Before I arrived in Lillehammer the only thoughts I had about it were from watching the 1994 Olympics which were held here.
It didn’t take long into the first day here for me to realise why this was the perfect place to hold a winter Olympics. There is so much to do and enjoy in this place. Especially in winter.
The scenery is spectacular; the options on offer are vast whether you want outdoor, adrenalin filled fun or to learn something indoors.
It was a cold day in winter but that did not stop us having a blast in the snow.
Here at Lillehammer on our first morning the mini adventure was tobogganing. I use the term ‘mini adventure’ loosely because this was about as far removed from sledging back home as a kid as I could get.
This is tobogganing down a 1km slope like you would do on skis and what a thrill it was.
Yes, there are brakes you can use, but before long you get braver and braver; so much so that the brakes become almost obsolete in your mind.
Elk Stew Anyone?
After a couple of hours flying down the slopes on the toboggan it was time for some lunch.
We were invited to lunch in a tipi at the bottom of the toboggan run. It wasn’t your average lunch either. A great feast of reindeer and elk stew, washed down with Acquavit (a local alcoholic drink that sure warms you up).
Indoors Thing To Do In Lillehammer
The Norwegian Olympic Museum is naturally situated in Lillehammer, specifically in the hall where the 1994 Olympic hockey games were held.
Norway has actually hosted the Winter Olympics twice: once in 1952 and again in 1994. This museum showcases everything having to do with both occasions.
It is not overly self centric either. It teaches you about the Olympics themselves going back to the very beginning, as well as showcasing athletes from around the world.
OK, now I knew this was going to be fun: going down the Olympic luge track in a wheelbob.
A wheelbob is a safer version of a bobsleigh. It’s cushioned on all sides from blows, and the wheels stop you from going at Olympic speeds.
6 of us climbed in to the car and down we went! 3 times in total we went down the Olympic bobsleigh track. Getting up to 100 kmh you can really feel the force of the 3Gs .Your brain literally gets rattled around in your head, and I have gained a whole new respect for the athletes who do this at full speed! What an amazing experience.
One of the individuals I was with even managed to get video footage of one of our bobsleigh runs:
Stay At The Ice Hotel
After dinner, which by the way was more elk in the form of a burger this time, we headed to our accommodation for the night. The Ice Hotel at Hunderfossen.
Stepping inside it was time for a drink … and time to put my gloves on. The glasses are not glass but made from ice, of course, and I tell you, that bright blue vodka went down a treat!
After a drink (well maybe a couple) I took a walk through the icy wonderland. There was even an ice church with an ice altar where people could get married.
After that full on day in the cold outdoors, heart pumping with plenty of adrenalin, it was time for bed.
When staying in an ice hotel for the first time you need to realise that it is far from uncomfortable. Yes the beds are made of ice, but the skins and fur on top make it a whole lot more plush.
You have your sleeping bag, and you are layered up, even leaving your hat on, but you soon warm up inside there.
And you will never experience quietness quite like an ice hotel. All that packed ice around you absorbs any noise and doesn’t rebound at all. That also means no sound gets in. You notice straight away how pure the silence is.
I enjoyed the slopes and speed, as well as the overnight adventure in the ice hotel, and can’t wait to go back. What a fantastic experience.