5. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I DREAMT OF LIVING IN AKER BRYGGE.
Since I’m a fan of harmoniously juxtaposed historic and modern stuff, bringing the idea to life in this old waterfront industrial zone now peppered by contemporary architecture just gave me that ‘I can live here’ feeling. The vibe and character reminded me of New York’s Meat Packing district along with the real estate’s staggering price range. Indeed, living there will just be a dream unless I win on a lottery.
10. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I EMBRACED HUSKIES.
This by far is my most memorable and heartwarming travel encounter with man’s best friend. Literally going up close and personal with these lovelies, who apparently are grown to run with the comfy sled, will make you want to pet them. Imagine being comfortably driven by these strong and smart Alaskan huskies at high-speed while seeing the enchanting view of snowcapped mountains and sparkling snow-covered grounds. And going around the camp to meet each of them (especially the li’l ones) – oh trust me, the feeling will remain and you’d keep gushing about it at every instance. See more of what I’m talking about here.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY
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2. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I DISCOVERED QUIRKY ARCHITECTURE.
Modern, off-beat, minimally styled. That’s how I’d describe the quirky architectural executions pronounced in Oslo’s buildings, street art, structures and even in their out-of-home advertising. Compare its oddly shaped glass National Opera versus other city’s style, check out the massive tiger (and its story) located at the Central Station and the huge central space inside the City Hall adorned by meaningful artworks on its walls.
7. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I ATE A REINDEER AND A TROUT.
As a typical Asian who grew up eating only chicken, beef or pork, the idea of having reindeer and trout for dinner is quite appalling at first. I know the former as the helpful buddy of Santa Claus while haven’t got a clue about the latter. Yet, to add to my list of ‘firsts’, I gave both a try and glad I did. I feel that appreciating the strong flavor of trout would be an acquired taste and would have to grow on you. Reindeer on the other hand is like a normal steak that’s best paired with an Argentinean red wine.
3. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I LEARNED ABOUT THE HISTORIC VIKINGS.
For a country known today as one of the happiest and most progressive, knowing the basics of its colorful and ‘not all rosy’ past amazed me. After visiting the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo and the Hanseatic Museum in Bergen, seeing and hearing more ‘ship stories’ finally made sense to me. If there’s only a handful that you plan to see, include these to your list. Definitely a ‘must see’ to capture a glimpse of Norway’s past while appreciating its present culture and people.
4. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I SMILED AT VIGELAND SCULPTURE PARK.
The visually arresting literature you’d witness in this park defines art that’s ‘quirky’ and ‘tongue in cheek’. At first, I was puzzled by some of the sculptures, but after seeing most of them (which apparently is more than 200 pieces), I came to realize that conceptual art is the creator’s impression and expression requiring no explanation or rational reason for being. While touristy, it’s a nice area to explore or simply relax at. Plus, it’s the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist!
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8. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I NEARLY FROZE TO DEATH.
Ever dreamt of living like an eskimo? Have a taste of it when you visit the northern part of the country close to winter season. For someone who’s been accustomed to a tropical climate, anything under 18 degrees would be way too cold to handle – not to mention the thick snow that complements the ‘brain freezing’ wind. It wouldn’t kill you though if you’re properly dressed with functionally (and fashionably) styled layers of clothing. Not a bad idea to have a feel of what it’s like if you haven’t already.
Best to consider
Fairly high budget (Scandinavia's expensive in general), no language barrier, easy to navigate, has all types of food (including vegetarian and Halal).
Best for what
Long breaks for sightseeing, outdoor adventure and culture trip.
1. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I SAW AURORA BOREALIS.
Based on Wikipedia, ‘aurora’ sometimes referred to as ‘polar lights’ or ‘northern lights’ is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) region. My story took place while traveling through Tromso via a tour organized by City Camp Hostel where I stayed. Imagine standing under pitch black skies from 10 pm to 3 am on a minus 5 degrees Celsius temperature, chasing and waiting for the elusive miraculous spectacle with complete strangers not knowing if it’d show up or not. Then with a stroke of luck, the natural magical fireworks exploded. It’s a one-of-a-kind sight to behold which will leave the special feeling in you.
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Best time to go
Winter and Spring if you're after the Northern Lights.
Best to check out
Fjords, mountains, lakes, old towns, museums.
9. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I ENJOYED TROMSO'S TRANQUILITY.
Since I was there during the Easter weekend, the little town was extra quiet and I totally loved it. Plus the snow that filled the space wherever you looked added the element of tranquility making every scene postcard-perfect with white landscape. Glide through the main street and up the bridge leading to the Arctic Cathedral to fulfill your ‘peaceful walk’ dream sequence. End the experience with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while gazing through the still harbor view while listening to your favorite tunes.
It started with ‘Northern Lights’ as a bucket list item.
Little did I know that my fascination around the phenomenon would lead me to the subtly rich travel literature that is ‘Norway’.
As I’ve discovered the country a year ago, it left indelible stories worth sharing to inspire other curious once-in-a-lifetime-experience seekers. Immensely breathtaking, moving and memorable, all anecdotes deserve to start with ‘once upon a time’.
Here’s my piece, hope you’d consider planning yours soon.
Best for whom
Young adults, couples, friends, solo travelers. Outdoor and adventure seekers. Willing to spend for once-in-a-lifetime money can't buy experiences.
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6. ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORWAY, I TOOK A SELFIE AT BRYGGEN.
Google ‘Bergen’ and this is the first image that’ll pop making it selfie-worthy. A series of multi-colored buildings along the harbor, the old wharf is part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list. Selfie tip: Stand in one of the benches close to the Hanseatic museum and position your angle to show the perspective of your right background and showcase Bryggen in its full glory.