Life is busy for most of us. Overloaded schedules and apps designed to give us a constant stream of dopamine can lead to stress and anxiety that have us questioning if we are living life in the best way. Constantly questioning ourselves is a recipe for angst. Some people turn to pharmaceuticals or even illicit drugs to help alleviate that angst. Others turn to mindless activities that allow them to check out of reality for a little while through an artificial environment.
But what if you want to escape to the wilds to unwind and re-ground yourself?
There are thousands of places to visit in this world that offer peace via the outdoors. Why not travel to the land of the Nobel Peace Prize and experience the stunning beauty that is Norway?
Norway is a land of many facets, and the weather and environment provide the opportunity to experience the long darkness and cold of winter, as well as the reward of a stunning summer filled with long hours of sunlight and warm temps.
The land has been thoroughly carved by glaciers of eras both old and current. This provides a very welcome playground for boating enthusiasts, with fjords sporting water ranging in color from emerald green to indigo blue. The depths of the waterways that traverse the Norwegian side of the Scandinavian Peninsula range from as deep as 4,200 feet, and almost all are deeper than visitors would expect.
The adjoining cliffs and mountains serve as a stark juxtaposition between depth and height, almost serving as lines of perspective that force the eye to follow the fjord into the distance, watching as the high reaches of the shorelines shrink and swallow up the point where the water disappears on the horizon. These blunt and sheer cliffs also offer amazing viewpoints for those willing to hike to the tops of the rock formations.
The limited time to enjoy the summer and the extended time to enjoy the winter breed hearty people who believe in getting out into the outdoors and enjoying it for all it is worth. The Norwegian people are very well known for famous alpinists and explorers, and trips to the ski slopes are as common as trips to the fjords for summer vacation.
The general attitude of Norwegians is one of friendliness but also, self-reliance. This lends perfectly to their rule of “right of access”, which means that as long as you don’t encroach upon other homes or campers and you take care of the land and leave it better than how you found it, you are permitted to strike a camp wherever you please. Of course, there are some exceptions to that rule, but overall the ability to hike and camp as you please is a welcome opposite to the general American view of permits and permissions required at all times.
Where you travel to in Norway is the factor that will most determine what sort of mood you may find yourself in. As a country with a population that mostly speaks English in addition to their native language, getting around the country can be surprisingly easy to navigate. The further you get from the major population centers, the more likely you are to encounter an issue with language being a barrier. Learning at least some basics in Norwegian will tend to ingratiate you at least a bit to your hosts.
The Norwegians have a common word for happiness related to the outdoors. That word is firluftsliv — or “outdoor life” — and is a type of philosophy for the people of Norway. In general, it means to get out and enjoy the outdoors, regardless of climate, age, or activity. The word is a reminder to unplug and center yourself.
Norway is an excellent place to visit for experiencing new vistas and perhaps getting some inspiration from a culture that appreciates the need to get out and go wild just as much as the need to live within the modern world. While it can be a little expensive for Americans, the recent exchange rate between US Dollars and Norwegian Kroner has made it cheaper than ever for Americans to make the trip without taking out a loan.
Regardless of the cost, make Norway a destination to visit and explore.Photo by Adam Edgerton on Unsplash