If you are not from Norway or have never visited, what do you know about this country?
Before we visited Norway for the first time, I confess that I did not know a great deal, except perhaps that it was very expensive with a very high quality of living. I also knew that it was a peace loving country and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded there every year.
Then we paid a short visit to Oslo in July 2009 for a very special occasion, I learnt a bit more about this Northern European country.
It is still the most expensive country we have ever been to but there is a good reason behind this. Although the early settlers in Norway dated back over 10,000 years, it was largely a land for hunting, fishing followed by farming. In the Bronze Age, weapons, jewellery and tools were made hence trading started to grow, especially during the time of the Viking expansion. As we know, fast ships were built to allow the Vikings to set sails and raid other nations.
Over the years throughout its history, Norway had unions with the more powerful Denmark (1380-1814) and then Sweden which lasted until early 20th century (1905). So compared to may European nations, Norway as an independent nation is still quite ‘young’.
Fast forward to the 1960s when massive reserves of oil and gas were discovered in the North Sea, especially off the Norwegian coast. The rest, as we see, is history. Norway’s economy had a gigantic boost, and for the last decade or so, Norway has been consistently voted the top country to live in.
Following Oslo (see above link), Bergen became a natural pick for our second visit to this vast country, not so big in terms of population, only over five million habitants, similar size to that of Scotland, but huge in comparison with our northernly neighbour in terms of land mass, especially the coastline, stretching endlessly North to some 22,000 kilometres, all the way from the sea border of Denmark to the northern tip of Finland up in the Arctic Circle.
On approaching our landing at Bergen, the lovely Norwegian girl next to me said that we were really lucky in visiting that particular week, as Bergen had been suffering from non-stop rain for weeks and months.
Lucky indeed! Of the six days we spent either in Bergen and beyond, we had the bluest skies, sometimes with white clouds, sometimes without, as can be seen from the pictures we took, with iPhones, iPads, cameras. Between John and I, we had six different photographic tools which we made very good use of. Like last week’s post, I am sharing a very small section of our massive collection (nearly 2000 photos we took between us) here with you.
In Bergen, we visited a number of Art Galleries during the one day when the clouds were low and visibility wasn’t great. On the day before we set exploring further in our hired car, the sun was shining beautifully and we headed towards one of the seven mountains around Bergen. The views were truly stunning and words were not sufficient to do justice, nor cameras, but you get the picture.
In last week’s blog, I shared with you what we did when we visited Ulvik, where we spent time kayaking in fjords and hiking into the mountains in Hardanger, and lovely people we met especially Remco and Hana. This week, I will conclude my Norwegian travel log with a fabulous fjord cruise we experienced on the day before we left Bergen.
The only souvenir I bought from Norway was a cap from the centre of Bergen, near the famed Brygen and Fish Market at the harbour, before we set off on the fjord excursion beneath a hot sun beating relentlessly down. A dash of red against the blue sky and fjords, and green mountains and grass, was a perfect choice, don’t you think?
Thanks to John and his fine photographic skills, and mine of course, our fantastic expedition is forever recorded in the countless images we caught on camera, and in our hearts.
I left a little piece of my loving heart in that awesome land and its waters blessed by Mother Nature!
Finally a short video I made for our previous Oslo trip with fabulous music from Norway’s proud son Edvard Grieg. Enjoy!