«It’s even better than the photos!»
There are so many highlights, and I know my words can’t match how I feel when I think about these moments, says Raman Pfaff from the US after joining three tours with Hvitserk of Norway in two years. Next year he is planning to join the fourth one.
On his first trip to Scandinavia in 2016 Raman Pfaff (54) from Charlottesville in Virginia, US joined a tour with Hvitserk of Norway. Last summer he came back and joined two of our trips on the same holiday.
- The scenery surprised me. There is just no way to take photos that show the beauty. I was also surprised by how friendly the Norwegians were, and I have enjoyed every story the locals have told me and it seems like everyone in the country spend so much time enjoying the outdoors, says Raman in this brief interview about his best moments in Norway:
How did you come across Hvitserk of Norway?
A friend of mine was travelling to Europe to run in the 2016 Stockholm Marathon. Since I hadn’t made any summer vacation plans, I decided to go to Europe, run in the marathon, and visit some relatives I hadn’t seen since I was a child. I’d never been to any Scandinavian countries, and I really wanted to see the area. I’d seen many beautiful photos of Norway over the years and was hoping to explore Norway while I was in Europe. I did some web searches for guided hiking trips in Norway and found your website.
Why did you sign up for the first trip?
Your website described many interesting trips. I looked through the day-by-day itineraries and many photos and ended up choosing the Trolltunga, Preikestolen and Kjerag trip that included very popular locations. It looked like a great trip for my first visit to Norway.
What made you want to go back to Norway for the 2nd and 3rd time?
My first trip was unforgettable for many reasons - the scenery was amazing, our guide provided a wealth of information about the local area, culture, and history of the country, and I got to know many unique people as we hiked together every day. The trip was just as you had described it on your website, and the experience was better than I’d imagined.
I'd enjoyed the first trip so much, that I decided to head back to Norway for my vacation in 2017 and do two other trips with Hvitserk so I could see more of the country. I chose the trip to Lofoten so I could see the midnight sun, and the Hiking, Biking, and Kayaking in Fjord Norway-trip so I could go kayaking and camping in a fjord.
What did you think about the Hvitserk-tours you joined?
I’ve enjoyed all three of the trips I’ve done with Hvitserk. Each trip unique and unforgettable for many reasons: scenery, guides, people that I met during each trip, and the weather that is constantly changing.
What are the highlights?
There are so many highlights, and I know my words can’t match how I feel when I think about these moments, but here are a few of my favorites:
Sitting on Pulpit Rock with our group on a crisp evening after a day of hiking. No one else was there – it was so peaceful with a surrealistic view surrounding us. We all pitched in to cook a delicious meal on a camp stove. Our guide took an amazing photo (see below) of our group that evening. I printed it, and keep it on the wall of my office so I can look at it and feel good, even on a really long workday.
On the long hike up to Trolltunga, it had been cloudy and drizzly for many hours, but our guide kept telling us the weather would get better later that afternoon. Just as we got to the top of the climb, the clouds drifted away. Climbing out onto the “troll’s tongue’ under the bright blue sky and vibrant fjords below is unforgettable.
In Lofoten, our guides took some of us to Uttakleiv Beach late one night to watch the midnight sun. Although there were a few too many clouds to see the sun that night, the sky was beautiful. A seagull landed on the big heart-shaped rock on that beach and I watched it sit there for about ten minutes. That memory brings a smile to my face every time. Later that night (the midnight sun was already rising) several of us were still up talking and I pulled my shoes off. I had hiking socks on that had “individual toes,” and for some reason, a few people found that so funny that they started laughing and eventually we were all laughing so hard that we couldn’t stop for about five minutes. There was no reason to laugh that hard, but we were all having a great time.
After a day of kayaking in Fjord Norway, we had pitched our tents just a few feet from the banks of a fjord. It had been cloudy for most of that day. I woke up very early in the morning and looked out from my tent. The sky was clear and a very dark blue, there was absolutely no wind, and the water was perfectly smooth. The stars above were reflecting off the surface of the water. I only poked my head out for a few moments, but I’ll always remember that calm feeling. I went back to bed, and when I woke up the sun was shining in the bright blue sky.
I could really go on forever about the highlights.
What surprised you most with the trips / with Norway?
One thing that surprised me was the scenery. It was even better than how it appears in photos. There is just no way to take photos that show the beauty. I was also surprised by how friendly the Norwegians were. I talked with so many locals and enjoyed every story they told.
But the biggest surprise was the total appreciation of nature and the outdoors that everyone in the country had. Everyone that lived in Norway spent so much time enjoying the outdoors, and there were also people from all over the world that was visiting Norway. I even met two people (that I’d never met before) from my hometown.
Where do you plan to go next?
I’ve really enjoyed Scandinavia, and am thinking of going back there again next year. The long days, ample sunshine, reasonable temperatures, friendly people, and amazing scenery make a great summer vacation. I’m actually thinking of doing a fourth trip with Hvitserk, the hiking trip in Sunnmøre-region (there are some amazing photos on your website).
Photos: Raman Pfaff and Andre Spica (Hvitserk of Norway)