So, to be honest, I don't think we can really say that we've been to Norway. I mean, we were in a very small part of Norway and Norway is a VAST country. We were in the Stavanger area most of our time. We did travel to Røldal to see the Stave church there, and mostly to just get a taste of the countryside. It is a beautiful place that I am sure we will return to. Next time Oslo for sure, but I am also super interested in going to the very far north.
It is a very friendly country. We felt safe and welcome the entire time we were there. Stavanger is a quaint seaside town with a large collection of 18th and 19th century wooden structures. It used to be known for it's sardines, but is now the Petroleum capital of Northern Europe. Which is why we were there, really...since Bob was there for work.
I compiled a few tips. I didn't book much of the trip myself so I cannot comment on hotels/hostels, etc...but, here is some general advice.
1) There are a great many museums for such a small city. The Heritage Museum and the Canning Museum had a deal where you could buy one ticket and see both museums in the same day. So, give yourself enough time to see both in one day. The big bummer thing for me not being there in the peak season is that many attractions are not open year round. Some are open only on Sundays for most of the year. Make sure to plan your schedule around these limitations if you are not there in the summer. We did spend some time at the beautiful Petroleum Museum(given that Petroleum is the whole reason we were there really).
2) There are not really restaurants that serve breakfast there. Because of this, I believe most hotels have a nice breakfast buffet--far larger than we are used to in North America. For us, this was a money saver. I'm almost embarrassed to admit, but we took food for the day from there. Bananas, apples, bread, cheese...whatever we could sneak into our bag. I haven't done that since I was single...even then, only once or twice. Of course, we also bought some stuff at a grocery store, but here's the thing...restaurants are crazy expensive there. I grabbed my lunch from the breakfast buffet. Treated myself to an amazing coffee at lunch time and ate my snacks on the go. This allowed me to not worry so much about what I paid for dinner. Which was often $50-60 CDN an entree and $15-$20CDN for an alcoholic beverage. Pop was around $8CDN. Still water tastes unbelievable and is free.
3) If you are hoping to buy a SIM card for your phone or device instead of depending on a plan from your provider back home...don't count on it. It was really difficult to buy one as a foreigner. We just used hotel wifi. For that reason alone, a hotel with free wifi is a must.
4) For this north American driver, it is worth mentioning that the roads there are small. There is little to no shoulder and, in rural Norway, I found many two way, one lane stretches where I thought it was questionable to put such a road(around windy mountain bends, etc). I got used to it. But, I was happy when Bob finally finished work and could drive.
5) We took the Fjord tour and loved it...we even drank water right from a waterfall. We also drove around the fjords a lot and the views from the ferries are amazing, too. We highly recommend travelling the national tourist routes. Great views almost the entire way. We found when we abandoned the tourist routes, there were many tunnels. Travel was much faster that way, but not as scenic.
6) It really is as rainy as they say. Raincoats and waterproof boots are a must because much of the countryside is gorgeous, if not a wee bit muddy at times.
This was a lovely, unexpected trip this year. A nice break from the grind of regular life. I thought I'd share some of the images I took before I take off for our next adventure. As a family, we are headed to Honduras. We are excited to be staying at a friend's home there on the coast. Those images will have more people in them, I promise ;) And, I still have lots of cool Norway images that I could share...just keep checking the blog. The blog is where it's at ;)
~ Dana :)
PS--Just a reminder about my Photography Meetup email me for details!!! Come join us and have fun!