New segment ALERT!
Ever gone on a vacation and realize the internet does not give you ALL the information you need? Often times, a nation’s best kept secrets are only known to residents and not in public domain. Our new segment, foreign nomad diaries, interviews residents/locals who will give us tips and tricks to having a wonderful time in their various countries. Get to know your next destination from the best source of information!
Bendik Dahl: Even as a master degree student in finance, Bendik still believes that spending money on traveling is the only thing that makes you richer. Last year he lived in Brazil, the year before in New Zealand and next year he will move to Portugal. But for now he lives in Bergen, Norway, where he has lived most of his life. Instagram: @bendikendahl
Q: Give us a brief history about your country.
Norway is not only the country where the sport of skiing was invented and the home of the Vikings, but it is also the only country that has never lost against Brazil in football (maybe because we have not qualified for the world cup since 1998). Having the second longest coast line in the world with some beautiful fjords, Norway has always had strong ties to the ocean. Fishing has, and still is, important for the country and there is no doubt that the best seafood comes from Norway. –We introduced salmon to the Japanese.
Even though Norway is not a part of the European Union we are a part of Schengen and you can come here on the Schengen visa.
Q: In Nigeria we have 512 languages, how many languages are there in your country?
I’ll be honest; Norwegian might be the last language one should try to learn. Not only is it a bit difficult (we have some extra letters also; Æ Ø and Å) and there are only 5 million speakers, but also more than 90% of them speak English very well.
The Norwegian language has actually two official “written languages”. Due to the wide variety in dialects and influence from the Danish language there are two very similar ways to write Norwegian, but we still speak the same language. Also, in the north of Norway there is another language totally different from Norwegian called Sami, which is recognized as a minority language with around 30.000 native speakers.
Q :What is your favorite relaxation/travel destination in your county?
For me there is nothing better than hiking in the mountains, camp next to one of our 450.000 lakes and wake up to the sound of raindrops on the tent. One can either take a bus or train to the mountains, or if one lives in Bergen (2nd largest city in Norway) you can just walk out the front door and after one hour you will be away from civilization.
Q : And why?
Outdoor recreation is an important part of our cultural heritage in Norway. Since ancient times, we have had the right to roam freely in forests and open country, along rivers, on lakes, and in the mountains – irrespective of who owns the land. This is why we have this awesome “Right to roam” – law, which basically means you can go wherever you want in the nature. Norway is an expensive country, but in my opinion the best thing (read: the nature) is free.
Q: Coming from a country whose climate is hot almost all year long we Nigerians generally prefer to travel to other countries when the temperature is moderate. When is it that time in your country?
The different seasons of the year gives many different opportunities for traveling in Norway. In the summer one can go to the beach, hike the mountains or just enjoy the midnight sun. However, the Norwegian winter will be something very much different from Nigeria. When it’s -20 degrees and 3 meters of snow it might not be the best time to come if you don’t want to go skiing, go on a husky ride, see the northern lights or build a snowman. In general the weather is very unpredictable and especially in Bergen it rains a lot. Around 300 days a year with rain makes you appreciate a sunny day. Summer is from June to August, and last summer there was many days with temperatures above 30 degrees, but this summer it was like 15 degrees on average.
The harbor of Bergen ( google Bryggen in Bergen) is a 1,000 year old neighborhood and is the inspiration for the city in the movie “Frozen”.
Q: Mode of transportation can differ slightly or widely from country to country. What is the best way for a foreigner/tourist to get around your country?
Bergen is located on the west coast of Norway where most of the fjords are. This means that getting around by car can give you some extraordinary views, but also make it a bit hard to get around.
There are various different bus-lines taking you to most part of the country, but if you want to go to the north of Norway I would recommend flying. In the summer-months (June to August) you can buy a two-week flight pass where you can fly as much as you want. This sets you back NOK 2700 (300 USD) but will give you the opportunity to see every corner of Norway, check out wideroe.no for this.
Between Bergen and Oslo (the capital) there is a train with a spectacular view. The whole trip is about 7 hours. If you are in Bergen and want to go to the mountains you can take this train to Finse (where they made some scenes for Star Wars).
Lastly, I would not recommend taking taxis in Norway, only because they are so expensive. Taking a taxi from the airport to the city center of Bergen is around USD60-80 for a 20 minutes drive.
Q: What is the average rate of accommodation in your region.
Keep in mind that Norway is an expensive country and a hotel room is normally around USD100-200 per night.
Q:What would you recommend to a tourist on budget who wants a good and safe place to stay?
There are not too many hostels in Norway, and I have only been to a few, but for around USD25-40 you will stay in a decent dorm.
Q:What would you recommend for tasteful tourist who is after luxury?
Solstrand Hotel & Bad is a spa resort 40 minutes outside of Bergen. Amazing food, close to a golf course, but the best thing is the possibility to jump in the pool inside, swim through a little gate and come to the outside pool and enjoy the view of the Fjord.
Q: Cuisines! Taste buds adventures! We nomads are very excited about foreign cuisines. What, in your opinion, is a must taste for a tourist in your country?
A must-eat is the sweet “brown cheese” and of course some Norwegian salmon. For the more adventurous people, a grilled sheep head (with eyes and everything) can be an interesting dish. Also, another special dish is the “lutefisk”. It’s cod fish prepared with lye. This is a caustic alkaline solution, basically a chemical prepared dish that tastes decent if you add enough bacon.
Q:Your five top restaurants?
Eating out is quite expensive in Norway, and Norwegians normally only eat out for special occasions (like a birthday or a sunny day). For typical Norwegian food I would recommend “Bryggeloftet” or “Dickens”. For a less Norwegian menu “1877” in the meat market of Bergen is a good choice. For a travelers on a budget, “Egon” is a restaurant-chain located various places in Bergen which have a philosophy that everybody should find something they like there. You can have everything from a pizza buffet and fajitas to shrimp-soup or steak. “Zupperiet” has some of the same philosophy only with a stronger focus on soups and Asian food.
Q: What fun activities do you tell curious and adventurous tourist to do in your country?
Go hiking, fishing, skiing and go on a boat trip! One hour from Bergen there is a small city (can take the same train that goes to Oslo to get there) called Voss. Famous for its extreme sport community and you can go rafting, skydiving and whatever that get’s your adrenaline flowing.
Q: What place must we see in your country?
Alright, go to google and type in “Kjeragbolten”, “Prekestolen” and “trolltunga”. If this is not your cup of tea try “Geirangerfjorden”, “Rosendal” and “ Flåm”. If none of these get your wanderlust on, maybe Norway is not the place for you.
Q:We Nigerians love to drink and dance, where can we find the groovy night clubs?
The Norwegian drinking culture is a bit strange and might seem a bit shocking to foreigners. Alcohol is expensive, and especially in bars. Therefore we tend to drink too much before we go out, which can lead to some embarrassing scenes. Also, most people do not dance until they have had too much, which again can lead to some embarrassing scenes on the dance floor. Of course this does not go for everybody, and there are some places where one can go to dance in Bergen. “Tonga” is a little place where they normally play latin music and with a groovy atmosphere. “Vaskeriet” is a different but cool place where you can dance, play Ping-Pong or just hang out. For a typical Norwegian nightclub “Tidi” or “Zachen” might be worth checking out. “Kaos” is a bar targeting students with probably the best prices in town.
Q: Any safety tips we should know before coming down to your country?
Anywhere in Norway is, in my opinion, very safe. Cars will stop for you even though you are not a pedestrian crossing and if you lose you phone, people will most likely try to find you to give it back. However, in touristic and crowded places pick-pocketing happens. Maybe not a safety tip, but drinking alcohol in public is not allowed, so if you walk around the city drinking a beer you might have to pay USD 750 as a fine.
Q: What is a must bring, a wardrobe staple or something one must have to survive your country? (essential to pack when one is coming like a translator, a mosquito repellent etc)
If you are coming in the winter bring warm cloths! And if you come in the summer and want to hike, bring some hiking boots and a wind proof jacket. Also in the summer it might not be too warm and you might have days with 10 degrees. So keep that in mind. Anybody say raincoat/umbrella?
Hope you guys enjoyed this beautiful piece! *adds Norway list of must-see countries*