Norway’s roads less traveled / Columns / The Foreigner

Norway’s roads less traveled. Spitsbergen: “a place out of the ordinary”. When you visit another country, you shouldn’t miss the popular sights. They are usually popular for a good reason. But every country has special places that fly below the radar and Norway, of course, is no exception. So we have decided to ask some individuals who are very familiar with Norway to tell us about places Americans should not miss. The question: An American is planning to visit Norway. He/she has skimmed a few tourist guides and is planning to see the usual must-see sites. But he/she also wants to do something special that the average tourist might miss. What would you suggest?

svalbard, spitsbergen, bears, travel, paywall



The Foreigner Logo

The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

Google+ Google+ Twitter Facebook RSS RSS



Columns Article

LATEST:

}

Norway’s roads less traveled

Published on Monday, 18th April, 2016 at 10:03 under the columns category, by Christine Foster Meloni.
Last Updated on 18th April 2016 at 10:33.

Spitsbergen: “a place out of the ordinary”. When you visit another country, you shouldn’t miss the popular sights.

Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen
Photo: Wikimedia Commons


They are usually popular for a good reason. But every country has special places that fly below the radar and Norway, of course, is no exception. So we have decided to ask some individuals who are very familiar with Norway to tell us about places Americans should not miss.

The question: An American is planning to visit Norway. He/she has skimmed a few tourist guides and is planning to see the usual must-see sites. But he/she also wants to do something special that the average tourist might miss. What would you suggest?

We posed the question to the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States, Kåre R. Aas. His response is the subject of this article.

The Ambassador’s Response:
This is a difficult question because there is so much to see and explore in Norway. However, I would specifically recommend traveling to Spitsbergen, the largest and the main island of the Svalbard archipelago.

About 2,700 people live here, halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole.

It is a spectacular place—both during winter and summer. I myself have been there several times, and the beautiful scenery up in the Arctic continues to amaze me.

View of Svalbards' Magdalenefjorden
View of Svalbards' Magdalenefjorden
Ian Watson/Wikimedia CommonsThere are many reasons why Svalbard is my choice. There is something about the atmosphere—laid-back, open, a good “community feel.”

And the landscape is absolutely amazing! As Svalbard is located 78 degrees north, you are able to enjoy the midnight sun from late April nearly through August. During the dark, magical wintertime, chances are good of seeing the Northern Lights.

Hiking and riding dog sleds are both wonderful ways to explore the area.

But remember there are polar bears  in the area, so no one should leave the settlements without a guide with a gun!

Svalbard represents the Arctic where people live, work, and go to school. It is an important place for science and research, and it is where the “global seed vault” is located—a seed bank near Longyearbyen that is seeking to preserve a wide variety of the world’s plant seeds.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that Svalbard is a place out of the ordinary. I urge everyone to visit—and to bring warm clothes!

Planning a Trip
If you decide to take the Ambassador’s advice and go to Svalbard, Scandinavian Airlines offers flights from either Oslo or Tromsø to Svalbard Airport in Longyearbyen.

Remember the Ambassador’s warning about bringing warm clothes! The average temperatures in July range from 37.4 to 44.6° F (3 to 7° C) and in January between 8.6 and -4.0° F (-13 and -20 °C). I would personally opt for July although it wouldn’t really feel at all like summer despite the midnight sun!

Svalbard polar bear warning sign
Svalbard polar bear warning sign
Achim Baque/ShutterstockTourism is becoming an important industry in Svalbard. The Ambassador mentioned the polar bears, which are one of the island’s main tourist attractions. Although they are a protected species, anyone leaving the settlements is required to carry a rifle to be used in self-defense if attacked.

Research is another important industry. An article about the research being carried out by NASA and European Space Agency scientists on the island, entitled “Hunting for Martians on Svalbard,” appeared in the November 27, 2015, issue of NAW. Svalbard has similar characteristics to Mars and is, therefore, an ideal place to prepare for future expeditions to Mars.

The Global Seed Vault, built by the Norwegian government, is a very interesting endeavor. The purpose of the vault is to preserve duplicates of all the earth’s plant seeds, protecting them from extinction in the event of catastrophes such as wars, plant disease, climate change, and asteroid strikes. The vault was recently opened for seeds from Syria that were in danger of disappearing because of the current situation in that war-torn country.

Ambassador Kåre R. Aas left his position as Political Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to become the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States in 2013. Prior to his assignment as Political Director, Amb. Aas served as the Norwegian Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; as Director General, Department for Security Policy and the High North; and as Norwegian Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) Board of Governors.

Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, DC. She values her Norwegian heritage.

This article originally appeared in the April 15th, 2016 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. Click here to subscribe.




Published on Monday, 18th April, 2016 at 10:03 under the columns category, by Christine Foster Meloni.
Last updated on 18th April 2016 at 10:33.

This post has the following tags: svalbard, spitsbergen, bears, travel, paywall.





  
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!