Norway: A medieval adventure among the fjords.
There is little doubt one hears the word ¡®Norway¡¯ and doesn¡¯t conjure up pictures of Vikings, smoked cod dangling from clothes lines and the night sky turning bright green over remote fishing villages. These are all true of this intensely historical country but it¡¯s the buzzing caf¨¦ strip bakeries of Oslo and mighty ocean carved fjords that most place on the top of their Nordic itineraries.
Oslo is the capital and for many visitors the first port of call, situated at the southern end of the country it makes sense to get a final fix of cosmopolitanism here before heading as far north as the artic circle. Norway¡¯s largest city which sits on the gracious Oslo-fjord waterway has excellent museums, a lively bar scene and old town quarters to enable a jolt back to the nineteenth century. Another way to travel back to the times of clan warfare and longships is to head just out of town to the Bygdoy peninsula¡¯s world famous Viking Ships Museum.
The Western Fjords which are accessed easily from the stunning city of Bergen and are noted as among the best in the world are frequented by literally hundreds of cruise ships every year as a result. Bergen was once Norway¡¯s major urban area and service centre for Vikings headed out to Iceland and Dublin. Nowadays it¡¯s the home of satisfying seafood restaurants, many of which are found in and around the intriguing eighteenth century Bryggen wharf. The turreted town of ?lesund and the Norangsdalen area are home to medieval stave churches and the absolutely awe inspiring Norangs-Fjord.
The Lofoten Islands, found scattered off the coast of Bodo, and within the bounds of the arctic circle are where time simply stops. Here you can rent a colourful fishing hut for a day or two and strap freshly caught cod over a wood burning stove until your hearts content. Breathtakingly beautiful, unworldly and without much movement at all, these islands are accessed by ferry from the Bodo viaduct.
For those really game to tackle the rather cool climate of the north, the most northerly part of Norway is actually it¡¯s offshore extension known as Svalbard which is home to polar bears and extreme nature. You can fly from a number of mainland cities to the region¡¯s main township of Longyearbyen, which means ¡®long year been¡¯ and is a clear reference to the weather.
Photo credit: Rob Howels
Monday, December 19, 2011
Source = Lionel Paul Grant