In about a week, I’ll be hauling it over to Norway and returning to Oslo, but also take note of new experiences in Trondheim and Bergen. But what am I looking forward to this time? And what am I not so excited about?
Well, we’ll start with the not-so-fun.
Prices. Herregud. I don’t think this is something anyone can get used to when visiting. Norway is, rett og slett, a high cost country. While the exchange rate is pretty fair right now ($1 USD = 6 NOK), if you take into account that a pint of beer is about 60 kr and a meal at a decent restaurant can run you 200 kr, it doesn’t leave room for any luxury delights or splurging. But I will be self-catering for the most part and was properly adjusted to the sticker shock last time.
The food. Ouch. Sorry, but as a vegetarian for six years, lutefisk, sild (yuck!) and lapskaus doesn’t make me spring for joy. A Norwegian’s staple diet usually includes cod or seafood caught straight from the sea, meat from every kind of animal, including reindeer, elk and whale, potatoes and bread. And did I mention that it’s really expensive to eat out? The good thing is that I restrict my vegetarian habits when abroad and am open to being convinced. Also, I will eat gravlaks, kjøttekaker, knekkebrød, smørbrød and of course, the ubiquitous pølse like nobody’s business.
Weather. According to most of my Norwegian friends, I picked the worst time to come. While I enjoy the cooler seasons, I’ve never experienced a Norwegian fall. After checking Yr.no, it appears the temperatures will range from 7-11 Celsius, with unexpected periods of rainfall in the West, and possible road closures and travel headaches. Not to mention that fall in Old Louisville is stunning and pretty hard to beat.
Did I mention the prices already? Just checking. No really, it’s not just me. John and Andrea from Inspiring Travellers warn folks all about expenses for travelers and even Nomadic Matt talks about $15 meals at McDonalds. But they also provide some pretty handy tips.
Ikke så verst! But oodles of things I am looking forward to this time around.
Trains. Living in this part of the United States, we’re (sadly) reliant on automobiles for everyday transport. The nearest train station is about 100 miles away in Cincinnati, with service to limited areas. The good thing about Norway is that its cities and towns are well-connected through an extensive train and tunnel system, even reaching the remotest of areas. I’ll be taking the Bergensbanen from Oslo to Bergen and also a train from Trondheim to Oslo, which will be the perfect opportunity to become encapsulated by the spectacular views, with enough time for reflection and rest. My friend David, who runs Life in Norway (who I am also staying with in Trondheim) recommended I sit on the left during the Bergen-Oslo trip, and after reading about his experience, I can see why.
Fjorder og fjell. Mountains! Fjords! Nature! Norway shines through its biodiversity and ecological wonders. I’ll be sure to get a proper taste when I’m areas outside of Bergen and Trondheim. Oslo is great for that too, but I’m not sure it can compare.
Speaking Norwegian. The first and last time I was in Oslo, I was barely able to mutter, “Hvor er Storgata”. But this time around I’ll be using as much Norwegian as possible, speaking it as soon as I hop on the plane. It’ll also be interesting to note the dialectical differences in Bergen and Trondheim, as they speak somewhat differently than the folks in Oslo. Det blir nok spennende!
Nordlys. I actually don’t know if I’ll be able to see the Northen Lights while I’m in Norway, but there’s a scant chance I may catch them in Trondheim as they sometimes gravitate a wee bit south during the later months. Will I be able to spot the “grey lady”?
Norwegian architecture. Norway is sprinkled with tons of landmarks older than most of the United States, monuments and stavekirker (stave churches). And then there’s just cute little houses and buildings painted in traditional Norwegian colors, like these here in Bryggen, Bergen. It’ll be like stepping back in time.
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. I don’t have many “must see” sights during the trip, but this museum which opened recently is one of them. The private collections and exhibitions are apparently out of this world!
The food. Ok, after thinking about it now, I reeeeeeeally want a pølse! And some local cheeses (geitost and brunost particularly).
Norwegians. It’ll be a little homecoming of sorts to see old friends and also meet a new bunch of new nordmenn. (And who knows — maybe I’ll meet a handsome Viking? Wouldn’t it be cool if I had a super long and unpronouncable Norwegian last name? Just saying.)
PHOTOS: Keith Brooks, Wikipedia, NSB.no