Norwegian wood(s)

«Det snør på skogen nå. Jeg er langt herfra i morra, hvis jeg må»

Norwegian country-artist Roy Lønhøiden’s voice and music is the perfect soundtrack as we approach Flisa on RV 20 southbound. Forest, more forest, and a long, unwinding road. The man who picked up the phone at Victoria Hotell Flisa sounded like a really nice guy. Sure he had a room for us.

He laughed when we asked him for directions.

«Flisa is really just one street (called “Kaffegata” – coffee-street) and we are on that street. It’s on your left hand side if you are coming from Elverum and on your right hand side if you are driving up from Kongsvinger. Don’t rush guys, I’ll be waiting for you!»

Minutes later we pull up outside Victoria. It would be a lie to call it pretty, Strange is probably a more suitable word.

«What the f…», Otto stares at the little yellow note someone has pinned on the front door.
“We’re closed this weekend”, it reads.
«I thought you said we had a room reserved?»
«Sure we do, it must be an old note. Let’s go around to the other side».
On the other side of the house the note is white, but the message is the same “Closed”.

I am in the middle of a rather creative monologue of swearwords and curses, when a finger taps the glass on the inside and a big guy with an even bigger smile on his face mimes that he’ll open the door for us.

«Sorry boy’s. We are closed today, but when you called me I couldn’t say no, Jan Øyvind Juvberget and opens the door for us.

«We’re having a family dinner here, but just sit down in the lobby a few minutes, and I’ll be with you in a minute. How about a beer while you are waiting? You guys look thirsty. I’ll fix you some brew».

Seconds later Jan Øyvind returns with two glasses of beer.
«By the way», he says as he watches us drink.
«Why don’t you come and join the party? The ice cream is served in a minute »

Seconds later we are seated at the table. Jan Øyvind, his mother Laila, his sister Mona and their friends, Roy Arne Granvold and the local taxi driver Per Erik “Prikken” Engen raises their glasses and greet us.

Two scopes of ice cream, four glasses of wine, one cognac and a couple of beers later we have become a part of the family ourself.

Jan Øyvind is third generation Juvberget who is managing this hotel.

«My parent’s taught me how to take care of customer», he says as he opens another bottle of Chablis.
«I will recognize a thirsty guest before he even notices that he’s thirsty», Jan Øyvind giggles.
Suddenly I remember the Norwegian Country-artist we played I the car on our way to Flisa.
«Isn’t Roy Lønhøiden from around here?»

«Sure, he lives in Kongsvinger, some 40 kilometers down the road», Prikken says and raises his glass to friendship, country music and all other nice things in this world.

All of a sudden a couple enters the dining room of the closed hotel. Jan Øyvind forgot to lock the door after letting us in, and now this hungry couple is standing here asking for dinner.

«We just wanted to grab a hot dog, but the burger joint was closed, so we tried here instead.
Prikken has been sitting with his back to the newcomers, but when he turns to see who the “intruders” are a big smile appears under his tiny moustache.
«Funny you mentioned Roy Lønhøiden earlier, because here he is».

Roy and his girlfriend are immediately invited to the table and Jan Øyvind starts rattling his pots and pans in the kitchen. Roy wants steak, and that’s exactly what he’s going to get – the best damn steak this side of the equator.

So there we are in a family ran hotel in Flisa getting the best service, and the best company we have had in ages. Who cares if Jan Øyvind overslept the next morning. Who need’s breakfast after such a family gathering?


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