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  • Uncover the artistic side of Vrådal and Upper Telemark. The soaring mountains, craggy coastlines, crystal-clear lakes, and bountiful forests of the region have been muses for artists for generations, including famed Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, who was born in the city of Skien. After exploring the area's abundant beauty, pay a visit to the many art galleries that call Upper Telemark home to admire some of the works the region's rugged landscapes have inspired. Right next door to the Straand Hotel is Sølvsmedtunet, a silversmith's gallery, or visit some of Vrådal's other artistic centers, like Galleri Lalla at the city's tourist office and Galleri Samvirke in the town center. Galleri Sanden, which is only a 15-minute drive away in the village of Vråvatn, is also worth visiting. In addition to handicrafts, artwork, and clothing, this former mountain farm also offers local food, like freshly baked sourdough bread baked onsite in the gallery's wood-fired oven and rhubarb juice made from rhubarb grown on the property.

  • Step into the past at the Kviteseid Local History Museum and the West-Telemark Museum Eidsborg. Located only a ten-minute drive from the hotel, the Kviteseid Bygdetun (Kviteseid Local History Museum), established in 1907, is one of Norway's most historic open-air museums. The centerpiece of the museum is its collection of 12 different farm buildings, which were brought there from different farms in the area. The most historical is a traditional storehouse dating back to the 1300s. Meanwhile, Flekstveitstoga, a farmhouse from the 1600s, features a living room that is resplendent in rosemaling ("rose painting"), a traditional Norwegian folk art, on its ceiling and walls. After drinking in the history, hop in the car for a 45-minute drive to the Vest-Telemark Museum Eidsborg. In addition to a modern building with cultural exhibits featuring woodwork, textiles, rosemaling, and more, the West Telemark Museum also boasts its own open-air collection of historical buildings, more than 30 in total, including Stålekleivloftet, a wooden storehouse that dates back to 1167.

  • Gaze upon a piece of Norwegian history with a visit to Telemark's stave churches. Once thought to number in the thousands during the Middle Ages, today, there are only 28 stave churches still preserved in Norway. Located just under an hour-long drive from the hotel, the Eidsborg Stave Church is thought to have been constructed sometime between 1250 and 1270 and still holds church services to this day. Most impressive are its plentiful runes, carvings, and painted interior details dating to the 1600s, as well as its soaring, circa-1727 bell tower. Even more impressive is the Heddal Stave Church, which has the distinction of being the largest stave church in Norway and is also still in use today. Spanning 24 meters (78.7 feet) in length, 15 meters (55.8 feet) in width, and 29 meters (95.1 feet) high, all constructed of cured heartwood from old-growth mountain pines called Ore-pine, the Heddal Stave Church stands as a towering monument to Norse faith and mythology.

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