Nordic Hospitality

“My guidelines for running my business came from my two grandmothers.” These words were spoken by Lisbeth, our hostess and owner of Marmelkroken, the small guesthouse where we were staying. I had to know more.

“My mother’s mother always greeted us when we arrived, and waved us off when we left.” Her warmth and hospitality left a lasting impression. Sure enough, although we arrived well ahead of the usual check-in time, she pulled into the drive to welcome us.

“My father’s mother never wasted food.” Our dinner and breakfast were served plated, straight from the kitchen piping hot. Homemade, fresh and cooked to perfection. No breakfast buffet here, but we had milk she collected in a bucket that morning and berries right off the vine. Plentiful, no excess.

We’ve stayed in some pretty swanky digs on this trip, but this quickly became my favorite. We were able to get into our room early, which opened right onto the back deck overlooking the long lawn bordered with wildflowers and a path out to the ocean front. We didn’t waste time finding a comfortable sheltered spot to enjoy the quiet afternoon.

It was warm enough to dine outside, so we eagerly took a table in the fresh air. Like most lodgings on this tour, we had a 3-course dinner included. Sometimes we were left to wonder what would appear on our plates. Not that night. Lisbeth herself came out from the kitchen to recite her menu. Root vegetable soup with cream for our starter along with traditional flatbread. Fresh redfish obtained that day from the local fish dock, homemade pickled onions, puréed green peas and baby potatoes for our main. We had two choices for dessert, but we both went for the traditional boiled pudding with rhubarb sauce. The service was unhurried, and we relaxed with her recommendation for an Austrian white wine (no, not Chardonnay).

The long lingering sunlight drew us down to the water’s edge after dinner. A wooden long boat lay next to the shore, and birds alighted on the pond in the midst of the wildflowers. The verdant green mountain dwarfed our red lodgings.

Facing directly west, the sun set over the ocean that night – about 10:40pm. Snoozing over my book I periodically peered out our window to check its progress. Just over a week ago it would never have dipped below the horizon. I watched the sky turn red after it disappeared, knowing it would rise again in just five hours.

We pedaled off in the morning with a heartfelt farewell from Lisbeth. And I carried away two good life lessons from Bo Norway. Home of unparalleled Nordic hospitality.

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