Dovre,  Norway

Svein Rune Berg in Dovre, Norway

Dovre, Norway
Svein Rune Berg
Cinnamon Rolls

The Place: Dovre, Norway

Travel to Dovre, and the rest of the world suddenly feels like it has melted away. Nestled in a valley under an almost intimidating ring of vast, green rocky mountains that tower over you, Dovre gives off vibes that are both dramatic and somehow quiet. Countless waterfalls seamlessly pour down the mountains, feeding into the Gudbransdalslågen river (it’s a tough one to say without stumbling over it’s many syllables); its icy glacier water rushing across the valley. Dovre is a small town with a big sense of place. Take a drive up to Snøhetta mountain, where you’ll see incredible views and, if you’re lucky, a muskox. The town itself isn’t the most happening part of the world you’ll ever see, but you’ll find a quaint antique shop hidden behind some trees at a local’s home, and some stunning churches that are pretty unique to the area. The Rauma railway line, named the most beautiful railway journey in Europe, stops at Dombas, a village around 15 minutes by car from Dovre, and is definitely worth taking down to Andalsnes through one of the most incredible valleys you’ll ever see.


The Person: Svein Rune Berg, 49, Photographer

It’s hard to say this all in English. This place is called ‘Dovre’, and the people that live here are called ‘Dovring’. I am a husband of Berit, a father of two, and am lucky to still have both of my parents who live just next door. And my parents-in-law are also in Østfall. So I have a lot of family around.  I’m a photographer, and run my company ‘Iguan Design’. I would love to be travelling but I don’t have the money for it right now. I like to have visitors like you, so this is a perfect evening. I’m so glad you stopped by (we knocked on Svein’s door asking to heat up some food). I was raised in this house, which is actually from 1928 and was built by my parents; we renovated it but there is some history behind it. There was actually a fight in WWII between some German soldiers up in the hill and some Norwegians here. They hit the roof of the house, and so we found a bullet hole in the stone in the roof from that shootout. And many years ago my brother and I were playing and found an ammunition belt from the war, so that’s how I ended up in the newspaper! 

  

  1. What is home to you?

“I guess this very moment is the answer to that…”

See Svein's Full Answer

I guess this very moment is the answer to that. Because to let people in like this, that doesn’t happen often. Home is something you can share. Even though this house was not clean or fixed, you invite people in and share your home with them. Because Berit’s family live so far away, they come here and they often stay here, in the cabin you’re staying in, because this house is too small.

  1. What is special about Dovre?

“The language; the dialect. It’s very powerful…”

See Svein's Full Answer

The language; the dialect. It’s very powerful and has a lot of good words that don’t exist elsewhere. An example: if you have water on the ground that you don’t want there, you use some tools and make a route for the water to take it away. We have a word for that in Dovre, but in other places like Østfall there is no word for that. It is called “veiter”. Often in other places, you try to say something and you can’t think of the words to say it. But here we have a very rich dialect. Veiter is a verb as well as a noun. So it’s a great dialect.

There is a sentence we use in Norway: “Enige og tro inntill Dovre faller”. It is written in the national law; the constitution. The mountains in Dovre are big, solid, and strong. It means “Be true to your country, as long as the Dovre mountains are standing.” So that’s a really cool thing about the significance of Dovre too.

 

And we also have musk ox! It’s related to the American bison, and was brought over from Canada. You only find it here on Dovrefjell and a little into Trøndelag. They have a lot of hair and they run up to 60km/hr. If you piss them off, you run! So that’s really special for Dovre. You sometimes see them by the road in the mountains. We had 200 but last year many got sick, so I think now it’s just 100-150.

  1. What have you learned from living in Dovre?

“…there was only a very small community of Christians around, so that was difficult…”

See Svein's Full Answer

It is a small place, as we talked about earlier, so you have to find things for yourself to do. When me and my brother were 10-12 years old, we bought our first cameras and started to take pictures. Today, everything comes to you, but when we were small, we needed to find things to do.  There wasn’t even a kindergarden. We played with our neighbours who were also our cousins, and we were in the woods playing cowboys and Indians… “Bang! You’re dead!” And we of course played a lot of football. But when I graduated I was too scared to play anymore because I was a keeper and they started shooting really hard when they got older!

 

We are Christians, there was only a very small community of Christians around, so that was difficult. And in school, it was very strange to be Christian. Most people I knew didn’t feel that Christianity means something to them. Now it’s an even smaller community, but we’re grown-ups so it’s not a problem any more. In my class at school there were no other Christians like me. I was actually scared to tell them, because I thought if they heard they would bully me. But I don’t know that they would have and I’ll never know, because I never told them. But I thought they’d say I was crazy. 

  1. Have you been outside of Dovre and Norway?

“to go to Tenerife… wow. Sun… beaches…”

See Svein's Full Answer

 Just for vacations. London is actually one of my favourites. But also Tenerife. That has to be my absolute favourite. There was a lot of sun. In Norway, normally, it’s not like the days we are having now, because now we have had a lot of sun and nice weather. It’s normally more like England, where you have a lot of rain and not so good weather. So to go to Tenerife… wow. Sun… beaches. That’s my favourite so far, but I would love to go back to London.

  1. Can you think of a time you have been proud of Norway?

“…people see us as a special part of the world…”

See Svein's Full Answer

You heard that we had this big scene in Norway some years ago. One man killed a lot of people. The way we handled that; people outside saw Norway in a very special way at that time. That is something I think of that I can be proud of as a Norwegian.

Aside from that, I guess that people see us as a special part of the world, in a good way. That’s a good feeling. It’s the country a lot of people want their country to be like.

  1. What is your main concern or worry about Dovre?

“…we have a problem. We need more people moving into the kommune.”

See Svein's Full Answer

Then I would say Dovrekommune, as I see it – I don’t say this is a fact, it is just my opinion – we are not great at inviting people to come and actually stay in Dovre; to live here. People move out from Dovre because it’s not easy to get a job. So we have a problem. We need more people moving into the kommune. It’s a very bad problem and I don’t think the people that sit in the kommunehus (council) see this in the right way. So as I see it they don’t correct the problem, and for that I am sad. Our kids don’t want to move back here. They go to Surland – Kristiansund – and don’t want to come back. To come back you need to have something to come back for. The first thing you need is a job. And now they’re also shutting down the school here. That’s just going to make things worse.

  1. How would you convince a tourist to visit?

“Going over Dovrefjell is like the route 66 of Norway.”

See Svein's Full Answer

The Musk ox, the viewpoint on Dovrefjell. The nature here is amazing. It’s crazy, really. I have to say that’s the main thing. And Dovre is a big name in Norway, as we said before, it’s in the constitution. Almost everyone in the country has heard of it and knows a little about it. And the mountains in Dovrefjell; in Norway we say “Dovrefjell er Norge’s tak”. These mountains are the ‘roof of Norway’. That’s big. Going over Dovrefjell is like the route 66 of Norway.

  1. What are your thoughts on Stereotypes of Dovrings?

“…what we can do tomorrow, we do tomorrow…”

See Svein's Full Answer

 That would be, we are a little “traust” (stout). They also say we are slow. Not slow in the head but what we can do tomorrow, we do tomorrow. We’re laid back, but we can also be sceptical of outsiders. We also – how do you say it – ‘call a spade a spade’. So we’re blunt, and say it how it is. And I think these stereotypes are mostly fair, although they may be more for my father and mother’s generation. So maybe we are a bit more mixed up now and these characteristics will fade out. Even more so with my Daughters Amalie and Anne.

  1. What is the best thing to ever come out of Dovre?

That would be the name of ‘Dovre’…”

See Svein's Full Answer

That would be the name of ‘Dovre’. Because some people use that for branding, because Dovre is a big name. I think there is actually an underwear brand. It’s because Dovre is in the constitution and is by the ‘roof of Norway’. That makes it a big deal.

  1. What do you eat during the Holidays here?

“…you put lutefisk in the lefse, and you wrap it up and eat it with the milk soup…”

See Svein's Full Answer

Here in Dovre, we eat something called ‘Lutefisk’. I guess you’ve heard of it as you’re half Norwegian. In the beginning, it was a fish. And they have transformed it into something else. It’s not dry, more like a gel. For me, it tastes very good because my mum was serving that when I was young. We had it with mjolkesuppe – Milk Soup. When I say that I hear it sounds strange, especially around Christmas time. It’s milk and something called ‘Gryn’. That and Lefse, which is like a tortilla. So you put lutefisk in the lefse, and you wrap it up and eat it with the milk soup. And you drink some kind of beer with it. I suggest you come back next Christmas and we serve it for you!

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  1. What is your favourite Norwegian Dish?

“Many people eat Grøt on Saturday.”

See Svein's Full Answer Many people eat Grøt on Saturday. Some on the farms have it every Saturday. Maybe not so much anymore. But for me, I love chicken. As long as it’s chicken it’s ok. I also love the Lutefisk. I’m not sure we eat so much Norwegian food. There’s something similar to kjottkakke (like meatballs but bigger) called ‘mediste’ – another type of meat. It’s much, much better and is a very common dinner. You have it with potatoes, brown sauce (not the type you have in England; it’s butter, stock, flour and seasoning) and vegetables.

 

  1. And your least favourite?

“…the head of a sheep with the eyes and everything.”

See Svein's Full Answer

Something I know I hate even though I haven’t tasted it. It’s called “Smalahove”. It’s the head of a sheep with the eyes and everything. They put it on the table, the whole head. And some people eat the eyes. So even though I haven’t tasted it, that is my least favourite. But this is mostly found on the West coast of Norway.

Reccomendation:

The cinnamon balls are very popular in Norway. Everyone in Norway does it the same way. You roll out dough like a pizza, and you have sugar and cinnamon inside, and then you roll it from the longest side. Then you cut it, and turn it around and sprinkle big sugar bits on the top – ‘pearl sugar’. You have to put egg on it before the sugar so it stays on. It’s really simple but it takes time because it has to rise. You actually leave the dough for 45 minutes before you roll it out. Then you leave it again for 30 minutes before it goes in the oven.

Life According to Locals #Dovre #Norway #InterviewsWithLocals Click To Tweet
Svein (right) and his brother (left) appear in the local paper after the discovery of a WWII ammunition belt.

The Plate: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

If there’s one thing most people can agree on, it’s cinnamon rolls. Even the fussiest eaters don’t have it in themselves to turn down a ball of cinnamon-sugar doused dough. Norway is no different. Nearly anywhere you turn, whether it be a bakery or a gas station, cinnamon rolls are sold, and it’d actually be fairly difficult to travel to the country and not try them. It’s not hard to determine why, either. The first bite is fluffy but satisfyingly dense. The stickiness of the sugar clinging to the dough and the flakiness of the pastry might be messy, but all part of the experience. The cinnamon melts between the rolls and twists of the bun, so some bites explode with flavour more intensely than others, providing variation in what might be too much intense sweetness to some. Interestingly, in Norway, the cinnamon rolls rarely have icing on top. Frosting fanatics may not be entirely satisfied with this, but it does cause the cinnamon to stand out more, which is kind of the point.


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Mohammed in Melbu, Norway

Attempting to cycle from Tromsø in Northern Norway to Baku, Azerbaijan while interviewing locals en route. Despite my chequered history with bikes, here’s to me returning home with an intact facial structure and at least as many body parts as I left with.

4 Comments

  • Dennis

    An idyllic way of life….if with regular income….but Dovre could lose its community over time, particularly without a school.

  • Hilda

    This sounds idyllic – for holidays. So sad that the community is shrinking. I am curious as to the main religion in Dovre seeing that Svein, being a christian, was very much in the minority.

    • Tieran Freedman

      I believe that in Dovre, and Norway as a whole, the dominant religion is Lutheran, but there are a lot of people that do not identify with a particular religion.

  • Stephanie

    It was nice to finally “meet” your friend Sven. Miriam must have longed for some frosting for those cinnamon rolls!

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