I have spent close to two years in one of the most beautiful countries on earth. Lasted two winters, summers and in two cities. Travelled quiet a bit in the country to various places and here is a list of the best things of staying in Norway or visiting it as a tourist.
#1 Experience Natural Beauty at its best
Norway is one of the most beautiful and unexplored places on earth. The checklist of the typical tourist to Europe typically features all the commercial places – like Switzerland, Italy, France, UK, Spain, Germany and Greece. It however misses the Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland for some reason. If there is one place you need to add to see one of the most beautiful sequences of Mountains and pristine seas – the combination also called fjords, Norway is the place to be!
# 2 Travelling made simpler
With a robust public transportation system including Underground trains (also called T-Bane / Metro Rail), Trams (yes, still trams run between certain sections of Oslo!), Buses 24*7, you don’t need to rent a car to go sightseeing within Oslo. To travel from Oslo to other cities like Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim etc, you have the overhead long distance trains run by the railway authority – NSB (similar to Indian Railways in India). You also have flights run by low cost airlines like Norwegian and others like SAS (Scandinavian Airlines). Long distance buses with varying fairs also ferry tourists and regular passengers between multiple cities. Apart from this, the Taxi’s are also available to ply between different points, but are very expensive and not recommended unless it is urgent.
# 3 They speak very good English
Norway is one of the few countries in Europe, where the tourist from an English speaking country can feel at home. Most of the Norwegians I came across during my stay spoke very good English. They are happy to talk to you in English and assist you as required with a smile on their face. My experience in Germany was horrible as even a cab driver struggled to talk English in Cologne-Bonn and Frankfurt. The reason why they speak very good English is primarily due to the Oil boom of the sixties, which opened up the world to Norway. It is also due to the fact that most of the Norwegians move out of Norway for higher studies to a foreign country as the Government sponsors / gives incentives for the same. Hence they end up learning a new language and English is right up there as most of them ove to UK and USA. To add to this, with the explosion of satellite television, Norway opened doors to the American channels and movies in 1970’s and 1980’s. As a result people have grown up watching American sitcoms with the voice over in English – as is. Only subtitles are in Norwegian. All the travel books available in the Tourist Information Centers are in various languages including English. All in all, though you may see lot of signboards and information in Norwegian or Norsk, you can always request passers by for information in English if you don’t find anything printed in English.
To be continued…