After a 18 hrs traveling journey we arrived on the outskirts of Oslo off the plane as the sun is going down at 11pm. This would be the most darkness we would get the entire trip. Looking out the window at quaint farms with uniformly free rolling grasses I touch that feeling I have when I first travel out of country. Feeling transported via a metal box to a completely different environment immediately which feels otherworldly even if it’s an EU country. Everyone is speaking different languages, the scenery is such a change from “golden” California and I am in a problem solver state almost constantly when it comes to getting to where I want to go. In this article, I’ll talk about what I learned about traveling in Norway over 18 days visiting Oslo, Bergen and the Lofoten Islands from Svolvær to Å.
We found in Oslo, everyone wakes up late, coffee shops open at 7am compared to 5am in the USA. Breakfast started at 10am if you ate out. Maybe this was because on the mainland the weather was inverse to California, rainy in the morning with getting maybe some clear sky in the evening. Compared to sunny all the time with occasional afternoon lightning storms in the mountains in the Sierra. Maybe because of the cold, people like to smoke. Largely absent in California, it was common to see cigarette butts on the ground.
Norway in general was really easy to travel. People were typically very understanding and nice. It felt very safe. Public transit visited more rural areas pretty easily. Cellular service was everywhere. Everyone except a few people spoke English and the only real language issue was a couple times people couldn’t understand my American accent. Credit cards without a PIN were accepted everywhere and I only used cash to tip guides.
The biggest advice I would have is to bring rain gear head to toe because if you don’t go outside in the rain you might not go out at all. Hiking trails were often muddy and boggy. Rain pants and a good rain jacket we’re essential. Waterproof or resistant gloves appreciated. Neoprene or wool socks a requirement. A waterproof backpack or rain cover plus plastic bags for any special items needed.
I’m on the fence about whether Gortex shoes are helpful as they may keep your feet dry up to an extent but if gets soaked takes forever to dry out. I only had street shoes which got soaked easy but also dried out pretty fast. In rainy, quaint Bergen they say they have 250-300 days a year. Despite all this water however there were almost no mosquitos, at least in July. All the water also means everything in the mountainous country is extremely green and wildflowers are absolutely abundant.
Another major characteristic of Norway is its very expensive:
- Restaurants felt like fine dining most places at $25-35 a meal.
- A cafe sandwich costs $10-15
- Beer at a restaurant $8-10 and $3-4 at the grocery store
- It can be hard finding lodging less than $150 a night and if so has a shared bathroom
There is a strong hut culture of over 500 huts (booking on UT.no or from DNT) from a country of just 5.5 million. Compared to California which has 39 million people and around a dozen huts.
Some of the activities we did were visiting “goat island” outside of Oslo, an alpine hut overnight outside Bergen and over a week in the Lofoten Islands were we bicycle toured, climbed, hiked and sailed.
It was was a good trip with amazing scenery but I did get a little exhausted with the prices. $18pp or more for a buffet breakfast if not included became normal but I would think about how far my money would go and the experiences I could have for the same cost in the USA or other countries. I spent probably 3-4x I spent in 18 days than I spent in six weeks in India. This was my first trip to a place more expensive than the USA and now I know how people feel when they say visiting the USA is expensive.
Norway is filled with green nature and mountains. Of huts and hiking paths. Generally kind and patient people. It has the midnight sun and northern lights. Many wet rainy days but also periods of blue sky. An expensive place with the feel of fishing villages along the coast. It was a good place to visit but a place I can only afford to visit once. Goodbye Norway, you were fun and I wish you well.