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November 19, 2008 1:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm headed to Norway to play some gigs in January. How should I prepare for my first trip to Scandinavia?

Should I learn some Norwegian phrases? Will it be dark the entire time? Is it as expensive as I've heard?
posted by chuckdarwin to Travel & Transportation around Norway (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Should I learn some Norwegian phrases?

You won't need any. Norwegian women all speak English and are into foreign musicians. Evidence.

Will it be dark the entire time?

Depends. Where are you going?

Is it as expensive as I've heard?

Yes. The cost of living is ~30% higher than in the US. Buy liqueur in the tax free shop, beer in the stores, bring your own cigarettes and try not to eat.
posted by klue at 1:52 AM on November 19, 2008


It is mightily expensive - but its most noticable with items that are bad for you or egregiously fun - booze, cigs, sweets etc. Norwegians make up for it by being just the nicest and friendliest people ever. It would be worth learning a few phrases, but to be honest, everyone speaks English - particularly in the cities where, I assume you'll be playing - and they're refreshingly uncomplicated about it. (One guy's attitude was that Norwegian is not like a "worldwide" language like Spanish, and so why should a nation of 5 million people expect special treatment from tourists? I'd had a couple of drinks at the time, but I couldn't argue with him.)

Weekend habits (at least with the crowd I hang around with when I'm over there) is to get absolutely mortal on strong booze at someone's house before heading out into town at around midnight. It seemed as though bars stayed pretty quiet until pretty late so that might be a factor if you're expecting to pack a place out by 10pm.

Also, in the winter it's impossible to dress appropriately. Outside its below zero, inside the Norwegians all seem to keep the heating at a comfortable 35C (I think they have heavily subsidised geo-thermal energy that costs them very little.) You go from freezing to sweating, to chilblains to frostbite several times a day.

Unless you're used to snow and adverse road conditions, I'd advise against driving too. It was all a bit scary to me.

Also, try the lutefisk.
posted by Jofus at 2:01 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you wanna learn a few phrases of Norwegian you might like One Minute Languages.
posted by sveskemus at 2:13 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where are you going?

Near Lillehammer.

Yes. The cost of living is ~30% higher than in the US.

I live in England, but your point is well-taken.

Buy liqueur in the tax free shop, beer in the stores, bring your own cigarettes and try not to eat.

I get a lot of comp stuff, apparently. But thanks for that suggestion.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:36 AM on November 19, 2008


Jofus, thanks for the hilarious answer.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:39 AM on November 19, 2008


When I went to Norway I learned that you can't buy alcohol (in shops, not at bars) after 6pm on a Saturday (and 8pm other days?). I also learned that I could only afford one drink in a bar, but it should be slightly easier for you as you're converting back to GPB instead of AUD (AU$17 for a shot of 'cheap' whisky!?!!?! way to sober up fast).

I went to a show (Datarock) at John Dee, and it was pretty good. There was an unexplained two hour break between the warm up act and the main performance, and everybody seemed to take it surprisingly calmly (perhaps because, unlike me, they could afford to keep drinking). The band ended up starting at around 11pm, and finished around 1am? It was a fun, relaxed event, and then my friend (a ditzy Canadian girl) and I walked back through the city to the station and caught a subway(?) back to our friends apartment. Seemed very safe.
posted by jacalata at 2:41 AM on November 19, 2008


It will be dark most of the time. I was in southern Finland in mid-December a few years ago, and it's barely light before 10.30am and gets dark again by 3.30. Things that help: well-lit houses, alcohol, walking in the freeeezing cold.

If you're getting a load of free stuff, that's the biggest problem (apart from the cold and dark) taken care of, so you should have a great time.
posted by altolinguistic at 3:02 AM on November 19, 2008


In Lillehammer, it will be dark most of the time; the mid-January day lasts roughly six and a half hours, the sun setting about 15:30.
posted by klue at 3:29 AM on November 19, 2008


I was in Norway in August. The money was the main thing I noticed (I reckon that "30% higher than US prices" is an underestimate... It was significantly more expensive than the UK) other than the much stricter controls on where and when you can buy alcohol.
posted by knapah at 3:46 AM on November 19, 2008


Jofus, thanks for the hilarious answer.

There's nothing hilarious about lutefisk. :-) It really is delicious!
posted by Grither at 4:31 AM on November 19, 2008


Well you're half right. :-)
posted by Jofus at 5:45 AM on November 19, 2008


I lived in Norway for 5 years. People are great, English generally shouldn't be an issue. You'll have a fun time.
Good tip from Klue - bring in the duty free, I used to have a regular shopping order for cigarettes from my smoking mates. Drinking is expensive, but as Jofus says, most Norwegians have a vorspeil before going out to get the alcohol levels up.
It will be dark most of the time, but you get used to it. Driving isn't so bad as long as you take it easy, however be warned that driving can be a little random in the country as a lot of people forget to use indicators (not used to other cars being around).
Great country and wonderful people.
posted by arcticseal at 7:29 AM on November 19, 2008


As Norway is not a EU member you may want to research the taxation implications, if any, of importing and exporting your equipment. I presume there is a fairly obvious procedure for this. It would be best to find out in advance.
posted by Dr.Pill at 7:52 AM on November 19, 2008


Norway isn't in the EU, but is in the European Economic Area. Also, unless the OP is planning to sell (or buy) kit while there, customs duty would not be levelled.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:09 AM on November 19, 2008


Just to clairfy, when Klue says "the sun sets at 15.30" that does NOT mean you actually see the sun. The horizon gets slightly brighter for about six hours, a weird twilight kind light. It is no way similar to daylight as most of us know it.
Supermarkets are very brightly lit (fluorescent) all the hours they are open, but most houses, bars etc., have a kind of warm, indirect lighting all through the "daylight" hours.
You should have an amazing time all the same as people are so friendly it puts my country to shame
posted by Wilder at 11:10 AM on November 19, 2008


OK, you guys have got me all excited.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:50 PM on November 19, 2008


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