Footprints in new snow
Are like dreams
Leading you back
To your childhood home.
Autumn nears its peak and the pearly pink of summer dawns give way to the misty breezes of Fall rustling through wayward harvest leaves.
People come out of their houses pulling on coats and scarves looking skywards to check for rain.
Odors of wet grass and smoke from burning dead branches and leaves scent the damp fields and escape into the half-asleep cities sighing with summer exhaustion.
Schools are abustle with children in new-term clothes, a few late-comers are still playing in the shadow-casting hedges in the gold-ripe fields, their feet flattening the wet turf into zig-zag dark trails.
For a few days still, the days are set in color against the molten good sun. The moors are softly mauved with heather and the sea is still a calm expanse of blue.
But soon, a wreath of hoarfrost will settle on the trails, finishing the year with a winter dusk stretching from November to January, bringing inside the people of the north to sit beside fires rejoicing in their dreams of another summer.
White-painted wooden houses stand on gentle slopes on the green, wildflower hills of the southern coastscape of Norway. We locals call it simply «Sørlandet» meaning “Southland”.
All around, in every nook and cranny, the greenest grass you have ever seen creep up; emerald and windswept for the three months of summer.
June brings a flush of warmth and there are daisies in every possible patch of green; beside brooks, trails and roads.
Then, later in the summer, the trees ripen and spread their leafy branches up to the doorsteps of the white houses and the villages become lighthouses in a sea of green.
Two miles down the narrow road, just out of sight of the village, lays the sea. Here the scene changes. Large, open cliffs give way to little beaches and Sea Pinks and tiny streams looking for home.
Little lost islands, much smaller than they look, without shops or schools, dot the horizon. The only thing you might find here is a mooring pole crouched behind a cluster of Sea Pinks. Centuries of use has worn it down to a rusted sunset, yet it still clings fast to the land.
Next comes the farms, buried so deep in wheat fields and strawberry patches you can only see the rooftops from the road. Surrounded by open oldtime iron gates, these farms greet you with signs of self-picking strawberries and a rusted box for change.
This, with the schools, Farmers Markets and white wooden churches surrounded by windy birches, make up the Southland. Even with a few towns strung out by the seaside, it is still a land sunk in greenery and wildflowers, spun by its inhabitants, of love and unfailing kinship.
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway. It is located on the West coast and is popularly known as “The gateway to the fjords” as it is situated in the heart of Fjord county. This means that Bergen is, especially in Summer, bustling with tourists from all over the world. Cruise ships are always docked in the harbor during the Summer months and you will almost be lucky if you hear Norwegian being spoken in the streets! 😄
Bergen is known as a university city and this was also the city where I went to university to study psychology. This was a very challenging time in my life. I had just come back from working as a volunteer in the slums and villages of India and I was mentally exhausted. I was very young and needed to be around friends, family and feel loved and safe after the challenges of being in India for so long. But I chose instead to move to a city where I had never been, all by myself without knowing anyone there.
I have always felt like going back to Bergen because I felt that I couldn’t really appreciate the city when I lived there. I was too absorbed in my own challenges and homesickness to actually see the beauty of Bergen and truly experience the city.
So this summer I made the decision to actually go through with my long awaited plans and jumped on a bus from Stavanger to the city of my college days. And I am so happy I did!
Bergen is a stunning city! Perhaps even the most exciting city in Norway. It is a lot smaller than the capital city, Oslo, but big enough to feel like you are actually in a metropolitan city with an urban culture. Yet, you will still feel its soul right away.
Bergen has a long and exciting history which you can see proof of in the beautiful architecture. It is also the home to some of Norway’s most famous cultural personalities like the composer Edvard Grieg. His house has been turned into a museum and is popular with tourists from all over the world.
Bergen is a cozy city with lot of parks scattered all over town. There is the famous City Park and the lesser known University Park. Here you will find locals soaking up the sun whenever it is out. Bergen is known by Norwegians as being the rainiest city in Norway so the sun is a very rare but welcome guest here.
Cafes, restaurants and pubs fill the streets and dot the entire harbor line. Norwegians prefer doing everything outside in summer as the weather is just too cold the rest of the year, so you will not find many people sitting inside the different eateries in the summer months.
When I lived in Bergen I loved walking around a very particular neighborhood called “Fjellveien” meaning “Mountain Street”. It is a cluster of houses hanging tight to the steep hillside from the mountain called “Fløyen” down to the harbor. This neighborhood is known for its small wooden houses painted in white, red, yellow and blue. The little lanes are always cobbled and narrow, often with stone staircases taking you to the next terrace of homes.
I love hiding away here just watching life go by. Most tourists are attracted to the famous warf and city park and few find their way to the more hidden gems of Bergen where you can breathe and really feel the soul of the city.
In Summer there are flowers everywhere in Norway. When Norwegians want to beautify a city they use flowers. And Bergen is a perfect example of this. Everything is in full bloom. It is lovely to just sit down on a park bench and smell the roses 😊.
The University Park is a lot less crowded than the City Park. It is a little oasis where you can sit by the water lily pond and rest and dream. I can’t believe this magical place is just next door to my college! And I never saw it. It says a lot about my mental state at the time.
The area around the university is filled with the colorful trace of Bergen’s rich history. Mansions from the 1800s dominate this part of the city. I can never have enough of these gorgeous houses and quiet, often empty streets, just right next to the bustling city.
I can walk here for hours just imagining life as it once was. Children of rich prominent shipping lords playing in their Sunday best while suited men smoke cigars in their luxurious sitting rooms and ladies in white dresses and parasols strolling up and down the street.
Bergen is really a magical city and it has now lent its magic to me too. I no longer get a slight cringe inside when I think of this beautiful city. It rather makes me smile! I will never forget this time in my life and how I felt because it helped make me who I am today, but now I will no longer associate that pain with Bergen, and I can rather say: I ❤️ Bergen!
Arendal is an idyllic lazy seaside town by the south coast of Norway. It is a city commercial tourism has completely neglected, but this only proves as a benefit for its laid back citizens.
Arendal is one of those towns with a very distinct soul. It is small enough to get a feel of in a day, yet diverse enough to provide a busy cultural life and lazy but happy nightlife.
The harbor is the focal point of the town. All bars, cafes and restaurants are scattered along the bay and people often move from one side of the bay to the other according to the movement of the sun to enjoy their beers or coffees.
Arendal has beautiful summer weather as it is located in the warmest part of Norway.
It also has stunning architecture, which it is also known for. Especially the little wooden houses dotted around every cobbled street and hill.
Shopping in Arendal is pure joy! It is refreshingly free of huge commercial malls and mostly consists of little quaint shops with local owners. There are also many local run art galleries and even a tiny chocolate factory!
Shipping used to be the main source of income for the town and its inhabitants. Therefore you will find boats of all kinds and sizes everywhere in Arendal. In Arendal it is more common to own a boat than a car!
You will also find sailors on holiday docking by the guest harbor contributing to the vibrant life of the town. But however vibrant, Arendal is and will probably always be,a laid back town refusing to take part in the modern jet set life.
Arendal is in many ways a perfect town. Culturally rich, friendly, full of soul and entrepreneurship. It is neither too big nor too small. You will understand its heart and learn to love it fast.
And now for the big reveal! Arendal will soon be my new hometown! That is to say, I will continue traveling between India and Norway. But when I am in Norway I will no longer live in Stavanger, but in Arendal! And I am super excited about that!
Hope you are all having a wonderful summer! 💖☀️🏄🏼♀️
Lots of love to you all! 💖💖💖
This year I am going to spend my entire summer in Norway with friends and family. I will be starting in Oslo, the capital city, move onwards to Kristiandsand, Arendal, Sirdal, and then to my home city Stavanger. I will also be spending some time in Lindesnes, Norway’s most southern tip, and Bergen, popularly called “The Gateway to the Fjords”. Bergen was also the city where I attended University, so it will be fun to see it again.
Norway is actually one of the largest countries in Europe, covering 324 219 square kilometers. Much of the country is only habitable due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. The population is around 5 million, mostly scattered around the country, but with a large number of people living in Oslo (around 600 000).
Norway is famous for its spectacular fjords and rugged coastline with mountains rising tall from the sea. This varied landscape is due to geological processes such as land rising, the Ice Age and erosion. Norway also has a rich archipelago with more than 75 000 islands scattered offshore.
The Viking era is perhaps what most people think of when they imagine Norway. The Vikings were warriors and traders, but mostly maritime explorers whose voyages took them as far as America. They terrorized the coastal communities in Northern Europe from around 793 AD to the 11th century.
The South coast of Norway is lined with white beaches and is a popular tourist spot for Norwegian tourists due to the pleasant climate. International tourist on the other hand choose to explore the more dramatic landscape of the West Coast and the much colder North.
The average temperature in summer in Norway is 22 degrees Celsius, with warmer weather in the south and colder in the North. The coldest recorded temperature in Norway is minus 51 degrees Celsius.
Oslo is a vibrant city, especially during the summer. It is centered around a harbour and is a mix of traditional timber houses and ultra-modern architecture.
Oslofjorden becomes a playground for boats and water sports during the summer.
Oslo is also the home of the royal family and plays host to most of Norway’s important buildings and offices such as the parliament building and the royal castle.
Kristiansand is the capital of the Southern region. It was founded by King Christian IV in 1641. It is the fifth largest city in Norway.
The Southern region is popularly known as the sunny side of Norway. And it truly is a summer paradise with its white-painted towns huddled next to each other along the coast and cozy harbors reminiscent of the sea-faring ways of old.
Arendal is the Southern region’s oldest town and it used to be the biggest shipping town in Norway with a large merchant fleet.
Now it is mostly known for its stunning architecture for which it was awarded the Europa Nostra conservation medal in 1992.
Stavanger is the Oil capital of Norway, but this is a title it earned in more recent times. It used to be nothing more than a fishing village known for sardine canning!
Today, Stavanger is the fourth largest city in Norway with around 110 000 inhabitants. It is situated between the flat countryside called “Jæren» and “Boknafjorden”.
Old Stavanger is the idyllic old city situated just on the harbor. Here there are beautiful white-painted timber houses with small front gardens and picket fences.
These houses used to be the homes of seafarers and local workers. They are still used as private homes by modern-day owners and are extremely well cared for.
In Stavanger you will also the historic Stavanger Cathedral dating from around 1100. The cathedral was dedicated to St. Svithun, who thus became the patron saint of Stavanger.
Sirdal is a mountain range situated between the interior of the Southern region and the Western region. It is a popular holiday destination for Norwegians, especially in winter as there are excellent skiing facilities, but it is also beautiful in summer.
Many Norwegians invest in second homes in Sirdal, these chalices are often constructed in the traditional style of bygone days.
Many people forget that Norway is a vast country. The distance from Oslo to the North Cape is the same as from Oslo to Rome! But thankfully the connectivity is good with train connections extending as far as Bodø, just north of the arctic circle, and a comprehensive ferry network crisscrossing along fjords and islands. This makes it easy for carless people like myself to travel all over the country, and I am very much looking forward to do just that this summer!