Norway

Norway really is a land of myth and mystery. With a history that appeals to the imagination and the historian alike - oriented around Europe's most famous barbarians the Vikings, who plundered and pillaged the entire continental coast - and, rather less excitingly, planted and ploughed as they settled much of Ireland and Iceland.

One of the most enigmatic nations on earth much of what is known about Norway's early history is drawn from the sagas, a series of tales passed down by word of mouth until being written centuries after the events they describe. Thus Norway easily lends itself to the imposition of many myths, this is the home of trolls after all, and in the mist-covered mountains that run all the way up the country, as well as the craggy fjords many locals will claim you can catch a glimpse of these mischevious creatures.

But even without the stories that surround Norway, it would be a magnificent place. High peaks, steep valleys and the magnificent fjords of the north-west coast make up one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth, especially in such a confined space. And with natural phenomenon such as the Aurora Borealis (the "Northern Lights") and the midnight sun in the far North, there is more than enough to amaze. The way that Norwegians have settled this craggy land adds rather than detracts from its beauty. There are few more spectacular sights than sailing down a fjord to a tiny fishing village, where cod and herring is hung in strings outside the stilted houses, yet such settlements are common place in the Lofoten islands and the North. Meanwhile capital Oslo is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and well worth a visit for its art galleries, museums and sense of culture.

You will also find much to admire in the Norwegians themselves. They count among the friendliest of any in Europe, and the hardiest. The Viking spirit lives on in the intrepid adventurous spirit epitomised in modern day heroes such as Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911. Nowadays the Norwegians find an outlet for their adventure in skiing and other outdoor activities and you'll find few places in Europe where you can better satiate a thirst for an adrenaline rush.

 

 

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