But “Advent” is also the name for the period leading up to Christmas, and in Norway there are some special customs to be followed during these weeks. For instance, it’s common to light a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and then light another candle each Sunday until the big day. These candles are often left in windowsills, so they can shine out at passers-by. Driving through a town or village at night, and seeing these little lights winking at you from every house, is a truly magical experience.
Last week, we explored locally and checked out what our new home of Stavanger has to offer in terms of Christmas. Turns out, a lot! From a Christmas market of the unusual sort, to a stunning gingerbread village at the Oil Museum, to absolutely gorgeous fairy lights all over the city!Stavanger is such a lovely town and you should definitely consider visiting in winter to skip (most of) the crowds and experience the Christmas magic :)
Apart from the cosy wooden market huts, where you can buy chocolate, cured ham, smoked salmon and Christmas decorations, there is a farmer’s market with local fresh produce, delicious cheese, jam and, my personal favourite, herbed butter. There are also concerts, theatrical plays, quizzes, and mysteries. Lastly, you’ll find the most unique cafe in a huge Sami tent, a lavvo tent, where you’ll be able to enjoy special Christmas beer or hot chocolate. It’s magic!
Haugesund is a fishing town situated halfway between Bergen and Stavanger, in Karmøy municipality of Rogaland county of Norway. It's just 2-hour drive from here, making it the perfect place for a day trip! The town itself is super charming. Very similar to Stavanger when it comes to architecture, weather and views, but without all the crowds. See it for yourself in my Vlogmas video!
Lysefjorden Hiking Festival takes place in early September each year and after having lived in Stavanger for 4 weeks at that time, it seemed like a great opportunity to finally explore the famous fjord and at least get a glimpse of Preikestolen and Kjerag from the boat. It felt like a win-win situation: Heading all the way to the end of the fjord at Lysebotn (that way seeing the entire length of the fjord on the trip) and gaining insider knowledge from our local guide - what could possibly go wrong?
You might have heard it by now, but 4 months ago, I left the city of Tromsø, that was my expat home for 3 years, to move to Stavanger at the west coast of Norway - mainly because I just couldn't deal with polar night anymore!Now that I've got to know the city a bit better and have lived here for a while, I thought it was time for a little update, and, of course, for a little more insight into what life in Stavanger actually is like!
It's been 2,5 months since we moved from Tromsø to Stavanger and to be honest, I had quite a few expectations about autumn in Western Norway. I was picturing myself going chestnut picking, going for long walks in the forest and enjoying the fact that it doesn't snow in Stavanger in September.
I've been living in Stavanger for 2 months now and I keep hearing people say that Stavanger can easily be explored in a day as there "isn't much to see anyway". Now, maybe it's because I'm still in the honeymoon phase of living somewhere new but to me, Stavanger offers endless opportunities to go out and explore! I live west of the city center, in an area that's called Madla, situated at the famous Hafrsfjord. Don't worry if you haven't heard about the fjord before though - I hadn't either!
Norway isn't just like any other country in Europe, and especially its northern part is a world on its own. In the 3 years that I've lived and travelled around Norway and the Arctic, I've accumulated tons of things that have become vital for my everyday life up north. Thus, I've compiled a list of the 15 things I absolutely couldn't live without here in Norway to give you an idea what you should put on your packing list asap!
Summer in Northern Norway isn't exactly sun-bathing, ice-cream eating and swimming in the ocean for 3 months. If you're lucky you get that feeling for about a week - and if you're extremely unlucky, maybe only for 3 days. That doesn't mean that summer in Northern Norway is dull of course. As with all places, it's just what you make of it!
Visiting Svalbard was intense. At one point I found myself staring at the towering mountains across the fjord and feeling incredibly small. I can't really put the feeling into words but one thing is for sure: Svalbard is enchanting! Once visited, this place never leaves you and in all earnesty, Svalbard managed to make me want to live there.
After 5 turbulent weeks in Fauske, we've finally moved down south and if you're following me on Instagram, you already know where. Gorgeous Stavanger - the home of Preikestolen, Trolltunga, Kjerag and anything else that tourists love so much about Norway! I can't say that we've explored much just yet. Getting our flat ready and settling in took a bit longer than expected - hence the sudden blog hiatus, sorry for that! Now everything's back to normal though...
If you've been following this move, you'll know that we're spending the summer at Simon's parents' house in Fauske where we moved to with all our stuff (minus furniture) at the beginning of July. It was an Arctic road trip and a move with a view. Can't say that it was a less stressful move than anywhere else but it was a quite gorgeous one for sure!
Since announcing our decision to leave Tromsø and move to Southern Norway, I've gotten quite a few questions a la: "What happens to your blog", "What are you hoping to gain from the move", and of course, "Where are you moving to"? Therefore I've gathered them all and decided to make a Q&A video which now has all the answers!
Consisting of cake, cream and jello, this cake basically is a calorie bomb which is probably also why it's called "bestemorskake" (Grandmother's cake) in Norwegian cause let's be honest, aren't all our grandmothers trying to spoil us with hearty food all the time?It probably won't do you any good if you're still trying to fit into that tiny bikini that's been gathering dust in your wardrobe all winter but it's delicious!
Wenn Ihr genauso Skandinavien-begeistert seid wie ich, habt Ihr bestimmt schon vom NORR Magazin gehört! Die neueste Ausgabe ist seit heute auf dem Markt und Ihr wisst sicher auch schon, warum ich das erwähne - genau, weil's dort u.a. auch um Tromsø geht! Für die diesjährige Sommerausgabe des NORR, wurde ich eingeladen am Mini-Reiseführer Tromsø mitzuwirken und wurde ausserdem zu meinem Leben im hohen Norden befragt.
If you've seen my latest vlog, you might know that Norway's National Day on May 17 this year was a rather wet one in Tromso. That didn't stop us from having fun though and I brought my point and shoot camera along to take a few snaps from the parade and also shot our traditional champagne breakfast earlier that day. As a result, I was left with a few pictures that I think, summarize what 17th May in Norway is all about pretty well.
May 17th was Norway's National Day and as you might have seen on Snapchat and Instagram, we celebrated with lots of good food!I wasn't able to celebrate the day last year due to my Master's thesis so this time around, I was even more eager to join in on the fun and so we started the day with a traditional Norwegian champagne breakfast!
I guess I've become really Norwegian in the way that I have to go outside when the weather is good to soak up as much sunshine as possible - even if it's -10 degrees. With long and dark winters, you really learn to appreciate the short summers and sunny days much more and use them much better!And now that the snow starts to melt, I really can't wait to get back into hiking!
After 2,5 years of living in the Arctic and three winters spent here, it's however safe to say that I cannot spend the rest of my life in a place which doesn't get any sunlight for 2 months. And I know what you're thinking right now: but there's the Midnight Sun in summer so you'll get plenty of sunshine for the winter! Well...
Well, we're not quite rid of the snow here in Tromso yet but I just wanted to use this day to say thanks to everyone tagging me on Instagram and using #snowintromso. I got to admire some stunning pictures of Tromso in the snow this winter! So I thought it might be nice to share my favourite pictures of yours and your favourite pictures of mine this winter!
For some reason, crime novels have become really popular here in Norway during Easter so everyone buys a few before heading to the cabin. In fact, the traditional Easter Crime has become so important, that there's one printed on the side of the milk cartons. It’s a crime cartoon and people can solve the crime and send in their answers to win a prize after the holidays.
Simon was so kind to explain all and everything about polar night not long ago and while he described a few of the many things you can do here during the dark months as a tourist, I'd like to write about how we who actually live here cope with polar night. Now first things first, those who have grown up with polar night, like Simon, don't really have any issues with this time.
In case you read my post on the Northern Lights and you want to come to Tromso or just anywhere north of the Arctic Circle, you need to know something first. These regions experience something that is known as polar night during the winter. So what is polar night? Due to the angle of the earth relative to the sun, the sun will not rise above the horizon at all during the winter months in the region north of the Arctic Circle.
Being an Expat in Norway? Wonder what that's like? Is it all admiring the Northern Lights all night and seeing reindeer all day? I'm sharing the ups and downs of my second year as an expat in Northern Norway with you!
Ever wondered what life in the Arctic was like? How often can you see the Northern Lights? What is Polar Night? And does Midnight Sun mean that you can see the sun every day at midnight? Click through to read the answers!
In Norway/Tromso, many landlords want to see testimonials from former places you've lived in to make sure that you're a responsible and tidy person. This doesn't have to be a written statement, mostly it's enough to provide a phone number to your previous landlord. I admit, I definitely feel that this is a bit over the top - especially when some people require at least 3 testimonials, like how often do they expect you to move?
You know, there's cruise ships arriving with thousands of tourists in the city almost every day during summer and I'm really wondering who told them that a trip to the Arctic in June or July is a good idea. These poor people arrive here with the hope to see the Midnight Sun and sun-bathe at midnight on the ship's deck but instead they're greeted by grey skies and temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees - if they're lucky and it's not raining cats and dogs!
First of all, it's all about neutral colours: white, black or grey mixed with a few popping colours like green or yellow. Also there's lots of wood and organic elements involved. So that's basically what I was going for. Now slight setback: as newly graduates we were on a budget and even though Ikea is available in Tromso too, I didn't want the flat to look like an Ikea store.
I know, being an expat isn't always easy and moving abroad probably never is free from challenges and problems. My move was no exception to that. I had to deal with housing and finance issues and my studies were much harder and totally different from what I expected. However I think hope that I'm past the initial culture shock/depression phase now and am determined to change reality to fit my former expectations a little bit better!