Norway and its spirit – in short :)
Are you considering to visit Norway, but you are not really sure if it is the right destination for you? Or are you actually planning a trip to Norway and want to get motivated? Keep reading. This is the first of series of articles on which I´m working, with the same main topic from more uptakes – get you ready for your trip to Norway Take the first taste of what is coming.
I love Norway, I have to mention it on the first beginning. This country stands almost on the same pillar for me as Slovakia – my birthplace.
I came to Norway for first in 2015 and since then I`ve spent most of the time here. I´ve tried more roles as a student, a traveler, a tourist and as a foreign worker. I have created Norwegian friendships and many kinds of various relationships. So I think, that I have a lot to share
Before I came to Norway for the first time I really didn´t know what to expect. I didn´t choose Norway on a purpose so I let this country to introduced to me from the rawest point.
The most basic what you should prepare for Norway
It doesn´t matter in what kind of purpose you´re going to take this trip, those five points which you find bellow are the main ones and you will experience them by yourself for sure
1. Norway is big. (Russian, please don´t laugh )
Norway is big, maan! As I came from Slovakia I couldn´t even imagine the real size of this country. You know probably where is Oslo as the most of coming flow is oriented there. And maybe you´ve heard about famous cities as Stavanger, Trondheim, Trømso, Kristiansand or areas as Hardangervidda, Lofoten or Preikestolen. You´ve seen tones of pictures of stunning fjords, aurora borealis (northern lights) and high mountains and you hope to see it all within your trip.
So what can I promise?
Norwegian are proud on the level of transportation within their country. And they really should be! It is an amazing example of how to instead of fighting natural condition, just merged with them.
My experiences travelling through Norway are mostly by hitchhiking, but even if I took some of roads more than once, I was never bored by the view of car´s windows.
Roads are surrounded by peaceful woods, lakes and fields. Norwegian are very cautious riders and you should absorb this their feature as they know the best how tiny, narrow their roads are and that behind each turn, reindeer or sheep can appear.
The longest road which I took was on trails. It was 23 hours in train from Bø i Telemark to Bodø, on my way to explore Lofoten. Is it a lot? It did not seem and I have done it twice. Trains are perfectly comfy, with restaurants, wifi, clean toilets and comfort seats. When you travel over night you will get free small survival pack consisting of blanket, inflatable cushion, earplugs and eye-apron (to secure your comfort). And when you look out from the window you can actually watch never ending documentary movie – Secret of Norway.
My advice is don´t over-plan, you will not catch everything. For example, a road from Oslo to Lysefjorden (where are located famous hiking places as Preikestolen, Kjerag and Trolltunga) will take you around 10 hours in car and trust me, you will want to stop on the way, environs is stunning. (and when you are hitchhiking you know what it means ) You will enjoy Norway, even if you won´t catch all „picture´s“ places, each piece of Norwegian landscape is memorable.
2. Safety is the first
Something about Norwegian culture, they are crazy about safety and rules. And that´s why it is working, that´s why they have clean cities, high educational system and high level of welfare. But another thing is, that they naturally expect that all people value rules as they do. There is no so much control which you will meet.
Perfect example is ticket control of public transportation in Oslo. You won´t meet them, if you meet them you will see them far long before they catch you and reportedly there are options even after personal discussion with them. But this is not recommendation, just analyzing
But my advice is – learn to value their rules. You are traveling in their home so it is simply showing of respect as exchange to their hospitality.
As you go to nature, rules don´t exist anymore. You can camp almost anywhere, just you shouldn´t be seen or heard by „neighborhood“ and (hope that even it is not need to mention) – you should clean after yourself.
„Take just memories, leave just footprints.“
3. Nature will test you
Norway is not wild because of wild animals. In true the saddest thing about Norway which I learned is that they killed almost all predators from forests because of the fear and because of breeding sheep. (What really shocked me was that they even replaced native specie of sheep which could defense itself against wolfs or other predators by „fatty“ ones, since they can produce more meat and milk.)
Wind on the coast
But don´t be worry, there is an adventure within nature of Norway, which will deffinitely test you. I will never forget this crazy wind what almost blow me down from the bridge between islands Austvågsøya and Heimøya. Even if I had around 20 kg in my backpack, a wind drove me to the railing of the bridge and I found myself staring into uproarious waves of rough ocean 20 meters below me with sharp mix of snow and rain attacking my face. We´ve been there alone, walking besides of empty road, knowing that next main road is not closer than 25 km and the dark is coming within seconds. I was screaming as crazy from pure happiness as no one could hear me and I have never felt so alive and so powerful as in that moment.
Even during top days of summer, nights are cold and lakes even more. During summer, you will miss stars and during winter you learn to appreciate sunlight.
Autumn in Norway
I recommend the best time to visit Norway is beginning of autumn – September, October. Colors are stunning as you are surrounded by survived summer´s vegetation with initial autumn´s spirit. As I experienced two times (2015, 2016) September was truly warm and the weather was probably most suiting for any kind of travelling. On the north, Northern lights starting to show up also in September, since nights are back. You won´t suffer from missing nights or days, because you have both of them and since it is not the top vacation season you will enjoy more privacy during your travels within well-known places.
4. Prepare to be amazed
I see Norway as pure unending nature with few houses studded through.
If you arrive to Oslo and continue to any direction more to country side, landscape will show you what I mean. Highways disappear within an hour driving from capital and you discover that Oslo is truly the only one mainstream city which is located in the country.
Big cities in Norway
Norwegian big famous cities as I mentioned above have special atmosphere. I truly love Rjukan (maybe you have heard about city so hidden in the valley that they needed to put mirrors into hills to catch some sunlight during winter, it is Rjukan and place is also famous thanks to the best winter climbing wall in Europe), Drammen (city in the mountain, I think that name fits perfectly) or Bodø on the north (I really have to explore more the north of Norway as I have been just on few places).
But I suppose that if you chose Norway you are more interested in areas far away from big cities as I do I mentioned many times how charming the landscape is so I won´t repeat myself again.
Landscape in Norway
Just prepare to be amazed by any second. In June 2016 I went with friends to visit Gudvangen (the smallest fjord in Norway). Journey to catch place was breath-taking, as there are many tunnels and behind each one new surprise is probably waiting! The most beautiful view which I ever experienced after leaving tunnel was lake covered by ice formation. And as it was in the middle of June I was fucked up!
Tree´s vegetation through forests is truly Nordic so walk within woods will leave you balanced and harmonized. You can see through far distance saturate with peaceful colors and surroundings, blueberries, mushrooms, giant anthills or just green grass will leave awesome memories in you (or covered by snow, depends on season of your visiting).
5. Trust me, there is always more
So, you have read few articles, seen few pictures and you suppose that you are ready for everything. That there is nothing more what will blow your mind, just maybe the real beauty of places. I have to tell you very famous quotation: „You know nothing, John Snow.“
If you suppose that the coast of Norway won´t satisfy you enough in the way as typical summer places do, you may be wrong. Maybe you won´t lie under palm with pinacolada in your hand, but you can rest by leaning to pine tree on white sand with sea sounds in your ear, and this is even more interesting idea for me
Driving is fun
You know that roads are stunning and tunnels are built in really creative way but have you heard about Lærdal Tunnel? (Tunnel is between Lærdal and Aurland and it is 24.51km long road tunnel in Sogn og Fjordan with 3 huge “rooms” full of colour´s lights)
You think that you have explored Norwegian individuality and then you find a lost village in the mountain resting alone in winter time.
You think that you have found the most beautiful fisherman village and then you discover Henigsvær.
Tradition in food
You think that you discovered weirdest sea food on your last summer vacation and then you are offered by wale´s meat. (I recommend to have conversation about wale industry with some old fishermen from the north, it can bring you a new point of view on this world-known topic.)
Or you think that you have seen the most dangerous hiking place within Norway and then you are standing under Svolværgeita and you are asking how?
There is always more to explore. There is still new experience which waiting to take your breath away. The most stunning moment which I experienced in Norway was when I´ve seen Northern lights for the first time. Yes, they are stunning, yes there are each time fascinating, but experienced it for first time in the middle of sea, where there are no lights around and when you don´t expect them, it left memory in my heart which won´t be replaced by anything.
So is it all?
No! I didn´t mention extremely high prices in Norway on the purpose. As I live in Norway for couple of months I have lot recommendation how to safe money within your trip. I share all my tips and advice in brand new article – Budget for Norway Get ready!