Well it’s official, Brian and I are moving to Norway – Bergen to be precise.
Bergen ranks highly on the Norwegian awesome scale, noted for fjords, mountains, not being especially arctic, and blessed by Thor, God of Rain. Precipitation is approximately twice that of Auckland. This intrigues me, as I generally explain Auckland weather as six months of rain, followed by six months of sun. Of course, we rarely have actual rain, more like continuing days of greying windy drizzle, which is not very exciting.
So, if Bergen has proper mountain rain instead of continual indecisive drippage, I will be pleased.
And now to answer the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind:
- Norway is ranked #1 on the HDI, making it officially the most awesome country in the world to live. New Zealand is ranked at #3, just behind Australia. So, since I wanted to move to somewhere better than NZ, it came down to a choice between Australia and Norway. Alas, Australia doesn’t have polar bears.
- Fjords. Yes, New Zealand has Fjords too, but none look that like this.
- Tramping and tramping huts. Not only is there a vast array of dramatic scenery to cover, but unlike our back country huts, Norwegian tramping huts come fully equipped. They probably even have Internet. My life is complete.
- Polar bears. Unfortunately my woman-vs-wild fantasies of tramping through ice amidst polar bear packs were dashed, after I found out there are no polar bears on the mainland. There are brown bears in mainland Norway, but apparently they’re shy, and the last reported death by bear occurred some decades ago. So, perhaps not as intrepid as I had hoped; unless we go to Svalbard, an arctic group of Norwegian islands often confused with the North Pole. Apparently there are fjords there too, and even a camp site. It could be our most epic tramp yet.
- Progressive government, and no death penalty. Although, distillation is illegal. Brewing beer is ok though. Phew.
- Local language is Norwegian (norsk), and various dialects thereof, rather than yet another English dialect seemingly incompatible with our own. We will be replasticising our brains, and learning a language only .1% of the world population speaks. I am up to lesson 37 on my Learn to Speak Norwegian with Confidence course. Today I learned how to confidently say “My cat died on Friday”.
- Dramatic winters. New Zealand, or more specifically Auckland climate is a bit of a bore. In fact Aucklanders like to pretend winter doesn’t exist at all, and will wander about in jandals and t-shirts all year round, oblivious to the chilly sun deficient drizzle about them. The most seasonal excitement we have is a mild frost once every few years. I have yet to experience falling snow, and my entire snow-experience can probably be compressed into a week of hanging out on an overcrowded ski-field, trying to live up to my Swiss heritage and pretending I can ski. Today temperature in Auckland was 16C. This is winter. The summer temperature in Bergen is currently 10C. We will be updating our wardrobes, and for the first time I have a legitimate excuse to buy boots and coats.
- Not completely dissimilar to New Zealand. In terms of size, population, and coastline, Norway is approximately the same as New Zealand, even down to the fjords (the Norwegian ones are just a bit more awesome).
Number of islands
Number of sheep
Sheep to person ratio
- Leading producers of oil, yet local energy is largely hydro, with on-going research into other forms of renewable energy. Smart. This makes Norway just a little bit more cool.
- Norwegians are vegetarian. No, hang on, I may have been wrong there. So, not to panic, Brian and I have been spending the last week reacquainting ourselves with a meat-based diet. Unfortunately, our first attempts ended in disaster. Eating meat is actually rather complicated. However, friends have been supportive, showing us how to cook steak, and buying us meat cookbooks. We still have around three weeks to prepare, so all going well, by the time we arrive, the locals won’t suspect a thing.