For this year’s BEAR get-away, we were all whisked off to Trondheim, Norway to get to grips with nature and embrace friluftsliv – no direct translation but it means ‘open air life’, and reflects the Norwegians’ love of all things outdoors. And we’ve come back as converts, still clutching our thermals and rucksacks and smelling of campfires.
Kicking off on Thursday afternoon, we headed off to Gatwick to discover our destination, and to be presented with Bear Grylls survival packs to get us through the weekend ahead. Three hours later, we arrived in Trondheim and checked into our rooms to find prepared backpacks with head torches, emergency KitKat rations, and a cryptic note advising us to get some sleep, and dress warm in the morning, when we’d find out what was in store for us. So of course, we headed out to sample the local nightlife and caught just a little shut-eye before morning.
Around the breakfast table at 10am, a perfect stranger delivered us two envelopes: splitting us into teams of girls vs. boys, they contained our instructions to our first destination. We embarked on our mystery tour of Trondheim, getting our bearings before following instructions to get ourselves to the ski jump at Granåsen. Once we’d solved a few maths problems (helpfully written in Norwegian), cracked open the padlock code, and raced like the wind up a million stairs to the top of the ski jump, we faced our first real challenge: abseiling back down. The ladies made it to the top first, so we got ourselves back down first too, and bar a couple of tears of relief and a near-faint, the whole BEAR team descended flawlessly.
On to part two of our adventure: orienteering through the Norwegian woods, to find stunning frozen lakes, across secluded forest farms, and ultimately arriving at a roaring campfire for freshly brewed coffee & some hot dogs for sustenance. This time, the boys took the victory – and following suit, they were the first to volunteer themselves for an icy plunge into lake Haukvatnet. At just 2ºC, it was invigorating to say the least! Once we were warm and dry again, the teams united for the final part of our trek, which saw us arrive at a beautiful clearing, and some indulgence after all that action. We clinked ice cold beers in a wood-fire heated hot tub, whilst our incredible tour guide-cum-photographer-cum-chef prepared a truly spectacular feast for the evening. Enjoyed in our own wood shed with a roaring fire, we celebrated in style.
Day two began and we thought we were in for something a little more sedate. Once we arrived at Crazy Coyote’s offices and saw the 600hp rib boat we were to board, we knew we were in for some more action! Thoroughly kitted out in some particularly attractive jumpsuits, we boarded the boat for a half-hour fjord-rafting thrill ride. Our destination this time was Tautra, a tiny island with a beautiful walk up to a ruined monastery, where we had a traditional Norwegian Christmas feast, complete with a tasting of local craft beers. Sated and a little tipsy, we put our suits back on and zipped back to Trondheim in our fjord-raft, at a casual 60 knots-per-hour, under the beautiful 4pm moonlight.
A quick turnaround and gladrags on, we went urban for the evening, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner of gravlax and reindeer before hitting the town for cocktails and dancing. A little delicate the next morning, we waved goodbye to our spirit guide, personal paparazzo and party planner Sven-Erik, and slipped our way across the icy streets to the old town, for a farewell feast (yes, another) of fish soup, ox breast, and local artisan cheese. As we dozed off en route back to London, we all felt that friluftsliv was our new life ethos, and started dreaming of how we might be able to top it all next year. Huge thanks to Roberto & Eddy from all of us bjorns, and a very god jul to all!