There we were. After a long - though beautiful - seven hour bus ride through the mountains of Norway, Signe and I had finally arrived at the place about which I had heard so much. My Grandpa and Grandma Lund had visited Grotli Hotel before, and have always been quick to share stories of their adventure. But now the adventure was ours. And it was an adventure.
The hotel itself was the original impetus for our trip to Norway. My grandpa would often tell me of an old hotel - one that his Grandpa had built at the turn of the century and that was still owned and operated by family. Our first night at the hotel was rather quiet. It wasn't until the the next morning that I worked up the courage to approach the owner, Are Bergheim, and reveal my identity. Though he wasn't quite sure of my relation to the hotel, he took us into a room filled with old photos. And while I saw one photo I recognized (see above), the photo room left me with more questions than answers. Are, however, was determined to figure it out. He invited Signe and I to join him and his wife for coffee that evening. Meanwhile, he promised to do a bunch of research and get to the bottom of everything.
Immediately following dinner, Signe and I met Are and Berit in a comfortable lounge area. For five hours we enjoyed each other's company - along with coffee, soda, cake, ice-cream, and fruit - while Are unraveled the mystery of my family history. Armed with a full-sized flip-chart and a stack of family tree paperwork, he confirmed what my grandpa had said all along: that the man who began building this hotel in 1903, Sevald Grotli, was indeed my great, great grandfather. The penny dropped when Are made the connection that both he and I are exactly fifth generation descendants of this man, making us third cousins. A unique feeling of intrigue and familial warmth pervaded the atmosphere that evening.
The "Grotli Chapter" of our trip had greatly exceeded our expectations. The warm reception and rich hospitality of Are, Berit, and their son, Hans Christian, in addition to the personal and in-depth family history lesson, made for an unforgettable trip.