Ottestad, Norway

Sept  6 - 10, 2000

 Our Travel Experience

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Tourist Info


- by Tara

Our Travel Experience

Arrival in Ottestad: written at 5pm on 6 September 2000

We are in Ottestad, Norway since this is where my father's father's parents (i.e.. my great grandparents) were from before they emigrated to America. Seth suggested that I document our time here very carefully so that I could help any of my relatives who decide to come here after me.

From my Aunt Betty, I learned that Ottestad is where my great grandparents Martin and Ingeborg once lived. They lived in a house called "The Soberg House". Once of my cousins visited Ottestad in 1985 and met a daughter of a long-time family friend. I am now here 15 years later and have just spoken with her. Berit was actually on the property where my great-grandparents once lived today! The house is now gone and there is now a doctor's office in the same place. Since Berit is sick right now, I'll call her again in two days on Friday to see if she is feeling better. She was very friendly and offered to show my around the neighborhood where my great grandparents once lived.

Our itinerary:

We were dropped off at the train station in Trondheim this morning by our very friendly Servas friend, Karin. We boarded the 8:58am train towards Oslo. We were headed to Hamar - a 5 hour ride South of Trondheim. We hoped that we could get from Hamar to Ottestad easily. On the train, we enjoyed the view from our practically empty 1st class cabin. Tara finished writing 38 postcards while Seth read a computer gaming magazine. Seth then helped finish off the cards and we talked about what our plans would be once we arrived in Hamar. We knew nothing about how far it was from Ottestad to Hamar. We didn't know if we'd be staying overnight somewhere or if we'd be getting back on a train to Oslo at 9pm. Well, we are now happily sitting in Overskott's Bed and Breakfast at Buevegen 2 in Ottestad. We're in the basement and an episode of 90210 that we haven't seen has just started.

Svein & Ingrid Overskott run this Bed and Breakfast and we are very happy to be here. We found a place to stay in Ottestad by going to the Tourist Information Center in Hamar. The women in the tourist information office were very friendly and when we asked to stay in Ottestad because my great-grandparents were from here, they told us all about the Emigrant Museum and National Archives that we should visit. Seth also found an advertisement for a large swimming pool in town. We're excited to be here. The Bed and Breakfast is outside of the main town of Hamar, so Svein offered to make us dinner here. We're waiting to see what is prepared. When he speaks English, he sounds just like my grandpa. Same with Berit who I spoke to on the phone. Her English accent sounds exactly like my Grandma's. It is very fun and exciting to be here.

Departure from Ottestad: written at 12noon on 10 September 2000

- by Tara

We are now on the train from Hamar to Oslo and from Oslo it is onto Stockholm. We stayed a total of four nights in Ottestad. I'm very glad we visited. There is so much to write that I don't really know where to start, so I'll start with the day we discovered where The Soberg House stood.
Berit picked us up at our Bed and Breakfast Friday morning and drove us to the place in Ottestad where The Soberg House used to stand. The original house has been torn down and there is now a house that is a doctor's office on the property. Even so, it was very neat to drive down the street where The Soberg House was. Berit also lived on this street in a red house and showed us a yellow house that was in the same style of the Soberg House since it had been restored instead of being replaced. 
After seeing the Ottestad neighborhood, Berit drove us up into the hilly country so that we could get a good view of the area. The place we went was where her Son had been married the weekend before. We were able to see the lake and the town of Ottestad across in the distance. Luckily, Friday was the first day we'd had good weather, so it really looked beautiful. We talked about the White Swan boat that has been sailing on the lake since the mid 1800's and also about the differences Berit saw between Chicago and Ottestad. We were very surprised to learn that she had been born and raised in the City of Chicago and had only come to Norway as an adult since she'd met a man from Norway. She told us how different things were 36 years ago to today and especially how she greatly missed vegetables when she moved here. She remembered that there were only fresh carrots, potatoes and rutabagas. Even the peas were dried! Her story about buying the ingredients to make pizza at the local Ottestad store was also quite amusing since the storekeeper couldn't imagine that she'd be able to make anything edible out of the ingredients she was buying. How times change I figure since the couple in Trondheim told us that frozen pizza was today a staple in the Norwegian diet! After enjoying the view, Berit then took us to the church ruins encased in glass at the edge of town. We talked some more and had a very nice morning. 

Since I wanted to walk around The Soberg House's neighborhood and mail my postcards we said good-bye to each other at the Ottestad post office. I hope the postmark is legible on those cards, I put 48 cards into that box! From the post office we walked towards The Soberg House on the residential back street that paralleled the main road up the hill in Ottestad. The houses along the road were all single family houses with nice sized yards. Almost all of the yards contained at least one apple tree. Many contained numerous apple trees! The other primary tree was a smaller tree that contained numerous, small, bright orange red berries. Some kids passed us riding bikes and another lady was walking down the same road.

When we came to The Soberg House lot, we took LOTS of photos. The location is very nice I think. It is situated on a corner where two small streets meet and was just one block off the main road up the hill. Since we were 3/4's of the way up the hill, the view across over the lake was beautiful. It is an area of gently rolling hills, so this adds to the beauty.

After allot of photos, we popped into the local grocery called "Prix" that was just in front of The Soberg House lot on the main road. The buisnesses in Ottestad are the bare essentials: grocery store, Realtor, bank, beautician and (further down the hill) a children's store and a Shell gas station. I must say again how neat it was to be in the place where my great grandparents lived.
From Ottestad, we walked across the bridge into Hamar. We'd spent the previous day, Thursday, in Hamar; however, today the weather was gorgeous! After crossing the bridge, we walked to the Viking Ship Skating Hall where the Lillihammer Winter Olympic Skating sports where held. Then, we walked to the Library since we wanted to use the Internet computers, but we arrived at 3:55pm. Only 5 minutes before closing time. Therefore, we signed up to use the computers the next morning.  Seth sat on a bench in the sun finishing his book, while I sat on the bench writing out postcards. We then went to Peppe's Pizza for dinner and decided to walk home since the weather was so nice. 

Walking home was WONDERFUL. We took way too many photos of the sunset from the bridge. But, it was just so gorgeous that we wanted to capture it on film. The railway bridge just to the right of the car bridge that we were on added a very nice touch to the sun setting behind a hill across the lake. And in the other direction, a very pointed church steeple that almost touched the clouds kept drawing our eye. The clouds were gorgeous and the colors were spectacular: blue water, white, puffy clouds and pale sunset yellow/red/purples. Ahhh, very nice. Walking was made very easy since there are dedicated walking and biking paths paralleling the whole route from Hamar to our Bed and Breakfast. At certain points, we would cross the main road for a photo or to touch the growing wheat on the other side. There was no problem crossing the road, since I wouldn't call the metropolitan Hamar/Ottestad area heavily populated. Just before reaching the B & B, we stopped at a lake side park that allowed us a nice view across to Hamar. We sat on a picnic bench right at the end of a pier and we could see the Viking Ship, main Hamar town and peninsula with the church ruins. We talked about how nice it would be to live on water! Then, it was home for another enjoyable night in the basement with a fire and TV. 

Other memories of our time in Ottestad include:
- Going to the Emigrant museum on Thursday morning and seeing the book with lists to 1869 of who boarded which ship for America when. There were babies from 2 months old to 63 year old grandparents. I found one name, Martinus Larson who boarded a ship in 1867. This was close to my great grand-parents name of Marin Larson... but not exact. Some records said exact dates and ship names. Other records just said that people left in the Spring or Summer. It was very interesting to see such old records. We did not find a broad, general story about why so many people left Norway and settled in Minnesota since the lady working at the museum did not speak English, but that was OK, the book with names and the little emigrant houses moved to Ottestad from America were neat to see. After the emigrant museum, we walked along the lake towards the bus stop. It was raining and really dreary out, but still sortof pretty to be in a forest path in Norway with lots of edible red raspberries for the taking. We were lucky to get the bus immediately into Hamar since busses run only once an hour. 

- Going to the Swimming Hall on Saturday afternoon and happening by an American football game on the way there. After checking our Internet mail ( and being lucky for the 2nd time in a row since no one wanted the computers after us and we used them for a full hour ), we walked to the Swimming Hall by passing through a park. We were both surprised to see what looked like a high school JV football game starting. We stayed until one team made a touchdown. Then we continued on to the swimming hall. I really enjoyed it, but Seth thought the water was too cold. There were lots of kids in the pool since it was a Saturday. There was a diving competition in progress. Kids were jumping on two big trampolines. And lots of people were swimming. We went swimming together at first. Seth helped me up onto a floating red toy that was the center of a ' King of the Mountain' game. I didn't try to King. I couldn't even get up onto a spoke of the toy without Seth boosting me up. By then Seth was really cold and a whirlpool cost 10 NOK, so he went to the locker room while I stayed to swim. After swimming, I went hunting down the sauna. It took a while, but I'm glad I found it.  Unlike the Hurtigruten, this sauna was full of other people, so it was more comfortable. I also luxuriated in a hot blow dryer that was mounted on the wall so that you stood under it. Ahhhhh. I spent such a long time in the locker room, that Seth had finished 100 pages of his book by the time I came out.

- My walk into Ottestad. Seth wasn't in the mood for walking Saturday night, but I was since the weather was so sunny and gorgeous. Therefore, after taking a taxi home from Hamar, I headed out by myself to Ottestad to mail more postcards and try to call the lady in Stockholm where we'd left our credit cards. The walk was nice. I really think the area here in Norway is naturally pretty. This time I walked past The Soberg House all the way up the hill to see the view. NICE.
- Our nights in the basement room. We enjoyed staying at Svein and Ingrid's Bed and Breakfast! The best part was that we had our own room to spend the evenings in. This room had a fireplace, a TV, two couches, a table and chairs set, an old bed from 1834 and numerous books. It was a very comfortable room and I felt at home there. Often, I would sit in front of the fire and read while Seth sat in front of the TV and watched TV or played a computer game. Then, as it got later and later and my book got heavier and heavier, I would move to the couch and sleep until Seth was ready to come to bed. Sometimes we watched TV programs or movies together. Having a TV here after not having a TV since Stockholm really made us realize how much we appreciate little things. ie. a TV was a great luxury to us and we enjoyed it. Also, the fire. We enjoyed a fire every night. I even picked up some extra paper and small sticks to make sure we could make a large fire easily. 

Overall, I have good memories of Ottestad. Both because it is where my great grandparents came from and because it is a nice, small town in its own right.
It was very fun to describe Ottestad to my Dad, my Grandma and my Aunts. I heard lots of family stories that I'd never heard before now that I've visited the Ottestad. One particular story centered around the bridge connecting Ottestad and Hamar and how my great grandma on my Dad's side had worked in Hamar and had to walk across the bridge often. I hope she enjoyed the beautiful sunsets as much as I did. Also, I wonder if this historic-looking building in Hamar had been built yet when she was working in a Hamar backery. 

Category Rating Comments
Overall Experience -  
Ease of Journey -
Accommodation -
Activities -
Coolness 10 It was really neat to see the place in Norway that my ancestors left to come to America.
Tourist Info

Svein and Ingrid Overskott's Bed and Breakfast in Ottestad
Hamar is 1.5 hours North of Oslo. 1 hour South of Lillehamar.
Ottestad is a 15 minute walk across the bridge from Hamar.