CARVED TROLLS ARE EVERYWHERE. Private cars are forbidden downtown. Lake Mjosa? Sounds like a flu symptom. OK: so Lillehammer isn't suave Albertville, or even Calgary. But visitors to the sleepy Norwegian town 380 miles from the Arctic Circle can find fun apres Olympics viewing.
Events like ballet and concerts are planned nightly, and no visit is complete without a tour of Lillehammer's ubiquitous ice sculptures. But for a real blast there's the simulator at the Hakon Hall hockey arena: $5.25 for a virtual bobsled or downhill ski run.
Storgaten, the town's pedestrian mall, is shopping central, especially for Olympic pins. (Hottest seller: the new Czech Republic.) Strollers on the avenue lined with red and yellow wooden-fronted shops will enjoy the colorful window displays, like a storefront full of Lego animals. Shoppers' tip: skip the costly cable-knit sweaters in favor of eye-catching Norwegian peasant skirts and shawls. (Wear'em stateside and watch nightclub maitre d's say, "Your table is waiting, Ms. Ciccone!") But beware "friendly" encounters with street advertisers dressed as everything from polar bears to Vikings. To deal with the northern clime, smart tourists will follow the locals' lead. Most Lillehammerites go to market pushing " sparks" -- standing sleds, like shopping carts on runners, that help avert falls on icy streets. It's a good idea to heed MOOSE CROSSING signs, too: you may be the road kill.
Reindeer offer both the transportation and cuisine of choice: either pulling sleighs or served with a sweetish lingonberry and mushroom gravy. But varme polser (a.k.a. hot dogs) and McDonald's (newly opened and a source of area pride) are available.
Local youths hang out at the Victoriahjomet -- a pub so popular kids pile up their backpacks outside to save space for pizza and darts. There you can sample Lillehammer's top cocktail: the bombe. A chill-cutting Nordic boilermaker, it's made by dropping a shot glass of aquavit into a stein of beer. A few of these and you'll think you're in Rio.