My Scandi adventures came to a close and I ended my time in Norway, with just one tiny last night in Copenhagen before leaving for the airport at 6am. My last two posts were dedicated to Denmark and Sweden. You can read about them by clicking on the underlined countries ( a new window will open with the link).
I have often been asked which country was my favorite, and that is a hard question to answer. I have liked different parts from each place. Outside of Oslo in Norway was the most scenic. I lean more towards country settings, so I really enjoyed the views from Lillehammer and Bergen.
In my last blog post about Sweden, I mentioned there were issues with the train from Stockholm to Oslo. We did have a delay that put us behind schedule for over two hours. Unfortunately, we missed our tour of the Ibsen museum, which I was a little down about, but we met our awesome tour guide Embla and went on to dinner that night.
Our first real day in Norway was spent on a day trip to Lillehammer. It was a three-hour bus ride to check out Maihaugen, the open-air museum. Inside the museum was a death exhibit and an exhibit about Norway’s history, including information about constitution day. Behind the museum was a walk through of houses from different eras. It was like literally stepping into another decade and time traveling back a hundred years. We were extremely lucky with the weather once again, so it was a day nice to walk around outside.
After stopping for lunch, we traveled onward to Sigrid Undset’s house. A wonderful house full of books (about 10,000 volumes) and an inspiring environment created by such an amazing author. Undset won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928. If I lived in a charming house like hers, I would never leave. The tour of Sigrid Undset’s house was by far my favorite of the entire trip. She was an opinionated superstar of a woman and talented writer.
On Thursday, May 17th, we joined in with the rest of Oslo in celebrating Norway’s constitution day. Ironically, this was not the day that the country became independent. On May 17th, 1814 Norway broke away from Denmark and joined up with Sweden. The alliance with Sweden was a much happier one than the one with Denmark, and this is why the day is celebrated. It wasn’t until 1905 that Norway became its own country.
Constitution day consisted of a gathering near the Royal Palace to watch the Children’s Parade. We were able to see the Royal family before the parade started. All the children in Oslo march in the parade according to which school they attend. There are parades that happen all over the country, much like how it is on July 4th for us, and the children are grouped by schools in the cities where the schools are located.
Another unique thing about constitution day is that it isn’t uncommon to see Norway citizens dressed up in traditional suits and dresses to commemorate the day. For a more modern look, some wear nice dresses and suits (something we would wear as Sunday’s best for church). It was interesting to see many people dressed up in outfits that were worn years ago. I caught myself thinking how cool it would be if we preserved history and wore colonial outfits for the 4th of July, but then I realized how hot and miserable that would be for everyone. Good idea in theory, but I think I’ll stick with my blue tank top and white shorts with little American flags on them.
The next day we left darling Oslo to drive on to Bergen. It was an eight-hour drive by coach bus, but we broke it up by stopping for lunch. We had a few hours to kill before dinner time once we finally arrived in Bergen. Embla told us that the city was founded in 1070! My roomie, Meagan, and I meandered along the cute streets of Bergen. Tulips were everywhere, and we enjoyed stopping for photo ops in the park area.
Our last full day in Scandi was Saturday. It was the busiest day ever since we had to be packed up and checked out of the hotel by 9am in order to catch our fjord cruise. The cruise lasted three hours, and the sight alone was like a dream. After it was over (far too soon in my opinion), we rushed to the airport to catch a flight to Copenhagen for one last night and farewell meal.
Toasts were made: to my professors, to my class, to our coordinators/ tour guides, to Scandinavia, and to the forever memories. No one cried, but we were all sad to say goodbye to such a gorgeous place. We closed out the night by all grabbing ice cream at the shop across from our hotel by the canal. Meagan and I lucked out and had a view of the water from our hotel room. It was a perfect night to end such a phenomenal trip.
Our trip home started at 5:30am: breakfast, checked out, and out the door onto the bus to ride to the airport. With a flight to Munich, and then Munich to Charlotte, we spent almost eleven hours total on a plane in one day. There may be no place like Norway, but nothing compares to walking off a plane into arms of your loved ones, especially when you are six hours ahead and beyond tired. I slept so good when I got home that night.
Even in moments of complete exhaustion while on my trip, I was still grateful for the opportunity to be in Scandinavia. When I was missing home too much, I reminded myself that two weeks fly by fast. And they did. It’s hard to believe that it’s now all over and only a memory.