Lillehammer is not far from Oslo, so is perfect for a first overnight. With a side sight-see at Kongsvinger that got us off the main E6, trip, there was time for a leisurely drive to learn the rental car, figure out the roads, and feel on our way.
At Lillehammer we expected only to see mostly old 1994 Olympic and current sports activities, and move on. Lillehammer did more. It planted a seed of a different idea: that Norway is benevolent. What did Lillehammer do to brew that concept?
Lillehammer offers a fine hostel to serve transients. Lillehammer Hostel. It adjoins and is open to (no wall, no door) the bus and train station. We had reserved a room to ourselves instead of bunking at the hostel, for that first night when we knew we would be tired. Look up hotel prices in Norway and you will panic as we did, and turn to hostel offerings. If there is a hostel, go.
The Lillehammer Hostel offers the same good quality private room-bath, as we found later, as any of the modest-moderate business hotels, as it turned out. Efficient, clean, spotless. Quick. Get a map of all the hostels in Norway and keep it handy. Free parking was on the other side of the tracks, with a well-lit and clean tunnel for getting there. With trains and buses, we never heard a thing. The hostel is well-built.
- We telescope carryons. The computer fits in the case, the case fits in the tote, the also carries maps, and even the shoulder bag squashes into the tote.
- Airlines count the single bulging tote as the personal item allowed in addition to the bigger backpack that goes on board. Excellent. The smaller bags are useful for car trips.
- This was the first year I brought a computer. Ease of e-mail, spot research, workable keyboard. Most hotels offer a free computer but if you aren't first up to claim it, you wait. I do not carry a phone. So there.
Other attractions: Family tourist areas have bloomed, and we drove one round to find the Maihaugen area, a folk park with collections of traditional buildings. The signs took us in circles, so we left exploring folk parks to other places -- there are plenty.
Back toward the hostel, there was a band playing in the central park.
Food prices. Testing a theory of comparative pricing, we did not eat at the hostel, but went to the shopping street for other choices. Open and full was this Turkish cafe-restaurant. We ordered our first Turkish kebab, a plate of doner kebab meat, wonderfully seasoned and lightly sauced, on a pita, and with lettuce, tomato, other garnishes. And still called kebab, which to us would mean skewers. Loved it.
The price for this generous plate ethnic dish was the same as for a stew at the hostel. Now we have a water level for what to expect to pay in the evening, even when economizing, as we do.