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  • Clothes: bric-a-brac

    Recently, I found myself falling from one astonishment to the next in rapid succession. Allow me to recount the experience. I was strolling through 'Løkka,' en route to either drop something off or retrieve it—I can't quite recall. Somewhere in the vicinity of O’Reillys Irish bar, much to my surprise, I beheld a second-hand store that I must have passed by at least 15 times before. This revelation says far more about my own observance than the store itself. I speak from experience. I'm selectively blind. Upon descending the stairs, I found myself in a sequence of peculiar cellar spaces, each brimming with the most marvelous and eccentric assortment of items imaginable. From sculptures to vintage posters and curious lamps, the collection was nothing short of captivating. Moreover, there was a considerable abundance of peculiar clothing items: overalls, dungarees, and eccentric dresses. The establishment is run by a Frenchman, and I strongly suspect that he occasionally takes a voyaaaaage to France in his Citroen H, topping off his van with curiosities to astonish guys like myself. Had my home not already been replete with an abundance of bric-a-brac, I would undoubtedly have made a plethora of purchases. God forbid! Keep in mind that you might need to make some space in your suitcase if you decide to indulge in this treasure trove. Check out his store ask: 'ca va?'

  • Music: during the cold months

    The winters are quite long here. Meaning it's dark and cold from October until April. And exactly because of that, the cultural offerings during those months are immense, and that's precisely why a visit to Norway in November or December is not a bad idea at all. It's cozy, intimate, and magical around this time of year. If you decide to come to Norway during the cold months, there's one thing you absolutely must do, and that is to buy a ticket for a Christmas concert. During the dark months before Christmas, there are Christmas concerts happening every week in all major cities. And this can range from jazz and classical to pop and rock. Both renowned and up-and-coming artists slightly adjust their repertoire and perform concerts in the most extraordinary venues. Think of churches, chapels, museums and barns. A few years ago, for instance, just before Christmas, I went with my sister and her husband to a concert by Silje Nergaard in one of the smaller intimate churches in Oslo. Not only do you feel like a part of the local life in this way, but you also experience music in a very special and magical setting, with lots of candlelight, fresh snow, and the scent of cinnamon and hot chocolate. First and foremost, it's important to find a Christmas concert that suits your taste. Use 'Julekonsert' as a search term on Ticketmaster and see what's available. It might be handy to have Spotify at hand so that you can listen to a repertoire in advance because you will undoubtedly come across artists you've never heard of before. Once you've found something, buy your ticket. Don't wait too long, as these concerts consistently sell out. My favorite: the Christmas concerts 'It's snowing on my piano' by jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft (NO).

  • Transport: how to travel in Norway; planes, trains and electric automobiles

    Embarking on a Norwegian adventure often feels like navigating a puzzle due to the vastness of the country. Picture this: you'd like to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Oslo, a yearning to witness the beauty of the west coast's fjords, and you've watched countless insta reels, tempting you to explore the enchanting island of Senja. The ticking clock suggests time will force you to compromise, but allow me to introduce a more nuanced perspective. Planes and trains Let me start with an example. Your journey begins with a plane touching down in Oslo, a city that beckons you to linger for a few days, for good reason. Yet, the allure of Bergen calls, and a flight seems the swiftest course of action—undeniably true. But ponder the actual time siphoned by air travel. Thirty minutes from Oslo to the airport, a luggage check-in dance ideally performed 2 hours before liftoff, a one-hour flight to Bergen, and an additional 40 minutes from Bergen's airport to its city centre. A grand total of approximately 4.5 hours from hotel doorstep to hotel doorstep, or realistically, a journey spanning 5.5 hours. A timeframe not filled with noteworthy sights but rather with anticipatory waiting, be it in airport lounges or the confines of an aircraft. For this escapade, I would recommend to explore the possibility of a train journey. Not necessarily to gain time, but to spend that otherwise lost time in quality. Imagine, instead of languishing in an airport, being ensconced in a train carriage, gazing upon the mesmerizing Norwegian panorama from the comfort of a plush seat, coffee in hand, and WiFi at your fingertips. The train voyage from Oslo to Bergen, a legendary odyssey, perennially gracing top 10 lists of awe-inspiring train journeys. My inaugural journey had me, for about 6 hours, glued to the window in complete awe of the passing scenery. A nugget of wisdom: reserve a seat facing left in the driving direction. As you traverse past Finse, you'll be treated to the spectacle of Hardangerjøkulen, a breathtaking glacier. Seven hours on the train, a mere two hours longer than the airborne alternative, but seven hours spent in fruitful contemplation. Secure your train tickets at VY well in advance, for this sought-after journey tends to sell out far in advance. Should the skies beckon, book your flight here. Electric automobiles Should the siren song of exploration guide you to traverse the entirety of this land, planes become an inevitability. Senja's allure, for instance, mandates a flight to Narvik. But what then? Enter the Norwegian crucible of electric driving, where frequent charging stations are a given. I propose the contemplation of an electric vehicle. Beyond the serenity of their silent hum, the economics are quite obvious. Last week's petrol and diesel prices flirted with 25NOK per liter (which is more or less equal to $2,50), a steep investment if you're considering a small road trip. In contrast, charging a Polestar 2 comes at about 150NOK, propelling you 500km. The equivalent petrol journey demands a purse 10 times heavier. The moral is clear. Should the whispers of a road trip already stir within, I advise you to reserve an electric car as soon as you have a rough idea of your itinerary. The high season depletes the electric car reservoir at most rental companies, and an early reservation ensures the exact car for your journey, often with a fair period for reconsideration. A word on acquiring a vehicular rental at an airport: not all 'airstrips' boast car rental services. Opt for the slightly more endowed airports, where a car hire awaits amidst the control towers and runways. Behold, the following aviation havens extend this convenience: Oslo Gardermoen Airport (OSL), Bergen Flesland Airport (BGO), Stavanger Sola Airport (SVG), Trondheim Værnes Airport (TRD), Tromsø Langnes Airport (TOS), Kristiansand Kjevik Airport (KRS), Ålesund Vigra Airport (AES), Bodø Airport (BOO), Sandefjord Torp Airport (TRF), Molde Årø Airport (MOL), Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE), Haugesund Karmøy Airport (HAU), Evenes Airport (EVE). Public Transport Much of your sojourn can be orchestrated with the finesse of public transportation, particularly within cities boasting stellar transit networks. Oslo's metro, a masterpiece in motion, even elevates you to Frognerseteren, one of the city's pinnacles, affording a regal view of fjord and city. To navigate this symphony, wield the ENTUR app—an oracle of nationwide timetables offering an array of choices. Occasionally, this app may lead you to other maestros, prompting the purchase of tickets through a different melody. Fear not, for clarity prevails. Prepare for your venture with the anticipation of these downloadable overtures: - VY (bus and train) - ENTUR (travel planner, ticket sales) - Widerøe (serving the smaller airports) - Norwegian Air Shuttle (conducting flights to larger airports) - SAS (orchestrating most routes between larger airports) How to travel in Norway is truly is up to each individual to decide how they wish to shape their journey. However, these are your key tools to make your trip unforgettable and enjoyable. Godspeed!

  • Destination: what the kids think; art in Oslo

    I have fortunately enjoyed a considerable amount of art education through my studies, which has fostered a natural inclination towards art in various forms of expression. However, it sometimes triggers a strong adverse reaction when I find myself in a gallery contemplating yet another pile of polyurethane foam that purportedly symbolizes the artists challenging childhood in a wealthy Western city. Of course, the numerous museums in Norway are truly worthwhile. Honestly, when in Oslo I implore you to visit the Nasjonal Museet and spend an entire day there. Nevertheless, to put it all into perspective, the International Museum of Children's Art in Oslo serves as a splendid antidote. The immense collection of (international) works is overwhelming and often deeply moving. Almost daily, I am convinced that we should listen more to children to refine our standards and values. Embarking on a visit to this remarkable museum is a good starting point, as it is far from childish. It showcases artwork from children worldwide, and there is often a special exhibition dedicated to a current theme. An admission ticket costs a mere 75NOK, so there's no reason to abstain on that account.

  • Eat: spend your money wisely; cheap food in Norway

    It may be the case that you hail from a region where money holds a different value, or perhaps you are a student on an exchange program. Or like me, you live here and you still consider everything to be outrageously expensive. But you can get your hands on cheap food in Norway. And I am delighted to provide you with some tips on how to easily and enjoyably save on food expenses. The very first tip pertains to supermarkets, particularly Coop and Meny. In nearly all cases, they have a refrigerated section where products nearing their expiration dates are offered at a significant discount. Everything from milk to vegetables, and from meat to fish. Saturdays, especially towards the end of the afternoon, present the best opportunity to purchase excellent items at a 40-70% reduction. Whether you are backpacking or embarking on a camper adventure, it is worth stocking up here. Seeking something a tad pricier? Then pay a visit to Jacobs. It is an exceedingly expensive supermarket, but it boasts an exceptional and extensive selection of seafood. Due to this very reason, there is always an excess that is sold at a substantial discount. One of my personal favorites is Toogoodtogo. What began as an idealistic Danish notion to rescue food from demise has now grown into an extensive network of restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, and petrol stations that often offer food products at greatly reduced prices towards the end of the day. Here is how it works: You download the Toogoodtogo app and grant it access to your phone's location. Subsequently, you can peruse the nearby establishments offering discounted items. Personally, I am particularly fond of the somewhat pricier bakeries. Suddenly, for around 50 kroner, you find yourself in possession of a delectable sourdough bread, a few cinnamon rolls, and perhaps even some ready made sandwiches. You never quite know what you will receive, but rest assured, it will be more than sufficient for your breakfast the following morning. Since you can often collect your surprise bag at the end of the business day, it is important to arrive on time. However, such details are usually clearly indicated within the app. Another tip: Purchase directly from farmers. Especially in the summertime, Norway becomes somewhat of a food factory. For example when driving through Hardanger, you will encounter a fruit or vegetable stall approximately every 300 meters. The charming aspect is that most of these stalls are unattended. You can freely select whatever catches your fancy, and often, payment is made by placing some money into a mailbox. Therefore, it is advisable to always carry a small amount of change with you. Additionally, you can often find other items such as honey, jam, eggs, and other specialties at these farms. If you come across a sign saying "Gårdsbutikk," it is nearly always worthwhile to take the swing and explore what is on sale. Do your grocery shopping at Asian, Arab, or Turkish supermarkets. They frequently offer an impressive range of fresh produce and are generally considerably cheaper than regular supermarkets. Why? Because they do not have a management team earning a hefty sum each year, nor do they use any funds on marketing. My personal favourite is Real Frukt & Grønt located in Grønland here in Oslo.

  • Clothes: your jacket is your home when visiting Norway; where to buy the best one

    In my younger years, I took pride in sailing a small open boat. It was a passion that captivated me for several years. During each summer, I dedicated four full weeks of hard work to cover the expenses for maintenance and mooring. Whenever I had a brief moment of respite, I seized the opportunity to embark on my boat. Time was a precious commodity, which meant I wouldn't let unpredictable weather deter me. It was common for storm warnings to be issued, rain to fall like poetic droplets, or for the wind to remain absent. Yet, these uncertainties didn't faze me; I felt at one with the water. A sense of peaceful wanderlust filled my thoughts, and the essence of freedom was almost palpable. I dressed appropriately, guided by the whispered advice of weather forecasts, and set sail without hesitation. Now residing in Norway, I frequently rekindle that past euphoria. Regardless of the thermometer plunging to 10 degrees or the raucous cries of stormy skies, even if the landscape is blanketed in cloudiness, my heart yearns to explore the outdoors and relive the liberating sensation akin to my time on the sailboat. This passion for endless exploration thrives due to the remarkable clothing I possess. There's hardly anything to hinder my adventures, no matter the prevailing conditions. If you're considering a stay in Norway lasting several weeks, being prepared to face a range of weather variations is crucial. While sunny rays and clear skies may fortuitously grace your stay, the opposite is just as likely, with consecutive weeks of clouds and rain. Caution should guard against the intrusion of harsh weather during your visit. At the forefront of your readiness should be a dependable jacket. Though this might sound obvious, it warrants emphasis, given the number of travellers caught off guard by fickle mountain weather. Five years ago, I bestowed upon myself a great favour by acquiring a high-quality jacket. When I say 'good', I mean a jacket with these key features: An outer layer that repels wind and moisture, coupled with an insulated inner layer that envelopes you in warmth, retaining your body's heat. Importantly, these two layers must be separable, allowing for adaptability. Hence, in warm rain, you wear the waterproof outer layer; in cold rain, both layers cocoon you. This apparent simplicity holds great significance, for even the simplest hike can subject you to a sudden temperature drop of up to 15 degrees due to weather shifts and altitude changes. As the saying goes, 'four seasons in a day'. This sentiment resonates through my personal experiences. So, whether your journey involves rustic escapes or urban adventures, ensure such a jacket finds a place in your luggage. Bear in mind that, when you step onto Norwegian soil, your jacket becomes a sanctuary – a reliable bulwark against nature's whims. Allow me to offer guidance on obtaining the ultimate choice. I personally think the best jacket to buy when visiting Norway is one from Norrøna. They are by far the best manufacturers on the market. With a rich legacy in crafting outdoor apparel, this brand hails proudly from the Norwegian landscape, adding an extra layer of charm to their offerings. While it may necessitate a modest financial commitment, ponder the enduring value it will bestow, a companion for the entirety of your lifetime. Regard it as an extension of your home, a cocoon of comfort and protection.

  • Stay: a medieval tavern for pilgrims in Gudbrandsdalen

    When driving along the Kingsroad through Gudbrandsdalen, it's difficult not to succumb to a kind of gently sweet daydream about rural romance. That sentiment is both justified and unjustified. Life was once impoverished and harsh around here, with agriculture and forestry as the only modest economic activities. But times have changed. Especially in the summer, the landscape takes on a picturesque charm. The association with romance and nostalgia is now fitting. Particularly when you turn right or left (depending on the direction of travel) and make your way down the long driveway to Sygard Grytting. This is one of Norway's oldest surviving farms, with a history that reaches deep into the Middle Ages. It was the place where pilgrims traveling from Oslo to Trondheim could find lodging. And so can we, although our purpose may be slightly less noble nowadays. I believe this is your only opportunity in Norway to spend the night in a medieval inn. Additionally, traditional food is served here. If you're not yet convinced, take a look and book your stay. I promise you won't regret it. Have you spent all your money on great food from 'gårdsbutikker'? Then consider a slightly more affordable stay in an Arctic Dome. But do pay a visit to Sygard Grytting anyway. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive either at Oslo Airport (OSL). 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.

  • Eat: if you see shrimp on the menu in Norway, order them. But not before you've read this.

    The Norwegians possess a profound affinity for all that emerges from the sea: crabs, cod, and more. This predilection is hardly surprising when one considers that the world's finest fishing waters lie just off the coast of Norway. Especially near Senja's shores, the fish almost leap into your lap (slight exaggeration, but not by much). If you're a seafood enthusiast or enjoy angling for it, I recommend perusing my earlier article on Senja. Nevertheless, I digress slightly. A firm favorite among Norwegians, shrimp grace the menus of many a quaint eatery and seafood restaurant. Even on private terraces, boats, or piers, they constitute a customary ritual throughout the summer. However, this can occasionally bewilder tourists. You expect to order a shrimp dish, and you receive a mound of unpeeled shrimp, a few slices of bread, some mayonnaise, and a couple of lemon wedges. But once you're in the know, it all becomes clear. Picture a sun-drenched day in July. You're seated at a seaside terrace, with an ice-cold beer or a glass of Riesling in front of you, indulging in colossal, freshly-caught shrimp. There's truly nothing better in that moment. But how to eat to eat shrimp in Norway? That's what I'm about to tell you and prepare you to not be caught off guard when that platter of unpealed shrimp is placed before you. So, you might wonder, how does one proceed? Firstly, take a slice of bread and spread it with a touch of mayonnaise or aioli, as per your preference. Add a pinch of pepper to taste. Then, embark on the delicate task of peeling the shrimp. Begin by pressing with two fingers just behind the head; once it detaches, place it in a dish for the shells. Next, start at the belly of the shrimp and gently remove the remaining shell. Repeat this process about 15 times until your bread slice is generously adorned. Sprinkle a bit of lemon over it, order another glass of wine, and you're ready to enjoy your meal. Shrimp often grace the menus of many simpler eateries and brasseries, but there's no need to limit yourself to restaurants. What's even more enjoyable is purchasing shrimp on your own, preferably directly from a fisherman. This is often possible in smaller coastal towns. It may not be prominently advertised, but inquire with a local Norwegian, and you'll likely receive an excellent tip on which fisherman is arriving at the harbor and whether they've caught any shrimp. There are even entire WhatsApp and Telegram groups where nearly the entire village is a member of, sharing announcements of available fish or shrimp. If all of this sounds too complex, you can always buy individual shrimp. For two hearty eaters, a kilogram is often more than sufficient. Just be sure to choose fresh, not frozen shrimp. So, if you see shrimp on the menu in Norway, order them. This summer for example, I found myself in Narvik, a town not particularly renowned for its culinary culture. However, it boasts a "fiskehallen" (fish market) where you can truly acquire the very best shrimp. There's also an adjacent seafood restaurant that is absolutely worth a visit. If you find yourself in Narvik, make it your lunch destination—you won't regret it.

  • Geography: Norway on the world map; and why it looks far bigger than it is.

    Don't get me wrong; Norway is still colossal. But when you glance at Norway on a world map, the Mercator projection throws a spanner in the works. Anything closer to the poles appears disproportionately large, while anything nearer the equator seems disproportionately small. In a nutshell, Greenland seems colossal, while the entire continent of Africa appears minuscule. For those momentarily fuzzy on the Mercator projection, here's a brief refresher: The Mercator projection is a cartographic method widely used to represent the Earth's surface on flat maps, particularly for navigation and sea charts. It's named after the Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator, who presented it in 1569. Norway shares its western and northern borders with the North Atlantic Ocean and the Barents Sea. To the east, it borders Sweden, while in the northeast, it shares borders with Finland and Russia, and to the south, it neighbors Denmark. It boasts an extensive coastline along the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, featuring deep fjords cutting through the interior. However, determining the length of this coastline is a matter of debate due to the vast number of deep fjords, islands, and inlets that characterize Norway's coast. Consequently, the coastline varies depending on the methodology. If we consider the mainland coastline, excluding fjords and inlets, it's estimated to be around 2,650 kilometers (approximately 1,650 miles). Yet, if we include the fjords and inlets, the total coastline becomes much longer, estimated at around 25,000 kilometers (about 15,500 miles). Now, you're starting to grasp the geographical complexity of the country. In fact, should you decide to drive from the southernmost point of Norway, Lindesnes, to the extreme northeastern corner of Vardø (on which I wrote an extensive piece), it would take you approximately 29 hours of continuous driving, depending on weather conditions. And this route primarily goes through Sweden and Finland. That's roughly the same distance as driving from Denver to Washington D.C. If you were to stick to Norway for the entire journey, I'd venture to guess it might take three to four times as long. So if you're planning a trip to Norway soon, it's wise to make a careful selection of what you want to see for this land is still massive, yet not as big as it seems on the map.

  • Clothes: (NSFW) I considered it nessecary to tell you about why I wear woolen underwear

    When you're at work, you might want to save this article for later, as I'm going to discuss my underwear. It could be quite awkward if your boss happens to glance over your shoulder and sees you reading an article about some random guy on the internet waxing eloquent about woolen undergarments. Nevertheless, that's precisely what we're addressing here. In fact, I considered it absolutely necessary to talk about my underwear. Let's build up the suspense by first debunking a few myths. Woolen underwear is indeed crafted from wool, but not the coarse type that makes your neck itch. Furthermore, calling it "underwear" is a bit of a misnomer. It's worn beneath your regular clothing as an additional layer that greatly reduces heat loss. Underneath that, you wear your actual underwear. Now that we've clarified all of this, allow me to briefly explain why woolen underwear is a must-have if you plan to visit Norway between October and June. I purchased my very first set about seven years ago. Autumn had just begun, and my craving for outdoor adventures was insatiable. My plan was to beat the first snowfall and embark on a mountain trek near Hovden (which, by the way, is a fantastic ski area if you're interested). It was a radiant day in early October. The cold air nipped at me as I took deep breaths through my nose. My backpack sat comfortably, neither too light nor too heavy. My shoes were well broken-in and kept warm by my woolen socks (yes, more wool). The temperature hovered around freezing, evidenced by the thin layer of frost giving the autumn foliage a whitish glow. After the first half-hour of hiking, I stood still for a moment and uttered a few euphoric words, something along the lines of "beautiful" and "happy." What I eventually muttered was, "Hmm, it's a bit chilly." You see, I was wearing a very thin hiking pants. Usually, you warm up as you walk, but when it's freezing and the wind is brisk, as it was that day, the thin fabric offers little protection against the cold. There was no alternative but to sit down in the middle of a vast open valley, take off my shoes, lower my pants, and clumsily wriggle into my woolen underwear in a Mr. Bean-like fashion. I had been overly optimistic regarding the temperature. The beauty of woolen underwear is that it warms you up immediately. There are few materials that insulate as effectively as wool. Anyway, with renewed determination and warm legs, I continued my journey—a five-hour hike to a small cabin at an elevation above 1,200 meters. Upon arrival, I just managed to have an ice-cold beer just before the sun disappeared behind a mountain ridge. The thermometer attached to the cabin read -7 degrees Celsius. Still warm from the long hike and sporting my somewhat unfashionable 1990s Dale of Norway (woolen) sweater, I felt like a king. And warm, indeed. That night, the temperature would drop to -11 degrees, making me thoroughly appreciate the wood-burning stove I had lit upon arrival. The moral of this story is surprisingly simple: invest in a set of woolen underwear. Whether you're camping, skiing, or hunting for the Northern Lights in Tromsø, you'll derive immense pleasure from warm legs and an equally toasty upper body. If I managed to convince you, or the prospect of very low temperatures during your visit to Norway managed to convince you, have a look here! A quick disclaimer: I'm writing about splendid weather in October. While it happens frequently, it's by no means guaranteed. The rain can pour down in torrents. So, always travel well-prepared ('Yes, dad').

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