Although our feet have hardly touched the ground since returning from Iceland with the last issue of CURVES, we are continuing our flirtation with the far north. Images from Norway have been haunting our dreams for a long time, as has the feeling that the landscape of the west coast of Scandinavia must not only be tremendously photogenic, but also offers plenty of material for an epic journey: get into the CURVES groove from beyond the Arctic Circle to south to the Skagerrak coast. In between are roads that either run along the sea or cut through the mountains of the interior. Because Norway is characterized by such rugged nature, with fjords, lakes, islands and mountain ranges, both routes have enormous obstacles to overcome: water, mountains, valleys. It is these natural challenges along the way that make a trip so exciting and varied for us: climbing the mountains over mountain passes, following a route that is wild and daring, enjoying fabulous landscapes.
There is no denying that Norway far exceeded all our expectations. You have to see the majesty of the fjords with your own eyes to feel it. You have to experience the raw, harsh world of the Arctic Circle to really understand it. You have to have lived through the long days of northern summer to feel their sluggish pulse in your veins. You have to have covered the endless expanse of the country to be able to make sense of it on your own internal map because everything suddenly seems so much bigger after a journey through Norway.
We started this journey with our customary passion, full of impatience and anticipation and with our heads packed with plans. We have driven across a coast studded with islands and inlets beyond the Arctic Circle, with wide-open eyes and heightened senses, enthralled, excited, enraptured. We found that Norway wormed its way into our senses more and more with every kilometer we traveled. The unbearable vastness of this country... Driving in Norway feels like time itself: sometimes bursting with life and filled with incident – and then again there’s just a slow-motion heavy rotation of color, landscape and nature. All of this is constantly repeated, only broken up by small variations in nuance. We called it slow-motion sightseeing at some point when, in a fug of frustration and resignation, we suddenly found we had arrived at our destination. The quiet contentment with the rhythm of a journey transforms itself into serene surrender as you finally become part of the landscape. You can’t impose your own pace on distances of so many kilometers and need to be patient. You also need to drive with all your receptors turned up to maximum and fine-tuned to your surroundings to really appreciate the immense beauty of Norway, both large and small.
The famous Porsche Macan GTS we were allowed to use for our travels adapted surprisingly well to this quiet pace. Although it is generally a fiery hot-head, here it proved itself the ultimate packhorse for us and our equipment. We will miss it. We’d like to say thank you to Porsche Germany for arranging for this wonderful travel companion to await us at the start of our journey and to accompany us right to the end. It was our home for many days. That forges a sense of connection. Of course on the long journey south we also discussed which car we would recommend to our readers: what would be our dream car on this trip? – We pondered the answer for a long time and then came up with a very simple answer: the Porsche 356 A, 40 hp. This would be a car like the country itself: gnarly, uncomplicated and adventurous. Its speed would be the ideal match for the road – and also for Norway’s speed limits. You need to slow down here, because the police don’t like speed freaks. Even minor speed violations are grounds for draconian penalties, so CURVES definitely advises you to take your time!
There are constantly new discoveries just around the corner: time is the key on this long journey. Lose yourself in the leisurely rhythm of the villages and farms, experience the reserved, rustic friendliness of the people, become an experienced ferry user, and embrace the cool reticence of the north. Maybe then you will have enough time to devote to Norwegian cuisine. Eating has become the CURVES creators’ secret hobby along the way, and now, as we review our memories of the Norway trip, we get the unsatisfactory feeling that we neglected this aspect somewhat as we traveled around Norway. Maybe we’ll just go back again for a closer look? Or maybe you’d do us a favor and take our place in the restaurants and dining rooms on your upcoming Norwegian voyage of discovery?
If you have a taste for experimentation and a soft spot for solid, rural ingredients, there’s nothing to stop you from taking a trip to the more rustic corners of Norwegian cuisine: smoked and cooked sheep’s head, from which in some cases even the cooked brain can be spooned out probably sets the bar quite high. Weaker constitutions should therefore take a more round-about approach to such specialties via boiled mutton with cabbage – known as fårikål. Or better yet, stick to harmless reindeer steak and tasty fish soup. And the perfect end to any meal? Cranberry with whipped egg whites, known as “Trollkrem” in Norway. Somewhere between the mountains and the sea.
We certainly still have fond memories of the tender and mild-tasting cod in the port of Ålesund, which tasted so good in a light sauce between mountains of garlic and mashed potatoes, and we would love to experience it again. The standard meal on our countless ferry rides has also established itself as an insider joke that we laugh about, but still miss dreadfully: hot dogs. Large or small, plump and tasty or soft and simple, crunchy with fried onions or limp and pure. A hot dog was always just what the doctor ordered. Quite the opposite applied to a glass of beer or wine with dinner. As a team with roots in Munich, we are quite accustomed to paying 13 euros for a liter of beer in the Oktoberfest tents, but 15 euros for half a liter in Norway took the biscuit...
Perhaps you can read between the lines: we found Norway completely inspiring but not exactly easy. Every part of the long journey from the North Cape down to the North Sea was a real challenge. You really have to work your way through Norway, nothing is served up to you on a plate here. Not a single kilometer, no shortcuts, no bonus points, no beginner’s discount. But that’s exactly why we were so impressed at the end of this trip – because Norway is incredibly real. For experienced adventurers. For restless types. For sedentary travelers. Whenever you think you can’t do it anymore, Norway’s overwhelming beauty will reward you. Driving with all your senses.
Of course, we have a suggestion for those new to the CURVES attitude to life: just take a tour of the Lofoten Islands. Or try the adventure south of Kristiansund: the Atlantic Road up the Trollstigen to the Geirangerfjord. Or the countryside between the Sognefjord, Hardangerfjord and Lysefjord. There’s one thing for certain: you’ll be back. Because Norway gets under your skin.