Norway: Fjords, Vikings, and the Nobel Prize for Peace

Norway: Fjords, Vikings, and the Nobel Prize for Peace
Molde, Norway

The landscape of Norway is breathtakingly beautiful, its people proud and fiercely independent. For good reason.

Known as the land of the midnight sun, Norway is where the first Vikings struck out from and, by stark contrast, where the Nobel Prize for Peace is awarded each year. In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole. Other famous Norwegians include composer Edvard Grieg, artist Edvard Munch, playwright Henrik Ibsen, and writer Knut Hamsun.

Surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine fjords, Norway is also home to a design masterpiece: the 15 mile Laerdal road tunnel. Chiseled through a Norwegian mountain range, the tunnel is enhanced with spectacular lighting simulating sunrise in order to keep drivers alert.

Laerdal Tunnel

Laerdal Tunnel

Connecting with Anne 

If you live in Minnesota, chances are you know someone from Norway. My daughter’s college roommate, Becca, grew up in Minnesota. For this post, she suggested I connect with Anne. Anne’s daughter lives in Minnesota and works at the same hospital Becca does.

Anne is a retired teacher and a grandmother. She lives in Molde, on the west coast of Norway.

My Conversation with Anne

Please look out a window and tell me what you see. 

From my living room window I’m looking down on the house roofs of the city. The church is situated in the middle. Behind the town lies the open fjord with seven layers of mountains behind it. We can glimpse around 230 mountain peaks from here.

Dispel a myth about Norway.

There are NO polar bears or reindeers in the streets! Frequently, you can see reindeers in the streets only in a really small part of the very, very north of Norway.

Which languages do you speak? 

I speak three languages: Norwegian, English, German – and some French. Norwegians understand Swedish and Danish.

What do you love most about Norway?

The peace, safety, and equality. And also I would like to add, the strict weapon rules. We cannot own our own guns, unless for hunting. The police don’t carry weapons.

If I came over for dinner, what would you serve me?

Lamb leg baked in the oven with vegetables, garlic and rosemary.

What is Norway most famous for?

Norway is known for its fjords, mountains, midnight sun where the sun never settles during the night, the dark season up north where the sun never goes up during the day, the northern lights that paint the sky green, seas with fish in, wild nature, and brown cheese. It is also well known for its oil and gas production.

What is the weather like now?

In February it’s cold. Up north it can be 40 minus Celsius, and near the coast it is milder with around 0 to -5 degrees Celsius.

Today the weather is cold and sunny, the sky is blue, and the ground is covered with snow.

What brings you joy? 

Family, grandchildren, the cottage (we love our cabins in this country), garden work, creative activity.

Who or what inspires you? 

Family, friends, art, culture, nature.

What does Norway do well? What do you wish it did better?

Our health care is enabled by our taxes which makes health benefits free or cheap for all citizens. For example, full salary up to one year if sick, maternity leave is around ten months with full salary or twelve months with 80 percent of full salary. The father has to take some weeks of the maternity leave, which benefits the father/child relationship as well as equality of the sexes in the household and work space.

My wish is that there are no unemployed citizens – work for everyone. And as well, that we’ll manage to take care of the asylum seekers that come to Norway and that we can make them integrate and provide safety for them.

What is your opinion of the United States? 

In Norway we use the saying: “Everything is big in the U.S.A.!” It’s a country with a lot of power in the world. My wish for parents in the USA – having a daughter that lives in Minnesota and that expects a baby girl in June – is that families get payed maternity leave.

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