The Best of Norway

So far… I’ve started this year with exploring my own country. First Northern-Norway in February, and I just returned to Stavanger from a three-week trip to Bergen, Trondheim, Oslo and Skien. Having spent several months abroad last year, reciving question after question of places in Norway, places I’d never been – I felt a little bit embarrassed about my lack of knowledge. It was high time I explored the place I call home.

Northern-Norway, Alta

It’s sad. Norwegians are among the Europeans that travel the most, but few of us visit the northern parts of our own country. When we travel we travel south, and who can blame us? We don’t get a lot of warmth, so we go to Spain and Greece to get some much needed vitamin D. However, Northern-Norway is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and dog sledding is worth the trip alone. It’s a taste of the real Arctic – dancing northern lights and endless white horizons.

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Bergen

The city of seven mountains. They are everywhere, majestic and tall. Choose any one of them and know that the view from the top is going to be worth your effort.

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Bryggen, the old wharf, is on the world heritage list and the place to be in the summer. The restaturants sets chairs outside and norwegians enjoy cold beverages and smile more than ever.

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Trondheim

Wide open, calm and ancient. There is history everywhere, in the Old Town of course, but also in church. Nidaromsdomen is hundreds of years old and the place where the kings of Norway have been crowned. I visited the ajecent museum and learned about the royalty of a different time.

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If you visit, beware, Vikings guard this city.

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Oslo

I walked around and looked at statues; pretending to know where I was going. The capital of Norway is small compared to other capitals in Europe, but compared to other cities in Norway it’s large. Oslo offers multiple opportunities to get cultivated or learn something new; I stopped by the national art gallery, a museum about the polarship Fram, and spent hours at the Nobel Peacecenter. Culture is everything in this city – and it has a lot of it. Plan ahead and buy a ticket to the Opera, or visit the castle and watch the changeing of the guards at 13:30.

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You don’t get the same serenity here as you do in the abovementioned cities; there are no colorful wooden houses and quirky narrow streets, but perhaps that’s not what one is looking for when visiting Oslo anyway. Get lost in the noise and busyness of a metropolis.

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Time your visit to an event. Biathlon World Championship, March, 2016.

Dog Sledding

The dogs that were supposed to pull me howled and refused to stand still. My god, these guys will totally throw me off.
“Are you guys ready?” The guy in charge called.
“Yeah, sure!” My two friends answered from their own dog sleds.
“Okay, go!” Off we went, my heart beating almost as fast as their paws against the ground.

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Around a corner, shit, shit, shit. Up, down, slow down, slow down! Breaking as hard as I could, the dogs looked back at me “Dude, you do understand that if we are to win this thing, we have to run, right?” I looked over my shoulder; the others’ headlights were barely visible in the distance. “You passed them, isn’t that enough? I don’t even know where this trip ends.”

A sky full of stars. Wind blowing my hair back. Dark trees standing guard at each side of the path. Powder snow everywhere. On the ground. Coming closer. In my face. Neck. Remember I said they would throw me off? Turns out I was right. A little bit too fast downwards and around that corner.

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We looooove playing in the snow, oh, and we hope you do too.

The dogs ran on without me, one of them turning “sucker!”
I couldn’t help myself, I laughed. Going down that hill, through the woods, what a rush! One of my friends caught up to me just then: “What happened? You okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine. I hope they run straight home.”
“Come; sit on mine.”

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The owner of the dog sleds met us at the end of the hill. “So, who lost these guys?” He had been driving in front on his scooter, and of course seen them running wild. I bet they enjoyed that. However, they had to take me to the finish, so we had a moment where we made up.

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Free hugs ❤

Not far from the end, we came to a frozen river. My dogs ran as if they hadn’t already run 30 km. The northern lights danced ahead. In that moment, there was no place in the entire world that I’d rather be.

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A Tale of Trolls

Porsangerfjord, the fourth longest fjord in Norway, offers more than just stunning nature. At the beginning of it’s 123 km length, there are some peculiar stones. However, if the Samis are to be believed, once upon a time, they were more than that.

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They were humanlike creatures, only bigger and some say uglier. What they lacked in brains, they made up for with force. Which is probably why the humans who lived at that unspecified time, let them walk from the mountain plateau with a chest filled with gold, without trying to take it. Where the Trolls were going has been lost in the many recounts of the tale. However, they came to this place, later known as Trollholmsund, and looked for somewhere to hide from the sun – but couldn’t find one. So, as the sun rose, they turned to stone.

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The stories we tell

… And then there was that time I got on that plane and everything went smoothly. That time I went to bed at a resonable hour and got enough sleep. That time I traveled and everything went according to plan.
Said no one ever.

Whether you’re sitting around a campfire in the desert or enjoying a late meal an autumn evening, when telling stories, we all tell the ones where something, somewhere, went wrong. Yesterday, my something was, as usual, my transportation. My somewhere? Norway. Traveling within a country can apparently be more complicated than traveling internationally.

I’ve been thinking about going up north for quite some time, but have never gotten around to it. However, last time I left home was in December, which is way too long ago in my opinion, so I decided why not. Stavanger – Oslo – Alta, then by bus to Alta, Inner Billefjord to the home of two friends. My travel companion, my sister, was to meet me in Oslo, from Bergen. Easy, right?

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Wrong. Snow. Lots of lots of snow. Of all days, all those rainy, rainy days, the weather chose our day to become fierce and stormy. A full-blown snowstorm broke loose at Bergen-airport, delaying all flights, cancelling a few too. My flight from Stavanger was late as well, but I still managed to be on my next plane. Mainly because that too was delayed. It left without my sister though.
She had the windowseat, so as I walked down the aisle to our seats, I figured that I could take hers. However, it was already occupied by an elderly, very chatty lady. Of course they gave her seat to someone else. Two hours in the middle. Turbulence, turbulence and more turbulence. It ended up being nicer than usual to put my feat on solid ground.

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15 minutes. Find bathroom. Find luggage. Find correct bus. Go,go, go! First bus is supposed to go in the direction of…. *checks phone* Honningvåg. Problem: no bus toward Honningvåg. Great. Solution: Ask all bus drivers where they are going. I’m supposed to change buses in… *Checks phone again* Olderfjord.

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Luckily the airport wasn’t big, and there weren’t all that many buses. I found the right one. Now the rest of the trip shuld go smoothly. It didn’t though. In Olderfjord we stopped, like planned, and I got on the right bus to my final destination (although I almost chose the wrong one first), like planned. I didn’t understand at that point how small a place I had come to. In terms of how many people living there – not size. But I was about to.

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The norwegians living in the north are different from the ones living in the south or west. Not only in terms of dialect and how direct they tend to be, but also when it comes to how much little they care to inform. He said we were delayed, then he left us. 10, 15, 30 minutes went by. An hour. At last I got up and asked if anyone knew what the holdup was. We were waiting for another bus, someone on it was supposed to be on ours, but it was late. Two hours late in the end.

“Yes, I am still coming. I just don’t know when…”
“Well, we’re cooking elk, and looking forward to see you. Just try to get off at the right place.”
“I can’t see anything, and have never been here before. How am I supposed to do that?”
“Ask the driver to let you off in Gårdak.”

—-

“Excuse me, can you let me off in Gårdak?”
“Where in Gårdak?”
“Erm… Isn’t that just one place?”
“Nope.”
“Oh.”
“Who are you going to?”
*Says their names*
“I know where they live, on top of that hill, sure, I’ll let you off there.”

—-

It took some time, but the little amount of daylight we had on the busride showed me that northern Norway will be worth it. I’m sure I’ll soon have several stories to tell.

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