Ten Things I Never Knew About Norway (before going there)
- The very best, tastiest, and sweetest strawberries anywhere on the planet are grown in Norway. It’s not just something they boast about. It’s true. So if you are looking for one and only one reason to make a trip to Norway, let it be: strawberries.
- Trolls have tails. Somehow, this detail evaded my childhood education regarding trolls, I just thought they were small scary looking things with big eyes and long noses, who turn to stone in the sun. Apparently, they also have tails. Now, I really well and truly have no desire to cross paths with a troll, not in Norway, not under the Freemont Bridge in Seattle, not at a gift shop, not anywhere.
- It never really gets completely dark in the summertime – this leads some to suffer from “darkness deprivation”. The sun has been setting around 11:30pm and rising around 3:30am, and the sky stays light in between. But they tell me that in the winter, they still get 4-6 hours of daylight and never experience 24 hours of darkness.
- It rains more in Bergen than any other city in Europe. What’s crazy about this factoid is that Bergen has also burned down in more fires than just about anywhere else. How, exactly, the wettest city in Europe manages to catch fire at all, ever, is beyond my comprehension.
- There are a gazillion tunnels in Norway, and the Norwegians are master tunnel builders. Not only do they tunnel to get through the steep mountains, but they also build tunnels to cross deep ocean fjords…underwater. Those who suffer from the aforementioned “darkness deprivation” should live in one of these tunnels.
- It is possible to spend 10 days in Norway without ever encountering a Viking dude wearing a horned helmet, or a Viking maiden with long blonde braids.
- There’s supposedly a Norwegian youtube celebrity by the name of Kolbjorn who videos himself jumping rope in different places around the world. He also rides bikes backwards, on the handlebars, both downhill and uphill. He was on our cruise and introduced us to many Norwegian chocolates. But now I can't find anything to substantiate his existence online. Anyone?
- Norway wasn’t always the most expensive country in Europe. In fact, it was one of the poorest before oil was discovered and exported in the 1970’s.
- Parental Leave in Norway allows a generous 47 weeks with 100% pay, with fathers specifically getting over 3 months of that. Parental responsibilities are equalized. Norwegian dads make baby-wearing and diaper-changing look as manly as chopping wood.
- Apparently, Disney’s movie “Frozen” has made Norway a popular family destination this year. Our trip was planned long before the movie came out, and we weren’t sponsored by Disney or anyone else for that matter. The Norwegians weren’t jumping on the Disney bandwagon themselves; no Disney princesses lining the gift shop shelves. They remain true to their culture and heritage with abundant souvenirs of Viking ships, trolls, and ski wear, none of which appealed to me. I happily redirected my souvenir budget on fresh Norwegian strawberries.
For images, see “10 Things I Never Knew I’d Photograph in Norway”.