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From coast to coast as the crow flies Norway is a mere 340 miles from the U.K, four miles further than the journey from Glasgow to London, yet the difference in both landscape and culture is phenomenal. The journey from Lancaster to various parts of Norway is one I have made several times and each time the experience has been similar. Flying from Heathrow to Oslo on a fairly quiet flight I sat next to a man in his late fifties, in the usual flight etiquette of the British we did not speak a word to each other. He had the window seat and had obviously made a point of getting there before everyone else to make sure there was absolutely no chance of conversation should he have to ask someone to let him into his seat or ask them to move out of it. For two hours we sat next to each other not speaking a word. He did fall asleep for a short while, which I took as an opportunity to stop drawing the stewardess who was obviously becoming concerned with my quick glances and fast scribbles in her direction and started to draw him instead. I had a plane switch at Oslo airport to continue on my journey to Tromsø. On my second plane, once again a very quiet flight with very few people, I ended up sat next to a Norwegian man in his late twenties. Within about three minutes of being on the two and a half hour flight he had helped me lift my bag into the overhead compartment, taught me how to say “Do you speak English” in Norwegian as well as helping me with some other Norwegian grammar issues I was worried about, shown me a photo of his young son and we both knew what each other did for a living. This man, who’s name was Gêar, even explained to me, after guessing from my accent that I was from the North of England, that like in England Norway have the North South divide. In his words the south has more ‘serious’ people while the people in the north are a lot more relaxed and fun.
This is the one of many differences in the culture and general attitude towards people I have found on my trips to Norway. There is of course the food, the music and to some extent the clothes, I must say this difference is more noticeable in arctic Norway than in the south.
Norway offers a huge variety of experiences across the country; in Oslo you can experience the city life, art galleries, buildings, royal places, resturants and nightlife that make it an exciting and beautiful capital. Further north that in the center of the coastline is Trondheim. A city built on stilted houses and buildings sitting just about the waterlines with fascinating architecture and beautiful mountainous surroundings. Further north still in the Arctic Circle, right at the highest point of the County is the Paris of the arctic, Tromsø. In the summer the sun never sets, herd of reindeer mill on the mountainsides and whales swim not far of the coastline. In the winter the sun never rises and ground freezes to create a stunning landscape and a cold that is almost pleasant in its presence. The Northern lights fill the sky at night in the most spectacular natural wonder you can wish to see.
It is hard to believe that such a difference can exist so close to the country we live in in terms of natural wonder and culture, and I think this is why it is often forgotten about on the ‘must see’ list. I would leave you on the note of, this is a place you must visit at least once in your life, but that would be a lie. Each part of Norway has something different to offer and with each season, it has something different. This is a county you shouldn’t just visit once. This is a county you should explore to the full, come back at another time and do it all over again.