Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know…?
- Telemark, a Norwegian county, gave its name to a ski technique.
- Norwegians may eat four meals a day, with some farm families eating five.
- There is evidence that skiing goes back at least 4,000 years in Norway.
- More than half of Norway’s land is above the timberline.
- The coastline, if it were straight, would extend half way around the Equator.
Norway, in historical terms, is best known for its Viking heritage and some of the violence that suggests. For contrast, fast-forward to the present, and you’ll see a modern and very civilized society peopled by the descendants of those same Vikings. Not incidentally, Norway also is home to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Quite rightly, Norway inspires a number of other appealing images: the clear blue waters of lakes and fjords, bustling harbors, mountains, forests, historic old towns, the sleek lines of modern design, the midnight sun and summer festivals. Such images draw visitors of all temperaments.
You can’t beat this long country of fjords and forests for scenery. To the west, the fabulous fjords are unmatched in their power and beauty. In the east, toward the Swedish border, the scene changes to rolling hills, mountains, valleys and lakes, all surrounded by the lush forests the Norwegians hold dear. Also, while summer brings the endless light of the midnight sun, winter brings the Northern Lights.
Norway is a thriving, industrialized country as well, but its cities are comparatively small, friendly and manageable. The 1994 Winter Olympics drew many Americans to Lillehammer, and most returned home with glowing reports about Norway, its sights, activities and people.
Norway’s visitors represent all personality types, winter sports enthusiasts and people with Scandinavian heritage. It appeals most to the venturesome traveler, but the least adventurous can be quite happy there, too, with welcoming hosts, many of whom speak English, and a country where a visitor can spend a holiday drinking in the scenery — and maybe scouting out a few samples of Norwegian design styles during shopping excursions.
History lovers can look into the past at any of the country’s several Viking museums and at reenactment events where participants illustrate handicrafts and various features of the Viking way of life.
Historic town centers also recall centuries past; Bergen’s oldest sections date from medieval times when the city was a member of the Hanseatic League.
Obviously, the most comfortable weather is high summer. However, winter is a wonderland in Norway, and at that time, there are fewer tourists to stumble over.
Things to do for Venturers
- Stay at the Alta Igloo Hotel near Alta. Rooms, the bar and a chapel are made of ice; even the glasses in the bar are ice.
- Cycle your way around the country. The most popular route is the Rallarvegan, or the Navvies’ Road, which had been used to build the Bergen Railway. The cycling route leads from Haugastol over the mountains via Finse station and down to the fjord at Flam. This is a two-day trip.
- For a real challenge, go whitewater rafting on the Numedalslagen River. Or, ski in Telemark County, the cradle of the modern sport.
- Sail the coast of Norway on an old sloop, the Mathilde, built in 1884. Passengers help with cooking, fishing, hoisting the sails, navigating and steering.
- Try ice climbing, snow scooters and snow rafting — or take it easy with a horse-drawn sleigh ride — at the Magical Winter Park near Lillehammer. To ratchet up the adrenaline, ride the quad bikes (helmets provided, driver’s license required).
- Bungee jump from Vemork Bridge in Rjukan.
Things to do for Centrics
- Get a fishing permit in Hemsedal and try your luck in the Grondola River or the mountain lakes in the area.
- Dress up like a Norse man or woman and attend the Viking market at the Viking museum in Borg, way up north in Lofoten. See reenactors as entertainers, musicians, traders and warriors. Also, see participants who are expert in handicrafts of the Viking era.
- Try horseback riding in the mountains — or a moose safari in the forests.
- Combine a dramatic rail trip with a bike outing. Take the Flam Railway from Myrdal for a one-hour, 2,838-foot descent to Flam covering a distance of only 12.4 miles. Then bike back to Myrdal. Alternatively, you could board in Flam with your bike and cycle down rather than up. You decide.
- Take a themed self-drive trip. Norway’s Web site highlights tours called Adventure Roads, plus a number of National Tourist Routes.
- Ski in summer at Folgetonna Summer Ski Centre at Jondal. The center is on a glacier. Options include cross-country and downhill skiing, glacier trekking and snowboarding.
Things to do for Authentics
- See works of Edvard Munch, one of Scandinavia’s leading artists, at the Munch Museum in Oslo. It’s a fine facility with an enormous collection of this talented, tormented man’s work.
- Eat what Norway produces, lots of fish. Also, plan to eat plenty of open-face sandwiches, even at breakfast.
- Visit the Medieval Park in Gol, which explores superstition and the transition from the Norse gods to Christianity. See a museum devoted to the Norse gods and a replica of the 13th century Gol Stave Church. Attend services in the church. You can see stave churches elsewhere that are not reproductions, among them the 12th century Borgund and Undredal churches.
- Drop in for hot baked goods. Visit Agatunet to see a hamlet of 30 to 40 houses that have survived from the Middle Ages, but show up on Friday, the day residents bake traditional food. (Also, the open-air Hardanger Folk Museum in Utne has Tuesday baking days in July.)
- Take an organized tour called Norway in a Nutshell, which packages the Flam Railway trip, a cruise on the Sognefjord and the drive on Stalheimskleiva road’s 13 hairpin turns.
- Visit Lyngor, called Europe’s best-preserved village, then see a number of other small well-preserved southern villages, too.
For more information, consult Innovation Norway – Tourism at www.visitnorway.com