Walaker Hotel is over 370 years old, and has been owned by the Nitter family since 1690. The hotel has been inherited from generation to generation, is now an attraction in itself.
The Nitters probably originally came from Scotland. A member of the family came to Bergen in 1603 and set up as a trader in western Norway. Part of the family moved to Sogn some few years later. So Christen Nitter, who was later to found what is now Walaker Hotel, grew up in inner Sogn. He made his way out into the world to learn a craft and spent several years apprenticed to goldsmiths, before making his way back to Solvorn in 1690 and renting the trading post at Vollåker.
With his wife Birgitt, he began a new life as a trader and innkeeper in Solvorn. The couple had seven children and it was the youngest son, Ludvig, who took over the business. Ludvig was known for brewing good beer. It was brewed from barley in the winter and had to be stored in a cold cellar so that it would keep all summer.
Ludvig Nitter married "demoiselle" Øllegård Klingenberg. When he died in 1776, his licence allowed his widow to continue running the business. The couple had six children, and once again it was the youngest son who took over the running of the hotel. Henrik ran the hotel from 1790 until 1821, when his son Erik took over.
Erik married Malene Mo from Hafslo. The couple had one son, who died very young, and four daughters. It was the oldest daughter, Mette Malene, who inherited the property. In the mid-1800s, the first tourists began to come to west Norway. In 1865, the Swedish-Norwegian crown prince, later King Carl XV, made a journey through Norway. He travelled over the Sognefjell mountains and out through Sognefjord. One of his party was the photographer Mathias Hansen, who we believe took the first ever photographs of Solvorn and Walaker Hotel.
Mette Nitter Walaker died in childbirth, just forty years old. It was the 11th birth of the 23-year marriage to Jakob Sjursen Talle. Four of the eleven children died young, and of those who grew up it was the oldest son Erik who took over the place in 1878, but turned it over to the next in line, Wilken.
Wilken was married to Inga Ragnhild Mo from Luster, who went on to become a legend as the Solvorn hotelier. As well as running the guest house, they also ran the freight forwarding operation in Solvorn and were responsible for the post office. The basis for more modern hotel operations at Walaker was laid in the mid-1930s, when the old guest house was extended and renovated to make it more functional. To further extend capacity, a bungalow-like motel building was added in 1964, in the garden beside the old "tingstova".
Times have changed and so have generations, but little if anything has changed at Walaker Hotel. The present-day hosts are the 8th and 9th generation of the Nitter family. Hermod was born and grew up in Solvorn, while his wife Oddlaug Marie (née Bringe) is originally from Numedal. They took over as owners in 1978, but have run the hotel since they were married in 1968. Today they run the family hotel together with their son Ole Henrik and all three are determined to continue the venerable traditions. The tenth generation is called Theodor Nitter Walaker and came into the world in October 2006. He must be well-schooled and taught many different things before he hopefully takes over in about 30 years.
Rick Steves visiting Solvorn, Norway