Just how much does Hettie love Southern Norway? She’s visited over 30 times from the Netherlands! “I am a Norway lover.” She told us after being told she was the first #LoveSouthernNorway ambassador. “There is not one reason why I love Norway but more like a million reasons.”
We caught up with Hettie for a quick interview about what exactly makes her LOVE Southern Norway.
Visit Sørlandet: You’ve visited over 30 times. What makes you keep coming back?
Hettie: I love the ruggedness of the country. There’s nothing really cultivated. You can walk along a nice pass and not even meet anybody. The ruggedness everywhere is just amazing. We all love it. Our whole family has been there. As a child I went there with my grandparents, parents and brothers. All packed up in one Volkswagen bus. You can put your tent anywhere and have a great time. The thing I love the most is the ruggedness and the freedom you feel when you’re there. Relaxed; that’s exactly how I feel when I’m in Norway.
Visit Sørlandet: When was the last time you visited Southern Norway and what is your best memory from that trip?
Hettie: I went the year before. That’s 2013. I arranged the trip together with my cousin and we had some cabins rented. We weren’t really sure where we’d wind up. One of the first cabins was at the Hove Camping at Faervik Island (located in Raet national park in Arendal). We were amazed by the stone beaches there and the sights we saw. We had this amazing time. There were like a million blueberries there that were just ripening up. Our kids had the greatest time there as well.
We went to another camping place. We were right beside the lake. That was our view. The kids didn’t see it as a lake, they thought of it as the ocean. The amazement of the kids was great. We just had a blast.
Visit Sørlandet: Describe your perfect day in Southern Norway.
Hettie: Wake up at the crack of dawn because the sun is burning me out of my tent. Have a breakfast of wild strawberries with some raspberries maybe. Have a nice walk through the nature or forest. See some waterfalls, have a picnic somewhere. Maybe see some elk or any other animal. In the evening, sit down with a vest on and have a campfire. Make your own food on a stick. Sit there and relax, have a beer or two and love the fact that it will not get dark very soon.
Visit Sørlandet: Can you describe Southern Norway in a few words?
Hettie: Amazing, fun, rugged and adventure. My kids see it as an adventure.
Visit Sørlandet: What makes Southern Norway unique compared to other places you have visited?
Hettie: The freedom. There’s a lot of freedom. I feel a lot of freedom there. You feel so welcome everywhere. You’re not as welcome in other countries. There’s a real difference there. I love the language. I’d like to speak it fluently.
Visit Sørlandet: What makes Southern Norway an ideal spot for Dutch?
Hettie: The adventure is what Dutch people will really like. Of course, the free camping. Dutch love to do things for free! You can really put your tent in a forest where you are. There are some rules, but not that many which is something that Dutch people really like.
Visit Sørlandet: For a first time visitor who will be camping in Southern Norway, do you have any recommendations?
Hettie: Yes. They need to pack summer clothes but also some warmer clothes. At night, it will be brisk and a little bit cold. Take a vest and some rain clothes. Of course, water tight boots. They need to go by car. I think that’s one of the special things that I always tell people. Every corner you can see something different. If you go in a travel group you will not have the time to shoot some pictures or just enjoy the sights. Do your own car. Just do it and have fun.
Visit Sørlandet: What do you think surprises a visitor to Southern Norway the most?
Hettie: The sights. I haven’t had one person see my pictures and not say “wow.” With almost every picture I showed them. The Wow factor, yes.
Visit Sørlandet: Did you visit any attractions or do any specific activities in your last few visits to Southern Norway?
Hettie: The Mineralpark (Mineralparken) in Evje. We had a lovely day there. Also because there is a lake next to it so if you are finished in the museum you can relax at the lakeside.
Lindesnes Fyr (lighthouse). We had a lovely roadtrip towards the lighthouse and the climb up to the top was also really lovely.
When I still went to Norway with my parents as a young girl we used to go to Mjåland, this is between Evje and Arendal. This area is very nice, the roads are good and the sites are beautiful. Also, there are a lot of places you can still find cabins and campingsites because you are near a lot of nice villages and cities.
Visit Sørlandet: When and where do you plan to go back, and what do you want to experience?
Hettie: What I still want to do are the following:
– Go on a trip with a boat on the rapids.
– Take a course to learn the Norwegian language. (“Jeg kan snakker litt Norsk”)
Next year I am planning to go to Norway and take my parents with me as they have not been there since 2009 and they are 77 and 81 and love Norway as well. Also take along my niece who wants to see Norway for herself for once. And maybe when I am a little older and my kids can take care of themselves, I would like to go and stay in Norway for a year and experience Norway in every season.
Visit Sørlandet: What do you love the most about Southern Norway?
Hettie: The feeling of freedom.
This blog was originally published in 2015 as part of the #LoveSouthernNorway campaign. As our #LoveSouthernNorway Ambassador, Hettie received Color Line ferry tickets to visit Southern Norway 5 more times.