You want to live in Norway and experience all the gorgeous sights that tourists get to see for free - or even better - while getting paid for it? It’s the end of the guiding season for me now and to say that I’m exhausted is an understatement - BUT I’m already looking forward to summer next year as I’m going to work as a tour guide in Stavanger again! And maybe you’ll be my new colleague? Here’s everything you need to know if you want to work as a tour guide in Norway!
This summer, I’ve been working as a tour guide in Stavanger and while I love answering people’s questions about the country, there were some questions I simply wasn’t prepared for! In this video, I collected 7 of the most random questions I’ve been asked about Norway over the summer, and I made sure to research their answers to share them with you :)
Whenever I tell my cruise guests that I’ve moved to Norway 4 years ago and that yes, I am permanently living in the country without any plans to ever move back to Germany, they almost always assume I did so because of love. It makes sense, right? Most people either move abroad to be with a loved one and/or because work requires them to do so. Neither of these two reasons applied to me. I first and foremost moved abroad because I wanted to. I didn’t know a single soul in Tromsø before moving there in 2014 - yet, I arrived on a very rare, sunny and warm, August evening with two overweight suitcases that held the secret to how I managed to build a life in Norway from scratch: my admission to pursue a Master’s degree at the local university.
You have decided to visit Northern Norway to experience the Northern Lights or just to escape the tourist crowds of the south and explore the true wilderness of Norway? You’ve done a bit of research and have come to the conclusion that the Lofoten Islands look gorgeous as well, but you’re not quite confident to drive a car abroad - especially not during winter? Or maybe you’d just like to combine a Nordic city trip with exploring Norway’s great outdoors? Whatever it is that puts you in the position of having to decide between Bodø and Tromsø, I’m going to give you the rundown of both cities and tell you the good, bad and ugly about them, so that hopefully, you’ll be able to make a decision in no time!
Of course, how locals deal with winter depends a lot on each individual person and where they live exactly. Having lived for 3 years in the Norwegian Arctic and (at this point) 1 year in Southern Norway, I know that perceptions about winter differ greatly throughout the north and south of Norway alone, so surely they differ a lot more across cultures. The general attitude about winter seems to differ between areas north and south of the Arctic Circle, though. While most people I know in Tromsø or Bodø in Northern Norway are either quite fond of winter or simply don’t really care about the lack of daylight much, people here in the south of the country seem to be affected a lot more. What seems to be the key in this issue isn’t the lack of daylight, though - it seems as though it’s the lack of snow!
Is autumn in full swing where you live? I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the lack of daylight and bad weather that come with autumn in Norway but I’m absolutely in love with the colours of this season! Unfortunately, it doesn’t last very long here in Stavanger. Either the leaves are blown away in a storm quite quickly or they start to rot almost immediately after falling to the ground as it rains so much here. There seems to be one place in the Nordics that does a proper Indian Summer, though: Finland! Or rather, Finnish Lapland!
One of the biggest (and least crowded) gems in itself is the region of Finnmark, stretching all the way to 71 degrees north. I was lucky to experience life in the outskirts of Europe when I did my Workaway stay in the small village of Gamvik, and still regret that I didn’t went further east to explore the Norwegian-Russian border area around Kirkenes. Therefore I was all the more excited when I was contacted by Prityazhenie, asking if I’d be interested in writing a post about the region and specifically about Pasvik Nature Reserve - a national park that actually stretches over areas of Norway, Russia and Finland, and apparently is a heaven for bird watchers! If you’d like to really explore the wilderness of Northern Norway, Pasvik Nature Reserve seems to be perfect place. Here’s why:*
Winter is approaching and you are planning a trip to Tromsø? You've maybe heard of the ice hotel in Kiruna or Kirkenes? As of last winter (2017/2018), there is also such an ice hotel near Tromsø. Initially not designed as a hotel, demand soon required the option to stay there and this should be possible from this winter onwards. Last winter I took part in an organized bus trip from Tromsø and experienced the following:
So, the other day I got this question on Instagram: “Are electric cars really a thing in Norway? I mean... it's a huge country. Do they hide a large battery somewhere in the mountains?” LOL! Well, I don’t know about the battery, though, how awesome would that be?! To be honest with you, I get this question all the time working as a tour guide. Apparently, whenever international media report about Norway nowadays, it’s either for tourism purposes or to talk about electric cars. The latter seems to have sparked quite an interest abroad:
Heia! Can I be brutally honest with you? I've lost my blogging mojo. That is I did loose it. Then I took a month off as I didn't really have time to write anyway, and now I'm getting back into it and feel as refreshed as ever! I've been thinking a lot about what I hate about the current state of blogging, lately. For instance, the fact that everyone seems to be writing for Google only, rather than for their current audience - something people still seemed to be doing back when I started this blog in 2014. Or maybe travel bloggers never did? Maybe that's just something lifestyle bloggers are very good at? But isn't blogging dying anyway?
Sweden is a place that many people appreciate due to its beautiful landscapes, medieval architecture – and overall fascinating touristic points. You have very beautiful coasts, intricate buildings with a fair amount of detail – and the feeling that you are in the countryside, even if you are in the middle of a city.
It might seem like Stavanger in summertime is full of tourists, while all the locals disappear to either their summer cabin or to Spain in search of vitamin D. However, there's actually loads going on in the city during the summer months and besides Hafrsfjordkaupangen in June, late July is a time when the entire region gathers in Stavanger again after the summer break to celebrate food at Glad Mat Food Festival and this year, also to have a look behind the scenes of the world's sailing vessels at the Tall Ships Races.
Ribe was the last place my parents and I visited when we explored Denmark together last year, but this charming small town also was the one place that impressed me most! While Aalborg was a big surprise to me and Odense is so enchanting, Ribe made me want to stay longer and explore more of Denmark's west coast! Not only is Ribe, in south-west Jutland, Denmark's oldest town, it also has plenty of present-day attractions to offer. But see it with your own eyes:
Norwegians quite simply have a different understanding of a simple hike than someone who grew up in the plains of Germany (in other words: me). Understandably so, Norwegian kids grow up hiking in the mountains while I, even after 4 years in the country, still can’t get myself to even attempt to hike Pulpit Rock - that edge just looks too scary! So, when I say “easy hikes”, I really mean it! The following 7 hikes all feature relatively flat terrain and well-maintained trails, and could probably easily be done by any Norwegian 2-year old ;) ... Well maybe not quite a 2-year old but at least, these hikes are manageable even if you’re not in best shape and/or suffer from a fear of heights! Happy hiking!
The prospect of going on yet another day trip on a really miserable, cold and rainy day during last year's Easter holidays didn't excite my parents a whole lot, to be honest. I knew, though, that they'd become much more excited when we'd eventually arrive in what turned out to be Denmark's most enchanting city: Odense! Just a 2-hour drive from Copenhagen, as well as Aarhus, and perfectly situated in the middle of Denmark, Odense makes for the perfect day trip when visiting the country.
Why you would want to stand in line (and this is no joke!) at Pulpit Rock, Trolltunga and co. when there's an entire country of over 1600 km in length to explore, is beyond me! Therefore, I've decided to put together a small selection of alternatives to the "must-sees" of Norway - for anyone who'd like to escape the summer crowds in the country and those of you, who are seeking to discover Norway like a local!
Have you ever heard of Aalborg? Granted, Denmark's fourth largest city was a mystery to me for a long time as well - until I hopped on the ferry from Oslo to Denmark and decided that if I'll pass by Aalborg on my way to Aarhus anyway, I might as well make a pit stop for a day and explore what the city has to offer. Turns out, a lot!
This post is long overdue considering the fact that I visited mainland Denmark in 2017 but better late than never. Prior to that, I'd been to Copenhagen several times but you haven't really seen a country until you venture out of its capital, right? So, that's what I did last year. I based myself and my parents for a week in Aarhus and we went on to explore Aalborg, Odense and Ribe from there. Needless to say that I got to know a different side of Denmark on this trip and learnt SO many things about the country that I didn't know before!
Stavanger is one of the oldest cities of Norway and remnants of human settlement in the area date back to the Viking Age. All the more reason to stop obsessing with Pulpit Rock for a moment and have a closer look at the city and its history itself! Often overlooked by tourists coming to visit, Stavanger actually has an abundance of Viking culture to offer - there are old gravestones with runic inscriptions, the former residence of Harald Fairhair at Utstein, and, of course, several monuments paying tribute to the Battle of Hafrsfjord. The biggest and for most people probably also most interesting attraction when it comes to experiencing Viking culture in Stavanger however, has got to be Hafrsfjordkaupangen!