Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Finally Summer!

The last bank holiday of the spring season, summer arrived. Heat, light and sun is precious for us living so far north. The somber depressive mood change during June, July and August to a hectic, nearly manic life style. People leave their flats to absorb all the light and heat they can get.

Oslo is beautiful during summer. Here you may explore the wilderness by taking the metro to Frognerseteren or Sognsvann, returning to enjoy a cold pint of beer or a glass of chilled white wine at one of the many outdoor restaurants in the city centre. Or you may take one of the many ferries and visit one of the numerous islands of the Oslofjord.

For those of you visiting Oslo, you will find that many of us leave the city. We have summer homes by the sea, by one of the many lakes or in mountainous areas.

Sørlandet, the area I come from, is a hidden gem. On and off you find articles in European press describing the south eastern coast of Norway as ripe for discovery for the European tourist. Facing the Skagerak, the stretch of sea dividing it from the Northern part of the Jutland peninsula you are closer to the continent than any where else in Norway. A mere 4 hour ferry trip from Kristiansand to Hirtshals, in fact.

Sørlandet is steeped in history. Here you find wooden houses going as far back as 400-500 years, remains from a time when there were sailing ships in any of the small ports along the rugged coast line.

As here you find small islands and cliffs, and no beaches, and beautiful clear water and the best weather Norway can offer. Here you have the highest number of sunny days in the country, and an average temperature of 20-25C (68-77F) during the summer. The ever present breeze from the sea offers a relief from the heat - and you have to experience the light.

In June you have up to 18 hours of daylight, but I personally recommend August. Late summer, when the sun has heated up the sea and you may experience tropical nights, when the low temperature does not go lower than 20 degrees Celsius accompanied by velvet darkness, warm, humid, mysterious and magic nights as you approach the fall.

If you are interested in historic sights you are recommended to visit the old historic cities along the coast, known for their white painted wooden houses and narrow streets. Some of the smaller has kept an atmosphere of the 1700s and the 1800s.

The bigger cities have experienced the curse of urban planning. My city, Arendal, once built in wood has burnt down many times, and after the last fire in 1865 rebuilt in bricks and stone. But even here you find an impressive historic district with houses going back to 1650. The city was founded in 1528 as an important trade point for timber trade, and later iron bound for the European market.

So do come and experience our summer. You will find us a cheerful bunch, quite unlike winter when we are somber and grumpy. Where ever you travel you will be struck by the wonderful light, and if you travel far north you will experience the midnight sun. But here you may experience cold temperatures even at mid summer. In fact today, early May, there was snow in the far north, whereas here in the south we had 16 degrees and sun.

But did you know that this pink house is in Oslo? The Norwegian capital reflects Norway. Here you may even find the quaint historic areas found in many small cities, as well as all the joy that a large city may offer. A microcosm in itself!

And nature is not far way!

Why not travel to Norway this summer?

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