I’m sitting in the Oslo airport waiting for a British Airways flight to London. I don’t know yet that this will be one of my most memorable trips to Will and Kate’s hometown. I’m still drinking a wildly expensive beer and trying to figure out how I feel about Norway.
I had a nice time in Norway. And even a few small adventures. Some of the photos are stunning. There were some lovely moments but my overall feeling is that I am a bit underwhelmed. As usual, I must analyze this!
What I realized part way through my Norwegian odyssey is that Norway was a bit too easy and familiar for me. I’d grown up close to the tundra. I see a protected part of the Pacific Ocean every morning when I wake up from my living room window. If I walk a couple of blocks outside I can gaze on snow-capped mountains.
It’s tough when you live in one of the world’s most beautiful cities – and have grown up in and traversed one of the most physically spectacular countries in the world. Norway is in that league! I realized I needed to look at it from a new perspective, not my own, but some random foreign tourist – who had never seen a moose within spitting distance, who couldn’t wander outside and stick a foot in the Pacific Ocean just for kicks, who didn’t regard the forest as something you lived in…
So… Norway is one of the cleanest, greenest, most spectacular places on the planet. Norwegians will not hug you or declare themselves your friend after ten minutes of conversation but they are polite and helpful – and, if you meet them once they have a bit of drink in them, very friendly 🙂
Practically everyone speaks English. Most places tourists go have great signage. Not even Oslo is a metropolis so it’s easy to get around, even if you are lost for a short while. They really seem to have it together and it’s a wonderfully hospitable place where you don’t have to worry about crime or vaccinations.
If you haven’t travelled much and want something foreign – but easy – go to Norway!
If you have travelled a lot and want to maximize your travel dollars in Norway, this is what I would recommend. Consider the National Day – it will add some local colour to your trip and you will be in shoulder season so costs might be a bit reduced. The real season is from June to August, though, so research what you want to see as it may not be operational in May or September, even though the weather will be fine.
If you want to see “The Scream” or Norway’s maritime history, spend a couple of days in Oslo. If you just want to see the fjords, fly into Bergen and do some day trips. If you want to see – and experience – the Arctic, pick up the Hurtigruten ship in Trondheim and sail to Kirkenes. Take some trains. The journeys are spectacular and it seems to be one of the most wallet-friendly experiences in Norway.
Most importantly, embrace your inner Norwegian. Talk to the locals. Quit worrying about how much everything costs. And revel in participating in a society that gets so many things right and is a role model for the world. Sure, wondering if you will get to the airport through the political demonstrations, breathing a sigh of relief when you discover the Khmer Rouge are NOT in the village killing random people or wondering if that hippo you are having a Mexican standoff with is going to charge you make for much better travel stories…
But if you are a beginner, Norway is for you. Peace Out. In the home of the Nobel Prize, it has extra layers of meaning 🙂