On Norway

What is there to say about Norge? After many years of wanting to visit this country, I’ve been here for about three weeks and have come away with mixed emotions.

I’d always wanted to visit because Norway seemed to combine a lot of attributes I’ve always loved: mountains, ocean, winter sports, active people, attractive people (sue me) and so on. And the Norwegians I’d known in my life — mostly ski racers from my days back in Utah — had a joie de vivre that I envied and hoped to find upon visiting. In all those regards, Norway has lived up to and even surpassed my expectations.

I had no idea the Lofoten were as amazing as they were, and I definitely plan to return there someday, preferably with skis and surfboard and climbing gear in tow.

I can’t say whether the people were really all that active because I didn’t venture far from the boat and the waterfront. But they sure looked a lot fitter and healthier than they did in England. A lot rode bicycles and there were bikes parked everywhere: outside business buildings, supermarkets, bars. Far too many of them smoked, which of course is prevalent throughout Europe. And forgive me for being male but yes, the stereotypes are well-earned: Norwegian women are very lovely.

And all the people were very friendly. Everyone spoke great English and didn’t mind that I couldn’t even properly pronounce Norwegian words that were spelled out in front of me. They were willing to engage on any topic and other than those two schmucks back in Lerwick, no one wanted to get in the American’s face. The drivers were all very courteous, yielding to pedestrians even before they’d reached the start of a crosswalk.

One thing I hadn’t expected was just how expensive Norway is. And I’m not talking just a bit spendier than I’m used to, I’m talking astronomically more expensive. Pizza and a couple of beers: the equivalent of 60 bucks. Entry fee at the aviation museum: 25 dollars. One of those single-serving cups of Haagen-Dazs: 4 bucks. A 10-minute shower: 6 dollars. One load at a laundromat: 10 bucks. A pair of hiking boots: 450 bucks.

So any plan of moving here soon, or even visiting again before I’ve made my fortune, seems to be too rich a proposition for my blood.

But the bottom line is that I’m glad I came to Norway, and glad I came to an out-of-the-way part of Norway for my first visit. I’d like to check out Oslo and the south, which I hear is very different from this northern area, and I’d really like to get here sometime during winter-sports season. I’ll just have to save up a lot first.

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