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Destination: the dark Norwegian spirit; the akevitt festival in Gjøvik

In the bustling modern world, it seems people are navigating multiple challenges simultaneously. Practically every YouTube video comes with a plethora of disclaimers: 'Do not try this at home,' 'This is not financial advice,' 'Do not microwave your cat,’ etc. Well, I shall venture into this territory as well. Let it be known that I do not endorse alcohol consumption. Under the influence, one may find themselves falling in love with hideous individuals, grossly overestimating one’s own abilities tenfold, or even plunging their car into a pond. So, exercise caution with alcohol, alright? Now, let us proceed.

The Norwegian national spirit is known as Aquavit (or akevitt), which can freely be translated as 'water of life.' It is most certainly not water, but it does add vivacity to the proceedings. What Aquavit is to Norway, tequila is to Mexico. The only difference lies in how it is consumed here, as if it were whisky. So, calmly.

I still vividly recall my first encounter with Aquavit. I was on a long weekend trip with a group of Norwegians. As evening descended upon our holiday cabin, a variety of Aquavits made its way to the table for a tasting. I must confess that I wasn't immediately blown away, but perhaps it depended on the specific kind. About six months later, I was presented with another one, featuring more pronounced citrus and anise-like notes. And I believe that's when I was won over. In fact, whenever I now arrive at a Norwegian airport from abroad, I often can't resist bringing a bottle back from the duty-free shop (yes, the rumors are true: alcohol is expensive here).

Akevitt fesival Norway

You can, of course, order an Aquavit or 'akevitt' at a bar, but it's even better to make your way to Gjøvik. In September, the Akevitt Festival takes place there, promising a delightful weekend brimming with culinary delights, cheerful company, and, of course, that beloved libation. This event truly stands as one of the annual highlights in Gjøvik, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Gjøvik itself is a somewhat sleepy spot but holds a rich history concerning Akevitt. An important distillery once stood here, and the area was known for its lively smuggling trade across the nearby lake.

If you decide to attend the festival, it's wise to book a hotel well in advance. Many people flock to the event. The most obvious choice is the Clarion Hotel in the vicinity. I’m going this year! Can’t wait really.

On Friday, a special Akevitt train departs from Oslo, offering a delightful preview of what awaits you in Gjøvik. Once aboard, you'll be treated to samples of aquavit, delightful beers, and local delicacies to whet your appetite. As if that weren't enough, captivating lectures are even conducted during the journey. Furthermore, this presents an excellent opportunity to acquaint yourself with fellow visitors. This is Norway at its coziest!

**If the train isn't your thing, an electric car is your second best option. But do not drink and drive! It's only a two hour drive away from Oslo. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to go electric. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.


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