“What the heck is going on here in Norway?” you ask.
Some reflections of an exploration… (in no certain order)
- Let’s get this one out of the way—Is it expensive? Yes.
But was much cheaper flying here (about 16 hours total) during this week than to Japan, only 2.5 hour flight from where I live.
And my AirBNB apartment & host are wonderful. Rose makes me up a large vegan breakfast every morning and total cost there is like $80 a night, just a bit over a mile from the city center.
- Locals are genuinely friendly people. Very relaxed, very polite, very quiet. No loud music or talking anywhere, really. Vehicles have stopped to allow me to cross streets. They ask how my food was, make small talk, are helpful with directions. They remind me of Americans in these ways.
- The air quality and water purity are nearly unparalleled (giving New Zealand a run for its money). [current AQI in Norway’s second largest city: 12]
- All universities in Norway are FREE—excepting an approx. $200-300 USD registration payment each semester. Even then, the government responds with a living stipend for each student. University of Bergen’s campus up the hill is full of beautifully maintained historic buildings. The University Museum is free and the Maritime Museum next door (highly recommended) is free if you have a Bergen Card.
- For a city with a metro population of around 420,000, there is a surprisingly large number of museums. Thus far, I’ve visited Hakons Hall—a medieval castle, the Maritime Museum and the Byrrgen Museum—local history very well preserved and displayed.
- I must constantly check opening & closing hours for…every place. A big bookstore downtown not open Sundays. A university library which closes at 3pm. Restaurants which close at 6pm. Art museums and a veg place closed Mondays. A vegan burger joint—one of the best burgers I’ve ever had—open Sunday, not to open again until Wednesday.
Check those hours!
- There’s more diversity here than expected. Large population of Ethiopian/Eritrean folks. A bunch of Thai restaurants. Vietnamese restaurants, Greek, various other ethnic spots around town.
- Socialism! Run! Watch out! Norway is a truly Social Democratic country whose major branches of government are all nationalized, as decided by the people decades before. Hospitals, universities…must ask my host about the others, all run by the government.
The people decided (socialism! democracy!) the major spoils of capitalism as produced by workers should be more evenly divided—among the workers, thereby helping ensure a far more equitable society than that existing in many nations.
- Mt. Floyen is a wonderfully tough run. There’s snow at the top in April and views of deep blue & turquoise sky above. Once back down, stop off at Godt Brod for vegan cappuccino & cinnamon roll (they don’t give a heating option for the roll but such is life.)