“Why don’t we buy a train?” Paul Tore Halvorsen asked his wife Gunnbjørg when he read in the paper that NSB, the Norwegian state rail company, were selling trains to Sweden. The couple were running Veggli tavern and already rented out velorail or draisine cars to guests who wanted a different experience on the tracks. Renting out a train for parties and accommodation would fit perfectly into their rail themed concept.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Ellen Margrethe Hveem
The next day he went to Oslo to buy a train and in June 2001 the train was on its way up the decommissioned Numedal tracks en route to Veggli and the space behind the tavern.
Today guests sleep in the train carriages and get a taste of what it felt like to be a train passenger in the 1960s. When there are parties in the carriages the hosts can serve medieval food or a contemporary three course dinner in the dining cars.
Ever since Hardangervidda was populated, the Numedal valley has been one of the most important routes from west to east and travellers were always been a part of everyday life.
At Veggli one of the routes came down from the mountains so people could find shelter for themselves and their livestock. With that tradition in mind Gunnbjørg and Paul Tore decided to quit their jobs at the SAS hotel in Oslo and start their tavern in the old shop at Veggli. The transformation was a huge challenge, but in 1983 the tavern opened.
The couple saw that there was demand for accommodation in Veggli and in 1988 they opened eight new rooms in what used to be the storage area upstairs. In 2014 they began a new chapter when Kari Revå Raunholm, who had worked there for almost 30 years, took over as manager.
Local food traditions
The tavern has been a popular meeting point for the villagers and it’s also a favourite stop for tourists and other travellers who want a bite to eat. There are lots of exciting treats on offer, such as fermented fish with potato cakes, cured trout and hams and a variety of other local specialities.
New hostess Kari comes from nearby Søre Laugen farm and knows local food traditions well. The kitchen concentrates on Norwegian food and aims to serve dishes of high quality, cooked from traditional recipes from the tavern or the Numedal valley.
After a delicious meal and a good drink guests go back to a good old fashioned train compartment and imagine the constant rhythm of the train while they sleep and dream of a different time …