The idea of exploring Norway’s National Tourist Routes is to get outside of the major population centers and explore the small towns and rural areas of this Scandinavian country. That’s why we went – to discover the “heartland” of Norway, so to speak.
Road tripping in any rural area always comes with the risk of limited offerings for finding something to eat. We always pack some Granola bars and M&Ms for such emergencies, especially when in another country where the likelihood of finding beef jerky sticks at the gas station are limited. 🙂
Gaularfjellet National Tourist Route
We hit pay dirt when we took a wrong turn on the Gaularfjellet National Tourist Route. We were on Route 13 and think we were somewhere between Dragsvik and Utsikten, and we were hungry. Other than magnificent views of fjords and mountains and flocks of sheep, we hadn’t seen anything that indicated a town or food was anywhere in our future.
Then around a bend, we saw the international sign for food – a fork and spoon.
The name of the place was Eldalen and it reminded me of a place called Ma Hale’s Restaurant in southern Illinois where I grew up. It’s one of those family-owned places with authentic food made from scratch by somebody’s grandma. The menu this Sunday included pot roast, potatoes, carrots and mushy peas with apple strudel for dessert. It just couldn’t have been more like home.
A Family Business on Norway’s National Tourist Route
We learned that Eldalen is located on a family farm and all of the food we ate was grown right there, including the cows for that wonderful pot roast. The gravel parking lot overflowed to the family home, where children played, and an old red barn sat beyond filled with tractors and other implements.
The restaurant wasn’t super busy when we got there, but soon we were sharing a table with some German travelers. A large, multi-generational family arrived and took over one dining room, obviously celebrating some special occasion. The windows were open a few inches allowing a fresh breeze to flutter the lace curtains. Fresh flowers, cut from the garden outside the window, decorated each table. Downstairs was a little gift shop featuring traditional Norwegian crafts, made by the family in the off-season.
The 18 National Tourist Routes were designed to draw travelers into the interior of Norway, stimulating the rural economy with tourism dollars while showcasing the magnificent beauty of this country.
This little family represents the kind of people the tourist routes were meant to introduce us to – the real Norwegians in the heartland of Norway. This is the kind of place that we were meant to explore.