The Northern lights or Aurora Borealis has always held a fascination for me. But as you will have known by now, I am one of those who needs to be pushed to travel. The dance of the beautiful lights in the night sky was something that I truly wanted to experience. So, Snigdha pushed me this winter season to get my ass over to Norway and check out this phenomenon. Now, the problems are many fold. I am a true middle class Bengali and cold hits me like a paralysing virus. The essential timings of the Northern Lights are found during the winters. The best time to catch them is also during the night making it one cold adventure.
Snigdha decided on the picturesque Lofoten Islands for our stay. Lofoten Islands is an old fishing station that used to attract fishermen from all over the medieval world. Even today, the Winter Cod catching competition pays tribute to the fishing skills of yore. The Lofoten Islands have some beautiful fishing cabins where we boarded up lodgings.
How to get there?
Now, travelling here is a bit of headache but I got my girlfriend for that. We took a flight from our base in Oslo to Bodo and travelled by bus to the islands. Although the journey is a little bit cumbersome, but it is well worth it. You can book the plane tickets on their national carrier SAS.
Where we stayed in Lofoten?
What better way to stay than in an authentic fishing cabin(rorbeur). Snigdha booked our stay at Svinoya Rorbeur. This beautiful series of cabins are located near the Solvaer harbour. These cabins are the perfect blend of modern amenities with the architecture of yore. The authenticity of the the wooden cabins are beautifully offset by hot running water that was absolutely essential for my survival.
Let’s get on with our mission
The best way to enjoy the Northern Lights is in a rib boat. There are numerous companies which run boats from the Solvaer harbour and take you around the water. But you can always experience the same just standing in the balcony of your Rorbeur. The magical dancing of lights of varied colours transport you to a dreamy world. It’s virtually as if the sky is moving and nature is trying to talk to you. The lights usually stay on through out the night and can be checked out whenever you feel like doing so. These lights are basically due to the electrons and protons colliding against the atmospheric particles.
What else to do in Lofoten?
Although we spent two nights enjoying the Northern Lights, but we definitely needed something to capture our imagination when the sun was up. The area being a fishing paradise, that is exactly what we did. We took a day tour on the M/S Ylajali which put us through the paces of winter cod fishing. The chilly winds buffeted by the lurchy seas is not something for everyone as you can get sick, specially Indian unaccustomed to being on the sea. But the experience is heavenly. We also tried out some cod soup.
We spent the rest of our time wandering around the harbour city, getting lost and trying out a bite of Norwegian Food. Do share with us your experience of the Northern Lights. You can plan your trip at Northern Norway.
All images are credited to Visit Norway.
I fell in love with the Nordic country of Norway the moment I heard of Roros. The beautiful copper mining town still frozen in time drew me in to this beautiful country. But local food is something that truly defines travel for me. If I haven’t had the local food of the country, my trip is not complete. Norway is a country of abundances. Being so close to the sea means that seafood is one of their strong points. Their meat gets to graze in the luscious valleys while paucity of either pollution or population means that their produce is top rate. So, Sudipto and Snigdha tell you the favorites of Norwegian food.
Pork Belly is something that both of us are in love with. The beautiful sweet flavours are something that hits the nail on our head. But we had mostly tried out the South-East Asian version which combines spicy and sour. But the Nordic flavours are more umami. Combined with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, meat balls and gravy.
Salted, dried, smoked lamb ribs. These are usually smoked over Birch tree wood giving it a characteristic unforgettable taste. It is a typical Christmas eve specialty.
Fish has been preserved in various parts of the world since times immemorial. With seafood getting spoiled fast, this stockfish is preserved in water and lye. With the fish having a very mild taste potatoes, bacon, mashed peas and mustard gives the dish it’s characteristic flavours.
If you haven’t tasted the sweetness of the Norwegian cod, you are missing something in your life. Although there is no comparison of the fish that has been caught fresh, but preserved versions also work pretty well. The Skrei(Arctic Cod) migrates from the Barents Sea to the Northern coast of Norway during winter and this is when it is caught.
Unlike other parts of the world, Norway has a thriving game meat industry. It means that you can try out exotic meats like Deer, Reindeer, Moose or Grouse. These will give you such a plethora of flavours on your palate that you won’t easily forget.
The brown caramelized whey cheese is filled with full bodied flavours. It usually goes well with bread and waffles. It can be easily found in the majority of cabins along the ski trails.
All meals are accompanied by this potato based alcohol. It is flavoured with a plethora of spices and herbs like caraway seeds, fennel, dill, anise and even coriander. A herbal alcoholic drink which acts as a perfect digestive to end your meals.
After long months of winter when the snow starts to melt and the first flowers begin to show up you know its springtime. Falling somewhere between as early as February after Easter and May, springs in Trøndelag Norway are full of glorious sunny days with temperatures well into the 20’s.
Freshwater fishing in Trøndelag
Trøndelag offers thousands of fishable lakes. It is an unbelievable scope for deep-sea fishing, fjord fishing, freshwater fishing and salmon fishing. One can find excellent spots for fishing all along the coast of Trøndelag. One has the option to either hire a boat or can take a guided tour with the local guide. Those seeking a quick fishing trip and those wishing to spend their springs relaxing in the peace and quiet of the mountains, Trondelag is the place to be.
Go Kayaking in Trøndelag
Cruising is always a fun wrapped in luxury. But if one wants to get very up close and personal with the still and profound Norwegian fjords or the big wide out of control coastline of Trøndelag, kayaks or canoes are the best choices. With waters being slight cold and the gentle warming of the sun, Kayaking is most favorable in springs. One can simply weave their way in kayaks, through the shallow waters between islands and explore in and around the beautiful coastline. One can also spot camps all along the course for you to stop, eat and enjoy springs of Norway.
Take a Bike Ride in Trøndelag
For the adventurous ones, bicycling would be an ideal way for the wonderful experiences by the coast of Trøndelag. Enjoy the pristine beauty of the landscape, the scents just by bicycling around the coastline. Take a bike ride up the valley, crossing the little mountain passes and down again the valley enjoying the view over the ocean. Between them, there are vast areas of untouched nature waiting to be explored. Go for a cave exploration in the limestone caves. You might spot a few cave paintings too on your way up in the mountains. Here, all the islands are linked by bridges, which allow you to cycle around mindlessly in the flat cultural landscape.
Whale, Seals Safari in Trøndelag
Take a safari and get close to witness the incredible wildlife of Trøndelag. This coast in Norway is a superb place to observe sea eagles, seals and whales. There are guided whale watching tours by the coastline. While you take a boat ride into the waters, you might spot eagles on the air masses with old fishing villages and bird colonies resided along the coast. Safaris becomes a must try during springs.
Culinary adventure in Trøndelag
Enjoy the goodies from the ocean. Go in for a culinary journey at the coast of Trøndelag, where you can taste the sensations from dishes based on salmon, crab, crayfish, scallops and shellfish. Sitting by the coast side with a cold beer in hand, while you take in the smell of the sea and newly mown grass. This is the best way to wind up your springtime journey in Trøndelag.
Image Credits: Visit Norway
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The best time to visit Norway is early summer season, particularly in the months of June, July and August. The summers in Oslo are quite pleasant being neither too hot nor too cold. First buy an Oslo pass from the Oslo visitor center. This Oslo Pass gives you free entry to more than 30 museums, free travel on all public transport, free walking tours, discounts on sightseeing and special offers in restaurants, shops, entertainment and leisure venues.
9AM: Frokost (Breakfast)
Indulge yourself in a traditional Norwegian breakfast. From topping your Lefse (soft flat bread made out of potato,flour and milk) with Jarlsberg cheese to diving into a delicious plate of Salmon Eggs Benedict. Or simply go for the hearty big scrumptious open sandwiches with meat cuts, spreads or jam. Ensure that you stuff your stomach good for a long fun filled day ahead because the sun never sets here in Oslo.
10AM Museum turer (Museum Tours)
Fram Museum: The Fram was a ship utilized as a part of expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic by a modest bunch of Norweigan travelers. The entry to the museum is stacked with taxidermy polar bears.
The Viking Ship Museum is no exception. The museum itself is boundless and sparse, which made for a truly exquisite layout. So take a walk around the museum and enjoy the ship in all its glory.
Kon-tiki Museum: Thor Heyerdahl gained worldwide fame when he crossed the Pacific Ocean on the balsawood raft Kon-Tiki in 1947. It houses vessels and maps and photos of Kon-Tiki’s expedition.
One thing to note about Norwegians is that they love their boats and they love to put them in museums. You get to walk right onto a ship. To break the monotony make a short visit to Munch Museum. It’s an art museum dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.
2PM Lunsj og lur tid (Let’sLunch)
Take a break for lunch for you must have been exhausted by now with the museum marathon. Bite into the traditional whole-grain rye toast topped with meatballs, herring, fish filets or liver pate. Or simply go for crowd’s favourite hot dogs. They say a typical Norwegian eats 100 hot dogs a year, almost one every three days. While you can have your lunch on the go, post lunch would be the best time to visit the Royal Palace park. The Palace Park is a public park in the center of Oslo surrounding the Royal Palace and features grassy areas, majestic trees, small ponds and statues.
Take a trip inside the Palace or simply lay back and catch up on some reading of your unfinished novel or quick nap for the lazy ones.
5PM Sin middag tid (It’s Dinner Time In Oslo)
Dinner is usually simple and very light consisting of hot meat, boiled potatoes and vegetables. This is the only hot meal of the day.
Dine at Michelin-starred restaurants like Maaemo located near Schweigaards gate in Oslo, for high standards of exquisite Norwegian cuisine, wine and service.
8PM Natteliv (Night Life in Oslo )
Oslo’s nightlife has something for everyone whether you fancy a delicious cocktail, a chilled-out lounge, dance pubs or jazz clubs. The jazz clubs hosts many big international names along with Indie bands and also welcomes bands specializing in hip hop, soul music and dubstep.
The summer in Oslo is literally one long day and evening turns into night late. So if you plan a midnight sun adventure, all you have to do is stay up the whole night.
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A decade ago, beer was a drink that had virtually no variety in Norway. But since that decade, there has been a revolution of microbreweries all over the country. Today, there are a plethora of brews available all over the country. Some bars even store brews made next door. We at Salt and Sandals have always been big fans of good brews. So we take you through the best microbreweries in Norway and give you an insight into their best brews.
This brewery from Grimstad gives you the option to have 20 different types of beer and 5 different type of Sake. The only producer of unfiltered Sake in Europe, they also offer personalized tours. You can visit them here.
Remember the vikings? The Norse God worshiping long-haired men swinging battleaxes? This Brewpub takes you right back to those ages. Located in Aurland, Norway you can find a plethora of hand crafted beers and food that is paired along with it.
The town of Kristiansand has it’s own microbrewery which shows up with quite a plethora of flavours. They pair it along with some food from a Spanish coal grill.
CrowBar & Brewery
The capital Oslo’s largest microbrewery is your one stop solution for all beering needs. They not only serve their own brews, but a whole gamut from around the country. Do check this one out when in Oslo.
The Harstad Brewery offers an unique beer tasting experience. One of the rare breweries to leave their English yeast from Yorkshire inside the beer. It shows up as a residue which gives it another level of taste.
This scenic brewery is located in Trondelag and offers accommodation along with a restaurant in the backdrop of an ancient Cistercian Monastery.
Do try out these breweries in Norway and tell us about the one you liked.
Picture Credits: Visit Norway
Featured picture Credits: Thor Brodreskrift
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