I have invited Allison, one of my readers, to be a guest blogger on Air, Land and Sea. She and her hubby are currently living and working in Norway and exploring this country as much as they can. She has some great suggestions for those of you who may find yourself traveling in Norway. Tomorrow she’ll write about her experiences living in Malta.
Hello Readers and thanks to our hostess for inviting me to share some of my travel experiences here on Air, Land & Sea. I’m a northern Virginia native currently residing with my hubby of six years in a small, coastal Norwegian town by the name of Arendal. This is our third time living abroad – first as English teachers in Japan way back in 2005 and, later on, a year on the Mediterranean island of Malta. In between our adventures abroad we live in Arlington, Virginia.
Life in southern Norway started out for us back in July, when we arrived to a summer of long days, warm weather, and were greeted with an amazing view, looking from our deck out onto the sea below. Historically, Arendal was an important shipping town. Today, it serves as a bustling summertime getaway for Norwegians residing further north and a quaint and quiet town throughout the rest of the year.
If you’re visiting southern Norway, there is a lot to do for someone who loves the outdoors. Camping is allowed on any public space in Norway, and the Norwegian Trekking Association maintains extensive trails throughout the southern region and beyond. Hubby and I love to hike and were surprised on our first hike in Norway to see what “late hikers” Norwegians are. On a hike to the Rjukanfossen waterfalls back in August, we had the trail to ourselves until about noon. Southern, coastal Norway shares many similarities with Maine and New Hampshire where we have spent several summers. Pine forests reach down to the rocky coastlines and the hills are dotted with traditional-style wooden houses.
The options for water activities are endless here. If you’re into polar swimming, (not for me but hubby braved the water this summer) southern Norway has small, undeveloped stretches of beach where we’ve spent time enjoying the sun and having barbecues. There’s also fishing, kayaking, a floating hot tub to rent, and a lighthouse that you can spend the night in. This part of Norway may not look exactly like the fjord-filled ads typically used for Norway, but it is a great place to relax and enjoy the sea.
Arendal is only a few hours by car from Oslo, Norway’s capital, which we first visited back in August. It was already light jacket weather there which is a far cry from the typical steamy weather we are accustomed to back in the D.C. area. Oslo is a medium-sized city that is easy to traverse on foot but also has a user-friendly public transit system of busses, streetcars, and a subway. The city’s neighborhoods range from a typical government/downtown center to a somewhat edgy hipsterville called Grünerløkka. This is where we landed after first getting to Oslo and spent a Saturday afternoon wandering through the neighborhood’s shops, cafes, beer gardens, and outdoor markets. It was a great place to spend time and soak up some local flavor. It’s always nice to see the big sights in a city, but hubby and I really enjoy hanging out without much agenda, eating, drinking, & shopping our way through a new place. Later that day we walked ourselves through Oslo’s immigrant neighborhood – where you can find the best value restaurants in this very expensive city (and country). In the evening we stopped at a free music festival held in a public garden. There was seating to relax in and enjoy the organic and locally prepared food, and you could stroll through the orchards and various community garden plots. The second day in Oslo was a bit heavier with sightseeing and included the National Gallery which houses Norway’s most famous painting, Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream.’ We followed that with a long stroll through a massive outdoor sculpture garden and a visit to one of Oslo’s medieval forts. Oslo also has a Viking museum and a museum dedicated to polar exploration, but we’re saving those for our next visit.
If you’re planning to visit Norway:
Be advised of the cost of everything. Norwegians enjoy a very, very high standard of living and this is reflected in every price tag you’ll see. A local beer can run you over $10 and a sandwich in a café from $15-$20. A little research will help you find some deals, such as free entry to museums on Sundays and free admission to local events, like the festival we went to.
It’s very easy to drive in Norway and renting a car and going at your own pace will allow you to really take in all the wonderful scenery this country has to offer.
Many shops, restaurants, and cafes will be closed on Sundays. Make sure to plan time in your trip for enjoying outdoors Norway. The towns and cities I’ve visited so far are very pleasant, but Norway’s true spirit lies in its natural beauty and accompanying outdoors activities.
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