Norway Martin Gostelow
land of the Vikings
33 68 78 84
3 This Way Norway
Features The Hurtigruten Northern Lights Flora and fauna Famous Norwegians
15 Oslo 23 Southern Norway 35 Bergen and the Western Fjords 49 Trøndelag and Nordland 65 The Far North 87 Shopping 91 Dining Out 95 Sports 97 The Hard Facts
hardy flora and fauna
people of the far north
15 On the Scene
28 36 62 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110
Maps Stavanger Bergen Lofoten Ålesund Åndalsnes Geiranger Hellesylt Honningsvåg Kirkenes Tromsø Trondheim Fold-out map Norway: Centre and South North Norway Oslo Spitsbergen
the outdoors life
THIS WAY NORWAY Ice Age glaciers shaped Norway, especially its unrivalled fjords. Other nations with long sea inlets use the same Norse word for them, but Norway’s are the best-known, the deepest and most beautiful.
Land of Fjords And the ice is still at work: Europe’s biggest glaciers cover high mountain ranges and fan out over the vast plains, their multiple tongues tipped by cloudy blue lakes of melt-water and the rocks and debris left behind by their gradual retreat. So for the traveller, Norway is an awe-inspiring spectacle. Ships can sail 160 km (100 miles) up some of the fjords, between precipitous cliffs topped by tiny farms. Mountain peaks to rival the Alps form a white wall—the snow lingers well into summer. Facts and Figures The Norwegians are ﬁercely patriotic, perhaps because they were denied their independence for so long. These 4.7 million people have much to be proud of. Their narrow strip of land facing the North Atlantic boasts some of the most magniﬁcent scenery in the world. Longer than any other
country in Europe, it measures 2,800 km (1,740 miles) from top to bottom, not counting remote Svalbard in the Arctic Sea. An impressive statistic, but the coastline is so convoluted that if you could walk all of its sea perimeter you would clock up an amazing 23,000 km (14,000 miles). And that’s not counting an estimated 150,000 islands and islets. The Cities Oslo is the quietest of the Scandinavian capitals, but there’s a lot to see, from Viking ships to exciting art. And like the rest of the country, it’s clean, uncrowded and prosperous. Bright, colourful Stavanger buzzes with activity as the headquarters of the offshore oil industry. Bergen, the ancient capital and Hanseatic trading port, shares some of the oil action, and welcomes a host of visitors on their way to the fjords. Many of them just drop in on an excursion from a cruise ship, and
Typical red-painted house beneath the cliff at Hauga in Rogaland.
Southern Norway All along the coast southwest of Oslo, are fascinations, starting with the offshore islands and skerries, now protected as recreational areas. The scenery is quite different from that of the Fjordland, along the west coast.
Larvik An old port to the west of Oslofjord, Larvik was evidently important in the Viking era; more than a hundred burial mounds from that time can be found in the area. It is now the Norwegian end of the ferry link with Hirtshals in Denmark. Larvik Kirke is a 17th-century church with many ﬁne paintings, including one by Lucas Cranach the Elder. In summer, the coast and islands near Larvik are favourites with people from Oslo. Skien A port and industrial town, the capital of Telemark county, Skien was the birthplace of the great dramatist Henrik Ibsen (1828– 1906), author of A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler. North of town is the home where he grew up, Venstop, unchanged since his day. Skien is the starting point for the spectacular lake and river cruise through marvellous mountain scenery, along the Telemark Canal, to Dalen, at the head of
Lake Bandak. Eighteen locks help the ship up the waterway’s rise of 72 m (236 ft). Arendal Built on seven islands linked by bridges, Arendal grew prosperous in the 17th century from timber exports, an industry which continues today. The town was one of Norway’s leading ports during the last days of the great sailing ships and still trains sailors at the Seamen’s School. Most of Arendal was destroyed by ﬁre in the 1860s but several of its picturesque old white-painted wooden houses in the Pollen and Tyholmen districts have survived. So has the imposing Rådhuset (town hall), dating from 1813, one of the country’s largest wooden structures. Part of it is now a portrait gallery. The Aust-Agder Museum at Langsæ covers the region’s cultural and maritime history. Merdøgård, half an hour away by boat on Merdø island, was the home of an 18th-century sea captain and now houses a museum of the sailing ship era. Grimstad The port of Grimstad, 20 km (12 miles) down the coast from Arendal, boasts the country’s secondlargest wooden church and celebrates its connection with Henrik Ibsen. Young Henrik arrived there
A sculptorâ€™s ode to the fishing industry on Zachariasbryggen overlooking the market.
Bergen and the Western Fjords The beauty of the fjords brought tourism to Norway in the mid-19th century and they are still its greatest attraction. Bergen, well worth a visit in its own right, is the usual starting point for sightseeing trips by land or water. An international airport, a scenic rail route from Oslo and ferries from Britain and Denmark make it easily accessible. Excursion boats also cruise the fjords from Ålesund, Molde, Åndalsnes, Bergen and other ports. Regular ferry services, buses and trains offer other alternatives.
Bergen Founded as a ﬁshing village in 1070, Bergen has an atmosphere and charm all its own. Above the waterfront, villas and small wooden houses are scattered up the green hillsides. With its sheltered harbour and access to the Atlantic, Bergen soon developed into a trading centre. By the 13th century it was the most important city in Norway and the royal capital, where ﬁve kings were crowned. Then Oslo took precedence, but around 1350, Hansa merchants from north German and other ports established themselves in Bergen and dominated its commerce for several hundred years. Later, under Danish rule, it suffered from discrimination in
favour of Copenhagen, but in the 19th and 20th centuries came into its own again. It is now the second city of Norway, with a population of some 250,000. Until the railway reached Bergen in 1909, it was quicker and easier to get to London than to Oslo. A favourite with seamen, ﬁshermen and travellers from afar, the port was and remains cosmopolitan and dynamic. Its citizens used to claim proudly: “I’m not from Norway, I’m from Bergen”. There’s a full cultural calendar: the Bergen International Festival in May and June features concerts, ballet and opera in the glass-sided Grieghallen, named after the city’s famous son, the composer Edvard Grieg. Vågen
Although it can rain 220 days a year, the wooden houses of the old town were frequent victims of ﬁre, but thanks to restoration work the quayside looks much as it might have done in the time of the Hanseatic League. On most summer days, a cruise ship docks at the outer end of the harbour, and every evening of the year the Hurtigruten sails from Frileneskaien, along the Norwegian coast bound for the Arctic. Across the harbour, high speed catamarans wait to whisk you to ports and fjords up and down the
up to 350,000 tonnes, and as many as 30 trains a day arrive from the mines at Kiruna and Svappavaara in the Swedish Arctic. Tours are arranged daily from June to August; the buses drive among the mountains of ore, classiﬁed into 15 varieties, where millions of tonnes are stored.
Narvik’s experience in World War II was as grim as anywhere in Norway. It has its share of memorials, including Norwegian, French, British, Polish and German war cemeteries, and monuments marking a large prisonerof-war camp that the Germans operated at the end of Beisfjord. A memorial statue in the town centre depicts a mother and child, as if to assert that life goes on. Behind it, the Krigsminnemuseum run by the Norwegian Red Cross displays weapons and uniforms, but also improvisations on the home front and in the POW camp. The nearby Ofotenmuseum is devoted to the region’s history and culture. Ofoten Line
The iron ore railway, called Ofotbanen, runs for 42 km (26 miles) Gulls make themselves at home on a fisherman’s cottage. | A quiet life away from it all on the Lofoten Islands.
TRØNDELAG AND NORDLAND 57
to the Swedish border and continues to the iron mines in Swedish Lappland, linking with the line to Stockholm. Skiers and hikers use it in spring and summer, and it makes a scenic trip for visitors who come in to Narvik by ship. The train climbs slowly through snow sheds and tunnels to a high plateau and then, breaking through the tree line, enters a bleak landscape of rocks and patches of snow. Bjørnfjell is the last station on the Norwegian side of the border; Riksgränsen the ﬁrst in Sweden. At the popular summer resort of Lapplandia, canoes and windsurfers skim the ice-blue (and icecold) waters of a lake; a seaplane takes off with anglers and sightseers. The souvenir shop stocks Sami crafts and Swedish glass, and a model mosquito as big as your ﬁst. The Road North Highway and railway run parallel out of the town, following the Rombakfjord eastward. Soon the routes diverge; the E6 road turns north and crosses a dramatic suspension bridge, high above the fjord. It continues along the coast to Bjerkvik at the head of Herjangsfjord, the site of a ﬁerce battle in April 1940 when British marines and French Foreign Legion troops fought a larger German force. From here the road
heads north out of Narvik’s county of Nordland towards Troms, a county of farms and ﬁshing villages, its coast protected by countless islands and skerries. First it follows a surprisingly fertile valley, passing ﬁelds of wild ﬂowers and pine forests to Gratangen, 300 m (1,000 ft) up, commanding a superb panorama of mountains and fjords. Some 70 km (43 miles) north of Narvik, see bears, wolves, lynx, wolverine and other animals from the region at the Polar Zoo. Vesterålen Islands The Vesterålen group is older and more weathered than the Lofotens, its neighbours to the south, and is formed partly of sandstone. Some of the land is flat, part of it good enough for agriculture but a great area consisting of peat bog and cloudberry marsh. Iron Age burial mounds show that humans were here before the time of the Vikings. Harstad
On the big island of Hinnøy, the capital of the Vesterålen islands is a busy working port, the home of 23,000 people. When the herring shoals vanished, it switched to shipbuilding and repair, coalimporting from Svalbard and service industries. It recently became the headquarters for oil exploration, which hopes to
The Gulf Stream is the secret ingredient in Svalbard’s relative profusion of living things. About 160 species of plants have been noted, from mosses to buttercups, polar dandelions and pale Svalbard poppies. There are even well-protected valleys where dwarf birch grows to a height of several inches. Note: picking ﬂowers is forbidden. Big colonies of sea birds take advantage of the climate and the good ﬁshing along the west coast of Spitsbergen. More than 100 bird species have made appearances, though only 15 are regular breeders here. Among the standouts: auks, gulls, petrels, ptarmigan, pufﬁns and terns. Birds of prey stay away, since there are no rodents to provide their basic food. Life for the birds, however, is not very relaxed, as gulls attack eggs and ﬂedglings. Some bird colonies are visible from a considerable distance, thanks to the vegetation ﬂourishing beneath them. All that fertilizer, especially on cliff sides with
southern exposure, produces splashes of colour among otherwise dreary rock faces. Mostly it’s moss. Visitors are warned to keep away from nesting areas. Protective birdparents—Arctic terns in particular—spare no effort to deter any intruder. Apart from polar bears (see page 76) here are two other indigenous land mammals: the arctic fox and the wild Svalbard reindeer. As to sea-goers, there are small ringed seals and about 1000 walruses. Forlandet National Park has the world’s most northerly home of the common seal. In an effort to save Svalbard’s wildlife, more than 65 per cent of the land area of the islands has been proclaimed a conservation zone. Six national parks, three nature reserves and fifteen bird sanctuaries add up to more than 40,000 sq km (15,000 sq miles)—more than the other Norwegian national parks put together.
FLORA AND FAUNA
THE FAR NORTH 79
hard and ice-cold, the town’s water pipes and sewer lines have to be above the ground. This is not conducive to scenic panoramas, marred in any case by all the forsaken conveyer belts and cable-car lines of the old mines. Most of the locals get around by snowmobile; almost one snow scooter per person is registered. With these “skidoos” the residents can make tracks to hitherto inaccessible parts of the countryside, and out onto the ice barrier when it’s resistant enough. Tourists, too, can hire snowmobiles, on the condition that they know how to shoot a rifle (which can be hired on the spot) in case of polar bear attack. A guide is strongly recommended, and an authorization from the governor is needed. Town Centre
The best way to see how the citizens live is to visit the big, cheerful country store in the centre of town. Here the locals stock up on kitchenware, fresh fruit, thermal underwear and TV sets (yes, there is a local TV station for those long winter nights). Everything seems abundantly supplied in the store, but the akevitt and all other types of liquor are rationed to one bottle per adult per fortnight. For tourists the shopping opportunities (duty-free) tend towards postcards picturing local attractions, Svalbard T-shirts and souvenirs
of the type found on the mainland. Next to the store stands a bank, open weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as a small shopping centre and the post office. As in any Norwegian village there is a church. This one is unusually cosy and attractive, with a pine-panelled interior and a pale modern altar painting of polar bears. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the ofﬁcial, statesupported church of Norway; the law requires the King and at least half of the cabinet to be church members. Nearby is a cemetery, where simple white crosses are planted in the stony ground. If you look around carefully you’ll probably see wild ﬂowers, tiny arctic survivors. There are 165 species, among them the white or purple saxifrage and the cassiope. Do not pick them as they are lovingly conserved, in view of their obvious scarcity. Museums
The Svalbard Museum first opened in 1981 in a small building which once housed 140 pigs, in the oldest part of town. In 2005 the collections were moved to smart new premises in the Svalbard Science Centre. The museum is divided into ten sections ranging from marine fauna, whaling, hunting and trapping to geology and the tundra, with an interesting exhibition on the Pomors and
Sami knives, the handles and sheathes made of reindeer horn and leather, make enduring souvenirs.
SHOPPING Norway is known for silver and pewter ware, ceramics and glass, worked in imaginative modern designs as well as revivals of Viking and medieval motifs. Polished specimens of semi-precious minerals have an eye-catching beauty. The country can supply any kind of gear for the outdoor life: sailing, ﬁshing, hiking or camping. Although prices are high by international standards, you can at least recover the sales tax. Where? Many towns have a Husﬂiden craft store run by the Norwegian Association for Home Arts and Crafts, worth a visit to see a selection of high-quality crafts. Also try the department stores, jewellers, museum shops and specialist shops for clothing and sports equipment. Books Norwegians are great readers— the long winter evenings may be one reason. Every town has at least one good bookstore, with English sections as well as Norwegian, so there’s no problem if you run short of holiday reading. Ceramics and Glass Potters produce unlimited numbers of mugs, plates and candlesticks, but this too is an art form throughout Scandinavia, with a
wealth of useful and ornamental ceramics, many with reindeer motifs. Norwegian glass traditionally had a grey tint, a tone still seen in rustic glass and many modern designs. Now all colours are used, for drinking glasses and bowls, vases, glass animals and birds. One of Norway’s most famous glassworks is Hadeland Glassverk at Jevnaker about an hour’s drive northwest of Oslo; you can watch demonstrations of glassblowing, using the same tools as in the 18th century, and even have a try at it yourself. Foods Some of the local delicacies such as smoked salmon and gravlaks (cured salmon) are sold in sealed packs ready to carry home. Other long-life products are marinated herring in jars, red “kaviar” (ﬁsh
INDEX 111 Ålesund 44–45 Alstahaug 53 Alta 67 Altafjord 67 Amundsen, Roald 13 Åndalsnes 46 Arendal 23 Atlanterhavsveien 47 Avaldsnes 32 Averøy 46 Balestrand 42 Båtsfjord 72 Bergen 35–39 Akvariet 39 Bergenhus 37 Botanical Garden 39 Bryggen 37 Bryggens Museum 38 Fantoft Stavkirke 40 Fiskerimuseet 37 Gamle Bergen 40 Hanseatisk Museum 38 Historical Museum 39 Mariakirken 37 Maritime Museum 39 Museum of Art 39 Rasmus Meyer’s Collection 38–39 Schøtstuene 38 Torget 38 Troldhaugen 40 Vågen 35–36 Berlevåg 71 Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne 84 Bodø 54–55 Bokna fjords 27 Borgund 43 Briksdalsbreen 44 Brønnøysund 51–53 Bud 47 Dalsnibba 46 Eidsvoll 20 Fagernes 43 Farsund 26 Fjærlandsfjord 43 Flåm 42 Flekkefjord 25–26 Flora and Fauna 78 Fløyen 39–40 Flydalsjuv 46
Fossils 83 Fredrikstad 21 Geilo 42 Geiranger 46 Geirangerfjord 45–46 Glaciers 80 Glomen 54 Grieg, Edvard 84 Grimstad 23–24 Grip 47 Grønligrotta 53–54 Gudvangen 42 Gulf Stream 5 Hammerfest 67–69 Hamsun, Knut 84 Hardangerfjord 40–42 Haugesund 32 Havøysund 69 Helgøya 24 Hellesylt 45 Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter 19 Holandsfjord 53 Holmenkollen 19 Honningsvåg 69 Høvikodden 20 Hustad 47 Hurtigruten 33 Ibsen, Henrik 84–85 Innvik 44 Jostedalsbreen 43 Kåfjord 67 Karasjok 73–74 Karmøy 32 Kielland, Alexander 85 Kinsarvik 41 Kirkenes 72–73 Kjenndalsbreen 44 Kjosfoss 42 Kongsberg 20 Kristiansand 24–25 Dyrepark 25 Kongsgård 25 Kristiansund 47 Lapplandia 57 Larvik 23 Lemmings 74 Lillehammer 21 Lillesand 24 Lindesnes 25
Lofoten Islands 59–63 Å 63 Austvagøy 62 Flakstadøy 63 Hamnøy 63 Henningsvær 62 Kabelvåg 61–62 Lofotr 62 Moskenesøy 63 Nusfjord 63 Reine 63 Svolvær 61 Vestvågøy 62 Lofthus 41 Lovund 52–53 Luster 43 Lustrafjord 43 Lysefjord 31 Maihaugen 21 Maelstrom 63 Måløy 44 Mandal 25 Merdøgård 23 Mjøsa, lake 20–21 Mo i Rana 53 Moffen 83 Molde 46 Mølstertunet Museum 41 Munch, Edvard 85 Myrdal 42 Næroyfjord 42–43 Nansen, Fridtjof 13 Narvik 55–57 Nobile, Umberto 13 Nordfjord 44 North Cape 69–71 Northern Lights 68 Ofotbanen 56–57 Olden 44 Oslo 15–19 Akershus Slott 17 Bygdøynes 18–19 Domkirke 15–16 Frammuseet 18 Frogner Park 18 Historisk Museum 16 HL-senteret 19 Kon-Tikimuseet 18 Kunstindustrimuseet 16 Munchmuseet 17–18
112 INDEX Nasjonalgalleriet 16 Nobels Fredssenter 17 Norsk Folkemuseet 19 Rådhuset 17 Sjøfartsmuseet 18 Slottet 16–17 Vigelandsanlegget 18 Vikingskipene 19 Oslofjord 21 Østerdalsisen 53 Polar Bears 76 Polarsirkelsenteret 53 Polar Zoo 57 Prekestolen 31 Raftsundet 59 Romsdalsfjord 46–47 Røros 51 Runde 45 Russian Border 73 Ryfylke fjords 27 Saltstraumen 54 Sami 52 Sandnes 26 Sandnessjøen 52–53 Skarsvåg 69–70 Skien 23 Skjolden 43 Skudeneshavn 32 Sognefjord 42–43 Sola 26 Spitsbergen 74–83 Barentsburg 80–81 Ice Barrier 82–83 Krossfjord 81 Lilliehookfjord 81 Longyearbyen 77–80 Magdalena Bay 81–83 Möllerfjord 81 Monaco Glacier 83 Ny-Ålesund 81 Western Fjords 81 Stalheimfoss 42–43 Stavanger 26–31 Archaeological Museum 31 Domkirke 29–31 Gamle Stavanger 29 Hermetikkmuseet 29 Kongsgård 31 Norsk Oljemuseum 29
General editor Barbara Ender-Jones
Rogaland Art Museum 31 Sjøfartsmuseet 29 Stavanger Museum 31 Vågen 27 Stranda 45 Stryn 44 Svalbard see Spitsbergen Svartisen 53–54 Tirpitz 66 Tønsberg 21 Torghatten 51–52 Trollfjord 59 Trollstigen 47 Trollstigheimen 47 Trollveggen 47 Tromsø 65–67 Trondheim 49–51 Folk Museum 51 Kunstindustrimuseet 50 Kunstmuseum 50 Nidaros Cathedral 50 Ringve Museum of Musical History 51 Stiftsgården 50 Wharves 51 Tystigen 46 Ullandhaug 31 Ulriken 40 Ulvik 41 Urnes Stave Church 43 Utne 41 Utstein 31 Vadsø 72 Vangsnes 42 Varden, Mt 46 Vardø 71–72 Vega 52 Veøy 46 Vesterålen Islands 57–59 Harstad 57–58 Myre peninsula 58 Risøyhamn 58 Sortland 58 Stokmarknes 58–59 Trondenes 58 Vik 42 Vikings 7–8 Visnes 32 Voss 41
Design Karin Palazzolo Layout Matias Jolliet Concept Karin Palazzolo Photo credits p. 1: istockphoto.com/Hawkes p. 2: VisitOslo/Nancy Bundt (longship); Innovation Norway/Anders Gjengedal (rock ptarmigan, landscape); Innovation Norway/ Johan Wildhagen (Sami girl) Maps JPM Publications, Mathieu Germay
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