If you read my Cancun planning post, you know I like to tell you a few things to do first and then give you tips and advice based on my experience. Soo...let's do this thing!
Eat and drink locally. Salmon is big in Norway. I mean duuuh, and luckily I'm such a fan of salmon. I loved the Elias restaurant experience. The vibe in there was nice and quiet, the Nogne beer tasty and the food absolutely scrumptious.
Embrace the snow. I have always been afraid of the cold. Anytime my boss wants to send me to the east coast during winter, I scream bloody murder and run away cursing. I'm not okay with that kind of cold. Well this wasn't bad and there was never a point where the wind made me feel like daggers were shooting through my chest. There's something about Norway's cold that is 100% manageable, and therefore makes it incredibly beautiful.
Shop the outfit
Go for an evening walk. Even though it was a bit chilly, we saw some neat things like this blue lighting over a stream. It's necessary to explore in the dark and see what you'll find. Just over the bridge was a long stretch of some of the prettiest graffiti I'd ever seen. It's good to explore.
Try your luck with curling. I had no idea what curling was until the moment we were learning how to do it. It was a lot of fun and parts of my body that I didn't know could be sore, were sore the next day. Somehow I fell while sweeping and I crumbled like a glass jar. My knees buckled inwards and I landed on the inside of my knees on both legs. It was painful and made me a little teary-eyed, but I got up and kept going anyway. P.S. My team won ;)
Visit the Oslo Opera House. We were so lucky to visit the Opera House for a beautiful ballet called Giselle. It was unlike any other experience I've had in my life and I have to admit, the ballet is pretty wonderful. While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, I think it's still a really special experience and I highly recommend it. There was something so mesmerizing about the performance and no one could take their eyes off.
Now when it comes to advice, here are my tips:
1. Save your piggybank money. Norway is not cheap. Norwegian krones are the currency (NOK) and you need to budget accordingly. This page will help you do this. When we went to a bar called Tilt, I paid $16 for one beer. If you're a coffee drinker, you'll be able to save money on coffee because many of the hotels have incredible coffee machines that can make a shot of espresso, a latte, a cappuccino, a macchiato, etc. The hotels also offer the most incredible breakfast (buffet style) and it's glorious. Getting up in the morning to choose between an amazing array of breakfast made me so incredibly happy and was the perfect start to my day.
2. Water. It typically comes bottled and you'll have the option of sparkling or flat. If you're a flat water drinker like me, you may have a harder time finding anything but sparkling. However, you can literally drink the tap water because it's Norway. The water from the tap tastes better than the bottled water in the United States, it is amazing.
3. Prepare for cold, but know it's manageable. There's something about winter in Norway that is more bearable than winter anywhere else, you can read about the season and climate here. They say it's the Gulf Stream and warm air currents, but it's unlike Alaska or the east coast of the US (I'm looking at you Boston!) I would love to visit during the summer and explore more of the country (Lofoten Islands for instance) but Norway is incredible during winter and it's really altered my perspective of cold weather.
4. Daylight. On a similiar note, it's important to know that during winter the days are shorter (approximately six hours of light down south, roughly two to three in the north) but if you're not traveling during winter, then this wouldn't apply for you.
5. Give yourself time to acclimate to the time change. Jet lag is honestly the worst. For the first few days, I felt like I could fall asleep standing, sitting, while eating or talking. I suffer from weird narcoleptic activity in my normal day to day life, but jet lag amplifies it to an unbearable level. It's actually painful to keep my eyes open and fight the sleep. I read in an article (I can't recall the one) that it takes one day for each hour of the time difference, so realistically you'd need a full week to acclimate so your vacation should be a minimum of two weeks ;)
6. Language barrier. The Norwegians are so brilliant. There is no language barrier because most everyone speaks English. They are a highly educated bunch (much more educated than the US no doubt) and you won't have a problem finding things by asking someone. If you're worried about the language difference, you can read here for some popular verbiage and its translation in Norwegian.