The Ice-cream maker could not avoid hearing the conversation as he walked down Storgatubacken towards the lake. The two visitors stood on the cobblestone street looking at the old wooden houses. One lady said to the other: “No-one lives in these right?”
The ice-cream maker stopped and attracting the ladies’ attention, he said kindly:
“You are not the first to think that Nora is a museum. But I can assure you that there is someone living in every house. And if it is not a home it is a shop.”
The ladies smiled and thanked him. Perhaps they were a little embarrassed that they didn’t know that Nora is a vibrant small town. But as this was their first visit they could not be expected to know everything.
Much of Nora that you can experience today is the Nora that always existed. If you visit the town for the first time you have so much to look forward to. And if you return, whenever that may be, you should know that there are always new things to experience. And whatever you experienced the first time probably made such an impression that you are happy to repeat it.
Ice-cream, for example. World-famous, and served from a kiosk next to the square from April onwards. The fresh ice-cream is scooped out into 100,000 cones every season. Hazelnut and vanilla every day. Plus one additional flavour.
Nora has its very special atmosphere. And atmosphere is, as you know, very much a feeling. A feeling that comes from the fact that the old and the genuine is alive and used by craftsmen, shopkeepers, restauranteurs and enthusiasts with the same qualities that inspired the miners once upon a time to bring the ore out of the mountain - initiative and drive.
It is a daily reminder, on every street corner, in every quarter. The inn in the old brewery quarter by the entrance to the town. The ancient Stadshotellet with its grand ballroom. Miscellaneous trades on the slope down to the Kafé Strandstugan by the shore. The household goods store on one corner of the square. Slottspigornas (the Castle Maid’s) Café on the hill up to the school. The old train station which today is the tourist center. Göthlinska Manor house, one of Nora’s most beautiful wooden houses, preserved exactly as when the last member of the Göthlin family lived there. Or the vintage railway that runs through Järle and Pershyttan transporting you into another era.
Sometimes they say that a spirit rests over something or someone. In the case of Nora there are two. Quite different, but equally significant.
One is the mining industry, which is imprinted on the town and its surroundings, and which was responsible for Nora’s development from twelve tax-paying households in 1540 to a place of high status where the miners sold their iron.
The other is Maria Lang, Sweden’s first queen of detective novels, who used her home town as the scene of crime in most of the books she wrote. In actuality she was called Dagmar Lange and was a well-known personality in the town, which she renamed Skoga in the books. One could often meet her on evening walks, deep in thought creating a new intrigue.
You will find yourself in the midst of this when you visit the wooden town of Nora. In a tourist attraction that is always open. An attraction without embellishments. But with very warm, personal service and hand-selected merchandise. In Nora there is more than you imagine. Experience it to the full or enjoy just being here.
When you ask someone who lives and works in Nora what they would do as a tourist in their own town, the answers vary as you would expect in a place with such a rich selection on offer: visit the flea markets, explore nature, take a boat to Alntorps island, shop in the small boutiques, go on a town walking tour, listen to the music in the church or just have a coffee break at Slottspigorna, Da Capo, Selma G, Enkla Bullar or Björks café and enjoy the atmosphere.
And should you bump into visitors who do not yet know what type of town Nora is, just like the ice-cream maker, you can explain that it is a vibrant wooden town.