It was a dream come true, when I could reach Norway for my first country in Europe. I have no idea how I could go that far with sudden plan and less than 3 months preparation, including money and air fare ticket. It needed courage to convince my parent for my solo traveling, it required extra power to find money, and it spend double brain to prepare the trip while worked on my final thesis in my last year. But finally, hard works paid off. I departed from Jakarta to Oslo on February 2015.
Norway definitely is a country that always be missed. After I come back on March, the beauty of Norway still on my mind. Although it was hardly winter but there were so many things in Norway to be enjoyed and remembered. The ambiance, culture, people, all were totally different compared to Asia, especially Indonesia. I come to experience things that people describe as #YOLO (You Only Live Once) — the moment when you decided to experience something that might never happen to you again in future. Here are that #YOLO moments that I’ve experienced in Norway, things that made me hard to move on until now!
1. Hunting Northern Light, Aurora Borealis in Bodø
Traveling to Norway on winter is definitely means that you should go for The Northern Light hunt! Since the beginning, Aurora Borealis was on my MUST TO DO list above all. It’s very hard to predict this beautiful dancing light but I really gambled for everything to see it once in my life (hope to see it again!). In order to see it, I have to choose one of best city that have a good forcast to be passed by this light, the northest you go, the better. Best city among all is actually Tromsø but calculating all my budget and very little time, I could only reach Bodø. Thus, I put all of my hope for one night travel to that city.
It’s already evening when I arrived at Bodø and I got perfect spot up in the hill. Night comes as well as worries since the aurora wasn’t on schedule with the forecast. All I could see was a dark sky with bright moon. But at around 3.00am in the morning, the dancing green light was on the sky!
2. Passing Through Arctic Circle with Norland Railway (From Oslo to Bodø)
Limited budget lead me to take the famous Norland railway with 729km long way to travel in 17hours. I took a NSB train (the best train in town) from Oslo to Bodø by paying 498 Norwegian Crone or around IDR 800.000. My suggestion is to buy it via online with payment using credit card and print the ticket out. Things that should be remember to get cheaper price is by book it at least 1 month before and claimed as student to get discount.
The journey was long and taking so much time. But as the train left the city, I started to think that this was best decision I’ve ever made because I could enjoy the stunning Norwegian scenery town to town! The most memorable scene was when the train conductor let the passengers know that we were going pass through Arctic Circle marked by the Arctic Circle Center. Dude, I passed the most northerly circles on the earth! Who can’t be more excited? (especially because I live at the other South circle). It felt like “yeeaaaaaaah!”
3. Living with local people and experience the Norwegian life
During my travel in Norway, I stayed with two host family not even in a hotel. I met one family in Bodø via couchsurfing while the other one in Trondheim handled by ISFiT committees. Both family treated me so well, even though we haven’t meet each other before. I got to experience the real Norwegian life with real Norwegian people, from living together in their house, eating what they eat, spending evening before bedtime in the family room, chit-chating like family, snacking and drinking wine, even having a short trip for holiday together. They’re amazing.
4. Staying at a Nordic vintage style house with incredible view
Both house where I stay was totally amazing. In Bodø I luckily stay at the top of the hill where I can clearly see the beauty of city from the top. The scenery from the house was stunning. City landscape with sea and snowy mountains welcomed me during the day while at night I had my dinner with beautiful scenery of full moon and city light. The house also designed very nice and very cozy, just like that vintage house in the movie! They even have a small working room at the third floor and I was imagining how productive I would be to write my blog at the desk facing to the city view. On the living room, they even turned on candles and fireplace, it was so romantic. Definitely a dream house to be. But too bad, I lost the photo on my broken Samsung phone! 🙁 I could only gave you the scenery, pardon.
While in Trondheim, I live in Spongdal around 40 minutes from the city center by bus, a house of family with three kids and a big cat named Tiger. I stayed with them quite long, for almost 2 weeks and really enjoyed every moment. Here is my room, located in the ground floor and it was very warm. See the window on the left side? If I opened it, I could touch the ground outside. Every evening, tiger will find his way to this window and singing out loud, clawing here and there — a sign for us to let him in.
5. Eating Norwegian waffle and brown cheese!
Waffle and cheese? Seriously?
I’m not kidding guys. This is a must, totally a must. I didn’t know what spell they did on the waffle but I and my friends who come from outside Norway has fallen in love deeply with that addicted Norwegian sweets. My host family during my 11 days staying at Trondheim cooked me this waffle on my first day at the house and I couldn’t be more proud to tell the others about that! It’s like winning a world record championship titled the first person who eat Norwegian waffle as arrived in Trondheim. And not to be forgotten is brown cheese! You can only find this cheese in Norwegian and tasted like heaven. Don’t forget to cut it by using Norwegian cheese peeler!
6. Enjoying Norwegian Student Life in Trondheim
Trondheim is well known as a student city in Norway. Once in two years, the universities in Trondheim will held ISFiT or International Student Festival in Trondheim — claimed as the biggest student festival in the world. And here I was, representing Indonesian for this event. During 11 day of the festival, we gathered everyday in what we called Hogwarts which is actually Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Oh gosh, is that university? For real? It’s just too beautiful to become ones.
Norwegian didn’t have big heavy meal for lunch, they usually only have typically sandwich or wrap. And it’s cold. And for that I was craving a warm proper food so much during the day. After our workshop, we had to canteen for dinner and thanks God food here was always delicious (although we couldn’t have another plates).
Evening means it’s time to gather at student hall or so called Samfundet. Every day there will be some activities inside the building, either usual group gathering, other public workshop, or even having fun with music, concert, and partying til drop. On Valentine’s night, I went to Marit Larsen concert at the hall and that was the best Valentine ever (since I was single at that time 😛 ). Don’t have any idea who’s Marit Larsen? How about that legend duo singer M2M? Yes, Marit Larsen is the blonde one and she is Norwegian!
7. Going on a short trip to Otnes, Norwegian style of vacation
It was a sudden plan, but the family took me to their vacation house in a small village called Otnes, 2 hours driving from Spongdal as if driving from Jakarta to Bogor. I think, it was a culture or pride for Norwegian to build another house for vacation out of the city, just like villas in Indonesia. Good thing was, there are no traffic jam AT ALL, even though that’s weekend! And when other places covered with snow and low temperature that even able to froze a lake, Otnes was definitely not. The sun bright warmly but yes it still windy and cold enough to made me use my winter jacket. The village was also so quite, you even cannot find people around. Google it and surprised! They only have around 300 population. Woha. Introvert people like me must be love this kinda place. This was the real vacation ever, it’s just like the village is yours. All that beautiful place is youuuuuurs.
Not to be doubt, the house also have incredible view with a Lomnessjøen lake right in front. Let me repeat, A LAKE. RIGHT IN FRONT. Amazing.
At behind, there was forest and a cattle house. I and the family feed the cattle at the back house and then went for a tracked to the forest. The air, the scenery, and all in Otnes was still natural. The lake was very clean where you could catch as many Norwegian Salmon as you can during summer. And the forest was highly conserved, even wild deer still going around here and there. Deer hunting was also scheduled in summer.
Remember that typical Western movie telling story about children building their own house in a tree? Well, the two brothers of Lyng family — Jorund and Vedgar made it happen for their base-camp. They build it on their own and pick the best location ever with a scenic view! These guys were so into nature.
8. Dining at Egon Tårnet, the spinning tower.
This is the hippest restaurant in Trondheim. Like every teens will visit this restaurants, just like Single Fin in Bali or Domicile in Surabaya. Egon Tårnet built on the top of a tower in circular platform. The two floor restaurant surrounded by big glasses wall with Trondheim city view from the top. What make it different from usual restaurant at the highest was because it’s spinning. Yeah, you didn’t get it wrong. The restaurant was spinning so you could enjoy the city view in 360 degree! For food, they provide both of ala carte and buffet menu. Try out their pizza, they’re delicious (and the cheapest one!).
9. Looking for gift? The answer will always be Norwegian Chocolate.
Norwegian chocolate was the best gift that I brought as gift for my family. Well, you have to keep it right to maintained the shape. It was not cheap either. I forgot the exact price but the biggest one reach around more than IDR 100.000. There were lots of brands you’ll have in the mart (every supermarket selling this!) but I recommended you to try out the Norwegian Oreo Chocolate. Is that sounds weird? Yes. Look but I am serious, the taste was the best ever!!! Oh, I just found that eBay selling it with cheaper price, you should check this out.
I am feeling so great for writing this article, throwing back in everything that I’ve done two years ago. It’s like re-writing a diary although it was a bit late. But I’ll make sure to post another stories of my Europe trip on the blog so stay tuned peps! 🙂