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A Month in Norway: A Deep Dive into Scandinavian Life and Culture Options
 
Nydex
#1 Posted : 9/15/2023 8:13:42 PM

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Been a while since I popped my head in here like a meerkat surveying the surrounding savannah. I've been busy. Thankfully, mostly good things occupied my time and efforts during that time. One in particular stands out head and shoulders above the others, and is the subject of this post.

I spent one month backpacking through Norway. I've been drawn to the North for a very long time now, and Norway specifically has always had that allure that no other Scandinavian country had, now more so than ever. As someone that is deeply enamored with Scandinavian mythology, it was and still is the perfect destination for my ancestral exploration. My plan was relatively simple, yet took a significant amount of intricate planning. The idea was to fly to the far North (where I could easily access the infamous Lofoten Islands from) and backpack Southward until I reach Oslo, wherefrom I fly back home. And this is more or less exactly how it went, with a few hiccups here and there. The roughly 2800km/1750mi itinerary looked a bit like this:

1. Bodø
2. Trondheim
3. Ålesund
4. Geiranger
5. Fossbergom
6. Jotunheimen National Park
7. Flåm
8. Bergen
9. Stavanger
10. Kristiansand
11. Oslo

The overall idea was to go through each of those cities and explore everything there is to explore - museums, attractions, restaurants, cultural heritage, hikes, bodies of water and parks. Meet the people, talk to them about life, feel the energy of each place.

Naturally, all the good things in life must be counterbalanced by some hardship, otherwise pleasure goes through diminishing returns. In this case, during the month of August, Norway experienced the worst floods in the last 5 decades. Thankfully, I was not in the areas that were affected the most, so there was no immediate danger for me personally, but the situation made it extremely difficult to travel by public transport. Train lines got flooded, roads got closed due to landslides and fallen rocks, and a significant portion of the already scheduled travels I had got cancelled in literally the last moment, forcing me to frantically look for (expensive!) alternatives.

While I did manage to find alternatives in the form of replacement busses, new roads and train lines kept getting closed all the time in a highly unpredictable manner, so in the end I had to skip locations 5, 6 and 7 from the above list, and instead spent 4 days in a town called Dombås, then travelled earlier than scheduled straight to Bergen, passing through Oslo. A difficult 12-hour bus journey that I had no choice but to make given the conditions.

Of course, not all of the issues I had with my travel plans were caused by the unexpected and unfortunate weather conditions. My own poor judgement in planning also came into play when I realized I had postponed accommodation arrangements for Flåm for the last week before getting there. As I found out, Flåm is one of the most touristy destinations in the whole country, due to its location and vicinity to large fjords, meaning there was absolutely no accomodation available, which added to the stressful situation even more. In any case, once I got to Bergen things went smoothly until the end.

I met many great people along this journey. I was shown nothing but amazing hospitality and friendliness. Everyone was helpful, respectful, and kind. The stereotype of Norwegians being cold and unwelcoming is complete and utter garbage.

Their food is phenomenal. I ate many of the traditional dishes and desserts, like brunost, gravlaks, kjøttkaker, lefse, raspeballer, rakfisk, klippfisk, tørrfisk, reindeer, whale, moose, and skillingsboller. Everything was incredibly delicious and hearty.

Their cities were tidy, spotless and well-organized. There's no trash on the streets, no ugly grafitti on the buildings, no homeless people, no public nuisances, no bad looks. Norwegians are being taught from a very early age to respect each other and the environment. To take care of it all. And it shows.

They have a knack for great architecture (as evindent in the predominant architectural aspect of the photos I took) and preservation of historical sites. Overall, their mentality is very healthy and in accordance with what I find important and very much lacking in my own country. The whole trip left me with mixed emotions. On one hand it enriched me by giving me a new perspective on just how good things can get if the people exert their positive influence and make their voices heard. On the other hand, it robbed me of what little hope I had for the future of my own people and country.

Norway's success doesn't lie simply in having an inexhaustible amount of oil to sell to everyone. It's not all about money. There are aspects of their mentality that can't be bought with money, and it's exactly those aspects that make Norway one of the best countries to live in. Sure, the climate can be challenging, as well as the day-night cycle higher north, but the work-life balance and standard Norwegians have is nothing short of extraordinary.

One of the more interesting aspects of Norwegian social culture is the so-called Janteloven (Jante's law). Its foundation are ten rules which almost all Norwegians follow to various degrees. The rules state:

1. You're not to think you are anything special.
2. You're not to think you are as good as we are.
3. You're not to think you are smarter than we are.
4. You're not to imagine yourself better than we are.
5. You're not to think you know more than we do.
6. You're not to think you are more important than we are.
7. You're not to think you are good at anything.
8. You're not to laugh at us.
9. You're not to think anyone cares about you.
10. You're not to think you can teach us anything.

I find this kind of mentality quite fascinating and, from what I can tell, quite similar to how people in Japan and South Korea think (any Japanese or South Korean people in here, please feel free to correct me or share your perspective!). Obviously, following these strict, rule-based behavior norms has some benefits, but it also has some drawbacks.

In all my time there, and in all the cities I visited, I never saw a single person throttle their car on a stop light, being a public nuissance, being loud, obnoxious, arrogant or disrespectful. The very notion of inconveniencing someone else makes them feel uncomfortable, as if they're overstepping their rights. It seems the above laws are deeply ingrained in people's behavioral foundation. Yet, some Norwegians seem to feel like following this social structure leaves little space for successful people and businesses to thrive, thus improving Norway's startup landscape and other business opportunities.

To what an extent this is an issue, I shall know only when I have lived there for a bit and am an active part of their culture. Speaking of which, having seen what a truly developed country looks and feels like, I honestly can't imagine living, let alone having a family, in Bulgaria. The socio-political landscape here is becoming darker and more hopeless by the day. This leads me to seriously consider commencing some emmigration preparations.

In the meantime, you can enjoy those ~60 photos that I've selected from my photo reel, out of the ~800 in total.

Also, I would love to hear your opinion on whether a country like Norway, which is unbelievably rich in natural resources (in particular oil) can/should be blamed for exploiting those resources by selling them to the world and making a fortune. Before one judges, we need to keep in mind also the environmental conservation efforts that Norway is a part of as we speak, with significant innovations in carbon capture technology and alternative power generation methods.

I'm curious how you feel about it all. Would you say Norway is a villain on the landscape of the global climate situation, or just another player that's making the best of what they have been gifted by nature?

Love & Light Love
Nydex
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downwardsfromzero
#2 Posted : 9/16/2023 12:41:40 AM

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Ah, lovely Norway! Sounds like a bit of a (civilized) adventure that you had there. Did the weather stop you from visiting Preikestolen? Looks like we've been to many of the same places too. You've got me "pining for the fjords" now Very happy

PS Norwegian fossil fuel production is kind of a drop in the ocean (although I ought to check the figures on that). At least they had the good sense to invest the profits into a sovereign wealth fund for the good of the nation, unlike a certain other country on the opposite side of the North Sea...




“There is a way of manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scientists call 'a field of force'. The field acts on the observer and puts him in a privileged position vis-à-vis the universe. From this position he has access to the realities which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and space, matter and energy. This is what we call the Great Work."
― Jacques Bergier, quoting Fulcanelli
 
Nydex
#3 Posted : 9/16/2023 1:28:10 AM

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downwardsfromzero wrote:
Ah, lovely Norway! Sounds like a bit of a (civilized) adventure that you had there. Did the weather stop you from visiting Preikestolen? Looks like we've been to many of the same places too. You've got me "pining for the fjords" now Very happy

PS Norwegian fossil fuel production is kind of a drop in the ocean (although I ought to check the figures on that). At least they had the good sense to invest the profits into a sovereign wealth fund for the good of the nation, unlike a certain other country on the opposite side of the North Sea...

Ah, unfortunately I didn't get to see Preikestolen, even though it was on my list. I think I just planned the whole thing inefficiently in many regards, but that's a lesson learned for my next trips, one of which is definitely Australia.

And yes, you're right, I thought it's much, much more than that, but it amounts ot about 2%-3% of the global demand, which is indeed negligible on the grand scheme of things. Still, their government has laws in place that put the good of the people first, before the good of corporations and other entities. Most of the funds coming in from oil sales go back into the country in the form of EV funds and whatnot. This is why about 80% of the vehicles in Norway are electric - the government can afford absolving EV owners from a lot of taxes, because the oil money keeps flowing in.

That's how you do it. Once you allow certain individuals and corporations to get most of the profit from oil sales, while almost nothing goes back into the local economy, that's when things start to fall apart.
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Nydex
#4 Posted : 9/18/2023 2:31:20 PM

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Nydex wrote:
Ah, unfortunately I didn't get to see Preikestolen, even though it was on my list.

Nevermind, while I read this I was thinking about Trolltunga, which is the one that was on my list but I didn't manage to get to. I did see Preikestolen and the surrounding areas and waterfalls. Lysefjord is gorgeous.
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downwardsfromzero
#5 Posted : 9/18/2023 3:25:56 PM

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I've been thinking a lot about the ten rules of Norwegian life or whatever we might want to call them. I wonder how much it relates to the Danish occupation of Norway. There will have been a solidarity amongst the Norwegians while they were waiting for the Danes to leave Laughing Maybe you heard something about this in relation to the construction of Trondheim cathedral. It took a while!




“There is a way of manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scientists call 'a field of force'. The field acts on the observer and puts him in a privileged position vis-à-vis the universe. From this position he has access to the realities which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and space, matter and energy. This is what we call the Great Work."
― Jacques Bergier, quoting Fulcanelli
 
dragonrider
#6 Posted : 9/18/2023 3:53:36 PM

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I love those norwegian wooden stave churches. Did you get to see one of those?
 
Nydex
#7 Posted : 9/18/2023 7:33:10 PM

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downwardsfromzero wrote:
I've been thinking a lot about the ten rules of Norwegian life or whatever we might want to call them. I wonder how much it relates to the Danish occupation of Norway. There will have been a solidarity amongst the Norwegians while they were waiting for the Danes to leave Laughing Maybe you heard something about this in relation to the construction of Trondheim cathedral. It took a while!

To be fair, I think the adherence to those rules varies greatly from person to person. While most of the people do see most of everyone else as equals, and treat them that way, there's still a portion of the people that seems to have started breaking the mould. The Nidaros cathedral was gorgeous indeed. While I am pretty much as far from religious as one can get, I did admire the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail put in every single aspect of the whole building and its surroundings. Sadly, I don't really know much about the relationships Norway had with its neighbors. I seem to have paid less attention to history than I should have considering I spent a month there...

dragonrider wrote:
I love those norwegian wooden stave churches. Did you get to see one of those?

I saw one of them on the Lofoten islands, but it was a small one. The best one in the whole of Norway, they say, is the Borgund Stave Church, which I was supposed to go and see during my stay in Flåm, but unfortunately I had to skip Flåm entirely as explained in my post. Wish I could have seen it though, it looks absolutely stunning!
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downwardsfromzero
#8 Posted : 9/18/2023 7:39:43 PM

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Fabulous - so otherworldly! Sure you don't work for the Norwegian Tourist Board? Laughing




“There is a way of manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scientists call 'a field of force'. The field acts on the observer and puts him in a privileged position vis-à-vis the universe. From this position he has access to the realities which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and space, matter and energy. This is what we call the Great Work."
― Jacques Bergier, quoting Fulcanelli
 
Nydex
#9 Posted : 9/18/2023 10:46:13 PM

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downwardsfromzero wrote:
Fabulous - so otherworldly! Sure you don't work for the Norwegian Tourist Board? Laughing

Believe me, I wish. I'd probably be paid more than my current job as a software engineer Big grin Well not really though, I love my job and wouldn't leave it
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downwardsfromzero
#10 Posted : 9/18/2023 11:30:42 PM

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Nydex wrote:
downwardsfromzero wrote:
Fabulous - so otherworldly! Sure you don't work for the Norwegian Tourist Board? Laughing

Believe me, I wish. I'd probably be paid more than my current job as a software engineer Big grin Well not really though, I love my job and wouldn't leave it

Why not both? Very happy - ahaha-ha!

Preikestolen was amazing - you look down at the fjord and a cruise ship looks like a toy down on the water. Not sure if they're still allowed in, I went there 28 years ago!




“There is a way of manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scientists call 'a field of force'. The field acts on the observer and puts him in a privileged position vis-à-vis the universe. From this position he has access to the realities which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and space, matter and energy. This is what we call the Great Work."
― Jacques Bergier, quoting Fulcanelli
 
Nydex
#11 Posted : 9/19/2023 11:43:59 AM

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downwardsfromzero wrote:
Nydex wrote:
downwardsfromzero wrote:
Fabulous - so otherworldly! Sure you don't work for the Norwegian Tourist Board? Laughing

Believe me, I wish. I'd probably be paid more than my current job as a software engineer Big grin Well not really though, I love my job and wouldn't leave it

Why not both? Very happy - ahaha-ha!

Preikestolen was amazing - you look down at the fjord and a cruise ship looks like a toy down on the water. Not sure if they're still allowed in, I went there 28 years ago!

Not sure, didn't see any while I was there. I didn't climb on top though, we passed through the fjord at the bottom, so I was looking up. Quite the rock, undoubtedly.
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