13 things to be aware of if you are planning to visit Norway this winter!

Norway

 

  1. Your reason for travelling to the Arctic Circle is most probably to see the Northern Lights. But know that Norway and Finland, parts of which fall in the Arctic Circle, offer so much more! Go with an all-embracing attitude and don’t be disappointed if you don’t see the Northern Lights. Often, it’s dependent on clear skies and distance from city lights. Frankly, just seeing the white Arctic world, and breathing in that crisp, clean air is enough reward.
  2. Layer up! You absolutely need inner thermals, your normal tee or top, a heavy sweater or fleece, and finally a down jacket. There are two types of downs – duck and goose. We chose the goose down from the Columbia brand for us, while our son insisted on a duck down jacket from Decathlon. And both options worked well.
  3. Get a good woolen beanie for the head as also a thick muffler/s to wrap around your neck. Very, very essential.
  4. Don’t scrimp on mittens (which work better than gloves in my opinion), and good water-proof shoes. If you are going dog sledding or plan to spend any kind of time on the tundra plains, this clothing will protect you in terms of keeping your chest and legs warm. Additionally, you will be given snow suits to wear over everything. Yet, the extremities – ears, nose, hands and feet will remind you why it’s nice to be a citizen of tropical climes!
  5. If you follow a vegetarian diet, may be this is the time to eschew it in favour of a seafood and meat diet! Okay, am kidding. While we went crazy about the meats and seafood like salmon and the creamy fish soups, vegetarians need not despair as there are enough sandwich, potato, waffle, salads, cake, pasta, pastries options.
  6. Beware of melting, slippery ice. While you will get spikes at the hotel/Airbnb you are staying at to attach to your shoes (please don’t carry them from home), be careful while walking on the ice anyway. Thick snow is safe, it’s the melting snow which is to be feared. Most public places here scatter gravel across the car parks, roads and pavements, especially on the black ice which forms on pavements. Despite that there will be patches of slippery ice.
  7. Drive slowly and carefully on the icy roads. The roads are cleared constantly of snow, but sometimes the mix of oil and residual ice can make the roads slippery.  This is not the time or place to show your F1 racing skills, believe me.
  8. The bite of the wind against your face can make you cry and your nose run! Carrying a napkin or some tissues in your bag may not be a bad idea. Some people wear face protector masks in the intense cold. Whatever works for you. I find such masks claustrophobic though, and made do with dabbing my nose every once in a while (sometimes not so elegantly I must admit!)
  9. Norway is a true cashless economy. I don’t even know what the local currency NOK looks like as we got by completely with our credit/debit cards.
  10. They take their public holidays very seriously. And everything is shut on those days. We were in Tromso in the week of Christmas and had been warned. We stocked up on enough provisions to last us a long siege!
  11. You will see busloads of Chinese tourists here, so much so that, menu cards in Tromso’s popular restaurants like Egon, are in Chinese too! This is not an essential fact to know, I guess, just an interesting one!
  12. The people of Norway are helpful, punctual and polite. They are very direct communicators, and will answer you to the point. It seriously encourages you to put forward your best, most succinct self with them.
  13. I asked Ishaan for inputs and he says beware of ferocious polar bears in the Arctic! A very useful tip indeed! Well, it is wishful thinking. You are not likely to come across any polar bears! Sadly!