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  • Destination: traditional Norwegian delicacies on the side of the road; gårdsbutikker

    It is a frequent inquiry from visitors seeking recommendations for traditional Norwegian delicacies or gastronomic delights. While the customary response unfailingly includes mentions of pinnekjøt, rakfisk, and lutefisk, my enthusiasm for such culinary offerings is tempered by the sensation akin to suggesting a schnitzel to a tourist in Germany. This sentiment is not meant to slight schnitzels (or pinnekjøt), but rather to convey a concern that I might inadvertently overlook the rich tapestry of culinary treasures that Norway boasts. This sentiment is primarily rooted in the sheer abundance of exceptional offerings; it's simply too much to mention. Ranging from cheeses that rival their French counterparts to impeccable apple cider, extraordinary beers, and a diverse array of delicate and flavorsome meat and fish products. In light of this abundance, I am motivated to assist you in navigating this gastronomic landscape to savor the breadth of these delectable offerings. Hanen serves as a collective entity, an umbrella organization encompassing the majority of these producers, akin to a distinguished quality certification. Their invaluable contribution takes the form of a brilliantly crafted map (thank you Hanen) replete with recommendations and designated stops where one can procure and savor locally produced delicacies. Therefore, my foremost recommendation is to diligently consult this map as you drive the scenic routes of this captivating country. True appreciation of a nation is encapsulated in the act of tasting its essence. Should you chance upon a roadside sign adorned with the image of a rooster, rest assured it is invariably worth the pause. Consider, for instance, when journeying from Oslo towards the enchanting destination of Valdres (a journey I make at least 6 times a year). The Valdres region, for instance, has carved a niche for itself in the crafting of the finest Rakfisk. Notably, Noråker gård stands among the very finest. They have, on a previous occasion, been honoured with the title of best rakfisk during the infamous Rakfisk festivalen taking place in Fagernes. Yet, it is not solely rakfisk that crowns their expertise. They have a remarkable assemblage of deliciousness in their shop. I, for one, bought a bottle of pine needle syrup there last year. Yes, you read that correctly. Its flavour is reminiscent of apple, with a deep and mellifluous undertone. A scoop of vanilla ice cream accompanied by a drizzle of this syrup is utterly delish. This tale only grazes the surface of the hundreds of gårdsbutikker that are dotting Norway. Alas, it is an insurmountable task to spotlight them all. Seek out, start your electric rental car , and embark upon this culinary odyssey. Should you happen upon a magnificent discovery, hit me up on Instagram . Such an exchange would be nothing short of 'really cool'!

  • Destination: a 4 days road trip in Norway; it's brief but it's possible

    Allow me to commence by stating that a 4 day itineray in Norway is somewhat on the brief side. Norway, being an expansive country, with very few roads going in a straight line. Moreover, each mountain pass is spectacular, every valley picturesque, and every local bakery serving the finest cinnamon buns. Hence, my aim in this article is to showcase and immerse you in what, in my perspective, renders Norway incredibly beautiful and spectacular. I have charted a route for you and selected four truly remarkable accommodations. In short, pack your suitcase, for you are embarking on a road trip! And the route does not traverse Oslo, where I will touch upon later. Day 1: You arrive in Ålesund, a magnificent city on the west coast of Norway. Situated in a breathtaking location with the deep blue and icy Norwegian Sea on one side and the steep snow-covered peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps on the other. The first time I visited, the temptation to stay was immense, so enchanting did I find it. The city is relatively compact, allowing you to get a good impression within an afternoon. The multitude of fantastic restaurants, coffee houses, and terraces make it tempting to linger for a few days. However, the title of this blog post suggests a bit of haste. Therefore, swiftly proceed to where you rest, namely Hotel 1904 . The imposing Art Nouveau facade belies what awaits inside; a very tastefully and modernly furnished design mecca that would quicken the heartbeat of any interior enthusiast. Moreover, the staff understands the precise meaning of world-class hospitality. Day 2: After a delightful breakfast, check out of Hotel 1904 and embark on a journey to Trollstigen. This is one of the many spectacular driving routes in Norway. The view from the lookout platform over the elongated valley is truly stunning. The journey itself to Trollstigen is breathtaking too. From Trollstigen, the road zigzags down (make sure to stop at Gudbrandsjuvet for a coffee), setting the course for the next overnight stop. Be prepared to frequently pull over and capture yet another photo of the breathtaking scenery. *01.07.2024: note that the Trollstigen road is currently closed. Here's the latest updates . Regarding accommodation, I faced a tremendous dilemma, so I leave that choice to you. Either stop at the Juvet Landscape Hotel , known for, among other things, the film Ex-Machina, or drive a little further to Hotel Union Øye , which can rightfully be considered one of the most unique and stately hotels in Norway with a rather legendary history. Day 3: Wherever you wake up, today the road leads to Geiranger , one of the most spectacular fjords, immortalized as UNESCO World Heritage, and onward to a tiny but legendary village. There's much to tell about the latter; in fact, I've written about it before. In short, this is a picture-perfect fjord village surrounded by beautiful nature. There's, of course, a fantastic hotel, or I wouldn't send you there: the Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel . Fjærland is also famous as a book mecca. For a few kroner, you can grab a second-hand copy of a major author here. Additionally, this is a fantastic base for various adventures, from glacier expeditions to kayak trips. And, of course, a visit to the spectacular floating sauna is a bucket-list item. If you have an extra day, this is the place to spend it (or an extra day in Bergen, that's also not a bad idea). Day 4: Once you've had your breakfast, it's time to set course for Bergen, perhaps the most beautiful city in the country along with Ålesund. This is the longest drive you'll make on this vacation, but fear not, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. First, input Hopperstad Stavechurch into your navigation system. After a brief stop, continue towards the E16 heading for Voss, allowing you to take a short walk to Bordalsgjelet in the mid-afternoon; a spectacular gorge carved out by a wildly flowing river. Believe me, it's worth stopping the car here briefly before completing the final stretch to Bergen. Describing Bergen as a city cannot be encapsulated in a few sentences. I won't even attempt it. The abundance of charming wooden houses, great restaurants, beautiful vistas, fantastic museums, and cozy cafes make Bergen a destination in itself. Perhaps you might decide to spend 5 or 6 days in this amazing country contrary to the title of this blog post because it pained me a bit to rush through it in such a short timeframe. But we made it, and you've seen an incredible amount of beauty. Planning to stay an extra night in Bergen? Excellent idea. Treat yourself and book a room at Hotel Norge . What a splendid and spectacular piece of hospitality that is. I mentioned it briefly at the beginning; Oslo. Oslo is a bit of a boogieman in this piece. Because, truly, it's a very pleasant city to spend a few days, and by all means, do so. The reason I directed you to the west coast is that the quantity of spectacular landscapes and highlights is simply greater, allowing you to spend your precious time most effectively. Because we were a bit hasty, remember? **One last thing: it is most likely you'll arrive in Ålesund by plane. It is most wise to reserve a car (long) in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere.   Check here for availability. Norwegen roadtrip

  • Eat: the oldest tavern in Norway; traditional food close to Oslo

    It was, akin to numerous occurrences in life, entirely fortuitous that I stumbled upon Bærums Verk. A form of pandemic weariness, the hustle and bustle, coupled with the exorbitant housing prices in Oslo, compelled us to flee the city. It was the midst of summer when we inspected an apartment without any intention of purchasing. While savoring a pizza and a pint at Melboden , we mutually decided that we were both rendered speechless by the romantic setting, curiously unheard of until then. The river coursing through the valley, the resplendent woods, and the overarching idyll – you can likely see where this narrative is headed. This became the place I have been living for a few years now. Furthermore, Bærums Verk is steeped in history, with its most recent chapter involving a group of Dutch venture capitalists who worked iron ore and exported timber. The industrial legacy of this era still stands in Bærums Verk. Along the river, a collection of exceedingly charming laborers' cottages grace the landscape. Additionally, remnants of the old factories remain, now housing a petite shopping mall. A venerable tavern, Værtshuset , also stands here, reputedly Norway's oldest (1640). Stepping into this deep-red edifice immediately engulfs you in traditional history typical for Norway. Furnished in a manner reminiscent of the 18th century, it could fittingly be termed romantic. The beams of the low ceiling dangle somewhat askew here and there, and a multitude of antiquated photographs adorn the walls. For someone with an affection for antiquities such as myself, this locale stimulates the imagination. The staff is garbed in classical Norwegian costume, momentarily transporting you to a sort of themed park. It's somewhat quaint, yet curiously, it harmonizes exceedingly well with the overall ambiance of the place. It's a bit goofy, but charming nonetheless. Moreover, the menu is exemplary. They serve splendid classical dishes, employing the best ingredients. However, the predominant attraction remains the setting. Picture yourself on a wintry evening. Half a meter of fresh snow blankets the terrain, and as you open the door to Værtshuset for the first time, the embrace of hospitality is an experience unlikely to fade swiftly. During summer, you can enjoy your lunch or dinner in the cozy courtyard. A tiny paradise I would say. Beyond Værtshuset, there's a wealth of sights to explore in Bærums Verk. The erstwhile laborers' cottages and barns I mentioned earlier have since been transformed into unique and highly original shops, galleries, and workshops. The glassblowing workshop, particularly active on Saturdays, allows one to witness with rapt attention the crafting of the most artistic objects. My unequivocal favorites are: Snekkerbua , a diminutive shop brimming with exquisite, frequently handcrafted utensils, woolen products, baskets and thingy's. Delightful! Melboden , purveyors of the finest pizzas in the area, housed within an enchantingly cute little building. Smelters Mathus , although completely unaffordable for the majority of mortals, I love gazing at their amazing food selection. In wintertime, Bærums Verk plays host to a most charming Christmas market, an image conjuring the coziest of scenes, but I will write separate blog post about that. **Getting there: Bærums Verk is easy accessible by car and public transport (Bus 150 from Oslo). Nonetheless, reserving a car in advance saves you a lot of time on public transport. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Eat: about time to start harvesting; what a forest in Norway has to offer

    Here in Norway, the seasons are brief yet intense. Except for winter. That one, is long and intense. Or long, thus intense. But now, let's turn our attention to summer. It's a burst of a season, where everything flourishes intensely for a short while. And as a result of all this blooming, the topic at hand emerges: harvesting all the fruits a forest in Norway has to offer. As I write, it's August, just after my summer vacation. Two drawers of our freezer are brimming with frozen fruits. To provide some context, that's around 6 kilograms in total. This fruity haul consists of blueberries, raspberries, wild strawberries, and cloudberries. We gathered all this fruit over the course of a few days. Let's begin with the most elusive: the cloudberry. Well, actually, I'm starting my sentence wrongly. They are quite common, but only under specific conditions. You often find them above a certain altitude, in areas with plenty of marshes or 'myra' as it's called in Norwegian. You can pick them between July and September. You'll know they're ripe when the fruit practically detaches itself from the stem, the leaves around it have loosened, and the cloudberry appears pink, orange, or light yellow. I've discovered a number of fantastic spots where they grow in abundance. They're marked on my Google Maps, but I'll keep those locations a secret. Cloudberry is truly something else. They are used extensively in desserts around Christmas, making them incredibly sought-after and quite pricey. Don't be surprised if you have to pay 250 NOK (approximately 26 dollars) for half a kilo. Blueberries also abound. Did you know they fall into the superfood category? They're possibly the healthiest fruits you can eat, beneficial for just about everything. And you can find them nearly everywhere. A few weeks back, I managed to pick around 2 kilograms in just 1.5 hours. I eat them as they are, blend them into my smoothies, or turn them into jam. Now, here's the best tip of this whole piece of writing: get one of those berry pickers for picking blueberries. It makes picking them super efficient, and you'll gather huge quantities in no time. It becomes addictive, believe me. Considering how easily you can harvest one of the healthiest foods out there makes it even more fantastic. Blueberries are ready to be picked between July and September. So, if you're going on a road trip, take one of those pickers along. It's incredibly satisfying and it saves you a ton of money otherwise spent at supermarkets. Then we have raspberries. They might be a bit more thinly scattered, but under the right conditions, you can still find an incredible amount of them. The woods around my home are teeming with them. Especially on either side of the numerous gravel roads, they grow abundantly. I consider them to be some of the most delicious fruit around, and they remind me of my childhood in the Netherlands, when I lived in the countryside. Wild strawberries are also quite common but are somewhat sparser. They're small but incredibly flavorful. They tend to thrive in slightly shadier spots. Lastly, there's one for the enthusiasts. Cranberries are also a superfood, but they lean towards bitterness in taste. You come across them immensely, and they're perfect for making jams or sauces. Last year, we picked mushrooms ourselves, made a peppery sauce, and stirred in some cranberries. It was truly delicious. The harvesting season for these is from late July to the end of September. Have a great time harvesting! And send me pictures of your catch on Instagram. I'd love to see it.

  • Hike: close to comfort; making a fire in Norway (and how to do it and when)

    I must, in advance, temper your enthusiasm, for this article may not be relevant to most of you due to the stringent regulations surrounding open fires in Norway between April and early September. These restrictions are not designed to pester tourists but stem from the simple fact that Norway boasts abundant forests, and the summer months tend to be rather dry. Moreover, much of the ground cover here is often peat-like, highly flammable, and difficult to extinguish. If a fire were to break out, it would be nearly uncontrollable. Nevertheless, during the period from May to September, the weather is generally mild, and campfires are seldom necessary. But yes, making a fire in Norway: there's several crucial considerations that come into play. In particular order: 1. Use dry deadwood: preferably fallen from the trees; it is strictly forbidden to fell trees for firewood. In fact, depending on your location, doing so may incur a substantial fine. 2. Select a safe campfire location: opt for a beach or stony ground and delineate your fire site with stones to form a compact circle. This not only acts as a windbreak but also prevents the fire from spreading. Additionally, the stones absorb heat, enhancing the fire's effectiveness. Furthermore, when you retire to your sleeping bag at night, it's highly recommended to take along a well-warmed pebble wrapped in a woolen beanie to prevent burns. I dare say the stone will still radiate warmth the following morning which can bring great comfort to your overall camping experience. 3. Lighting the fire: you won't need paper to start your fire. All you require are a few birch trees with white bark. Without harming the tree, make a small incision in the bark, but do not press too hard on the trunk. Make this cut about 20cm long. Now, you can peel off a portion of the bark. Place the bits of birch bark in a dry bag to increase your chances of successfully igniting your fire in the evening. It's also advisable to pack a few pieces of dry wood in your backpack. This makes it much easier to ignite your fire when it's cold and damp. Use a sharp knife to cut a stack of wood shavings. The thinner the combustible material, the better it will dry and burn. When the rest of your wood is somewhat moist, you'll need extra heat to ignite the larger pieces. 4. Fire arrangement: Place the pieces of birch bark on the ground, surrounded by a circle of large stones. If the floor is wet, cover it with a few branches from a pine tree. Add a substantial pile of twigs and create a mound of wood shavings with your knife. Build a structure with large pieces of wood around the mound of twigs. 5. Prepare firewood: before lighting your fire, ensure you have a good supply of firewood positioned right next to it. As the heat increases, you can begin to dry your wood, ensuring you have enough material to keep the fire burning when the initial load has burnt out. Chances are you'll have a portable gas stove with you when camping, but if you're already starting a fire, you might as well use it to boil water and fill up your thermos for your tea the next morning. I always carry a small kettle with me, which I use for boiling water for coffee and rehydrating my freeze-dried meals. With a bit of rope, you can easily construct a tripod to hang your kettle from. In summary, here's what you need to make fire effortlessly: - Relatively dry wood - Dry wood shavings or birch bark - A dry bag - A lighter, matches, or a magnesium stick (though the latter is for the hardcore firemakers) - A multitool, preferably with a small saw blade and a small axe. I've personally used one of these for a comfortable amount of time. - A good, sharp knife (especially for cutting wood shavings) and to fight off aggressive Norwegians. My favourites are Mora Knives. Before even striking a spark, make sure you thoroughly research the regulations regarding making fires. You wouldn't want to be responsible for an uncontrollable forest fire, or catch a fine! In general, be a bit mindful.

  • Hike: Prehistoric rock carvings on the slopes of an ancient volcano just outside Oslo

    Since ancient times, the environs of Oslo have been inhabited, and for good reason. The lengthy expanse of the Oslo Fjord provided shelter from the elements, boasting a more stable climate compared to the tumultuous weather of the west coast. Moreover, in yesteryears, the Oslo Fjord teemed with vast quantities of fish. Evidence of this abundance lies in the myriad rock carvings discovered in the vicinity of Oslo. Let's delve into some of these ancient depictions, accessible for your own exploration. By the end of this little article, you will know: How to reach the rock carvings Their (potential) significance Key observations to make Rumors had reached my ears of prehistoric rock carvings nestled just a stone's throw (pun intended) away from my house, a mere three kilometers as the crow flies. Yet, strangely, I had never bothered to ascertain their precise location until last week. As a great lover of historical sites in Norway, it is with slight shame to admit not knowing my close surroundings. To my surprise, the journey was simpler than anticipated. From Oslo, you board bus 150 heading towards Gullhaug, where you'll get off that same bus at Steinskogen Gravlund. From there, consult 'Dalbo' on your Google Maps, cross the road with care, and proceed along Daeliveien, leading directly to the several rock carving sites, clearly indicated with signage. Alternatively, you can opt for the metro to Gjettum, accessing Daeliveien from the opposite direction. Assuming familiarity with signage and rudimentary navigation skills via Google Maps, the journey should be rather straightforward. And if not, ask a local! Norwegians like to help out and point directions. What sets these rock carvings apart, uniquely Scandinavian, is the depiction of a large rowboat manned by over 20 rowers. Presumably a war vessel, it's also plausible that such longships were utilized for fishing expeditions, given the erstwhile abundance of fish in the Oslo Fjord. Regrettably, contemporary times have witnessed a stark decline in marine life within the fjord due to severe pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff, and overfishing. However, in antiquity, the fjord thrived with life and bio diversity, with fishing serving as a primary food source for the local tribes. The interpretation of rock carvings remains ambiguous, subject to varying hypotheses among archaeologists. It has been posited that these carvings may demarcate territorial boundaries, serve as conduits for rituals, or invoke favor from higher powers, particularly the animal depictions, believed to enhance hunting luck. The initial rock carvings at Dalbo were unearthed in 1959, comprising numerous ship motifs, circles, and footprints spread across ten distinct areas. At Gjettum, rock carvings were first discovered in the 1970s, with additional findings in the 1990s. Multiple rock art sites feature abundant ship motifs, footprints, images of horses and the like. Presently, these sites are obscured by turf and challenging to locate, a fortunate circumstance considering the propensity of certain individuals to leave their mark, something we would now call vandalism. Thankfully, the past two decades have seen no further damage inflicted upon the rock carvings. Hence, it is imperative to refrain from defacing or trampling upon these ancient relics. Both out of respect for those from ancient times, as well present day humanity. I must confess, a sense of reverence overcame me upon beholding the rock carvings last week. It's profoundly moving to contemplate how our European forebears etched their existence onto these stones, now imprinting upon our collective consciousness. These carvings afford a remarkable glimpse into bygone eras, bridging temporal chasms and rendering the distant past palpably proximate. In addition to the rock carvings, this locale boasts a rich tapestry of history. Should you fancy a brief ascent, consider scaling the Gråmagan Bygdeborg. Unsure of the route? Download the UT.NO app for precise directions. In essence, a bygdeborg denotes a prehistoric defensive structure typically erected atop elevated and strategically positioned hills or cliffs. Constructed at various junctures throughout history, these fortifications served diverse purposes contingent upon their contextual milieu. Typically featuring palisades, ramparts, ditches, or a combination thereof, bygdeborger afforded protection against incursions. They might also incorporate ancillary defenses such as fortified gates, towers, or catapults to repel adversaries. At times, bygdeborger doubled as dwellings or communal gathering sites, alongside their defensive function. Upon reaching the remnants of the Gråmagan Bygdeborg, the clarity of its strategic placement becomes immediately apparent. Commanding a breathtaking view on Oslo, the Oslo Fjord, and the surrounding hinterlands, the site affords unparalleled vantage points to anticipate potential threats and warn the settlements below. It reminded me a bit of the beacons of Gondor, perhaps an empty reference for those unversed in the lore of Middle-earth, the panoramic view alone justifies the modest ascent. For those of you being geology-nerds, the Gråmagan Bygdeborg is situated upon the flank of an ancient dormant volcano, testament to the volcanic activity that once characterized this region hundreds of millions of years ago. For those of you interested in rockcarvings and planning a longer journey beyond the Norwegian capital, there is an abundance of beautifully preserved rock carving sites across the country. And do have a look at the article I wrote about rock carvins in Alta.

  • Destination: (by the mercy of) god and king; the most special destination in Finnmark

    Allow me to begin forthwith by addressing a potent cocktail of circumstances that proved to be a fertile ground for adversity and disgusting atrocities: the nexus of greedy monarchs, the Church as an institution of power, and an ample dose of superstition and paranoia. Precisely this constellation unfurled its tumultuous consequences throughout the medieval era across the entire expanse of Europe. Witch hunts and persecutions became a grim fixture in the daily tapestry, Norway being no exception. Alas, it was women and marginalized groups, such as the Sami people, who bore the brunt of this sinister epoch. The allegations and prosecutions of witchcraft during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are remarkably well-documented by local courts, offering a disconcerting insight into the sheer absurdity and cruelty that underpinned this phenomenon. In the town of Vardø, a poignant monument stands as a tribute to all those ensnared by the shackles of witchcraft accusations. The design hails from the esteemed Swiss studio of Peter Zumthor, renowned the world over. I found myself there on a mist-laden day in the heart of July. At first glance, the monument's structure evokes thoughts of the fish-drying racks that dot the northern reaches of Norway. A lengthy gangway leads you to the entrance of this architectural testament. What lies within left an indelible impression on me. However, I refrain from delving into detail, for I believe such an encounter ought to be experienced firsthand. As you emerge from the exit, a construction to the left caught my eye—an installation that, to my perception, conjured an image of a pyre, surrounded by onlookers. The grand mirrors poetically mirror the grim reality that the pyre loomed for the many back then. With society's hardening and the displacement of countless refugees, an unsettling parallel to our present comes into view all too clearly. The accusation and marginalization of vulnerable minorities stubarnly persist in our contemporary landscape. Another facet of this monument's beauty lies in its proximity to a tiny white church, seemingly positioned as an indictment against the pivotal role the church played in perpetuating the witch hunts. It made me to reflect upon many layers of history and meaning. Indeed, this monument alone serves as an incentive for a drive to Vardø. The town itself exudes a somewhat dilapidated charm, which, in a peculiar manner, harmonizes with the sense of an outpost at the edge of the world. Life has always been rather harsh here, dictated by the climate, limited economic activity, and the stark reality of Vardø's utter destruction during the ravages of the Second World War—scorched earth, as the harrowing term denotes, a lamentable all-time-low of modern civilization. Nevertheless, a voice in my head whispers that Vardø is undergoing a renaissance of some sort. One discerns it in the murals adorning the walls with the Codfather by Norwegian artist Pøbel as a highlight, in the surge of bird and fish enthusiasts, and in the presence of a superbly hospitable and charming hotel. Vardø, in an enigmatic fashion, endeared itself to me. Not every garden bed is groomed, and vintage Volvos from the 1980s languish in sporadic disuse rusting away the days. Yet, peer beyond the surface, chat with a passerby, and embrace the unhurried rhythm of this place. And be aware that the weight of history lies just beneath the veneer. Moreover, Vardø occupies a pivotal point on the Varanger national tourist route, extending its passage all the way to Hamningsberg. I deeply hope you consider my plea to pay Vardø a visit as in my opinion this is the most special destination in Finnmark. Should you find yourself swayed, I recommend securing a stay at the Vardø Hotel. Here, the art of hospitality is practiced with a pragmatic finesse, and a very skilled chef made landfall here too. Might one want to contemplate in a slightly more private and jaw-dropping setting, consider booking lodging right here. It's called 'Varanger View' for obvious reasons. From the window you will likely witness reindeer passing by...or catch a glimpse of the northern lights! **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Kirkenes Airport (KKN) since there's direct flights from Oslo. From there it is most wise to reserve a rental car (long) in advance. Charging stations are rather scarce in this outpost of the world, so in this case rather rent a petrol car. Check here for availability.

  • Eat: heavy meals while keeping it light; why I always bring dry food when I’m on a hike in Norway

    I realize that the title might not sound very appealing at first. But let me tell you why the opposite is true. Every time I'm packing my backpack, I always find myself just a little short on space. I'd rather bring an extra pair of socks or another pair of trousers in case the first two get soaked. However, that space always seems to be occupied by food and provisions, depending on the length of the trip. You need to bring far more food than you'd initially think! And here's why. You wake up in the morning after a rather chilly night. You're hungry because you burn more calories sleeping outdoors. You pack up your tent, hoist your backpack, and trek for 5 to 6 hours before reaching your next destination. The terrain is far from flat; it's undulating, and at times, you have to take big steps to climb. Essentially, you're doing half squats for about 5 hours straight, with an additional 30kg on your back. You get the point. You burn significantly more calories than on a typical weekday, yet the inclination is to skimp on food. That's why I want to share what I pack for a long weekend or more in the wilderness. The main meals I bring are all dry food. My absolute favorite is REAL turmat. Meals come in various flavors and are fantastic in quality and flavour. All you need to do is boil a bit of water, pour it into the bag, stir a few times, and in about 8 minutes, you have a soothing hot meal worth around 500 calories. The fantastic part is that when you're in the middle of a forest or on a plateau, you suddenly find yourself enjoying a warm curry or stew. Besides being enjoyable, eating warm food provides a sense of comfort, especially when you're alone in the wild. The psychological effect of a warm meal cannot be underestimated. You can buy these meals online beforehand, which I highly recommend. It helps you realistically assess the space available in your backpack while packing. Depending on the type of trip, one warm meal per day is usually enough, along with a hearty breakfast. I often bring the cheapest dried packets of porridge. Again, they weigh next to nothing and take up relatively little space, so I always end up taking too much, just to be safe. They pack a decent amount of energy and are very economical. I also bring a large bag of dried raisins or cranberries to add some flair to my breakfast. Even better, if you're out in late summer or early autumn, you can harvest your own berries. What else you could or should consider bringing (or that I at least would bring): One container of powdered coffee/loose tea with a tea holder. A small container of salt and some of those sugar sachets you can "borrow" from your local coffee shop (no, don't do it, DON'T). A bag of peanuts or other nuts. They're rich in energy and iron, which is good when you need a pick-me-up. Also, your muscles need iron for optimal recovery. Some chocolate. Trust me, after climbing a peak, there's nothing better than treating yourself to something sweet. It also quickly brings any potential low blood sugar back up. My favorite: Tony's Chocolonely (child-labour and slave-free chocolate which is by far the best chocolate I ever had). If I'm going on a longer trip and unsure of the duration, I often bring a few sachets of potato puree. With a bit of salt, it's quite palatable. Optionally, some sachets of powdered soup. It weighs nothing and is delightful during a break. Again, good for your overall mental balance. As I mentioned, it's wise to buy the first batch of food in advance to ensure it fits in your backpack when you set out. I usually do my shopping in a regular supermarket, but I also order online. Sometimes, there are good online deals for dried meals. They might seem a bit pricey, but if you had to buy all the ingredients separately, your meal would easily be twice as expensive. It might sound rudimentary if you're not accustomed to it, but once you're outdoors and exerting effort every day, every bite truly tastes fantastic. So no you know what food to bring on your hikes when visiting Norway. And I'm curious about your experiences. Hit me up on Insta if you're eager to share!

  • Destination: arctic graffiti; where to stay when visiting Alta, Norway

    Long ago, in the 1970s, there was a young lad named Sven Erik who, along with his chums, engaged in a game of hide-and-seek . Amidst the fervor of their game, young Sven Erik crouched behind a fallen tree, fervently attempting to evade the gaze of his playmates. The toppled tree had bared a patch of bare rock, an innocuous discovery that would forever alter the history of Alta. Indeed, it is partly due to him that Alta now holds a coveted spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. What he stumbled upon was a vivid depiction of a bear, carved onto the bare rock. And this was merely the inception. This bear was just a single piece within a vast tapestry of similarly r illustrations and renderings. Today, this tableau of drawings is accessible to the public and carefully overseen by the Alta Museum. However, there exists a multitude of other rock drawings, each buried deep within the depths of the Altafjord. From the farthest western reaches to the easternmost corners, there is a mere 15-kilometer span. When the rock art earned its place on the World Heritage List, the count of figures stood at just over 3000. Today, that number has doubled, with over 6000 registered figures. Among these, the petroglyphs comprise merely ten fields, featuring around 50 figures in total. The rock art of Alta serves as a pivotal archaeological resource, endowing us with a unique understanding of the cognition, rituals, societal structures, technology, and resource utilization of the ancient people. The diversity of the rock art is striking, ranging from grand scenes depicting human and animal activities such as hunting, trapping, fishing, rituals, and transportation. These petroglyphs likely provide insight into both factual events and myths and legends. The depicted figures encompass humans, reindeer, elk, bears, dogs/wolves, foxes, hares, geese, ducks, swans, cormorants, halibut, salmon, whales, boats, tools, and various objects, along with intricate geometric patterns and designs. The enchantment emanating from these drawings is contagious, causing one to perceive the surroundings through an entirely different lens. Suddenly, you become acutely aware that you are treading in the footsteps of individuals who lived their lives here some 7000 years ago. A truly magical sensation. Alta itself is a diminutive town, home to approximately 20,000 residents, and serves as an exceptional gateway to explore the wonders of Arctic Norway. And as you probably by now wonder where to stay when visiting Alta, as I am unabashedly partial, my romantic inclination compels me to ardently endorse spending a night or to within the GLØD Aurora Canvas Dome. Surrounded by coniferous trees, boasting a wood-burning stove, and offering a spectacular vista as you recline in comfort, this is my ultimate recommendation. Of course, one could opt for a more conventional hotel chain, yet such accommodations are ubiquitous across the globe and contribute little to the profound experience of Alta's environs. Indeed, this is a night's stay that shall linger in your memory for a lifetime. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Alta Airport (ALF). With all the exploring you're about to do, it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Especially in the summer, it's wise to do this long before your arrival. The amount of fellow travellers is substantial. Check here for availability.

  • Hike: a few firm words from your spokesman on nature etiquette in Norway

    Certainly, the title sounds much more tough than my intended message. However, in order to captivate attention for a matter of profound significance, I deemed it appropriate to select a slightly provocative heading. Sorry! This is due to the following reason. When venturing forth with one's backpack or camper, it doesn't take long before finding oneself amidst regions where the regulations of urban centers and civilized domains hold no sway. In this instance, I am particularly referring to the management of waste and, well, all the other byproducts that we, as individuals, inevitably generate. I trust you comprehend my intention without my needing to explicitly enumerate each and every aspect. Thus, allow me to offer a gentle reminder concerning nature etiquette in Norway and how one can play the role of a conscientious Samaritan while traversing this splendid and majestic land. First and foremost, it must be made clear that garbage trucks do not frequent hiking trails. It might sound obvious, but nevertheless, it seems necessary to mention, for all too often I encounter an array of litter in the middle of nowhere, items that certainly have no place there. Envision this: you are meticulously planning a hiking vacation in Norway, with a desire to journey from one cabin to another. You intend to carry provisions for at least five days. This entails considering that you'll be carrying the waste from those five days along with you. Because when utilizing facilities such as those provided by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), the likelihood is high that these cabins are situated in such remote locales that waste disposal simply isn't an option. Therefore, carry your waste with you and dispose of it only once you return to inhabited regions. Aligned with the earlier discourse, the subsequent matter holds significant import. During my travels across the nation last summer, I was taken aback by the volume of debris left by tourists at camping sites, on parking lots and on hiking trails: plastic packaging, cigarette butts, barbecues, candy wrappers, beer cans, soiled diapers, used tampons and what not. Herein lies the issue: the responsibility of cleaning up this mess predominantly falls upon volunteers from for example Likefintsomfør, Rydde Norge and Litter Submitter. And that's not because Norway's treasury is depleted, but due to the sheer impracticality of maintaining every nook and cranny of this massive country. Thus, I beseech you in a polite yet earnest manner, that if you stumble upon any litter, do pick it up and carry it along in your camper. Ideally, do so when others are within view. For a positive example tends to elicit emulation. Moreover, it bestows upon oneself a sense of satisfaction. Have you ever heard of 'the broken window theory'? It aptly applies here in my modest opinion. In the absence of litter, fewer individuals will litter themselves. The same as all the above holds true for Norway's expansive coastline. You can well imagine how challenging it is to keep 100,000 kilometers spotless. It might transpire that you've parked your camper somewhere, strolling along the shore when you come upon a fragment of discarded fishing net. No one else will remove it, so be a true gentleman or gentlewoman and retrieve it. It might seem like a mere drop in the ocean, yet if each visitor makes a modest contribution, the cumulative impact can be substantial. Now, my final point, and congratulations on persevering through this quite extensive discourse. Human excrement. Particularly at tourist hotspots, human waste has evolved into a pronounced issue. Take Lofoten, for example. The predicament stems from our consumption of numerous foods containing high concentrations of preservatives. As a result, the breakdown of said waste takes an astonishingly long time. Consequently, this excrement often remains strewn across the mountaintops of Lofoten for several years. Hence, exercise mindfulness prior to embarking on a mountain ascent, considering the subsequent travelers who shall grace that summit. Make a quick pit stop or carry a waste containment pouch. The same applies to hygienic wipes, which do not degrade. Following their use, enclose them within a sealed zip bag and carry them off the mountain. My gratitude, along with that of all other visitors and animals, is immense!

  • Stay: not for pensionists; an exclusive stay on the foot of Gaustatoppen

    Rjukan is somewhat of an enigmatic location. Internationally, it is perhaps best known for its association with World War II and the heavy water factory operated by the Germans (don't mention the war!). More recently, Rjukan has garnered attention due to the installation of a sun mirror. Rjukan is nestled in a valley where, during winter, the sun is absent for approximately four months, leaving the valley shrouded in perpetual twilight. A rather disheartening state of affairs leaving housing prices to be unusually low for country standards. To address this, a large mirror has been erected on one of the surrounding mountain ridges, capturing the meager sunlight during these dark months and reflecting it directly into the valley, offering the residents at least a semblance of light. However, it is not for this reason alone that I write about Rjukan. During the second summer of the pandemic, my love and I embarked on a holiday in Norway. It was then that I received the summons to receive my first vaccine dose while we were camping by a lake. Determined to comply, we embarked on a 400-kilometer journey back to Oslo, only to resume our vacation the following morning. Our budget was rather constrained, but we decided that sleeping in a tent or hammock that night was out of the question. Serendipitously, we stumbled upon a small hotel marked on the map, conveniently located along our route. And so it was that we found ourselves in the vicinity of Rjukan. Little did I anticipate what an extraordinary experience awaited us. Tuddal Høyfjellshotell is nestled in the mountains, overlooking a vast lake just below the treeline. Constructed in a charming chalet style, the hotel has been welcoming guests since 1895, and this legacy is immediately apparent upon entering. It is a scene straight out of a fairy tale. The interior is delightfully old-fashioned yet exudes an authentic ambiance. It feels as though stepping into a time capsule, with decorations, vintage photographs, and hunting trophies adorning every nook and cranny. Each evening, a four-course dinner is served promptly at 19:00, bringing all the guests together in the dining hall simultaneously. This creates a uniquely special atmosphere. One can take a moment to observe their fellow patrons and gain a sense of the community within the hotel. The service is truly remarkable, infused with enthusiasm and dedication. You feel genuinely seen and valued. The cuisine revolves around locally available ingredients, and this is unmistakable in the flavors that are brought to life. Expect no experimental artistry, but rather beautifully executed, honest dishes that tantalize the taste buds. One feels as though they have stepped into a movie scene. Perhaps akin to "The Grand Budapest Hotel," but set in Norway? Following dinner, we ordered coffee in one of the sitting rooms and were soon joined by other guests. The evening unfolded into a delightful late-night affair, with whisky flowing abundantly. One might perceive this place as catering primarily to pensioners, but I hold the opposite view being somewhere in my thirties. Those standardized and generic hotels truly contribute nothing to the overall experience of a destination. Tuddal Høyfjellshotell, on the other hand, is an entity in itself—a destination actually. If you find yourself in the vicinity and planning to stay in Telemark, Rjukan or Gaustatoppen, or even if you are not, I implore you to book a night's stay. with a strong promise you will not regret it. And by the way, the accommodations themselves are truly remarkable, despite the fact that we had our stay in the smallest, most rudimentary chamber available. We loved it. All of it. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Oslo Airport (OSL). Public transport doesn't get you there, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Destination: the underdog of fjords; why Lusterfjorden deserves your visit

    Late May or early June is undeniably the most picturesque time to pick the majestic fjords as your destination. Above 700 meters, a substantial blanket of snow often lingers, while the steep slopes and valleys burst into vibrant bloom. The greenery is so fresh and vivid that it almost dazzles the eyes. The snow appears as powdered sugar atop a delectable cake of pure beauty. For those with a penchant for cultural history, you might spontaneously find yourself whistling the tune of 'The Sound of Music.' However, once you've finished your melody, allow me to continue my tale. I first ventured here about three years ago, precisely around this time. It was a sun-drenched weekend. As a birthday surprise, I had rented a cottage right on the shores of Lusterfjord. From our bedroom, we could hear the thunderous waterfall, which plummeted some 400 meters down, about 5 kilometers from our cottage on the opposite side of the fjord. And as we savored our breakfast, a group of five dolphins gracefully swam by. It was all rather idyllic. Luster itself is an ancient hamlet tucked away along the fjord coast. It boasts a small stone church dating back to the year 1120, a handful of charming wooden cottages, and a terrace frequented by a few occasional tourists and Norwegian car enthusiasts of a specific make or model during the summer. There's a small supermarket, and that's about it. The village is surrounded by fruit trees and houses built in the 1940s and 1950s. The connecting road from the highlands is often no wider than one campervan, often necessitating some reversing to pass one another. The Norwegians tackle this with ease and a certain resignation. It has always been this way, and it always will be. A friendly wave is exchanged once vehicles pass each other. You typically stumble upon this place by accident as you make your way from the roof of Norway towards the well-trodden paths of the western fjord coast. Most people drive right past this stunning piece of nature, which, in my opinion, is a grave injustice. Therefore, I'd like to offer some tips to hopefully entice you to spend a few days here. First and foremost, there's accommodation. There truly is something for everyone. I, as a habitual penny-pincher, stayed in a reasonably basic but incredibly charming cabin on the grounds of Dalsøren Camping. As I mentioned before, it's right on the water, and that's precisely why you're here: the view. It's a charming, old-school campsite where as many Norwegians as tourists stay, creating a familiar and friendly atmosphere. People barbecue on the large stone pier, and children jump into the ice-cold water. The most spectacular stay has to be For the most romantic overnight stay, look no further than Nes Gård. Book the glass mirror house (Suite with Terrace, as it's called) with a breathtaking view of the fjord, the mountains, and the waterfalls. At Nes Gård, you'll instantly feel like you've entered an unreal paradise. This place exudes a down-to-earth magic that perfectly complements the surroundings. They serve typical Norwegian cuisine and are very helpful in making your arrival and stay as pleasant as possible. In my humble opinion, this is by far the best starting point for exploring Lusterfjorden and the surrounding areas. With various glaciers, Norway's oldest stave church, and numerous cultural highlights just a stone's throw away, you could easily reserve three nights here. You can also book kayaks, day trips, and, upon request, guides to show you around. Another equally romantic and idyllic location is Beste Bakken. To get straight to the point, here you can rent a glass house right in a field where alpacas graze (can be a little hot in the summer though). The incredible cheerfulness that this brings is sure to warm even the coldest of hearts. The same goes for the entire setup of Beste Bakken. Beste Bakken is an charming place where adventure, culture, and good food are the focal points. The buildings are modern and comfortable, rich in tradition, and offer a cozy, homey atmosphere. The other 14 bedrooms they rent out are of utmost comfort and offer a stylish (in the classical sense) backdrop for a rather romantic stay. All the bathrooms are exquisitely tiled, and several feature bubble baths. And there's also an outdoor jacuzzi. I mean, come on! The food they serve here is also of the highest standard. Fresh ingredients and the attention and love put into the dishes make the culinary experience absolutely unique. A significant portion of the ingredients comes from their own garden. And here, too, every effort is made to make your stay as easy and enjoyable as possible. Oh, and those alpacas - they're so cute. Book a night or two, it's worth every penny. If you're still not convinced to visit Lusterfjorden, let me give you one final nudge. On a stonecast's distance from Lusterfjorden, you'll find amongst a ton of other attractions: Asafossen Waterfall Nygaardsbreen Urnes Stave Church Wallaker Gallery I hope I've managed to persuade you. Lusterfjorden remains undiscovered by the masses, offering an exceptionally exclusive and unique experience. Here, you won't find long lines of camper vans, columns of motorcycles, or tourist shops selling trolls and quirky hats. Lusterfjorden is precisely the opposite: a place of warm hospitality that is seldom encountered. Lusterfjorden really deserves your visit! **Getting there: Public transport is a bit of a hassle (understatement), so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance at your airport of arrival. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Stay: in and around Ålesund (Alesund); the 5 most beautiful (hotel) stays

    Ålesund, or Alesund if you have a non-Scandinavian keyboard. I had never been there! And as many of you are now aware, I've been living in Norway for about 8 years. It wasn't until the first summer of the pandemic that I truly began exploring the country. For a year, it was impossible to visit my family, and I had the (if I may use the term in this context) "luck" of being forced to spend my vacation days within the country's borders. The thing with this country is that it's too vast to just hop somewhere for a weekend without taking a flight. And my ambivalence towards flying is significant. I'd prefer never to step on a plane ever again, but due to family illness, it's unfortunately the only way to move between countries quickly. But I digress. That's why it wasn't until this year (2023) that I ended up in (Å) Alesund, yet not even in a hotel. And let's start at the end (or scroll straight down for my hotel recommendations). I had a few hours to spare before my flight back to Oslo. It was a sun-drenched day, around 24 degrees Celsius. Not exceptionally hot, but because Ålesund is right on the Atlantic Ocean, it can get a bit unpredictable here. I checked my luggage and had about 3 hours to enjoy. It was a bit too cumbersome to go back to Ålesund (Alesund). So, I decided to head to one of the beautiful sandy beaches just a stone's throw away from the airport. And here's something most people don't know: Norway has numerous stunning, snow-white sandy beaches. The ocean, especially on the west coast, is often ice-cold, but take it from me; once you flip a mental switch, focus on your steady breathing, and experience the adrenaline rush of the cold water, you won't want to do anything else. Long story short, I went for a swim instead of hanging around at the terminal. So, I arrived at the gate with sand between my toes. Ålesund itself is a very, very charming little town (you say 'Oooohllesuun' not 'Aeelesuhnd'). The Art Nouveau buildings give the facades a stately appearance. There are a ton of lovely restaurants, and it's a bustling hub for fast ferries serving the surrounding islands. But above all, it's the location that makes this city so extraordinary. While sipping a coffee by the waterfront, you can gaze out over the sea on one side and gaze at an alpine landscape with steep peaks, partially snow-covered throughout the year, on the other. Especially on clear days, this creates an overall spectacle that, in my opinion, is unique in the world. It might sound a bit cliche, but I've become accustomed to mountain peaks and fjords, yet the surroundings of Ålesund truly belong to a different category. That's why I thought it appropriate to guide you through this area by presenting the most spectacular accommodations. Places with views where you can leisurely take in the stunning surroundings. Because that's ultimately one of the main reasons you come to this breathtaking country. I'll dedicate a separate article to the highlights (literally) you can reach by car. But, as mentioned, let's start with your accommodation because that's what sets the tone for your travel experience. I previously mentioned the Art Nouveau buildings characterizing Ålesund. Exactly that elegance can be found at Hotel 1904. I always find it a bit complicated to use superlatives like "the best" or "the most beautiful" or "the loveliest" when I'm not talking about my girlfriend. So, I'll proceed with caution. This is one of the most beautiful and elegant hotels in all of Norway. Quite nuanced, don't you think? In previous stories, I hinted that I used to work as an interior designer. I can confidently say that I have a sort of professional eye for interior spaces. I immediately notice the materials used—not just the curtains but also the baseboards and the flooring. Then comes composition and lighting. But, well, I won't bore you with that. But if you even slightly appreciate beautifully designed spaces, book a few nights here. Especially during the darker months, this place is an oasis of perfectly styled contemporary coziness. I walked in during the summer out of curiosity, precisely because of what I just described. I was impressed, as well as by the staff, who welcomed me with understated warmth, despite the fact that I had a huge backpack on my back and was wearing flip-flops. Not exactly the typical attire for the clientele that usually populates the lobby here. All in all, I didn't stay here overnight because it's not budget-friendly for a simple blogger like me. But the beds are probably some of the best you can sleep on in Norway. Let me know how it is if you spend a night here. I’d love to hear. Now, from one extreme to another. Unfortunately, you'll have to take a little drive for this one, as it's about a two-hour drive from Ålesund. But if you consider that everything is about a two-hour drive in Norway, it's actually quite reasonable. This is one of those places you won't find on lists of "hotels in Ålesund" or other "best ofs" or "must-sees." That's because most bloggers are too lazy to get off their backsides and provide genuinely useful information to unsuspecting travelers looking for incredible experiences. It's all about clickbait, and then you find yourself lining up for Trolltunga to take the exact same picture as the rest of the world and get a few easily-forgotten likes. You might sense some frustration here. And that's correct. There are so many amazing places that don't appear in any blog post but offer unparalleled experiences that will last a lifetime. That's why I'd like to take you to Kråen Gård. In a remote corner, at the end of a dead-end road, stands a beautiful farm dating back to the early 17th century. Here, you can stay in all modern, Instagram-worthy splendor. Be prepared to witness the most incredible sea view you've ever seen in your life. Furthermore, the farm shop is of unparalleled quality. Amazing jams, apple cider, and fantastic cakes. Cakes I can no longer allow myself to eat since I'm over 30, and many of my shirts no longer fit from five years ago. But I digress. Where at the beginning of this piece I wrote that I rarely use superlatives, I'm doing it here. This is a fantastic place. The view, the set up, the remoteness. If I had to put it boldly; I’d say it’s Norway in a nutshell. Due to their limited capacity, accommodations often sell out quickly here. So, it's essential to reserve well in advance. And oh, what lovely people! I sometimes wonder who we'll still be talking about 100 years from now. Which writers stood the test of time? Which presidents left the world better than they found it? Which films became classics? Hotel Union Øye at least answers some of those questions by mentioning some former guests who enjoyed their breakfast here in the past century. Among them, Emperor Wilhelm (that illustrious figure with the peculiar arm), Karen Blixen ordered eggs Benedict, and Roald Amundsen had a glass of whiskey before or after reaching the North Pole as a reward for his efforts. Depending on where in the world you're reading this blog, this may or may not mean anything to you. I'm writing this with a European perspective, after all. What's undeniable is that Hotel Union Øye is on a list of places with exceptional allure. It initially reminded me of the Dalen Hotel, which I wrote about earlier. It's again one of those magical places that make you wonder how on earth you can have such an exceptional stay in such a relatively remote location. But that's precisely the appeal in the case of such locations, it's the breathtaking natural surroundings that truly make this hotel a destination in its own right. Besides its incredibly atmospheric interior, the walls here also whisper tales of history. If only those walls could tell us the secrets exchanged by European elites in these corridors, we’d probably have a bit of a different view on the historic events that shaped European history. The hotel is located approximately a 2-hour drive from Ålesund. As I mentioned before, that's relatively close by Norwegian standards. My favorite seasons for such places are autumn or winter, owing to the incredible coziness that permeates this hotel. Now, back to urban settings. There's another hotel in Ålesund that I haven't mentioned, but true connoisseurs would never forgive me if I didn't; Hotel Brosundet. Let me share what I find so exceptional about it. Upon entering, you immediately notice a monumental fireplace. Now, that's not my main point, but I wanted to mention it because a public fireplace taps into our basic needs without us often realizing it. The need for warmth and safety is ingrained in our DNA. That's why we're so often drawn to open fires. The fact that so much space is dedicated to a fireplace in a public area and brings people together, I find a beautiful and poetic thought in itself. It's evident that a great deal of thought went into this hotel. Undoubtedly, it's because the hotel is run by a family. This means that all responsibility for the level of hospitality falls on individuals, not on a faceless hotel corporation. Let me highlight a few aspects that make this hotel exceptional (and my apologies in advance to the owners as I'll likely leave out numerous details). Every Wednesday evening, a small and intimate concert takes place by the fireplace. There's a high tea every Saturday with an array of delights. The rooms are incredibly tastefully decorated. No sterile and generic color palettes here, but warm tones and exquisite materials. My interior designer's eye was thoroughly satisfied here. I believe that this hotel in Ålesund is a sort of one-stop-shop. They arrange everything for you to experience the beauty of the Norwegian North-West coast. If I were to win the lottery, I'd spend a week here. Mark my words! As a counterbalance to all this luxury, I'd like to make one more recommendation. That's for a 10,000-star hotel on a good weather night: under the open sky. As you know, I love camping, and whenever my busy schedule allows, I seize the opportunity to venture into the wilderness with my backpack and tent. The Ålesund area is fantastic for outdoor enthusiasts. From Rikshem, you can almost walk straight into the Sunnmøre Alps. I was there this summer and was deeply impressed by the towering peaks that surrounded me. In about a day, you can walk from Rikshem to Ytre-Trandal (from where you can take the ferry to the other side of the fjord and further towards Ørsta). Along the way, you can set up your tent near Storevannet. For more accommodation options and hiking routes, I recommend thoroughly exploring the DNT Sunmøre website and studying the map. I am worried, for it will probably take a lifetime to explore all the beauty in this part of the country. And I don’t have a lifetime (anymore). Well, this piece turned out much longer than I initially anticipated. I sincerely hope that my recommendations for beautiful stays in and around Ålesund (remember; it's 'Oohllesuun' not 'Aeelesuhnd') have inspired you to extend your stay in Ålesund a little longer than you initially planned. Please let me know on Instagram what you enjoyed most. **Getting there: If you want to efficiently explore all vastness around Ålesund I would like to advise you to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Hike: a low key hike to a high-profile glacier; Austdalsbreen, the lesser know sidearm of Jostedalsbreen

    In this article, I shall impart unto thee a splendid tip on how to hike from a picturesque valley to a distinctive segment of a glacier, far removed from the throngs of tourists that populate the trails leading to the more renowned glaciers. This route is scarcely known outside of the Norwegian locals, yet it ultimately grants thee a magnificent vista of an epic tributary of the better-known Jostedalsbreen. At first you write Sota Sæter into your navigation system. As you turn left from the highway near Coop Prix Bruvoll, you'll find yourself on Bråtåvegen. The road is paved with asphalt until you reach a barrier. Beyond that point, it transforms into a long, wide gravel road winding through a vast valley that seems to stretch endlessly. The further you drive into the valley, the weaker the phone signal becomes, until it eventually fades away entirely. After about 20 minutes, you arrive at a picturesque settlement consisting of an old, black-painted farmhouse surrounded by picnic benches and bustling activity. This is one of the DNT huts where you can spend the night before or after your hike. But that's not why we're here, not neccessarily at least. We continue driving further, passing through another barrier where we have to pay a small fee. This contribution goes towards keeping the road snow-free during winter, fair enough right? The road starts to deteriorate slightly, with a few potholes here and there, but it doesn't bother us. After about fifteen minutes of driving, we spot a small parking lot on the right where we park our car (there's a few cabins further down, but don't park there). With our backpacks on, we set off on the hiking trail, a meandering path through the Surtbyttdalen. The ultimate destination is the viewpoint, a hundred meters above the Styggevasshytta. I won't describe the entire hike in detail; my point is that in this remote corner of the valley, hardly any tourists venture, making the four-hour hike to the viewpoint almost a spiritual experience. Please don't misunderstand me, I have absolutely nothing against tourists. However, the joy diminishes when you have to walk in a procession to Kjeragbolten, Preikestolen, or Trolltunga. There are so many underrated routes that are equally beautiful, if not more so. And that is the case here too. The landscape is diverse, stunning, and the reward is immense once you reach the highest point. The journey back down is much faster and took us less than 2.5 hours. All in all, it's essential to set aside a day for this hike. A few things to keep in mind during such hikes: There is hardly any phone signal in this valley, except for a very weak signal when you climb one of the highest peaks. If you decide to hike alone, always inform at least one person about your plans. Let them know where you're going and how long you expect to stay there. If you're trekking from one DNT hut to another, always write in the guestbooks, indicating your origin and destination. This system ensures that you can be found much faster in case you twist your ankle and can't continue. Also, make sure to bring enough food—some sandwiches, a few bags of nuts, and perhaps some chocolate—to keep your energy levels up. There's plenty of water available, but be cautious when drinking from streams that may be grazed by sheep or goats. And a final warning: don't venture or hike onto the glaciers without a guide. Just don't do it! Before setting out, it's wise to consult and study the map, and possibly check out DNT if you plan to stay nearby overnight. We actually booked a cabin on the nearby campsite. Which was basic but excellent. And they make great pizza too, which was an absolutely joy to replenish our energy with after a long day in the mountains. **Getting there: unless you're bike-packing, it's nearly impossible to get there without a car. So it is most wise to rent a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Destination: your sofa; watch the best (according to me) Norwegian series and movies

    This isn't just a list I scraped together using generic search criteria from IMDB. The idea behind this list is to give you a bit of an insight into this country and also to nuance the cliché image that many people have of Norway. Don't get me wrong, much of it is true. Norwegians tend to be somewhat reserved, they only greet each other if they're more than 5 kilometers away from civilization. But where it all comes from is often best understood when you exaggerate it a bit. So, in no particular order, here's a list of films and series that I believe are well worth watching because they genuinely enhance your journey here and in a sense honour the Norwegian mindset and spirit. I should warn you in advance that some series can only be viewed through the Norwegian state broadcaster. But without resorting to too many obscure tricks, you can still watch most of them with a simple Norway proxy VPN connection (I'll give you a tip on the bottom of this article). Without further ado, let us set off: 1. Lykkeland: I watched this series with great attention. It paints a beautiful portrait of the early days of the new prosperity brought about by the discovery of oil off the Norwegian coast. You see how the farming society as it was in the 1950s gradually changes, ushering in a wave of emancipation, wealth, and small migrations. The diminishing influence of the church plays a strong role in traditional gender roles. The series is primarily set in and around Stavanger, which is still more or less the oil capital of Norway. Excellent acting by Malene Hovland Wadel, makes this series almost binge-worthy. Above all, it provides a wonderful framework for a time when high prosperity was not necessarily a given, but explosive changes in all aspects heralded a new era in Norwegian history. 2. Norsemen: One of the clichés I mentioned earlier is undoubtedly the Vikings. I understand that a group of marauding roughnecks captures the imagination. And rightfully so. In their perfected sailboats, they discovered entire continents (such as Greenland and what is now North America), founded Kiev, and realized that you could sail all the way to the Black Sea via where St. Petersburg is now. But the romanticization of Viking existence is sometimes overdone in my opinion. They were primarily farmers who, after a series of poor harvests, set sail out of desperation in search of better farming conditions (and raided and raped a bit while at it). The theory even goes that due to a massive volcanic eruption elsewhere on Earth, the entire globe was considerably darker and colder for several years in a row, leading to significantly poorer crop yields. It's difficult to prove, but the timing of the Vikings' voyages quite clearly correlates with carbon dating of the layers of ash found, among other places, in Greenland's ice. Anyway, to cut a long story short, you can, of course, watch the series "Vikings." Well-made and with a fair share of limbs being chopped off. Even more enjoyable is the English-spoken series "Norsemen." First and foremost, the actors have done their utmost to speak English with a heavy Norwegian accent. Additionally, you should actually see it as a parody of what today's society looks like, but set against the backdrop of a Viking setting. The longer you live here, the more visible and clear the parallels become. It's hilarious, I promise. But do watch the English-spoken one. 3. Med Monsen på vilspor: Lars Monsen is something of a phenomenon here (or a hero if you please). It was the very first series I watched when I moved here. That was about the first evening I sat down in front of the television, literally day one. And I was actually immediately in love with this sympathetic noble savage, in his bright orange jacket. The concept of the program is actually quite simple: Monsen (a seasoned survival expert who prefers animals over people) is dropped into the wilderness, and with limited resources, he must find his way to a specific destination. This series phenomenally captures the nationally shared love for the outdoors. Moreover, it brings you fairly close to the Norwegian national character, if such a thing exists. Plus, if you're interested in the outdoors and camping, you can learn an incredible amount from this series. Packing a backpack, taking the most essential items, and a thorough introduction to wilderness etiquette serve as an excellent foundation for your first visit to Norway (provided you're going with a backpack and tent). 4. Eventyr jenter: This fantastic series revolves around a group of adventurous (young) women who venture into the wilderness with cameras in hand. Depending on where in the world you watch this series, it's highly likely you'll find these women brave and tough. And that's accurate. Because in many countries, women have plenty to fear when they're out alone. And they get that fear primarily from us men because we can't keep our mouths shut, or worse, we can't keep our hands to ourselves. Let that sink in. Now, I'm not claiming that this series is proof that emancipation in Norway is complete and that we've reached enlightenment, far from it. But here, at least, it's safe enough for women to enjoy nature without being bothered by all sorts of hopeless individuals with a pair of testies swinging between their legs. Yep, I said it. And besides that, it is a marvellous series with a buch of great and diverse characteres. I hope it inspires you. 5. Almost every country has its own traumas to deal with when it comes to World War II (or any war). Although many of these traumas are universal, they have a lot to do with the national character and how things are dealth with in the aftermath. One important part of dealing with trauma is the films that are made of such events. Rightly or wrongly, they give us an image that we were 'good' in the war, even though it often turns out that only a tiny percentage of the population actually joined some form of resistance. But this awareness can also be called a trauma, and films are very effective in helping to process it. The best Norwegian war films, in my opinion, are "Max Manus" and "Kampen om Tungt Vannet." Both provide a beautiful glimpse into the Norwegian way of doing things and the national character. Universally, every country needs its heroes; ordinary boys and girls setting out to do someting extraordinary, that everyone can still identify with. 6. Verdens verste menneske (The worst person in the world): A hilarious and sometimes somewhat dark comedy about a woman who navigates her way through the tumultuous and sometimes confrontational existence of her thirties. The reason I mention it is that it is set in Oslo, and it gives you a great preview of what awaits you in the city. The outstanding acting, especially by Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie, makes this Oscar-worthy material, without losing sight of the Norwegian mindset at any given point. 7. Rådebank: When you're on vacation here, you're undoubtedly going to encounter a phenomenon that leaves you in the dark: tire tracks seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Especially in the countryside, there's a lively car culture. This probably has something to do with the absence of too much entertainment, but even more so with a desire for community spirit and a sense of belonging. It's often young people hanging out at gas stations in Volvo 240s (an absolute cult car here) or beat-up American cars, playing loud music, and chugging all kinds of energy drinks. I must confess I have a huge soft spot for this kind of culture. Not because I identify with it, but more because it exists and was born out of a need. The series "Radebank" somewhat cultivates this culture but, more importantly, it offers a beautiful and touching view of youth culture in the countryside. Talking about feelings is not something they do much here, let alone in the countryside. This series makes you see things differently when you're on a road trip and you come across a house with a messy garden containing numerous seemingly unusable cars. 8. Home for Christmas: It was inevitable of course, the most delightful Christmas series you'll watch this year. It unfolds in multiple locations, with many of the typical Norwegian customs taking center stage. It's a particularly charming comedy with the usual ingredients; a complicated love life, a fractured family, and everyone feeling a bit lonely. And it all comes together on one delightfully festive yet unusual Christmas Eve. Pure indulgence! 9. Der ingen skulle tru at nokon kunne bu: A splendid portrayal of individuals residing in occasionally improbable locations. Spanning a total of 22 seasons, the series guides you through captivating narratives, breathtaking locations, and at times, unbelievable circumstances where Norwegians sustain a livelihood. Not only does this series take you on a magnificent journey across the entire country, but it also provides a beautiful insight into the mindset of the Norwegian, which often remains concealed. I often watch this show on sunday mornings. Absolutely brilliant! 10. Skam: ...which translates to "Shame" in English, is a Norwegian teen drama series created by Julie Andem. The show explores the lives of a group of high school students in Oslo, delving into various contemporary issues and challenges faced by teenagers. "Skam" gained widespread popularity (also worldwide) for its realistic portrayal of adolescence, addressing topics such as friendship, love, identity, mental health, and social issues. Some of what I've just mentioned can be viewed on one of the many streaming services, but a portion is only available through NRK (the Norwegian state broadcaster). Because it's not strictly allowed, but I believe there's no harm in wanting to watch fantastic Norwegian series as a non-Norwegian, here's my proposal for a bit of civil disobedience. With a connection from NORD VPN, you can enjoy all of the above and get fully into the mood before embarking on your journey to Norway. I hope you'll have a great time in anticipation (and let me know on Insta which one you enjoyed the most!)

  • Destination: 'syttende mai'; how to join in on the celebrations of Norway's day of the constitution on May 17th.

    After the Easter festivities subside in Norway, the nation not only embraces the arrival of spring but also eagerly awaits one of its most distinctive national holidays: May 17th, known as Constitution Day or 'syttende mai' as Norwegians say it (seventeenth of May). The 17th of May is Norway's Constitution Day, an annual celebration held on May 17th to commemorate the adoption of the country's constitution in 1814. This historical event followed the Napoleonic Wars, leading to the establishment of Norway as an independent kingdom, although the union with Sweden persisted until 1905. This day stands out for its unique charm, as every village and town orchestrates a children's parade. The spectacle involves students of various ages marching through the streets bedecked with banners and flags, accompanied by stirring marching bands. The profound symbolism underlying this event is the recognition that children embody the future. While in France, the grotesque (and old-fashioned) grandeur of the military parades down the Champ Elysees, in Norway, it is the children who take the spotlight, a truly enchanting sight; for they are considered to define the future of the country and therefore celebrated. Furthermore, May 17th is an occasion to revel in the nationwide celebration, casting a picturesque hue of blue, red, and white across the landscape (the colours of the national flag that is). The esteemed national TV channel NRK offers comprehensive coverage of the festivities unfolding throughout the entire country, leaving foreigners in awe. As an expatriate, I am personally moved each year as I witness the parades. They do send camera crews to even the smallest of villages, which I find so charming. In light of this, I wish to provide a brief overview of what to anticipate and how to actively partake in the celebrations, particularly during Constitution Day in Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim. Celebration 1. Children's Parade: The highlight of the celebration is the iconic children's parade, a tradition observed nationwide. In Oslo, the capital, the largest parade takes place. Schoolchildren, accompanied by marching bands, march past the royal palace, where they are saluted by the royal family. 2. Traditional Attire (Bunad): Many Norwegians don the bunad, the traditional Norwegian festive attire, during the celebration. This attire holds significant cultural and national symbolism as it refers to the region their family is from. My favourite might be the Norlands bunad, but I'll leave it to you to pick your favourite. And do ask people about their bunads. Everyone is honoured to get the chance to explain. 3. Culinary Traditions: Indulge in the tradition of enjoying ice cream and hot dogs on May 17th. Additionally, partake in barbecues, picnics, or other communal events that characterize the day. Most parks are packed with people, which supplies an excellent way to mingle and join the festivities. Some amusing facts 1. Diverse Bunads: Norway boasts over 400 distinct types of bunads, reflecting regional and traditional variations. Witnessing the kaleidoscope of colors and patterns during the festivities is truly captivating. 2. May 17th Cake: Kransekake, an almond cake, is a popular dessert on this day. Many people partake in a special May 17th breakfast with friends or family, creating a bustling morning scene. 3. Russ Celebration: Graduating high school students, known as Russ, also join in the May 17th festivities. They often have customized "Russ buses" and actively participate in the parade, contributing to the lively atmosphere. How to best experience the day 1. Children's Parade Participation: Whether joining the procession or observing, dressing in a suit, a nice dress, or festive attire enhances the experience of national pride and energy. 2. Appreciate the Bunad: While foreigners typically do not wear bunads (bit of a no-go really), take pleasure in observing Norwegians proudly donning these regional representations of cultural identity. The sight is just gorgeous! I love it equally much, year in, year out. 3. Picnics and Togetherness: Celebrate the day with friends and family, engaging in picnics in the park. The convivial atmosphere encourages mingling, fostering a sense of community rarely experienced during the rest of the year. A great opportunity to experience a completely different side of an otherwise rather introverted country. 4. Attend Local Events: Many cities and towns organize concerts, parades, and other activities. A simple Google query will point you in the right direction. The day often concludes with concerts and fireworks, depending on the town. 5. Observations on May 18th: If you encounter individuals wearing bunads on the morning of May 18th, it's a fair assumption they've had 'fun' during the night 'nudge, nudge, know what I mean'.

  • Read: No, I'm not the only one; 4 more blogs about Norway

    Although I would like to believe it, I am not the sole blogger writing about Norway. And that is not surprising. There is quite a lot to tell about this magnificent country; the landscapes, culture, history, food and so on. At first glance, Norway may seem like a rather homogeneous society but significant differences exist among all the various regions. In the southern part of the country, close to the Bible Belt, one might strongly adhere to the motto 'in God we trust,' whereas in the north of Norway, 'in cod we trust' gives a good impression of how people feel about the (state) church and the general mindset up north. And then there's the enormous variety in landscapes. The lush forests of the south and the appealing coastal inlets, the alpine terrain of Jotunheimen and the tundra's of the north. And all these nuances and differences causes an endless flow of inspiration for me to write down everything I find so magnificent about living here. Anyway, I digress a bit. The reason for this article is actually to elevate the diversity of blogs focusing their attention on Norway to a pedestal. Feedspot has already helped with that by compiling a list of 15 blogs that are worth mentioning for their relevance and originality. A fun fact; HA DET MAMMA is found in fourth place. Of course, that's not the point, but the internet loves lists, and I am no exception. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to present to you my favorite blogs about Norway. In fact, as a relative newcomer in this world, I do look up a bit to these diligent individuals. For answers to all your questions (including the most frequently asked ones according to Google), turn to Norway with Pål 2. Highly organized and an excellent series of travel and accommodation tips 3. of my favorites, and a topic that hardly gets covered on HADETMAMMA; social codes in Norwegian society. Very entertaining to read; the social guidebook 4. And finally, a guilty pleasure; recipes for excellent saffron buns, traditional Scandinavian fare, and fantastic sandwiches. Moreover, the tasteful photography will make your mouth water! Have a look! Moreover, I am naturally quite curious about you. Are you also a blogger, and do you write about Norway? Do inform me. It would be delightful to exchange thoughts sometime. Find me on the socials!

  • Eat: in abundance; picking mushrooms in Norway

    If you find yourself wandering through a random forest in Norway between late August and late October, chances are you'll stumble upon a plethora of mushrooms, many of which are edible and many grow in abundance. Much like many, I've become utterly addicted to the pursuit and picking of mushrooms. In other words, that part of my brain where reward is exchanged for a dopamine shot now understands that finding mushrooms equals a dose of happiness. To cut a long story short, discovering a large group of orange-yellow chanterelles after half an hour of searching is incredibly satisfying. And it's not just about the joy of discovery; the taste is phenomenal. Most edible mushrooms also come with a host of health benefits, but more on that later. The purpose of this piece is to share some more tips and trics on picking mushrooms in Norway, harvesting etiquette, and a few tools to make foraging in the woods easier and more rewarding. Admit it, how delightful is it to eat your own picked mushrooms while camping? My preferred mushrooms, commonly found in Norway, include chanterelles, black trumpet mushrooms, funnel chanterelle and porcupine mushroom. While there are general guidelines on where to find them, luck plays a significant role. I've discovered most chanterelles near coniferous trees, on sparser ground, or in the forest amidst grass. When mushroom hunting, you don't need to be a mycology professor to distinguish between edible and non-edible varieties. This incredibly handy booklet written by Danish mushroom professor Jens H. Petersen, provides detailed descriptions of edible mushrooms and their look-alikes (which might be toxic). It has been invaluable because doubts can sometimes creep in, especially when hearing tales of organ failure two days after consuming a certain mushroom. However, fear not; sticking to mushrooms that have no resemblance to anything harmful keeps you on the safe side. If in doubt, you can even download this app. Upload a photo of the mushroom, and you'll receive an immediate message about its edibility or if you should steer clear. Apart from the joy of searching and finding mushrooms, there's another crucial reason to elevate mushroom foraging to a hobby—its benefits for your body and health. Mushrooms are a low-calorie food packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They're recognized as a vital part of a healthy diet. UV-exposed mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, crucial for bone and immune health. Cremini mushrooms are an excellent source of zinc, vital for the immune system and optimal growth in infants and children. Mushrooms contribute to lowering blood pressure due to their potassium content, countering the negative effects of sodium. Additionally, their anti-inflammatory properties boost the efficiency of the immune system, thanks to high levels of selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B6. Studies have shown that, in combination with exercise and lifestyle changes, mushrooms can aid weight loss. Antioxidants in mushrooms may enhance cells' defense systems, protecting against obesity-related issues. Mushrooms, rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants, may reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. For harvesting and storing mushrooms, it's handy to bring a knife and a brush. Cut the mushroom close to the ground with the knife, and use the brush to clean off the soil. Carrying a net is also useful for allowing sufficient air circulation, keeping the mushrooms in good condition. When I gather large quantities, I often dry them by laying them on parchment paper and letting them air dry or using a convection oven set to 50 degrees Celsius. Ensure the oven is slightly ajar to let the evaporated moisture escape. Once completely dry, store them in an airtight jar for use in fantastic risottos or pasta dishes througout the winter. But there's a good chance you're out and about with a tent or camper. This means you'll likely devour your freshly picked mushrooms right away. I won't bore you with endless recipes, as others are far more adept at that. Instead, watch this video by the utterly charming chef Max Mariola and let yourself be inspired. Some toast, some salt and pepper, a slice of cured meat...mmmmm!

  • Destination: a beer made of birch bark at the foot of Jotunheimen; when in Lom, Norway

    It is, of course, a wholly pointless exercise to debate matters of taste. So, let me refrain from doing so. I cannot help but appreciate that my favorite beer is brewed in a rather new brewery in Lom (Norway), a tiny village nestled amidst a convergence of several mountain passes. The Lomb Brewery hasn't been around for very long, but you wouldn't know it. And that probably has something to do with the craftsmanship of the staff, the availability of exceptional ingredients, and the historically steeped location. The name of my preferred beer speaks for itself: Bjørk (birch). A concentrate of birch bark lends the beer a subtly sweet undertone. I must honestly confess that I haven't yet sampled all of their brews, but that implies I'll likely derive much enjoyment from them in the future. If you find yourself in Lom, do make a point to visit the Lomb Brewery at the very least. You can taste their beers, purchase them, and most importantly, feel free to inquire the staff about their products as they take great pleasure in sharing their knowledge. While you're in Lom, you might as well drop by the bakery for a cinnamon bun. There's a chance you'll have to queue up for a bit. That's not only because bakeries in this part of Norway are somewhat scarce but also because this particular one is exceptionally good. The optimal experience is during the quieter hours on a weekday. Sometimes, the hordes of tourists can strain the overall logistics there, leading to rather accidic comments on TripAdvisor. If you've had your fill of Lomb's beers and the comfort of a cozy bed beckons, consider the Fossheim Hotel. The building housing the hotel looks splendid and exudes a delightful aroma of wood. Besides its charm, this hotel also boasts the finest menu in Lom, offering delicately crafted dishes beautifully presented. Might there be any need to cleanse your sinfull mind, have a look at the beautiful Lom Stavechurch. It's ancient and magical! Lom is also an excellent starting point for further explorations of Jotunheimen and Breheimen. So you know! **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive either at Ålesund Airport (AES) or from Oslo Airport (OSL). Either way, public transport really takes forever, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Destination: 5 Norwegian weekend getaways within 2 hours from Amsterdam Schiphol airport

    After a demanding 50-hour workweek, my paramount aspiration invariably becomes an escape – a break from computer screens and the confines of the cubicle. And not in the last place, away from a city that is 'on' 24/7. The beckoning allure of nature, coupled with indulgence in delectable cuisine, represents for me an excellent approach to relaxation. The essence lies not solely in distancing oneself from the demands of the workplace but, equally importantly, in disengaging from the pervasive glow of smartphone screens, finding peace in a completely different setting. In light of this, allow me to present to you five extraordinary Norwegian weekend getaways, effortlessly accessible within 2 hours of flying from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport , where one's pulse instinctively slows. Presented in no particular order: Kristiansand, though modest in size, unfolds as a haven of cultural richness and unparalleled coziness. Its compactness renders it ideal for a short trip from Amsterdam. Opting for accommodation at Boen Gård, a mere 10-minute drive from the international airport, guarantees a rather extraordinary experience. Boen Gård, with its storied history, houses not only a remarkable Michelin-starred restaurant but also provides opulent lodgings. The enchantment of Boen Gård is hard to describe – maybe that's why I celebrate a pre-Christmas dinner with a group of friends there every year. They just offer superlative service. And Kristiansand itself is really rather charming with it's cute city center and gorgeous coastline. I wrote about Kristiansand before. Årnes, a name unfamiliar and not essential to remember. Wonderinn, however, should be. Within the Årnes municipality, a mere 25-minute drive from Oslo Airport, the name WonderInn proves an understatement. A realm of enchantment rather than mere wonder, reserving one of its magical minihouses transports guests to an entirely different realm. Cabins adorned with mirrored glass, boasting private bubblebaths by the river, epitomize the very essence of an idyllic escape. A gratuitous sauna, a small herd of alpacas, and a location steeped in magic render the experience almost incredulous, yet indisputably authentic. All year 'round I would say making this one of the best weekend trips from Amsterdam...if one decides to go venture north! For those yearning for sublime natural beauty, invigorating sea breezes, and sparse human presence, Tjøme emerges as an ideal destination. An exquisite, idyllic island harboring protected natural sanctuaries (Moutmarka for example), a mere 45-minute drive from Sandefjord Airport (Torp), promises accommodation in a charming tiny house nestled amid the trees. A culinary indulgence at Restaurant Verdens Ende unfolds as a refined Norwegian feast. Tønsberg, Norway's oldest city, lies within half an hour's drive, offering an array of delightful shops, cute wooden houses, eateries, and cafes. In clement weather, Lilleskagen beach is the place to be. In Stavanger, a one-stop-shop for a luxurious weekend getaway unfolds, a mere 20-minute drive from Stavanger Airport. The Eilert Smith Hotel, home to Norway's sole 2-Michelin-star restaurant, Ree-na, stands as an institution in its own right. This boutique hotel epitomizes elegance, boasting sophistication that transcends conventional boundaries. Stavanger, a very charming town along Norway's western coastline, strikes the perfect balance between being sufficiently expansive to captivate for a weekend yet sufficiently intimate to evoke a sense of cosiness. Curious about Stavanger? I wrote about the town previously. Ålesund, a city of imaginative splendor, captivates not only through its Instagram-worthy views in all directions but also by virtue of an exceptionally high concentration of outstanding restaurants and hotels, rendering it a destination of considerable repute. The airport, a mere 20-minute drive away, sets the stage for an experience at Hotel Brosundet that transcends the ordinary. Beyond the tasteful decor, peerless harbourside location, indulgent spa, and monumental multi-storey fireplace, it is the intimate live concerts in the lobby and the dedicated staff that etch indelible memories. The sheer abundance of remarkable restaurants in Ålesund makes choosing a daunting task, but perhaps a visit to Apotekergata. nr 5 would have my preference. While a weekend in Norway undeniably is far to short, consider it a tantalizing preview for an extended holiday. A teaser of sorts. Shaking hands with the country for the first time. For exactly that I ardently hope that my recommendations have stirred a sense of inspiration within you. All destinations as mentioned above are within 2 hours of flying from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. It is advisable to reserve a car in advance. You're only here for the weekend, so time is precious. Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to reserve an electric car. It keeps you going for a weekend.

  • Destination: blue-blooded alure in Dalen; a romantic fairytale hotel in Telemark, Norway

    Dalen has it all. A baker, a little supermarket, a lawyer, a fire station, and... quite possibly the most beautiful and impressive hotel in Norway; the legendary and historic Dalen Hotel. Of course, this is entirely subjective. But it undeniably exudes allure. In fact, if you have blue blood, there's a chance that one of your European royal or noble ancestors has stayed here before. When tourism in Telemark began to flourish in the early 19th century, thanks to the famous Telemark Canal among other attractions, there arose a need to provide accommodation in the form of a breathtaking hotel for the European elites. Among them were the last German Emperor Wilhelm, who later spent his final days in exile in the Netherlands, the King of Belgium, and members of Scandinavian royal families who sought leisure here. What remains now is a hotel with an ambiance and a blue-blooded alure that is unparalleled in Norway. A grand entrance, heavy leather armchairs, and hand-printed wallpaper. The craftsmanship of all the woodwork alone is breathtaking. They have various rooms and suites, all exuding the same stately charm. If it was up to me, I would choose the Dalen Suite. This is by far the most romantic hotel in Telemark, if not in Norway. Perhaps you decide to stay elsewhere, but it's still worth parking the car for a moment and taking a look. When in Dalen, Vidsyn Mydjås is a fantastic choice too. But be warned, once you're there, you won't want to leave anytime soon. They rent out two breathtaking cottages with amazing views. Additionally, there's a beautiful sauna and a communal area where you can shower and enjoy your breakfast. This is one of those hidden gems that you'll regret not having visited. You can book through AirBnB, but it's better to book directly with them. That way, the owner benefits the most. If you're on a bit of a limited budget, consider booking your overnight stay at the bed and breakfast in Dalen. The rooms are tidy and clean. Nothing out of the ordinary, just fine! What also makes Dalen a destination is an architectural masterpiece of a sauna, called the Soria Moria Sauna, designed by Feste. As you sit and sweat, you'll gaze out over the stunning landscape and the vast lake. You can pre-book the sauna for 300 NOK. For that money you can relax for 2 hours with 5 people. It's almost like it's free! **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive from Oslo Airport (OSL). Public transport really takes forever, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability. **Warning: Avoid the Buøy Camping. A few too many dubious reviews both on Google and Tripadvisor.

  • Stay: when a musician sets the tone; The Arctic Hideaway

    When you pour the thoughts and dreams of a musician (Håvard Lund), the conceptual and architectural vision of a pair of architects, Rintala and Eggertson, and a cluster of abandoned small islands into a tumbler glass, add a cube of ice, and gently stir, something extraordinary must surely emerge. And so it happened. I don't know much beyond what can be gleaned from the written word, for I was not there. But I can imagine that this is roughly what transpired. A group of creative souls gathered around a kitchen table, sketching ideas with pencils under a bright lamp. The exact details of the process and those present are somewhat inconsequential. The fact remains that you can visit this place, stay there, and it is undoubtedly the most desolate experience you will encounter in this magnificent country; The Arctic Hideaway. The seven small buildings were conceived and designed by architecture students. To reach this destination, you must first embark on a ferry ride, venturing so far that you truly feel transported to another world. Hence, I wholeheartedly recommend this place to anyone who has toiled relentlessly in recent years and yearns for a slower heartbeat. The cottages are modern, yet somewhat simple. This means that, among other things, if you need to use the restroom at night, you have to walk to the main building. But who cares? It suits the nature of this destination. What should you bring? Woolen sweaters, regardless of the season. Be prepared for wind and rain. And pack swimwear for the sauna. You can either rent separate cottages or the entire perimeter if you wish a more private stay. This is a destination that knows no equal. It really doesn’t. Simply marvelous!

  • Music: it's all from the north; an introduction to Norwegian music

    I dare to call myself a fervent music enthusiast, with a strong preference for everything Scandinavian, and in particular Norwegian. When I was a kid, my father was really quite strict about classical piano, believing there was no other "real" music than classical. Even as an eight-year-old boy, I found this to be a rather extravagant and grotesque statement. It wasn't long after that, while alone at home, lying on my stomach, that I accidentally tuned the small radio we had to a jazz station. That moment changed everything. I fell in love, quite literally. I experienced a warm, pleasurable sensation in my stomach. It was a combination of euphoria, fear, and curiosity. Partly because I was afraid my father would come home and discover my extramarital adventures with the radio. I heard rythms I had never heard before, and the famous 'blue note' chords gave me the shivers, in the good sense of course. Over the years, my taste evolved, developing a rather specific preference for obscure music, which in many cases happened to all come from the north. Allow me to mention a few of my absolute all-time favorites: Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Nils Petter Molvær, Trentemøller, Tord Gustavsen Trio, Røyksopp, Bugge Wesseltoft, and Lulu Rouge. But I won't bore you further with my eccentric music preferences. Instead, I've curated a little playlist on Spotify featuring only Norwegian artists. You'll find plenty of pop, some electronic, and a touch of jazz. Not too much jazz, because I want to keep you here. Anyway, you hopefully catch a bit of the Northern atmosphere while planning your Norwegian adventure. Immerse yourself!

  • Destination: the battle of Narvik... to become an amazing ski destination in Norway

    The title of my article may not do justice to Narvik, or perhaps it does, in a way. It's true that the title might seem a bit unfortunate. But it is what Narvik is best know for (internationally). During World War II, Narvik abruptly became a part of recent world history in a rather brutal manner. It stood as a strategic hub, boasting an ice-free harbor from which Swedish iron ore was shipped. Consequently, it drew the attention of both the German occupiers and the Allies, leading to a fierce conflict. Nearly 80 years later, Narvik has once again found itself in the spotlight, thanks to the eponymous film "Narvik" on Norwegian Netflix (you might need a VPN to be able to watch it if you're not from here) which delves into the wartime events that left an indelible mark on this town of 14,000 souls. Narvik, situated in the heart of the Arctic region, primarily serves as a transit route. A railway from the Swedish mining town of Kiruna traverses the picturesque Abisko before reaching the export port in Narvik. There, colossal cargo ships dock to transport iron ore to factories elsewhere. Narvik is also where Finnish holidaymakers often cross the border and take a right towards Lofoten and Senja. With Tromsø as a major competitor in the Arctic region, Narvik faces its share of challenges. Nevertheless, despite various hurdles, I have a sense that Narvik is on an upward trajectory, evident not only in its record-low unemployment rate but for it's increadibly welcoming population. And...because of the following: Narvik boasts several superb and modern ski slopes, easily accessible by cable car (and a complimentary ski bus). The view you'll enjoy from your snowboard is unparalleled, and the ski passes are reasonably priced. How often do you get to have a sea view directly from the slopes? Particularly during the "blåtime" (the blue hour), it's truly magical. Moreover, you can take skiing lessons during the cold seasons. Since Narvik isn't yet a widely recognized ski destination, it's rarely overcrowded, and you won't encounter many tourists. And besides, snow and cold is guaranteed here. Which can't be said about the Alps anymore. For your stay, I have the most amazing recommendation that provides the best view money can buy (or rent actually) in Narvik: Camp 291. A series of lavishly equipped design cabins, located very close to the ski slopes, will turn your winter adventure into a wonderfully cozy experience. Due to minimal light pollution and expansive windows, you'll be treated to the finest view of the enchanting Northern Light s (if you're lucky - no guarantees). Especially in winter, you'll feel like you're in another world up here. Down the mountain, on one of the main squares, you'll find Fiskehallen, adjacent to Fiskekroken Restaurant. The highly enthusiastic and service-oriented staff here serve sublime fish dishes. It's not haute cuisine, but rather wonderfully prepared comfort food. This is precisely what you want to eat after a long day outdoors. Their signature dish is a must-try: grilled boknafish! How often do you come across a restaurant with almost exclusively 5-star reviews? Precisely, never-evah! For history enthusiasts, Narvik and its surroundings are a destination in their own right. Firstly, there's the war museum (which, shame on me, I didn't visit when I was there). Additionally, you'll encounter a war memorial almost every kilometer you travel. Moreover, you can go diving to explore the numerous wartime wrecks resting on the fjord's bottom. It must be an impressive experience to come face to face with the silent witnesses of Narvik's violent and now silenced history. Furthermore, Narvik is surrounded by magnificent natural beauty. Both towering mountains and coastal areas offer endless opportunities for multi-day hikes and fishing adventures. You understand by now. If you're on your way to Lofoten, look to your left, because that's where Narvik is. Especially in winter, it's a fantastic stop for a few days of skiing with the most incredible view imaginable. Still undiscovered by the masses, Narvik is on the winning hand in the battle of becoming an amazing Norwegian skidestination.

  • Drink: the best drink in Norway after beer that's free; ice-cold mountain water from a river

    There are but two delightful beverages. Ice-cold water and ice-cold beer. No, wait. There are only three truly delightful beverages. Ice-cold water, ice-cold beer, and a fine Spätburgunder. No... there are more. Hmm, messy start of this article. Anyway, let us discuss the first one at least; drinking ice-cold water from a river. Water is abundant here and often of unparalleled quality above the tree line. I dare say it may be nearly superior to tap water. Now, that might be a slight exaggeration, but this is a blog, not a scientific paper. So allow me, will you. The purpose of this piece is to enlighten you on drinking water that doesn't come from the tap. I shall tell you what to consider and what to do if you are a tad apprehensive. To get straight to the point, I seldom adhere to the rules I am about to enumerate for you. Nevertheless, I shall list them in no particular order: Cattle, lifestock, animals: Norway is inhabited by various creatures; ships, goats, cows, musk oxen, deer, reindeer, and moose. And all these animals defecate. Of course, they don't do it directly in a river, but the water that flows down from the slopes and eventually reaches the rivers does come into contact with feces. Generally, this poses little harm, but as with everything, in moderation. Because once the concentration of bacteria becomes too high, drinking such water can make you ill. As a counterargument, you probably have no idea about the amount of bacteria on your mobile phone, and they are far more harmful than the two bacteria you might scoop from a Norwegian mountain river. Nonetheless, if you spot large numbers of sheep, refrain from drawing water from the tiniest streams and wait until you encounter a somewhat larger river. Tree line: Generally, you can follow the rule 'the higher, the better,' and by that, I mean the elevation at which you fetch water from the stream. I prefer to do this at or just above the tree line. You want to ensure as little organic matter as possible ends up in your water. But here, too, you can make considerations. When it's a larger, fast-flowing river, you're hardly at risk. But if it flows slowly and there's abundant plant growth along the banks, it might be wise not to drink directly from the stream. Stagnant water: There are numerous lakes here in Norway, and here the rules become somewhat 'murky.' That is to say, there are hardly any rules. Here, it comes down to what you see, your intuition, and what I just wrote. A lake above the tree line with ample fresh water inflow is fine. If there's much vegetation, perhaps not. But it's not all-encompassing. I'm not particularly apprehensive myself and have indulged in water from various sources. When the water is clear and cold, you're hardly at risk. However, always make sure you have some visibility of what's happening around the lake. If there are holiday homes or many boats, refrain from drinking from it directly. Or at least boil it. If you're on the road with your campervan or tent and want to err on the side of caution, you can always boil your water. If you want to ensure every bacterium meets its demise, boil your water for 5 minutes straight and you'll be ensured safe passage. In addition, here are a few handy tools to make access to drinking water even easier: A water bag: Takes up little space in your luggage and is easy to fill. Nice to have by your tent because you consume more water than you think. A gasburner and a kettle: Not only to make your water safe for drinking but also for morning coffee. A thermos flask: It's part of my gear both in summer and winter. Because nothing is better than having a bottle of ice-cold water with you when you reach the summit (yes, a thermos flask can keep your water both hot and cold). A water purification kit: Honestly, I must admit I've never used one. You won't find any Norwegians fiddling with such a thing either. But I know hikers who bring one on multi-day trips. With the apocalyps in mind, it might not be the worst of purchases. Have a good trip!

  • Destination: the cleansing effect of a church and a spa (the best in Norway)

    At the very end of one of Oslo's metro lines lies the district of Mortensrud. A quick Google search will bring up all sorts of information that does little justice to Mortensrud's image. House prices are considerably lower there, and the number of police reports is significantly higher than the Norwegian average. Having lived in Amsterdam for a long time, it has taught me not to be swayed by such information. And that's why I believe it's worth having more people visit Mortensrud, if only to experience the magnificent church that was completed there in 2002. Designed by Jan Olav Jensen and Børre Skodvin, this architectural masterpiece is truly a work of art. As a fervent admirer of architecture, I consider it to be one of the, if not THE most beautiful building in Oslo. If the church atmosphere hasn't managed to cleanse your soul just yet, then the nearby resort hotel called 'The Well' is just a stone's throw away. For a thorough detox from urban life, this is the finest haven I can imagine. A hammam, sauna, luxurious swimming pool, a Japanese onsen—the list goes on. I believe you could easily dedicate two days to this blissful retreat as it can easily be called the best spa in Norway. In addition, a visit to The Well serves as anthropological fieldwork, allowing you to observe the very special 'luxury-seeking-Oslo breed' in all its diverse plumage. I would suggest this to be the grande finale to your visit to Oslo/Norway. Check here for availability.

  • Gear: the best sleeping bag for all seasons; Norrøna (or Norrona) Falketind

    Men are naturally a tad overconfident. The internet can debate whether that's due to nature or nurture. But it's a given. We men are disproportionately involved in all sorts of accidents, ludicrous street quarrals, and grand yet hopelessly futile attempts at wooing. I'm no exception to this, at least when it comes to accidents and romantic endeavors. And now, you might wonder, what does this have to do with a travel blog about Norway? Well, that's the segue I'm about to make. When I had just emigrated, I felt it was high time to treat myself to a new lightweight tent. After all, that's why I had come to Norway: for the great outdoors. I'll spare you the entire purchasing process; it unfolded quite spontaneously. It happened to be my birthday, and how pitiful it may sound, I had no one to celebrate it with. So I decided I deserved to give myself a birthday present. But here's the twist. It was the dead of winter, and I was determined to try out my new tent. To cut a long story short, I hadn't packed the right gear. Let's start with my sleeping bag. Comfortable down to -5 degrees Celsius, while the temperature was plummeting to at least 10 degrees below freezing. Furthermore, I had brought along a rather basic sleeping mat that provided minimal insulation from the frozen ground. This brings me back to my earlier point; men are undeniably overconfident. So, if you're a woman reading this, don't fret. You're likely well-prepared for your journey through the Norwegian wilderness. If you're a man or an over confident non-binary, hold the line, as I'm about to impart some excellent advice. And that advice goes as follows: INVEST IN A GOOD SLEEPING BAG. By "good," I mean a sleeping bag that suits your body size, matches the route you intend to take, and fits into your backpack. The reason it's crucial for the sleeping bag to fit your body size is that the volume of air you need to warm with your own body heat shouldn't be excessive. This prevents the space between your body and the inner lining of the sleeping bag from cooling down. If the sleeping bag is too snug, there won't be enough room between you and the inner lining, and the warm air won't keep you insulated. Now, regarding the type of journey you're embarking upon. As I write this, it's around 20 degrees Celsius here in Oslo. However, just last week in Valdres, it was 8 degrees, raining, and there were warnings of snow above 1000 meters. Imagine you're planning a roughly two-week journey through Norway; you should be prepared for all four seasons to rain down on you. It might not be that extreme, but it's better to be prepared. So, bring along a sleeping bag that would keep you warm during autumn or winter. To be precise, one that remains comfortable at -10 degrees. Personally, I use the -10°C Falketind sleeping bag from Norrøna (or Norrona for those without an 'ø' on their keyboards) Its insulation is truly unparalleled, and I've never found myself sweating in it, unlike other sleeping bags I've used. I dare say this is one of the finest brands out there. Plus, the fact that it's Norwegian adds a touch of extra appeal for me. Another factor that influenced my choice is the craftsmanship and their commitment to sustainable materials and practices. When they design something, durability takes precedence over profit margins. Well, by now, you probably grasp the gist. I'm a fan. So this piece of text might not be entirely objective. But then again, what piece of writing is? It is the best sleeping bag I've ever had!

  • Destination: chronicles on a pillar and a fairytale hotel; at the foot of Galdhøpiggen

    When it comes to matters of taste, opinions may differ, but personally, I consider the mountain pass from Lom to Sognefjorden as the most exquisitely picturesque route throughout all of Norway. It's an experience that truly warrants traversing in both directions. Moreover, along this road lie several extraordinary spots, beyond the breathtaking viewpoints, where one simply must pull over and pause. And luck has it a rather surprising fairytale hotel is located close to Galdhøpiggen, Norway's highest mountain. This hotel at the foot of Galdhøpiggen immediately ignites the imagination of those blessed with even a modicum of vision. Reflecting upon this place, I am instantly transported to a realm reminiscent of medieval times. Imagine a vivid azure river, its currents wild and untamed, flanked by towering mountains on either side. Amidst this enchanting scene, one discovers aged wooden farmsteads, clad in weathered tar-coated timber, alongside dilapidated sheds and ancient stone bridges. The Elveseter Hotel itself feels akin to a living museum, adorned with a collection of paintings spanning diverse eras, antique tools, and peculiar curiosities. The entire complex exudes an atmosphere evocative of a captivating fusion between the cinematic masterpiece "The Shining," the ethereal realm of Rivendel from "Lord of the Rings," and the idyllic serenity of a Swiss alpine meadow. For an extra touch of romance, consider reserving the Omonstugu for your overnight stay, where you shall slumber in a wooden canopy bed—a rather romantic experience. Adjacent to the Elveseter Hotel stands a grand and enigmatic pillar, shrouded in mystery; the 'Sagasøyla' or 'Chronicles Pillar'. The sculpture adorning this pillar depicts a series of historic events that played a pivotal role in the formation of Norway. Once again, one cannot help but draw comparisons to the enchanting realm of "Lord of the Rings." Not in the last place, should this location be on your list of destinations. The Elvesæter hotel lies at the foot of Norway's highest mountain, which is a 'must-climb' for every outdoor enthusiast! **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Oslo Airport (OSL) or at Ålesund Airport (AES). Public transport really takes forever to get you there, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Destination: why Norway is perfect for solo (female) travelers

    Let me start by saying that it is quite an absurd given that it's 2023, and a popular search term on google is; "Can I travel safely as a solo woman to *Destination*?" With that said I will dive straight in with a small introduction. Over the past eight years, I've spent an incredible amount of time immersed in the great outdoors, often in solitude. For some, the idea of venturing into the wilderness alone with a hefty backpack may seem intimidating. However, I found myself feeling much safer and more comfortable than in any bustling city, primarily due to the absence of large crowds. The individuals you do encounter share many of the same thoughts as you do, as they too are there for the very same reasons. Often enough, I crossed paths with fellow travelers who had been exploring solo for days on end, both men and women. In this article, my aim is to particularly encourage women to venture out on their own in Norway. In my modest (and male) opinion, this is why Norway is perfect for solo (female) travelers: Norwegian society ranks among the most egalitarian in the world. The gender equality gap is remarkably low, creating a safe environment for women. While there is still work to be done in closing the gender pay gap and addressing the last vestiges of a fading patriarchal system, significant strides have been made in terms of equality principles. Moreover, there exists a strong social cohesion. People are oriented towards helping one another and keeping an eye out for each other's well-being. You might not immediately sense this as you stroll through a typical Norwegian street, as Norwegians seem rather focused on their privacy. Nevertheless, that social cohesion is undeniably present. Except for a few major cities, the likelihood of being harassed against your will as a woman here is incredibly low. Another crucial piece of information for you, the female outdoor enthusiast, is the existence of something known as the "Mountain Code" in Norway, adhered to by almost every self-respecting lover of the outdoors. These rules are as follows: Plan your trip and inform others of your whereabouts. Adapt your trip according to your abilities and conditions. Pay heed to weather and avalanche warnings. Be prepared for inclement weather and cold, even on short trips. Carry necessary equipment to aid yourself and others. Choose safe routes. Recognize avalanche-prone terrain and uncertain ice. Use a map and compass. Always know your location. Turn around in time; there's no shame in it. Conserve your energy and seek shelter if necessary. When you realize that everyone adheres to these rules, you suddenly feel even safer. You know that people are looking out for themselves and for others. This is also reflected in the fact that, once you're out in the wilderness and encounter someone, it's more the rule than the exception to strike up a conversation. It might start with some small talk like, "Lovely weather, isn't it?" But it serves primarily to inform each other about your origins and destinations. This is an extra safety measure. By doing so, you leave traces in an area, making it much easier to be located in case of an unfortunate incident like a broken ankle. I've mentioned in previous articles that the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) maintains an extensive network of trekking cabins. In these cabins, there's a guestbook where you note the date of your arrival, where you're from, when you're departing, and your destination. To inspire you to embark on solo adventures, I'd like to recommend a fantastic series that aired on national TV (NRK) a few years ago. This series follows a group of absolutely amazing young women who film themselves while embarking on wilderness adventures. Not only are they amazing characters, they also provide you with a ton of really good advice on how to prepare for your endaveour. If you download NORD VPN you will be able to watch the series "Eventyrjenter" from pretty much anywhere. I've seen the series at least twice!

  • Gear: put your back into it; the most comfortable backpack on the market

    In November of last year (2022 that was, in case you're reading this in 2034), I was about to start a new job. I still had around 7 unused vacation days left from my previous employer, which I was forced to take out before leaving in December. However, it was November, and I live in Norway. That means it gets quite dark early, and there might already be snow in many of the more mountainous areas. It's like an in-between month—not quite autumn, not quite winter. Secretly, I really wanted to spend some time outdoors. I started checking the snow depths and, to my surprise, found that in an area I know well (Hemsedal and Valdres), there was hardly any snow, at least not below 1000 meters. I decided that this would be my plan. I started planning my route and, more importantly, gathering everything I thought I would need. Without going into detail, here's a brief list: a sleeping bag comfortable down to -10°C (which is really chunky), a tiny light-weight tent, a hammock, a tarp, extra shoes, 6 days' worth of food, a sleeping pad, an axe, a saw, and enough dry clothes. As you can imagine, the amount of stuff started piling up. The thing with these types of trips is that depending on the season and the duration of your trip, the size of your backpack can vary greatly. In November, for instance, I need more volume due to the need for warm and extra dry clothing. I also bring a thicker sleeping bag (I have two). Additionally, you require more energy to stay warm, so you need to carry more food because you simply burn more calories. Moreover, I need equipment for making a fire, and so on. In the summer, you can get by with fewer clothes, and in many cases, making a fire is prohibited. Anyway, you get the idea. I'm not sure if it's a hard and set-in-stone rule, but I've noticed that for hikes longer than 5 days, I need about 10 extra liters of baggage space. So, that's important to consider when choosing a new backpack. You take into account whether you'll be going out only in the summer and how many nights you expect to spend outdoors. That's how you decide on the size of your backpack. Since I'm one of those idiots who prefer spending longer periods in the outdoors, I bought the largest one: 70 liters. It sounds big, but believe me, it fills up really rather quickly. I have one from Osprey. Those backpacks are simply the most comfortable I have ever had on my back. I especially like how the hip belt feels, and you hardly feel like you're carrying 35kg on your back. As for its appearance, I couldn't care less. It just needs to be comfortable and practical. But if you're planning to go on some long hikes here in Norway, I highly recommend packing a backpack instead of a suitcase. It provides so much more flexibility. Besides, it's often much more expensive to buy one here in Norway than online, so it's better to get it beforehand and test-pack for your trip. I'm not a brand ambassador or anything, I just genuinely prefer Osprey. They're just so comfy on spots where it would otherwise start to hurt after a few days of hiking. What I can really recommend before you head out, is Now, let me tell you how my trip went. Well, it was pretty cold in the beginning with temperatures dropping to around -10°C at night. I started from Hemsedal and ventured into the mountains towards Tisleifjorden. It was amazing; I encountered a massive herd of wild reindeer that initially paid little attention to me. It was truly awe-inspiring to see and I think I spent almost an hour just observing them. I also came across quite a few 'ryper' (I think that's a type of grouse in English). They turn white in winter to protect themselves from predators. It was 6 fantastic but quite demanding days. Eventually, my Hanwag boots didn't really stay dry anymore, and I ended up with some nasty blisters that got some rest when I reached one of the DNT cabins on the last day. But it was unbelievably magical. I hope you get to experience something like that during your stay too.

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