Travel: A Scandinavian Guide

Northern Europeans endure long, relentless winter month with average temperatures that linger around 30 degrees. In some parts of Northern Norway, the sun doesn’t go past the horizon from late November to late January (and we thought darkness at 5pm was rough.) Denmark is also known for its long and dark winters, yet it’s rated as one of the happiest nations in the world. In this month’s issue of Easy Goer, we explore the concept of “hygge,” a Danish word that has no direct English translation, yet seems to be the key to maintaining high spirits throughout the winter months.  Danish translator ToveMaren Stakkestad once said “Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt.” This intangible feeling can easily be described in one of our favorite English words: coziness. In homage to the Scandinavians and their commitment to winter well-being, we present a a guide to Norway care of our friend Kelsey Thayer. Here’s to a hyggelit winter!

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19106359763_e5813f0e61_o-1See Bergen: Also known as Tyskebryggen, is a series of colorful Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the fjord coming into Bergen, Norway. Since1979, Bryggen has been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites.

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Bergen Center, Norway
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The Fantoft Stave Church

Visit Fantoft Stave Church – It is a reconstruction, but still has a history (albeit dark) that makes it worthy of the short train trip just outside of Bergen. The church was originally built in 1150. A “stave church” is a medieval wooden Christian church that used to be found all over Northwestern Europe, but most surviving churches remain in Norway.

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Hillside homes seen from the tram

Tram to Mount Fløyen – A fun and quick trip in a funicular (a cable railway or tram) up to the top of the highest peak in Bergen to get a killer view of the town from Mount Fløyen. The journey to the top of the mountain only takes 5-8 minutes and there is a popular trail you can take on the way back down to Bergen. Taking the trail is a fun way to see the locals taking hikes and walking their dogs. There are many activities once you reach the peak including folk music, performances, and guided tours. More information here.

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A tree sculpture in the Troll Forest on Mount Fløyen

Take a Fjord Boat Tour – The Norway in a nutshell tour takes you through some of Norway’s most beautiful fjord scenery via boat. You can experience the scenic Bergen Railway, the breathtaking Flåm Railway, the Aurlandsfjord, the narrow Nærøyfjord and the steep hairpin bends of Stalheimskleiva (May-September). The trip runs daily all year. More info here.

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Pulling away from Balestrand by boat

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The Sognefjord from the boat

Take the Flamsbana to Oslo – The train ride from Bergen to Oslo is almost seven hours long but it will give you a front seat view of some of the most picturesque landscape in the country. The Flamsbana is named one of the top ten train trips in Europe and is renowned for being one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. More info here.

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The view from the Flamsbana (in July!)
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One of the sights from the train: A waterfall where a local Norwegian girl dances for tourists in a red dress.

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Explore Oslo – Start at Oslo Harbor and make your way to Karl Johans gate which is in the city center and host to many restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, and the best shopping. Make your way over to the Oslo Opera House which is home to the Norwegian National Ballet and Opera, and housed in a breathtaking modern building designed by the architect Tarald Lundevall. From there, take a boat taxi (which is an integral part of the local mass transit) to the Viking Ship Museum, which holds an epic collection of intact, original, wooden Viking ships.  After that, tram it to the Vigeland Museum, showcasing the largest body of work of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, who notably designed the Nobel Peace Prize medal.

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The Oslo harbor
The Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House
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The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

Photos by Kelsey Thayer who is the Studio Manager at the Frontier Project. Follow her frequent travels here.

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