On a recent visit to Norway, we toured the country from Oslo to the home of Jarlsberg to the western fjord lands, stopping at dairy farms along the way. After a remarkably sunny day in Oslo at the Snøhetta-designed Operahuset, we headed for the country. On the west coast of Norway, the road will only take you so far. As you drive the meandering mountain roads through smatterings of grass-roofed cottages, inevitably the road will stop and you’ll find yourself waiting at water’s edge as the pure, frigid waters of the fjord gentle ripple in the breeze.
The country’s extensive ferry network is a way of life in Western Norway. Like Swiss trains, the boats are impeccably reliable and nearly spotless on the inside—even the café serving coffee and ubiquitous pancakes. But for visitors, this essential transportation method also offers a new perspective on the landscape. From the water-level, the scale of the fjords is revealed—and it’s remarkable.
Stopping over the UNESCO World Heritage Site town of Geiranger, we hopped on the Norwegian Post boats to head into the rich farmland around Sæbø, where dairy animals actually live the sort of storybook, fresh mountain air life advertisements would have us think they do. But farms are just the beginning of the genuine charm Norway offers. The same calm, relaxed earnestness permeates the food, architecture and people that inhabit this pristine landscape. And part of it just might have to do with how Norwegians get around. It takes time and patience. But it also gives time to appreciate the natural beauty and scale of the landscape around you.
Images by Hans Aschim