Browsing CategoryNorway

Stepping out of your comfort zone really makes you see the beauty of Norway

I am a guy that usually never sets for less than 4 stars. I like comfortable rooms and I have never slept in a hostel or a camping, but earlier this year I made bold move. I bought a tent! My family didn’t know how to react. Was I joking? Had I gone crazy?

Camping by an amazing waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Can you spot my fiancée in the photo?

Using allemannsretten – the freedom to roam

Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone and this was my way of doing it. Together with the tent, me and my girlfriend would take our own car and go on a 2-week trip around Norway. Every two nights, we slept in Clarion Collection which definitely is our favorite Scandinavian hotel brand, but the nights inbetween, we promised ourselves to put up the tent by the most amazing sights we could find along the way. What could stop us? Nothing. Putting up a tent in Scandinavia is called allemannsretten – every man’s privilege and your constitutional right, as long as you don’t litter or destroy anything that grows. Just keep out of sight for the land owners and respect their privacy. This phenomenal law allowed us to camp by waterfalls, lakes and with 360 degree views. 

Driving Trollstigen – the troll’s path with our own car – the best one there is!

So what’s the itinerary? 14 days seemed enough for us but for someone who wants to feel like they’re on a holiday as well, I’d suggest at least 20 days. Make sure to pack warm clothing as there might be vast temperature drops. Our best travel accessory was our Sudio Sweden headphones. Sleeping by a waterfall is romantic and amazing, but there will come a time when you want to shut the noise out and listen to something else. Perfect sound quality for hiking and roadtripping. 

Sudio Sweden. Use the code gentontheloose to receive 15 percent off at checkout! Now with free gift packaging and caps to their new Regent headphone collection.
Sudio Sweden. Use the code gentontheloose to receive 15 percent off at checkout on sudiosweden.com! Now with free gift packaging and caps to their new Regent headphone collection.

Driving east to west – Moss to Lysebotn

Starting off in Moss, Norway, a beautiful summer town with a nice climate, we drove west to Stavanger and nearby hiking attractions Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten, the latter which is a rock that is stuck between two other rocks. We spent our first tent night somewhere along the route without any cellphone reception whatsoever. Getting from east to west really reminded us what Norwegian climate is like. While the east side treated us with sunshine and amazing autumn temperatures around 20C, the west only offered 7 C and heavy rain, sometimes mixed with snow. As a result of the never-ending rain-and snowfalls in west Norway for the entire two weeks, we had to abort any attempts of climbing Trolltunga, Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten, but luckily there were plenty of other picturesque sights to conquer. The roads are narrow and definitely a challenge for your patience, but every bit of it is simply gorgeous.

Stalheim Hotell – a magnificent viewpoint!
Stalheim Hotell – a magnificent viewpoint!

The fjords between Stavanger and Bergen

We loved exploring the cities of Stavanger and Bergen, but stumbled upon true magic in Gudvangen and Flåm. Quiet, mystic and simply gorgeous. Both towns lie by Nærøyfjorden, which is the most narrow fjord in the world. As a result of this, the place is packed with tourists almost any time of year. But as almost everyone comes in with cruise ships, it still gives you a lot of freedom to explore the sights if you go by yourself, not with the tour buses. Don’t miss the views from Aurlandsfjellet and Stalheim Hotell.

Geiranger, as seen from our camping spot!

Geiranger and Trollstigen

Another impressive sight is Geiranger, where you will experience driving Trollstigen, the troll’s path! The serpentine roads, the waterfalls and the often very moody skies makes this a mystic paradise to explore. Geiranger is also one of the towns that are totally dependent of cruise ship tourists, so make sure to take a camping spot if you see one. The overflow of tourists makes even the every man’s privilege a hustle.

Ålesund - the Venice of the North!
Ålesund – the Venice of the North!

Ålesund – the Venice of the North

Lovers of Art Nouveau will remember Ålesund as the highlight of the trip. They don’t call it the Venice of the North for nothing. Our Clarion Collection hotel offered us a complimentary fishing rod upon check-in, if we would ever crave to catch our own fish for dinner through our window. That’s so Ålesund!

Atlanterhavsveien – a simply gorgeous Atlantic getaway!
Atlanterhavsveien – a simply gorgeous Atlantic getaway!

From west to East Atlantic Highway – Trondheim – Oslo

Through the Atlantic Highway, Atlanterhavsveien, we connected to Trondheim. The route is a fascinating drive and a must when in the area. Trondheim, a lovely and colorful town was also our last stop before heading back to Oslo.

The colorful city of Trondheim!
The colorful city of Trondheim!

The weather was so much more pleasant, with 25 degrees in september! After having spent 2 weeks in rain and an average temperature of 6 degrees, we thought getting a tan would be impossible, but we were so wrong. We enjoyed beach life on Bygdøy and chilled by Aker Brygge.

Sunset by Aker Brygge, Oslo
Sunset by Aker Brygge, Oslo

Even though we prioritized tanning this time, Oslo is a magnificent city with many impressive museums and cultural sights – a perfect way to round up a Norway visit if you fly out of Gardemoen. This time we didn’t have to take a flight. We just hit the evening traffic and were home in Sweden by sunset.

Falling commodity prices and dovish central banks have created the best travel opportunity in many, many years.

Over the last two years, oil prices have fallen 70% and the rest of the commodities are down big time. At the same time, China struggles and central banks all over the world seem to compete with who’s going to lower the interest rates the most, just to dope their own inflation.

But why writing about this on a travel blog?
Because it might be the best travel opportunity for you in many, many years!

As big capital flees from currencies connected to these countries to find safety and yield someplace else (preferably with the US dollar), some countries that were ridiculously expensive have turned amazingly affordable during the last year.

1. Norway

Kjeragkv
Me on top of Kjeragsbolten, Norway. A rock stuck between two other rocks.

Americans save 51%
Canadians save 26%
Europeans save 33%

With a plunged currency and big cuts on corporate traveling in the oil industry, oil-based Norway just waits for foreigners to fill empty hotel rooms and plane seats. And what’s best – it still is one of the safest, cleanest and most convenient countries in the world.

With amazing outdoors, state-of-the-art skiing, midnight sun and northern lights, Norway is my top pick for this year’s vacationing.

image
On top of Holmenkollen, above the clouds. Ski at Tryvann or take the sledge down Korketrekkeren.

Wintertime, don’t miss the northern lights in Tromsø, maybe the best place to spot the aurora’s on the planet because of how fast the weather changes. A couple of days in the village will guarantee at least a couple of opportunities with clear skies.

Summer or early fall, rent a car and drive to the many cliffs and fiords that you have seen so many pictures of. Trolltunga, Preikestolen and my favorite, Kjeragsbolten. Don’t forget to visit Bergen, which is the architectural heart of Norway. Bring a raincoat.

image
Vigelandsparken scultpture park in Oslo by sunset.

Oslo is a great weekend destination and a perfect stopover  if you fly to Europe or Scandinavia with Norwegian Airlines. Ski on Tryvann and don’t miss Korketrekkeren, the world’s longest toboggan run. Rent a sledge or bring your own. The subway train will take you to the top of the hill. Be careful. I broke my thumb.

2. Vienna, Austria

image
Chariots are all over the place! Love it!

Americans save 52%
Canadians save 28%
Europeans save 30%

The euro has fallen big time compared to the US dollar after the turbulence with Greece and the action of aggressive stimulations from the European Central Bank. But it has also attracted a big number of foreign travelers to, for instance, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Venice. Hotel prices have actually increased quite a lot, but these cities have also overshadowed other destinations that are equally interesting.

Me, dancing my way through Musikverein, just like they do in the ballet on New Year’s Day.

Every dandy should visit Vienna, the capital of classical music and home to the most stunning Art Nouveau architecture. Now down staggering 30% on hotel prices due to heavy oversupply. So take this opportunity to wander around the home town of Mozart for less. Make sure to attend Musikverein, as they play similar repertoire to the New Year’s concert even on other dates. The Spanish Riding school offers a unique experience with beautiful equestrian dressage, and if you’re still not tired of horses after you get out, there are chariots all over the city to take you wherever you please. You will feel like being back in the 19th century!

Vienna Ice World down by Rathausplats is a nice activity to kill the afternoon with.
Vienna Ice World down by Rathausplats is a nice activity to kill the afternoon with.

For non-Mozartophiles, The Golden Quarter offers a lot of nice upscale shopping and Schönbrunn has a great zoo. Arriving in winter? Don’t forget to visit Vienna Ice World, an amazing ice skating course with cool iced paths, alleys and bridges down by the parliament.

3. Stockholm, Sweden

Strandvägen, Stockholm.
Strandvägen, Stockholm.

Americans save 33%
Canadians save 8%
Europeans save 15%

Sweden is not a commodity-driven economy. The country is in fact doing really well, but the change of government from liberal to socialist combined with a very low inflation has caused the central bank to impose negative interest rates and sent the Swedish currency to all-time-lows. So take this opportunity to visit the most high-tech and service minded country in the western world.

With Vienna being the capital of classical music, Stockholm is probably its equivalent for Pop! Avid house music fans – make sure not to miss the Summerburst music festival. More traditional pop enthusiasts, may not leave until they have seen the Abba Museum and this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

image
Island life on Vaxholm.

To maximize your visit in Stockholm, go from late May to early August, stay in the city for a few days and treat yourself with an additional few days in the archipelago, preferably Sandhamn or Möja. Best way to go about it is by yacht, but the public transport is superb. If you’re in town for a quick stopover, just have a nice glimpse of the archipelago in Vaxholm by taking the Vaxholm ferry.

image
The Royal Palace at Gamla Stan.

Stockholm offers great waterfront lodging along beautiful Strandvägen in the very center. Go by foot and don’t miss the islands of Skeppsholmen, Djurgården and Gamla Stan with many attractions such as museums, the world-famous Skansen and the small narrow medieval alleys. Public museums in Sweden are free of charge as of 2016, which saves you another big bill for a rainy day.

4. Canada

Oh, Canada, the great outdoors!
Oh, Canada, the great outdoors!

Americans save 25%
Europeans save 1%

Make sure to pay a visit to oil-driven Canada. The country has got it all and it’s on sale now. For every season! I’m not missing out on the spring in the Oakanagan, the summer in Toronto, the fall in Banff and the winter in Whistler.

5. Australia

Hamilton Island Marina
Hamilton Island, Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Americans save 25%
Canadians overpay 2%
Europeans save 5%

Low oil prices and troubles in China have sent the Aussie dollar way down under from where it used to be. But it’s not much of a difference for Europeans. Canadians, who struggle with a weak currency themselves, would even lose a couple of cents on going there right now. But fortunately not too much.

Australia is a magical place with amazing wildlife, beautiful national parks and perfect beaches. You really should pay a visit down under if you haven’t done it before. Make sure to visit the Whitsunday Islands, but make sure to read my Ultimate guide to the Whitsundays before you go.

Vaud, Switzerland – Everything but a bargain

Nyon Castle in Vaud, Switzerland.
Nyon Castle in Vaud, Switzerland.

Everybody overpays by at least 15%.

But not everything is about the money. The little canton of Vaud north of Geneva is a beautiful sweet spot and you will have to pay the premium for time spent there, especially when you own Canadian Dollars and Swedish Crowns like we do. But we have fallen in love with the place and we can’t wait to return.

image
Overlooking Vaud from La Salève. Me, Marcy and the Instagram app.

So if you truly want to go some place, don’t mind the fact that you are a currency loser. Go, be a wise spender and smile. Soon time will change and you will be the winner.