This blog post about our honeymoon in Scandinavia was a long time coming. I think I’ve been intimidated to write it because I was going to have to go through 1,000 photos from this trip and pick out a few to share here. And I also have to condense two weeks worth of activities into some highlights from the trip. But I’ve finally done it. It’s not easy summarizing a two week, three country trip into one blog post!
In 2016, Travis and I got married. Our original honeymoon plans were to go to the Greek islands. That plan fell through because of political reasons on that side of the world at the time. That’s actually why we went to Greece, Turkey, and Italy a couple of years later. Even though we needed to change our plans for our honeymoon, we still wanted to go out of the country – that wasn’t a question. We landed on a trip to Scandinavia, which included Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Way different than a trip to the beaches of Greece!
Of the three countries we visited, Denmark was the least exciting. I think this country is best enjoyed by staying for a little while and really getting immersed in the culture. We didn’t have that chance on this trip. One memorable thing about this country is that it’s big on cycling. There are more bicycles on the road than cars. People even ride their bikes in the winter, even in the snow. The snow plows clear the bike paths first before they continue with other roads.
While here, we stayed the night in Copenhagen and Frederikshavn. We visited the Amalienborg Palace – it’s the winter home of the monarch in Copenhagen. Since we were there in the summer, the monarch wasn’t in residence.
We did visit Odense, a city in Denmark where Hans Christian Andersen was born. Hans was a Danish author who wrote many things, among the most memorable were his fairy tales. He wrote The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, and Thumbelina (among thousands of others).
This little town was really cool – everything looked like a fairy tale! The buildings looked so short, but the ceilings were high, so you could walk in and stand up straight.
There were a few random memorable things about Norway: 1) it’s super expensive, 2) most cars in the cities appeared to be Teslas (apparently people charge their electric cars for free in Norway), 3) it may be the prettiest country ever, competing with Switzerland, and 4) it has some cool tunnels – some very long ones and one even had a round-about in it!
Let me tell you how magical Norway is: Imagine riding on a bus with pretty greenery around you, some small lakes and ponds, too. Then you go into a 6 km tunnel and you’re completely in the dark. When you come out on the other side, there are snow covered hills with lake water so still that it reflects the hills like a mirror. The whole bus said “oooooohhhhhh, wooooooooowwwww” at the same time. In such a short distance, the entire landscape changed.
We visited Oslo, which is the capital of Norway. Oslo is also where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year – in the City Hall. We learned about Alfred Nobel, the man who came up with this prize and the personal reason behind it. Alfred Nobel was an inventor – he invented dynamite and ballistite. The explosives were supposed to be used for things like construction but as we all know, they were used in violent ways, especially in wars. Alfred Nobel didn’t want to die and be known as the man who invented such violence – so he wrote his wishes for this Nobel Peace Prize in his will. He wanted to be known for something good.
Bergen, Norway (and the fjords)
Fjord is pronounced ‘fyord,’ which is a passage in the sea. It is a narrow arm of the sea bordered by steep cliffs. It’s usually formed by glacial erosion. Bergen, Norway is a UNESCO World Heritage City and that’s where we went on a fjord cruise.
Other places in Norway
We visited Lillehammer, which is where the 1994 Winter Olympics were held. We actually went to the Olympic ski jump.
We also visited very remote areas with towns of few people – Fagernes is a town with 1800 people. Vradal is a town with 200-500 people. With towns this small, there is not much to do. Also, places closed early, usually 8 pm. So even if we wanted to go buy a snack or soda at a convenience store, we couldn’t because usually they were closed after dinner. At one point, we were on a lake with nothing to do, which wouldn’t usually be a big deal except for the fact that we had just spent all day on a bus and had energy to do things… We ended up finding a tree that fell, which we then used to see how many times we could walk across it without falling off.
Our honeymoon in Scandinavia wouldn’t be complete without going to Sweden. We stayed one night in Karlstad and a couple of nights in Stockholm.
In Stockholm, we visited the Vasa Museum. Vasa is a war ship that was built in 1628. The king of the time had made the ship too shallow and with other major design flaws. The first time the Vasa was going out to sea, it tipped over and sank only 900 feet from where it started.
While in Stockholm, we also rented a little boat and took it out on the canal. This was a fun, interesting, and kind of nerve-wracking experience. We were on a tiny little boat, which was painted a navy blue color and blended in with the dark water. Consider that and the fact that we were surrounded by giant cruise ships and other big boats. We were trying to not get run over and to not tip over in the big waves from other boats. We did see a U.S. Navy ship there, which was cool.
Fun facts about Norway, Sweden, and Denmark
If you want to buy alcohol in Norway, you have to find a Vinmonopolet, which translates to “the wine monopoly.” It’s a government-owned alcohol retailer. Only Vinmonopolets can sell anything with an alcohol content of greater than 4.75% in Norway. And if you do find one and want to buy something, then be ready to pay a lot of money. The alcohol tax is high and it increases with the level of alcohol content. This is Norway’s way of trying to control alcohol consumption – it’s a form of prohibition, just not total prohibition.
Compare that to Sweden, which is actually very similar. In Sweden, it’s called Systembolaget, which is a government-owned chain of liquor stores. It’s the only place that’s allowed to sell alcohol with alcohol content of greater than 3.5%. In Sweden, beverages are taxed based on their alcohol content, so it gets very expensive here, too.
Now compare that to Denmark. There is no form of prohibition here and no government monopoly. Their culture with alcohol consumption is very different and much more liberal. I actually found some fun beer and ciders in stores for only 1 euro for a can (you can buy single cans of beer, which was convenient for while we were traveling).