August 28, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Norway

I can’t believe it is already Tuesday this week flew by and now more than ever I am in  need of a vacation. Today’s Travel Tuesday has special meaning to me as I am of Norwegian Descent.  Although I have never traveled there, I hope I get a chance in my lifetime and when I do I hope to learn a little more about my heritage as I still have relatives living there.  It was to hard to pick just one section of Norway so I chose 8 areas of Norway I would like to visit.  First is  Tromso, oh what I wouldn’t give to see the northern lights from Tromso.


The most popular destination in northern Norway is the city of Tromso. Known as the capital of the Arctic, this historic city is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, fjords, and green islands. Some of Norway’s most spectacular landscapes are found at this high latitude, and the Gulf Stream provides milder temperatures than many visitors might expect. Tromso travel isn’t bringing you to the ends of the earth; though the city is located more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it is home to a lively cultural scene and active nightlife. Many visitors arrive simply to see the famous Northern Lights and are surprised by everything else the city has to offer.
The Northern Lights in Tromso are spectacular, and the city is known as one of the best places on Earth to observe them. It is recommended to leave the center of town for a dark location if you want to see this unique sight at its finest. The best months to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are October, February, and March. The Northern Lights in Tromso can appear in frequency between 6 pm and 1 am, though there is no guarantee that visitors will see the phenomenon during a trip to Norway, as weather and solar winds might be prohibitive. There are many tours that specialize in seeing the Northern Lights in Tromso, and they often combine other activities such as dog sledding and snowmobile rides.
Compared to other locations north of the Arctic Circle, Tromso travel is a breeze. Tromso Airport Langnes is only a two-hour flight from the capital city of Oslo. There can be up to ten flights a day on this popular route. If you’re looking to fly to Tromso directly from elsewhere in Europe, flights from London Stansted and Stockholm are also available. Many Norwegian cruises reach the northern city of Tromso as well. While it is extremely far north, visitors will find the landscapes and the opportunity to see the northern lights to be a rewarding experience and well worth the journey.
Tromso experiences the extreme of seasons, which can be an attraction in itself. The midnight sun can be seen from the end of May through the end of July and is a disorienting but interesting experience for travelers who have never been this far north. Between the end of November and the end of January, polar nights are experienced, and the strange light and color of the sky is striking. Despite these extreme conditions, locals in the city are known for being light-hearted and humorous, forming the foundation of the fun atmosphere at local restaurants, pubs, and the many hotels in Tromso.
One attraction that is not nature-based is Ishavskatedralen, the Arctic Cathedral, whose eleven spires represent the apostles left after the betrayal of Jesus. Tromso travel usually includes a visit to this popular attraction, which is the northernmost cathedral in the world. This building is the city's most recognizable landmark. Other attractions include a cable car that rises nearly 1,400 feet above sea level, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and waterways. Lucky visitors have gotten to see the Northern Lights from the cable car as well. An arctic aquarium is a popular draw for families with children, and fresh fish from the Arctic Sea is another pleasure of traveling this far north into Norway.


Fueled by oil money from the "black gold" of the North Sea, Oslo today is permeated with a Nordic joie de vivre in contrast to its staid, dull reputation of yesteryear.
Along with population growth, urban sprawl has come to Oslo. But Oslo still manages, in spite of its growing numbers, to have more green belts than any other European capital. There are still virgin forests in Oslo and hundreds of hiking trails that lead you to fjords or mountains.
No slouch in the cultural department, either, Oslo has some of the greatest museums in all of northern Europe. The only problem is that Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Proceed with caution if you're on a strict budget.
Oslo was founded in the mid-11th century by a Viking king and became the capital around 1300 under Haakon V. In the course of its history, the city burned down several times; fire destroyed it in 1624. The master builder Christian IV, king of Denmark and Norway, ordered the town rebuilt near the Akershus Castle. He named the new town Christiania (after himself), its official name until 1924, when the city reverted to its former name.
In 1814, Norway separated from Denmark and united with Sweden, a union that lasted until 1905. During that period, the Royal Palace, the House of Parliament, the old university, the National Theater, and the National Gallery were built.
After World War II, Oslo grew to 454 sq. km (177 sq. miles); it now has 530,000 inhabitants. That makes it one of the largest of world capitals in acreage -- not in population.
Oslo is also one of Europe's most heavily forested cities, and its citizens relish this standing. Oslovians love nature in both summer and winter. When the winter snows fall, they bundle up and take to their nearby ski slopes. During their brief summer, they're quick to shed their clothes and head to the pine-covered hills in the north for long hikes and picnics, or else for sails on the blue waters of Oslofjord to the south. After a long winter slumber, the fjord suddenly becomes clogged with hundreds of sailboats, motorboats, and windsurfers, and dozens of sunbathers stripped down on the rocks, taking in the few precious days of summer sun Oslovians are granted.


Alesund is both a municipality and a city, located on the North-Western coast of Norway. The Ålesund municipality has a population of 43.000. The coastal town of Ålesund is, for many, just as beautiful as Bergen, if on a much smaller scale, and it’s certainly far less touristy. After the sweeping fire of 23 January 1904, which left 10, 000 residents homeless, the German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II sent shiploads of provisions and building materials and Ålesund was rebuilt in record time. Teams of young, committed Norwegian architects, trained for the most part in Germany, designed the town in the characteristic Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) style of the time, while bringing to the movement traditional local motifs and ornamentation. Buildings graced with turrets, spires and gargoyles sprout throughout town. The best examples are along Apotekergata, Kirkegata, Øwregata, Løvenvoldgata and, especially, Kongensgata.
Ålesund is on a narrow, fishhook-shaped sea-bound peninsula. So tightly packed is the town centre that expansion would be impossible; today most of the townspeople live scattered across nearby islands and peninsulas.


With about 120,000 people, Stavanger is Norway’s fourth-largest city and a fascinating mix of old and new. Its history stretches back deep into the Middle Ages and Stavanger area has a preserved Iron Age Farm,which is a historic reminder of the Viking era . Stavanger was once a tranquil coastal market town and then later an important fishing port and has one of the world's deepest undersea road tunnels. But it was the 1969 discovery of oil offshore that forever changed the now bustling city’s fortunes and landscape and Stavanger is now Norway's oil capital. Stavanger is home to the well-preserved old town (Gamle Stavanger), the unique Canning Museum, the modern innovative Oil Museum, and the 12th-century Stavanger Cathedral. It has also been the non-EU European Capital of Culture since 2008.


The City of Jazz and Roses. Western Norway's Moldefjord is home to a town of the same name, which was established during the 15th century. Much of what visitors see today are modern structures, though some old wooden Romsdal houses were preserved and are now on display at the city's open-air museum. Hjertøya Island is located in the fjord outside Molde, and there is a remarkable view of the city, as well as the 87 peaks of the Romsdalen Alps. Molde in the summer is idyllic, full of roses and jazz-music, and one of the most popular arrivals of the Coastal Voyage, the Hurtigruten.  This is the administrative centre of Møre and Romsdal county, and the residence of the Bishop of Møre.  The climate is a maritime temperate, with rather chilly summers and mild winters. The Coat of Arms for Molde town and municipality has a history back to 1742, and shows a whale chasing herrings into a barrel. The town has never been a whaling port, and the sign is supposed to symbolize the good omen of whales, as they on certain times of the year chased lots of herrings from the ocean and into the Norwegian fjords.  Approaching Molde with the ferry from Vestnes, the view is quite amazing, and this is the same view you get when arriving here with the Hurtigruten, or a Cruise ship. Coming closer you can see the Rica Seilet Hotel, and the Aker Football Stadium (soccer). The team from the local football club is playing in the top league in Norway, and the stadium has seats for 11.000 people in a town of 25.000 inhabitants. Molde Football Club is winner of the Top League in Norway in 2011. Actually the same year that the club is celebrating it's 100 years anniversary. Both official parks and private gardens has impressing lots of roses of all kinds, and is know as the City of Roses. 25.035 inhabitants (confirmed Oct.1, 2010) is living in the town and the close surroundings. Molde has its own airport, and the Hurtigruten is visiting Molde Harbour every day, both the south-going and the north-going ship. There is one main church, built just after WW-II, as the old wooden church was bombed during the war. The city was damaged from massive bombing of the German Air Force, and most buildings are build after 1945. Molde was also destroyed by a huge fire in 1916, when 1/3 of the buildings burned down, and during the 2. World War almost 2/3 of the town was bombed and burned by the Germans.  The streets are quite narrow, and compared with most other European citys, and many Norwegian towns too, Molde is very small one. Molde homes the Bjørnson House, which is a culture hall for concerts and theatre, and is named after the famous Norwegian author and poet, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. There is one main street, the Storgata in Norwegian language. The Alexandra Hotel is located on main street, beautifully situated in the centre of the town with an excellent view over the fjord.  Hotel Alexandra offer a total of 163 refurbished rooms, including 120 with a southwards-facing balcony. In addition to a swimming pool on the 7th floor, the hotel also have a sauna, solarium and a fitness room. Quality Hotel Alexandra is the festival hotel for the Jazz festival and the Bjørnson festival, and the guest list often includes major acts. Just across the street you find the Coastal Express arriving every evening.  In the summertime both the south-going and the north-going Hurtigruten are visiting here at the same time in the evening.                     


Originally, Høvringen was a community of summer mountain pastures ("seter" in Norwegian) used by farmers from the villages further down. The first tourists came to Høvringen as early as the 1880s, and even though it has now developed into a modern tourist resort, the animal life is still rich and high standards and good service are combined with preservation of the culture and tradition of the old "seter" farms. Høvringen and Rondane have left their mark in Norwegian cultural history. On his journey through the valley of Gudbrandsdalen, P.Chr. Asbjørnsen, well known for his compilations of old Norwegian legends and fairy-tales, stayed in Høvringen in 1842. His stay formed the basis for the story of a local legend, Peer Gynt, who came upon trolls and terrifying monsters in Rondane. Asbjørnsen's fairy-tale Reindeer hunt at Rondane 20 years later created the basis for Henrik Ibsen's drama, Peer Gynt.  In The Bridal Wreath, the first part of Sigrid Undset's trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter, the young protagonist, Kristin, is allowed to accompany her father up into the mountains. Here, Høvringen is depicted with an atmosphere of great legend and superstition. It's no exaggeration to say that Kristin was very impressed by her first sight of Høvringen and the Rondane mountain range: "Kristin gazed with great eyes- never before had she dreamed that the world was so big and wide. Forest-shagged ranges lay below her on all sides; the valley was but a cleft betwixt the huge fells, and the side-glens still lesser clefts; there were many such, yet was there little of dale and much of fell. All around grey peaks, flaming with golden lichen, rose above the sea of forest, and far off, on the very brink of heaven, stood blue crests flashing here and there with snow, and melting, before their eyes, into the grey-blue and pure white summer clouds. But north-eastwards, nearer by- just beyond the sæter woods- lay a cluster of mighty slate-coloured domes with streaks of new-fallen snow down their slopes."
Writer Åsmund Olavsson Vinje gave Rondane a central position in his poetic travelogue Ferdaminne. His poem Ved Rondane was later set to music by Edvard Grieg, who also wrote music for Ibsen's play. Painters Erik Werenskiold, Hans Gude and not least Harald Solberg have all found motives in Rondane for their works. Solberg's A winter's night in Rondane has been voted the national painting of Norway


Alta muncipality has the largest population in the county with approximately 19.100 inhabitants and covers a area of 3.849,4 km2. It is a fjord municipality with expansive hinterland, and a typical inland climate. Excellent conditions for outdoor pursuits with the Altaelva river as the main attraction.  Alta has commerce and service, mining, agriculture, fishing, and is among Northern Norway´s largest centers for education and research. Finnmark College is located here.  Alta is home to many attractions including the Ata Igloo Hotel. The world´s northernmost icehotel lies 15 km from Alta center. The hotel covers a area of 1.600 m2. Everything in the hotel is made of snow and ice. The Alta Igloo Hotel has 20 rooms and 50 beds, the hotel is decorated with ice sculptures.  The inside of the hotel is always minus 4 - 7 degrees, but to make your stay pleasant you get reindeerskin and a sleeping bag. Alta is also known for its Quartz, Hjemmeluft,  Sautso,  Blubben, midnight sun, Northern Lights, fishing, polar nights, and the Alta Museam.  Quartz is extracted at Tana and Alta and is sold on the international market. The county also has quantities of gold and copper. Hjemmeluft are prehistoric rock drawings. Approximately 2.500 - 6.200 years old. Sautso is in Alta-elva and is Northern Europe's largets canyon. Walks, riverboat and bus trips. Observation room in the mountain at the dam. The room is encased in the mountainside above the 110 metres high dam. Blubben is the furthest river in the Bognelvdal valley in Langfjordbotn. At the Western end of Finnmark County, a great river emerges from the ground. The source has been nicknamed "Blubben", (refers to the sound made by the waters) and has been a tourist attraction since the 18th century.  The Alta Museam is home to Halddetoppen. Kåfjord - the world's first Northern Lights Observatory. 2 of the three buildings have been restored. The Haldde observatory is available for hire.  The Midnight Sun stays above the horizon, and it is light 24 hours a day. The sky must be clear and there must be unobstructed visibility northwards in order to see the Midnight Sun. A summer night on the fjord or in the mountains is an experience not to be missed, you can go fishing in the fjord, which contains splendid variation of fish, or you can take a walk in the wilderness surrounding.  Aurora Borealis is the Latin name for the Northern Lights – solar winds that meet the atmosphere in a zone around the magnetic North Pole. The Northern Lights are only visible when the sky is dark and clear, from August to April, and they are most intense from 10 pm to midnight. The region on the 700 northern latitude is a fantastic place for experiencing the beautiful and intense play of colours given off by the Northern Lights.  The dark time, or the long, dark Polar Night, lasts from 30th November - 12th January - there is only a twilight-dusk type of light (the blue light) for a few hours during the middle of the day. This does not mean that it becomes totally dark, however. The aurora borealis trails its multicoloured banner across the sky and the moon lights the scene just like the nightlight of Our Lord. The experience of the winter with the uniqueness of the light, the northern lights and snow is fantastic. Especially beautiful is the blue light southwards, just before it becomes dark.  Alta has hundreds of lakes to fish in. Recommended are: Altaelva river: Salmon, sea trout and Arctic trout. Bognelva river: Sea trout. Eibyelva river: Salmon, sea trout, Arctic trout. Lakselva river (Kviby): Salmon, sea trout and Arctic trout. Mathiselva river: Salmon and sea trout. Transfarelva river: Sea trout. Tverrelva river: Sea trout.


Svalbard’s only town – indeed, only centre with more than a handful of inhabitants – Longyearbyen (literally the ‘LongYear Town’) is these days a base for tourism. But its gritty coal-mining roots still show through, commemorated in the statue of a grizzled miner and his pick near the Lompensenteret. For decades, Store Norsk, owner of the pits, possessed the communal mess, company shop, transport in and out, and almost the miners’ souls. Then in 1976 the Norwegian state stepped in to bale the company out from bankruptcy. Today, most of the few people that live here year-round enjoy one-year tax-free contracts. The modern town, fringed by abandoned mining detritus, enjoys a superb backdrop including two glacier tongues, Longyearbreen and Lars Hjertabreen. Construction here takes into account the harsh Arctic climate; most structures are built on pilings to prevent heated buildings from melting the permafrost that’s never more than a metre deep, then simply sinking into it. The heavily insulated plumbing pipes also run above ground. Reflecting the days when miners would remove their coal-dust-encrusted boots at the threshold, local decorum still dictates that people take off their shoes upon entering most buildings in town. Exceptions include the ­majority of shops and places to eat.

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