Even though I was in Norway only for a few days and a few days is definitely not enough time to know about a culture, however, I still wanted to write a post on my first impressions of Norway and some of the things I found unique to this country. Also, I have to add that Norway is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited and I hope to visit there again soon.
1. The little red telephone booth
If you are visiting Norway and bump into a red telephone booth, make sure to click your picture with it. It is one of the remaining 100 telephone booths in Norway, protected as part of the country's cultural heritage. The protection plan makes sure that the booths remain at their original location forever. For most Norwegians a red telephone booth is more than just a booth. It arouse memories of the past to an era when there used to be more than 6000 such booths all over Norway. I saw one of the 100 protected red telephone booths at the Vigeland Sculptor Park in Oslo. It felt like an honor to get a picture with the booth!
Read my post on The Red Telephone Booths of Norway.
2. Electric cars
Norway leads the world in having the highest per capita number of electric cars in the world. In order to encourage the use of electric cars, the government has provided a variety of benefits to these battery operated vehicles such as bus lane access, privileged parking, toll free travel and free power charging at public recharging stations. An exemption of 25% sales tax is also provided on the purchase of an electric vehicle that makes luxury cars affordable. Initially electric cars were introduced to reduce smoke and noise pollution but now the main purpose of using these cars is to combat climate change.
My first introduction to Norwegians was at the SAS lounge at the Oslo Gardermoen Airport. I was flying to Tromso and had several hours to kill before the flight. Apparently, there was a skiing competition being aired at the lounge television and from the way the Norwegians were glued to the TV screen, I could make out that skiing was not just another sport for them, but something that churned their emotions and excited their feelings! Skiing has been practiced in Norway for thousands of years and the first ever ski jumper was Norwegian.
Norwegians are very passionate about coffee and can drink many cups in a day. In fact, Norway has one of the highest per capita consumption of coffee in the world.
5. Reindeer & Whale meat
I am not very buzzed about eating either reindeer or whale meat, but they constitute an important part of the traditional Norwegian cuisine. Both reindeer and whale meat are served at many restaurants, and eating this meat is very common in Norway.
6. Love padlocks
Like the French and the Italians, Norwegians also believe in inscribing the names or initials of their sweethearts on padlocks, locking them to a bridge and then throwing the key in the river as a symbol of their immortal love for each other. I saw a love locks bridge in Oslo at the Vigeland Sculpture Park where I took this picture.
7. Self Checkout Stores
Before I left for Norway, I read somewhere that Norwegians are known to be reserved, honest, humble and straightforward. I have to say that I was very impressed with their honesty. At the self-checkout stores at the Oslo airport, people can process their own purchases. I would think that at many other countries in the world, this would encourage stealing. I remember my first day in Norway, I was in Tromso and my tour guide would not only leave the car unlocked but also the engines running even if we walked away from the car!