Whether you appreciate the beauty of northern nature or not, one thing is certain: those mountains, waterfalls and fjords cannot leave you untransformed. Secondly, if you do admire blonds, you might not even notice the landscapes.
After a few years in Malta, two weeks in Norway felt like an antidote to that Mediterranean bustle I had become part of. First in the chain of discoveries came the air filled with silence. First time in my life I experienced silence pouring into my ears, expanding there and filling me up. That incredible feeling when silence is loud. Even in a city like Bergen the loudest sounds were the seagulls’ screams. The culture that treats silence with respect deserves respect in return.
Next discovery turned out to be the necessity to appreciate rain. “There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes” Norwegians say yet, for the first few days, the saying failed to provide consolation. Instead, the saying should state “No weather is bad enough not to have an ice-cream” as, despite the chill and rain, many Norwegians enjoyed eating ice-cream outdoors. Rainy days soon taught me how to appreciate quick sunny moments. “One shot of a clear blue sky” and the world immediately fills up with joy. Together with that came a discovery of new light and colours. In sunshine, the colours of the fjords, the fields and the pretty Norwegian houses looked so bright and pure, as if they were painted acrylic on a broad canvas.
Aesthetics of Norwegian architecture deserves to be mentioned separately. Be it Tjuvholmen in Oslo, art-nouveau buildings in Alesund or traditional colourful wooden houses in Stavanger and Bergen, they all emit the ambiance of tranquility and freshness. Or should I just say they make you feel incredibly cozy? You enter a pretty coffee shop to seek escape from rain and its interior embraces you with emotional warmth – så koselig!
Next we learnt how deceiving the distances in Norway are. What looks “quite close, just the opposite side of the fjord” takes hours to drive to (along the most beautiful coastline). And again, together with this discovery came the feeling of remoteness and solitariness in this big world – a feeling rather satisfying than frustrating. Yet there still was a sense of connection too, owed to the ferries linking all the remote areas scattered around the fjords. Permanently on the move between the shores, they lace the isolated parts into one, just like a needle sews a dress from pieces of fabric.
Yet the most memorable discovery was still to come. In Trollstigen it found me staring in disbelief at the picturesque scenery dominated by waterfalls, mountains and green fields. The light was changing by the minute, from greyish to pure bright, drawing rainbows over the waterfalls. It was then I realized how tiny all of us, individual human beings, were on the scale of that, almost metaphoric, Elven land around us. The splendor of Trollstigen, Geiranger and other fjords truly puts you down to scale, it makes you feel your own insignificance and leaves you a role no other than of an observer.
Rather a reconfirmation than a discovery was spotting Norwegian eccentricities. Bergen was full of eccentricities that could be rather sensed than seen. Sharp graffiti, peculiar zebra crossing signs, funny and clever disclaimers signified strong presence of good sense of humour.
Banality to say, I always believed two factors make a country worth visiting: its appreciation for art and its people. The trip to Norway did not come spontaneously either. It has been a few years since I learnt about Janteloven, the Scandinavian set of rules (Google it!) which encourages such concepts as equality, modesty and “good enough”. Many say it deprives talented individuals a chance to be praised for their talents but, on the other hand, it is such a powerful opposition to the wide-spread North-American idea of “compete, win and show them you’re the best!”. Norwegian nature itself encourages humility.
A trip to Norway could be a cure for anyone suffering from an inflated ego syndrome. You will suddenly realise that your selfie backdrop is much more outstanding than your own face (or any other body part). It will put you down to scale. And if this won’t help, the amount of beauties of both genders will inevitably make you question whether your own looks really are as good as you used to imagine :).
P.S. Sounds too sugary? Well, to balance it a little, I can also add that yes, Norway is a very expensive country, the variety of food (especially vegetarian) is not great and alcohol is mega expensive. But all of this is insignificant compared to the magic of the place.
Below you will find a selection of photos taken during the trip Oslo-Stavanger-Bergen – Geiranger (by Hurtigruten) – exploring Møre og Romsdal region while based in Vik, Tomrefjord – Alnes – Alesund – Oslo.