[Ed. note: Our writer today is British. Translate all references as necessary, Yank-centric readership.]
OK, we’ve only just met, but I’ve got a confession to make. I didn’t even know that there were ski resorts in Norway. In fact, the words skiing and Norway had never cropped up in the same sentence. My only knowledge of the country was that they used to have Vikings, so it was with a sense of adventure that I booked a trip there.
The only problem was that after booking I didn’t bother to do any research. Every time I fired up the laptop to research my destination, I got distracted. Instead I ended up trawling YouTube for cat videos. So when I landed in Norway my expectations were nonexistent. And when you know nothing, there is a lot to learn, including:
Cross-country skiing is a big deal.
In Europe, if you say that you want to spend the day cross-country skiing you’d be called a chicken. You would slide toward the course with the sound of clucking ringing in your ears. Not in Norway. It’s not because they are more mature or civilized but because cross-country skiing is their national sport. Where we would have footballers [Ed. note: Remember the first Ed. note?] or basketball players on our cereal boxes, they have skiers. Cross-country skiing is no joke for them.
Lift queues don’t exist.
Being British, queues have come to be a part of my national identity. We pride ourselves on our ability to queue and then complain about the fact we have to. Without doing either, I was a bit lost. With an unnerving sense that I was cheating, I would just hop on the lifts. Toward the end of the week, I managed to adapt. The problem was, I didn’t ever want to go back to the long snaking lines of the Alps. I didn’t even want to face the twenty-minute queue for my morning caffeine fix.
It wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be.
My only knowledge of Scandinavia (except for that they have Vikings) is that they have short daylight hours. So I was expecting to get up at the crack of dawn, flying about the mountains trying to cram in run after run. But it wasn’t like that at all. The daylight hours were like that of the United Kingdom, and unless you count overcast as being dark, then it was pretty light.
Scandinavians are seriously laidback.
Think how laidback people in the Caribbean are, then multiple that by 100 and you will have the Scandinavians. They are as cool as the air they breathe, and with a winter season that last approximately six months, that is pretty cool. That type of demeanor can’t help but rub off; I started the week wound like a ticking clock and finished as loose as a toddler’s shoelace.
The Norwegians invented skiing.
It is probably one of the reasons that I enjoyed my trip so much. Skiing is part of their history, and because of that it has become a huge part of their culture. Their passion and love for all things ski-related is unrivaled. It is probably one of the reasons why they are the leading county for spending money on ski equipment. If someone loves something as much as you do, then you will always feel at home.
So there are just a few of the things that I learned from my trip skiing in Norway with Crystal Ski. The most important thing is that Norway is more than the sum of its parts. With its rolling hills, rustic villages, and welcoming people, it is a Mecca for escaping commercial ski resorts. It taught me that taking a chance on the unknown is never a bad thing.
[Martin Nolan is never more at home than when he is up a mountain. Spending his winters at altitude and his summer on sand, he loves to talk about all things travel and travel related.]