December 9, 2022

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Choose whales over Spain

Choose whales over Spain

SKJÆRHALDEN (Dagbladet): – We are climate refugees from Bergen. It’s only nine degrees and it rains all the time, and then you have to drive to the sun. It’s always sunny here! Roger Jacobsen (51) tells Talkblade.

He and his friend Guttorm Falk (62) got on their motorbikes and drove straight to Skjarhalten in Hvaler. Now they’re enjoying a pint each, sitting in the sun on the outdoor terrace at the ship’s Losen Restaurant & Bar.

Weather refugees: Comrades and motorcycle enthusiasts Roger Jakobsen (left) and Guttorm Falk say they “drove after the sun” and ended up in Hvaler. Photo: Shad Madian / Dagbladet
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– We had planned to go to Northern Norway, but it rained there too. We have also considered Lake Garda [i Nord-Italia]But biker friends say now the infectious boom isn’t very attractive.

Population is increasing

The island municipality of Hvaler outside Fredrikstad has a population of over 4,500. But in the summer, the population swells with all kinds of visitors, many of whom are cabin guests.

When Dagbladet visits the municipal center Skjærhalden on a mid-week afternoon, the square is bustling with life, where all the small boathouse-style wooden houses are painted deep red. Many people sit in outdoor cafes, while others browse the small shops and stalls – or on their way to or from the ferry in the harbour.

– We have a cabin in Hvaler, so we split the summer holidays between being here and in Sweden, where I have family, says Johanna Müller Arndtsen (35).

Johanna, husband Christopher Arndtsen (38) and daughters Elsa Madelon (7) and Vera Elisabeth (4 1/2) – enjoy pizza on wooden benches outside Wertshuset Skjarhalten. The family from Lorenzcog agrees that this is the best place to be right now.

– It’s nice here, and there’s a lot to do. I recommend everyone to come here, says Johanna.

Cottage guests: Johanna Müller Arndtsen, Christopher Arndtsen and their daughters Elsa Madelen (7) and Vera Elisabeth (4 1/2) spend most of each summer in Hvaler.  Photo: Shad Madian / Dagbladet

Cottage guests: Johanna Müller Arndtsen, Christopher Arndtsen and their daughters Elsa Madelen (7) and Vera Elisabeth (4 1/2) spend most of each summer in Hvaler. Photo: Shad Madian / Dagbladet
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Kristoffer goes a bit further when asked if he would choose Skjarhalten over Spain all the time.

– I can sit in Spain even now – but not with all the flight chaos now, he says.

on the line

A little further on, people line up to take the ferry to Herbol Island. Friends Håkon Skjelbred (16) and Noah Hagen Awan (15) from Oslo have spent many summers in Hvaler – and are sure to have many more.

– It’s pretty cool here, and it’s a bit hard to leave all the hassle of airstrikes. And to lose my luggage – many of my friends and friends have done it. And it looks a bit awkward, says Noah.

Confusion: Baggage confusion at airports on the continent is one of the contributing factors to Norway tourism among Norwegians.  Here from Madrid at the end of June.  Photo: Bjørn Langsem / Dagbladet

Confusion: Baggage confusion at airports on the continent is one of the contributing factors to Norway tourism among Norwegians. Here from Madrid at the end of June. Photo: Bjørn Langsem / Dagbladet
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– What is so good about Skjærhalden?

– There is a beach here, and you have access to a boat and so on, because you have more opportunities. Then I have friends here, then – it’s very easy to meet new people, Hakon replied.

– So there are some reasons why I stayed here for many years and never went abroad. And we haven’t had the chance to do so in recent years, says the 16-year-old and refers to the pandemic.

Young people say they spend a lot of time boating.

– Then you spend the night with your friends. These are very fun activities, says Hagon.

He admits he’d rather sit in Mallorca now – but Hvaler isn’t a bad alternative.

– Absolutely not. It’s great, I’m really happy to be here, says the 16-year-old.

Relevance: All the houses on the ship are painted dark red.  Photo: Shad Madian / Dagbladet

Relevance: All the houses on the ship are painted dark red. Photo: Shad Madian / Dagbladet
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Reject

Jon Häckert (60), owner and general manager of Losen Restaurant & Bar, has his hands full; The outdoor cafes in front and behind the arena were packed with people. However, he says the space has seen a slight decline compared to last year.

– Last year there was a line to enter almost every day, but not this year. But as long as the weather is good, he tells Talkblade, the occupation is often packed from morning to evening every day.

– What is the reason for the decline?

Declined, but happy: Losing owner John Hackert posted a sharp decline from 2020 and 2021, but there's plenty to do.  Photo: Shad Madian / Dagbladet

Declined, but happy: Losing owner John Hackert posted a sharp decline from 2020 and 2021, but there’s plenty to do. Photo: Shad Madian / Dagbladet
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– Last year and the year before, people could not travel anywhere. People from Fredrikstad, people from Oslo – they couldn’t go to Sweden, Svinesund, Strömstad, so it was a very popular place last year and it’s still this year. I don’t want to call it a failure, but the nightclub owner says we have a 10 percent decline this year.

– It doesn’t look like it’s creating a crisis.

– No, no, no, we have no crisis. Last year there was more crisis, so to speak – during the pandemic, with all the restrictions and everything, the 60-year-old says and continues:

– It works great when driving casually. People had to sign up, it was a meter away, people couldn’t go to the bar and shop. It’s easier to handle a whole restaurant today than it was a year ago.

– For those weighing the pros and cons of a holiday in Norway: What does Skjærhalden have to offer?

– I call it Nordic paradise. If you sit on our outdoor terrace, it’s three meters to the water. There are lots of people, lots of shopping. There’s plenty to do – lots of beautiful beaches, here’s a town beach just down the road. In addition, we have a good restaurant offer, four or five restaurants that complement each other. If you go to Hvaler on holiday, you have a great offer.

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