A Tourist Paradise
You are on a small beach sometime in the middle of July, the temperature is somewhere between 25 and 30 degrees Celcius. Behind you, not far from the shore, the beach is fenced in by little white houses with small gardens. The gardens are full of fruit-trees, roses, and lilac.
To your right, sheer pink cliffs rise out of the sea, youngsters crowd to these cliffs to jump into the water from various heights ranging from 1 to 9 metres.
You get up, and walk to your left along the beach, and up a small side alley. After practically no time at all you are in the middle of another bay, this one however, lined with some 40-50 boats. This is the town centre. All around you, white houses contain shops and Cafés that offer a nice place to cool down with a pint, an ice cream, a basket of strawberries, or perhaps some prawns and white bread? Whatever you choose, you'll find it here. You return to the beach, take a bath in the water, which is nice and cool, probably around 22 degrees Celcius.
You then return to your cabin/hotel-room to enjoy a nice quiet sunset...
The above description is of course dependent on nice weather, but it is a quite accurate description, nonetheless of Holmsbu, a small village hidden away on the western side of a peninsula named Hurum. Holmsbu has been marketing itself like this for some time now, and the success is best seen in the enormous growth the population experiences every summer. The population figures literally explode, from a modest 350 inhabitants to approx. 8000*.
The village is situated about an hour by car from both the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and the town Drammen. The climate is warm in the summer, where you can get temperatures up to 30 degrees Celcius, whereas the winter can be cold, with temperatures falling well below -20 degrees.
Apart from the relaxed life you'll find on the beaches, Holmsbu can also offer you a look at the paintings by the well known Norwegian artist, Henrik Sørensen. Sørensen, along with a lot of other artists, sought out the locations of Holmsbu and Rødtangen*. This is because of the special light that can be found there as an effect of the water in the two fjords, Oslofjorden and Drammensfjorden, meeting and mixing. Before he died, Sørensen took the job of decorating the local church, which you may visit every Sunday. A gallery has been built in the forests between Holmsbu and Rødtangen, where you may see many of the original paintings made by the now deceased Sørensen.
Also, local artists usually hold an art display in Støa every summer, where you can see some interesting paintings, normally of the beautiful landscape found all over Hurum.
Scientists have estimated that the first people came to Hurum around 10'000 years ago, but the first sure signs of a settlement near Holmsbu are the ancient graves found in the forest not far from the Village. These graves indicate that there have been humans in the area since 1500 B.C. The first real historical mention of a farm in the area, Holm Gård, are from approx. 700 A.D. It is assumed that the people have been living here since then. In those early days, the people living there got their money, and their food from fishing. The traces of this industry has not yet been fully wiped from Holmsbu, and you still have one professional fisherman fishing outside Holmsbu, selling his goods directly from his own boat in the town centre. Another industry of some importance in Holmsbu was timber. In the seventeenth century, shipping timber to other countries turned out to be a fine way of getting rich quick. The main product was oak, which sold at a high price in Europe. The Timber-industry burst into life with the inroduction of a sawmill capable of sawing long planks of wood, usually up to 20 metres. The same effect could be observed in Drammen, where a lot of the citizens got their riches from timber. This industry was put to an end a long time ago, when the Danish king* found out that he could earn money by taxing the whole business so outrageously that only two of the many sawmills in Hurum survived, and these two mills were not in close vicinity to Holmsbu. Before the industry was put to an end, however, Holmsbu had managed to become an alsmost self-sufficient society, with blacksmiths, bakers, and saddlers.
Today, Holmsbu supplies it's locals with money mainly through tourism. As is the case with most things in Norway, all services are relatively expensive. Because of this, Holmsbu tends to attract more affluent tourists. Thus, one of the facilities that can be found in the area is a twelve-hole golf course.
Accomodation - where and how
As mentioned before, Holmsbu is a relatively expensive place. If you wish to stay comfortably, and you are willing to pay a lot to do so, then you may visit Holmsbu SPA, reservations can be made through their website*.
For those who are not all that well off, Holmsbu offers some reasonable accomodation as well. If you travel to Rødtangen, you can camp there with your tent, or you may rent a cabin. Otherwise, you can stay at "Holmsbu Bad", a small hotel/restauramt with ten rooms capable of housing 27 people. You may also try Knattvold Camping, a bit further from Holmsbu, but with a very nice beach. The main way of getting a stay in Holmsbu, however, is by owning or borrowing one of the many cabins/summerhouses in the area. There are loads of these, and very few of them are ever sold. Most of the cabins stay in the ownership of the same family for generations, so if you don't know anyone who happens to own a cabin there, you will have to reserve one well in advance.
If you can afford it, the village is well worth a visit.