Photo Illustration: The Strategist. Photos: Chantel Tattoli

Everybody knows the person who spends hours looking through travel blogs, digging deep into Tripadvisor rabbit hole rabbit holes, collecting Google Docs from friends and creating their own. A Beautiful Mind–style spreadsheets to come up with the best VacationsItineraries and other options are possible. In this recurring series, we find those people who’ve done all the work for you and have them walk us through a particularly wonderful, especially well-thought-out vacation they took that you can actually steal.

Chantel Tattoli and her husband, writer, flew Norwegian Air from Paris to Hardangerfjord in Norway in the late summer. This region is known as Norway’s orchard. (The trio had plenty of fresh-picked plums pears and apples. The main draw, the fjord itself — which is the country’s second-longest — is located south of Bergen and stretches from the Atlantic some 110 miles inland. Tattoli and her loved ones travelled across it to explore hiking trails and hang out with sheep flocks. They also viewed a James Turrell Skyspace. Here, she shares how they spent their six-day respite, from sautéing reindeer to taking in the mesmerizing landscape, braving icy harbor swims, and spotting one wild mink.

We grab a cab at the airport to get to our Toyota Yaris, which we’d rented via Getaround. We then negotiate wet coastal roads the 60ish miles — a 1.5-hour journey in the best of conditions — to our Airbnb in Fosse. We stop at a gas station to pick up bottles of water. Cocio, a Danish three-ingredient (milk, cocoa, and sugar) chocolate milk that I count as the world’s best.

Our Airbnb is a three-bedroom, two-story wooden house. an old trading siteThis includes a former post office, general shop, and general store. My husband wanted to go further into the fjordland but I preferred the large white house with history. It was clearly designed by an artist with an artistic eye. (The owner, Ida — who has a studio and her own house on the grounds — has painted some walls and certain parts of the ceilings in abstract folky motifs, for example.) The upstairs bedroom had two bedrooms, one for children with single beds. One of the rooms was equipped with a crib. This was ideal because we could be loud downstairs (where there is a kitchen and bathroom) while the child was counting dreams sheep above.

My husband brought watercolors, acrylics, and brushes for the kiddo. She paints every morning on our trip. The kiddo is clearly on an artist’s retreat from the city.

Ida had fed us some reindeer in a cream sauce the night we arrived: It’s venison, basically, and tasty, and when we inquired for the whereabouts of the butcher — to get more — she pointed us to the frozen food aisle at the only grocer in the area (5 Tangeråshagen, Strandebarm 5630). So now we stock up on basics and regional delights like fish cakes, remoulade, and the reindeer.

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Holsete is nearby hamlet of historic herder cabinsAll of them are painted in the barn red, mustard, and snowy colors, and have been prettily topped with slate.60°19’12.8”N 6°00’17.6”E). There is no electricity and plumbing. We drove a quarter mile in our rain boots over hypergreen, waterlogged terrain to get there. We are the only ones at the cabins. “bah”ing black-and-white sheep with bells around their necks. Ida also owns a cabin in Holsete. We borrow it to make hot cocoa with the water from the storybook stream and relax by candlelight.

We drive south for about half an hour to Gjermundshamn. Then we ferry the car across a fjord to Rosendal. Scandinavia’s smallest castle (60 Baronivegen, Rosendal 5470). The 17th-century manor house is flanked by a rose garden, and there’s a tea room for cake and coffee as well as a dining room for full-on repasts.

We continue north by car (still along the shoreline of the fjord) — we’re taking in the God’s-country vibes of the mountains and chasing waterfalls (they gush hard after it rains and sound like yogi exhalations). We eventually catch the ferry to Jondal. The scenery is beautiful and peaceful.

My husband instinctually sautés the reindeer, which is precut into slivers, and we have it with barley and helpings of the plum chutney that Ida cooks and keeps stocked for guests in the freezer. Perhaps we could live in Hardanger as the elves or mermaids who are sure to be there?

This is the fruitbelt, where plum, pear and Apple trees are ripe. A farm is located just ten minutes from our Airbnb and has an excellent produce stand that accepts the honor system.Tangavegen, Tørvikbygd 5620). We take the cash and take beets and cabbage, carrots and snap peas.

I’m a sucker for brass pie wheelMo Antikk is an antique shop that sells decorative crusts and a wooden cup for decorating eggs.40 Grova, Norheimsund 5600), and we buy cider, hunks of whey cheese, and moose sausage from a speciality épicerie called Sjuragarden (225 Hardangerfjordvegen, Norheimsund 5600).

I make a stew with the farm produce, moose, and Aquavit for dinner. My husband bought it when he was on his own. I then call him. “fjord moonshine.” No wonder they’ve been making this stuff since the 1400s! It’s distilled from potatoes or grains and accented with dill or caraway, as well as other herbs. The upstairs of this charmingly appointed house features a fireplace. a downstairs fireplace and a barrack’s worth of vintage woolen blankets? Or that our daughter thinks that we are in Arendelle. Frozen fame?

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James Turrell oneHis more than 80 Skyspaces in Øystese (619 Hardangerfjordvegen, Øystese 5610), right on the waterfront. The Hardangerfjord Hotel’s front desk will give you the key. The chamber displays light at sunrise and dusk, but you can also go inside to look through the aperture at the sky, as we did. It cycles through so many shades in a matter of 20 minutes. I wish I had an old telescope. cyanometerTo measure the blueness. We then swim in the clear, cold harbor before we head to our next destination. Kunsthuset KabusoThe art center is across the street. To see more contemporary art and grab a quick lunch at the, caféCarrot cake and Lorraine quiche626 Hardangerfjordvegen).

We wander around on wheels while daughter naps, and by the time she wakes up, we’re ready to pull over for open-faced sandwiches, beers, and a whole apple pie to go at Steinsto Frukt og Kakebu (768 Fyksesundvegen, Steinstø 5612). The roadside shop and cafeteria feels like a family-friendly motorcyclers’ stop, and is part of a nine-generation-old fruit-and-berry farm that you can tour. We didn’t because our child was so content in the sandbox in the picnic area.

The nearby marina has an adorable, fully enclosed — and pretty much kitted out (with a grill, firewood, coffee maker, etc.) — BBQ hut (60 Tangeråsneset, Strandebarm 5630). We prepare burgers, baked potatoes, and heat the apple pie rest on the embers. We don’t see other humans!

The rainy afternoon and evening are spent watching TV at home. Frozen, Frozen 2, and Marilyn Monroe noir NiagaraThis was not written by a waterfall. There hasn’t been much in the way of shops, but I’ve coveted blankets by the heritage Norwegian brand Røros Tweed for a while — and our daughter has been loving snuggling and snoozing under the Airbnb’s wool covers — so later that night, online, I buy oneTo be back in Paris

Merrily, we take out the Airbnb’s rowboat on the calm fjord. This time of the year there are no orcas. It is best to see them in November and January. We see what we think is a baby orca scurrying about the deck. But, back on land we see it turns out to actually be a non-native mink (Ida ID’d it) that manages to give me Free Willy feelings. (Liberate the marine park orcas! Free the furrier minks!

While the kiddo goes to sleep, my husband and me sun on the lawn. BeowulfA back issue of Wired and plums plucked from the yard trees.

We visit Steinsdalsfossen Waterfall (Mo ved Steinsdalen, Norheimsund 5600), which was created in 1699 when the river here changed its course,
We finally meet other tourists here. It’s among Norway’s most visited, in part because the water drops 164 feet and in part because you can walk on a footpath right behind it. We stop by the rock art to take a look. Vangdal. The petroglyphs, which were carved into the cliffside over 6,000 years ago, show the forms of a moose and a deer as well as a human.

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Plasticana Hemp Wellies

Photo by retailer

The fjord region is defined by water, so wandering around requires rain boots even when it’s not raining: Streams and brooks thread through the landscape, and the ground is often sodden. I traded in my Hunters years back for these Plasticana Wellies, a comfy French version that’s caramel-colored and also ecofriendly.

Warrior Alpaca Socks - Unisex Colorblock Long John Alpaca Wool Socks

I’ll say it again: Alpaca wool aces out sheep wool because it is silkier and better at wicking away moisture. These Wellies are supersnug and hit higher at the calves.

Beowulf: A New Translation

Very Good Deal

Beowulf was written in Old English and its characters were Danish and Swedish, but just being in the realm of Scandinavia was excuse enough to revisit Maria Dahvana Headley’s 2020 gobsmacking feminist translation of this Nordic epic (Headley turns the heroes into bros).

Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Wide Mouth Bottle

I purchased this thermos when I worked in an office that had an arctic air conditioner. The Stanley kept Genmaicha tea piping hot throughout the day. I now take it with me on colder weather trips, where a cup of chamomile or coffee is an instant treat.

45R Indigo Tenjiku Cotton Bouguet Bandana

This is my holy-grail bandana because it’s very thin and very soft, and thus perfectly cut out for layering. In Norway, I’d get too hot moving around outdoors, but after stripping off a sweater or shawl, I still wanted to gird my neck with this thing.

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