will have a few hours in Bergen before we depart at 1:00pm from the Bergen airport to fly home.

Note: The tour operator reserves the right to make necessary changes to give our travelers the best experience possible. There are also pleasant surprises planned throughout the tour not listed in the itinerary

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Folk-Art, Fjords, Friends and Fun Tour Pricing:

Our 2021 tour price will be available in late September 2020

Prices below is for our 2020 tour, we expect a small increase for 2021.

Land package pr. Person with double occupancy:

Land package pr. Person …………….            $5995

Single supplement   ……………………..             $875

Flight Icelandair from Minneapolis –Oslo,

Bergen-Minneapolis   …………………             $1050

Maximum participants……………….   32

Prices and itinerary subject to change

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Please call us or email us with your questions. We can send you the necessary paper work to sign up for our tour. We are very happy to provide our participants fine opportunities in Norway that no other tour can offer. Please join us for this rich life experience.

 Contact information:

 Phillip Odden & Else Bigton

Home Phone 715-468-2780

Cell Phone   715 491 4146

Website: www.norskwoodworks.com

Email: nww@norskwoodworks.com


Odden's Rural Life Tours & Norsk Wood Works, LTD

20337 County Road H

Barronett, WI 54813

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