Hafjell Alpine Centre, as seen from its approach.
Pre-conceptions of Norway before boarding the Oslo-bound flight were of a clean, pricey nation blessed with awesome natural features, a high standard of living, a civilized society and the only existing country on earth with no external debt. Upon arrival in this Scandinavian country, it soon became apparent that all of these pre-conceptions were not only true, but palpably so, in the sense that you could actively 'feel' the shocking expense, the standard of living, the cleanliness and, surrounded by nature in the likeable ski resort town of Hafjell, the effects seeped into my system, in a way which made it hard to even contemplate how contrasting the place might have looked if the blanket of snow were removed. The ski terrain itself, while being relatively limited, was enough scope for a full 5 days of an enjoyable glide around on the pistes, and scored highly for being a well cared-for resort which never became too busy, too tracked-out and, in the light of my lack of exercise prior to the trip, too much of a strain trying to negociate the terrain. The mountain restaurants seemed to offer mainly snack-style food, as well as fast food-type offerings, yet one spot in
Nature abounds in the region, as this typical shot illustrates.
particular, a western-style Sports / Music bar named 'Woody's' was a commendable lunchtime refuge spot for its limited, but reasonably-priced menu, and overall pleasant allure. The area itself probably attracts Norwegian families en masse in warmer months, as children's leisure parks such as 'Lilleputhammer' and the Hunderfossen family park are located in the immediate area. One particular all year round activity which is well worth just over a minute (!) of your time is the cresta run at Hunderfossen which offers adventurous types the opportunity to hurtle down the bobsled track in one of a variety of purpose-made bobcrafts. The ride itself lasts little over 60 seconds, but it does guarantee you an adrenaline rush and a G-force experience which will keep your system buzzing for a fair while thereafter. The nearest settlement of any substantial size to Hafjell Apline ski resort is the 1994 Winter Olympics venue town of Lillehammer, a compact and peaceful place with a scattering of shops, restaurants and bars with a few reminders of the town's Olympic past dotted here and there. It has to be pointed out that Hafjell may not suit all tastes, as the terrain is not terribly challenging, local prices make
A symbolic reminder of the region's Olympic-affiliated past.
the town feel too much in the 'exclusive' bracket, and it can be mightily cold if you catch the ski season at a time of year when temperatures make it feel like you're also throwing elements of pain into your intended pleasure. As for myself, I give Hafjell my casting vote for being precisely the resort it is - modest-sized, friendly, easy to feel at home with, and most of all, having the priceless option of skiing from the chairlift's peak point to the very foot of the mountain with relative ease. It palpably came across to me as a brief but welcome dip into the 'ski ether', and that's enough of an accolade for me to proclaim this ski trip a wholly worthwhile venture.
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