by Keith Wild
Norway is one of the most captivating, scenic countries in the world. This is a list of five special Norwegian travel wonders.
1. The Northern Lights
When the conditions are just right in Norway, you can witness one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon on earth, the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. Beautiful ribbons of colored light dance in the skies when the solar wind stream meets the earth's magnetic field, and you can watch them twist and turn like ribbons of living color as they zip overhead towards the North Pole.
Photographing the northern lights requires skill. But if you want to try, get away from the city lights, set up a tripod and patiently wait for the spectacle to unfold. But no mere picture can ever show the true beauty of this eerie and fascinating reminder of the subtle energies that wash across our planet from beyond.
2. Pulpit Rock
Towering over the long narrow Lysefjord is the historic Pulpit rock (Preikestolen), a huge flat topped cliff which juts out of the steep surrounding mountains to offer breath taking views of the sea and lands below. There is a dizzying 400 meter drop from the top of Pulpit Rock, originally know as Hyvlatonnå, to the cold waters of the fjord.
You can reach it either by ferry or car, but be prepared for quite a walk to actually make the summit. The well worn trail is very steep in places, and not recommended in the depth of winter or early spring when the track can get slippery. But if you time it right, your two hour climb will be rewarded with the feeling of standing on top of the world.
3. Ice Hotel Norway
You will never forget a visit to the Ice Hotel on the Alta River at the edge of the Arctic Circle. This incredible fantasy in ice is reconstructed each year and features amazing rooms with fur-lined ice beds. Beautifully crafted chandeliers of ice bathe the hotel in soft colors that reflect through the snow and ice carvings of Norwegian wildlife. The fabulous ice bar is a great place to warm up from the inside, because even the barstools and glasses are made of ice. The crystalline Ice Chapel conducts regular church services.
4. Urnes Stave Church
This UNESCO World Heritage site holds fascinating glimpses of days gone by, with many of the original medieval decorations still in this stave church that was built in the 1100s entirely of wood. The old portal on the north wall displays an interesting carving that continues to baffle historians, who cannot seem to decide it if depicts a Christian icon or is telling the story of a far older Norse legend. The intricate carving is fascinating to contemplate, and stirs up images of the ancient tribes whose skilled craftsman left their legacy carved in this church's timbers.
5. Vigeland Sculpture Park
You will not soon forget a trip to view the incredible sculptures made by Gustav Vigeland located just three kilometers form the center of Oslo. Eighty acres of grounds invite visitors to stroll over the bridge to the main gate, through the wheel of life, past the fountain and on to the Monolith Plateau -- the main attraction of the park. Begun in 1924, it took 3 stone carvers 14 years to fashion the massive granite stone into a monolith displaying 121 intertwining figures that are said to represent man's desire to climb closer to spiritual wisdom.
Photo Credits: Northern Lights, Pulpit Rock, Ice Hotel, Stave Church, Vigeland
Saturday, July 24, 2010
by Keith Wild