The international delegation boarded a bus at Kvikness Hotel in Balestrand on July 8th. This time, the travelers were taken to see the panoramic vistas along the Gaularfjellet mountain road which is a National Tourist Route. The guide this time was the memorable Øystein Wiger.
Mr. Wiger entertained the travelers with historical facts, good humor and great music. He played pieces from the solo album by fiddler Synnøve Bjørset, titled Slattar. The gentle and delightful Synnøve was one of the guides of the Forde Festival international delegation. Slattar’s evocative pieces became the perfect soundtrack for the trip along the Gaularfjellet road.
During the bus ride, Mr. Wiger made a demonstration of the various types of bells used for animals, especially in the mountain areas. This included bells for sheep, goats, cows, ands horses. Horses were the most valuable animal of a farm and had a special type of bell. The sounds made by the bells varied depending on the animals’ situation. When in danger from predators, the sound of the bells changed and farmers were able to tell what was happening.
“Mr. Wiger also made the connections between nature and music in a way that made perfect sense,” said World Music Central’s Angel Romero. “He had a broad knowledge of local history and folklore. We found out that this was his last trip as guide so we were very fortunate to have him with us.”
The press group stopped at a view point on the way and then traveled along Fosseheimen, which is known as “the realm of falling waters”. The road meanders along the protected Gaularvassdrag watercourse, passing white-water rapids, waterfalls and lakes.
The next stop was at the Likholefossen waterfalls in Viksdalen. Norway’s National Tourist Road has built a special viewing bridge over the falls. The bridge was built in the summer of 2005. There are trails in the area for those who want hike near the waterfalls.
From there, the bus continued to Hestad Chapel, at Øyra (Gaular Municipality in Sogn and Fjordane County), between Viksdal Lake and Hestad Fjord, which is part of the Gaular river system.
A local guide explained that the original church was a stave church, built in the 12th century. After the Black Plague, it was abandoned and fell in disrepair. It was demolished in 1805 and a new log church was built, partly of material from the old church. “There was a magical moment while we were outside the church,” said Angel Romero. “We heard beautiful singing coming from the church. It turned out that right behind us came a choir from Austria that was touring Norway. It’s one of those unexpected musical moments.”
Next came a visit to the Eikjelandsfossen waterfalls in Hestadfjord, on the lower section of Viksdalsvatn lake. There is a path down to the waterfall. Øystein Wiger warned the travelers about wandering off the path and to be aware of fiddle sounds coming from near the trail, which might be trolls trying to trick naïve visitors.
“The path to the falls was somewhat difficult, but definitely worth it,” said Angel Romero. “The trail takes you right under the falls. The view is awesome and you can take great pictures.”
After the visit to the waterfalls, the international delegation was hungry and the Norwegian hosts took the visitors to a local farm and brewery owned by Martin Samde, for lunch. The delicious meal included langostine (also known as Norway lobster, cigala and Dublin Bay prawn), dried meats like ham and goat, a variety of cheeses and breads, and various types of fish.
Beverages included locally brewed beer and Balholm juices, including apple and raspberry-apple. To top it off, the international delegates were treated to hardander fiddle pieces by an excellent young musician named Leif Erik Stuhaug.
“The food was delicious,” said Angel Romero. “The langostine is a delicacy in Spain and I was more than pleased to see it on the table. The great food, the wonderful company and the excellent hardanger fiddle music to top it all, turned it into a really memorable meal.”
The well fed group arrived to forde late in the afternoon. The Førde Folk Music Festival opening concert took place at Førdehuset at 8 pm at the main hall called Idrettshallen.
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