After stopping at Undredal we made our way to the town of Vikøyri. This stop wasn’t originally in the itinerary as we had intentions of crossing the fjord to Balestrand. However we were starving, so this was a convenient stop to make to have a break and try some Viking cheese.
First a bit about our major stop. Vikøyri is the central town for the municipality of Vik, in the Sogn og fjordane region. This old coastal settlement is situated midpoint on the Sognefjorden and the mouth of the Vikja river, which is the best salmon river in the region. Some of the points of interest include the Tine cheese factory (see below), the Hopperstad Stave Church, Hove Stone Church, old shore dweller site, Moahaugane Burial Mounds, the Kristianhus Båt- og Motormuseum.
Before we reach Vikøyri we made a couple of stops along the Rv13 highway. I think this stop is still in Hordaland region. We just had to stop when we saw snow. So far we had seen plenty of snow on the mountain tops but not along the road side. It’s quite unbelievable that it was so frozen considering it was so sunny and not freezing. The wind was quite cold though so it was only a short stop. It gave the two kids a chance to run around in the snow.
We made another couple of stop along the highway in the Sogn og fjordane region. There was more snow draped along the hills and icebergs in the river. Then by the next stop there is no more snow, just valleys, hills and mountains again.
Finally we arrived into Vikøyri, which had taken about 1.5 hours from Undredal. We didn’t have a lot of time, since we weren’t sure how long it would take to get the ferry to Balestrand. It was extremely quiet and we only saw a few people walking the streets.
So first thing we needed to do was eat. There wasn’t really anything open in town, but luckily the place we intended to visit was. TINE Meieriet Vik is a cheese bar/ cafe/ cheese factory. They are famous for being the only factory in the word producing a special Norwegian cheese, Gammelost. This cheese dates back to the Viking era and is known for its health qualities. It is only contains 1% fat and 50% protein, it is also low in salt and completely natural. It quite a pungent tasting cheese and it recommended to be paired with cream, butter and cranberries and served with fruit.
As soon as we walked in we came upon the front counter, which displayed different Norwegian cheeses. There were photos of about eight menu items, which all featured cheeses including the Gammelost. Since we weren’t sure what to order the friendly server offered us the Gammelost to try. It was served on a cracker with cream and jam. It didn’t taste too bad, so we ordered the Viking cheese and another couple of times and sat down in the dining room. At the end of the dining room there was a little exhibition about the Gammelost cheese and the factory itself. Luckily it was also in English and got us very excited about eating cheese.
We ordered the Ciabatta M/Fruit Valg av ost (Ciabatta with Gammelost cheese), the Husets Parisar (Baguette with ham, tomato and melted mozzarella) and their homemade bringebærjuice (raspberry juice).
On second tasting the Gammelost cheese was even more potent. Octavia and Marco didn’t really like the flavour of it again, so I had most of that one. I didn’t mind it because I kept reminding myself it was so special Viking food and healthy. The other dish was really, really delicious. I haven’t had melted mozzarella in years so I was wishing we had ordered another one of those. Unfortunately they only had one on offer, since it was the end of the day. The raspberry juice was also really nice and fresh and perfect taste to nullify that bitter cheese taste.
Fjord views and sites
After lunch we walked down to the fjord to see the views, which was gorgeous. The mountainous along the fjord were so green and lush and its such a lovely quiet spot.
While I was there I tried to find the Moahaugane Burial Mounds. This area was historically used as a burial site for the local residents since the Viking age (800-1000AD). Although most have vanished there are a about eight still remaining. The two Moahanugane burial mounts are are thought to be constructed around 300-500 AD and were used as graves until Christian burial became the norm around 1000 AD. On most tourist websites these the Moahaugane burial mounts are shown to be on the shore line. I looked everywhere and could not find one. That is because they are here, which is quite a far distance from where we were. I’m not sure why they didn’t come up in the correct spot on google maps on the day. Clearly we were nowhere near them.
Along the shoreline is the old shore dweller site. You can actually visit these old homes on a guided tour and look inside them. We didn’t have the time on the day, but I’m sure they would have fascinating stories to tell. Also close by is the Kristianhus båt- og motormuseum, which collection of Kristian Otterskred. He has been collecting ship motors since 1976 and his museum demonstrates the technological development in motor building from 1905 to 1960.
Hopperstad Stave Church
Before we left we did drove up to the Hopperstad Stave Church. It was built in 1130 and is believed to be the oldest stave church. I didn’t have time or cash to stop in and see inside, but there are plenty pictures here if your curious.
Although Vikøyri is a quiet little town there is plenty to do here and in the surrounding area of Vik. For more information on what you can see and do see this link. Next we are heading just over the fjord to the town of Balestrand.