Tag: Scandinavia

How to Create Scandinavian Hygge at Home

Winter, especially January and February is a time when many of us can feel a bit low in energy. All we crave is a big cozy blanket and a cup of hot fragrant tea. And perhaps a pumpkin pie. And a good movie. The holiday season is over and spring seems to be still a long way off, so no wonder we get a bit of the winter blues “knocking on our door”. And let’s face it: winters can be rough. Days are shorter and colder, we don’t get as much sun anymore so it might be a bit challenging to stay positive, even indoors. In Scandinavia (i.e. Norway, Denmark and Sweden) the weather never really gets crazy hot and autumns as well as winters are long and dark so Scandinavians know pretty well how to improve the winter blues with a bit of hygge. If you have read my old-favorite post on the reason why Danes are thought to be the happiest nation on the Earth, (hint-hygge), then you know what I’m talking about.

So let’s get started and make our homes a bit more hyggeligt!

Light

A pleasant warm glow is one the easiest (and probably cheapest) ways to make your home interior feel more comforting. Since bright sunshine is not too frequent in Scandinavia, Scandinavians try to get as much of natural daylight as possible: after all it is essential to our well-being and is tends to make us happier. Get rid of heavy curtains and keep window sills free from ornaments. In Scandinavia people rarely use any curtains at all, but if you feel you need some privacy, get sheer floaty fabrics and semi-transparent white material curtains instead. Keep it light!

Rustic Modern

Forget cheap plastics, imitations and extremely bright, bold colors in your interior. Stick to organic furnishings: move towards wood, ceramics and stone. Choose quality, natural products which will create “modern rustic” feel. Scandinavians love producing and supporting local designers and rather invest in a few, but well chosen home accessories, such as an interesting frame, a chic rustic mirror or alike. To create a more Scandinavian-like interior, avoid too much acrylics and “temporary fashionable” items, rather invest in a few but well-made and well-designed pieces. Also consider soft rugs in tonal colors (preferably soft, warm grey) and smooth, simplistic patterns.

Candles

A big part of Scandinavian hygge is cozying up in the afternoon with a good atmosphere by the candlelight. Scandinavians LOVE lights – all the time, everywhere, for any occasion (or no occasion at all). Candles are light during cozy afternoon chats, for lunch time, evening by the TV and sometimes even in the office to create a more home-y, relaxing atmosphere. It’s probably not surprising why: Danes love enjoying the little pleasures in their lives and candlelight helps creating intimacy and coziness in the smallest everyday moments, which is something hygge is about. After all, hygge is all about the constant pursuit of homespun pleasures, such as wearing cozy fluffy socks, having an interesting chat by the candlelight, eating yummy oat porridge topped with nuts or baking Danish Drømmekage together in a good company.

Fun fact: Danes burn more candles per head than any other nation in Europe, according to the European Candle Association.

A few tips to make your home more of a hygge place:

- Candles – ALWAYS light up a few. Even in a daylight!

- Don’t be in a rush – rushing somewhere destroys tranquility and, therefore, hygge.

- Treat yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but has to make you feel the life worth living.

- Enjoy the things. If there’s something you dislike – change it.

- While buying interior items, stick to the same color pattern. Gray is always a good choice.

- Choose soft, pleasant and natural over cheap, bold and vibrant.

 

Cozy Norway: Mountain Huts and Still Waters

Sometimes I feel that my soul is hungry for new adventures. That feeling is not really describable – it’s just something that you feel and you realize you’ve got to do something. It’s not controllable, it’s coming from inside and it’s slowly “eating” you until you give up. Nearly the same as eating – you feel you’re hungry and you’ve got to eat something, otherwise the feeling does not stop. I normally feel this way about traveling.

This autumn I was “hungry” for some inner piece, relaxation and long walks, so having found ridiculously cheap Wizzair offer (30€) I booked my flight from Riga to Bergen. Following my thoughts on my grandpa (see another post here) I thought I should spend some time with my thoughts, exploring the wild nature, mountaneous landscape and beautiful scenery that Norway has to offer.

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Without a doubt, Norway is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited (the first being New Zealand, many years ago). The land is filled with majestic glacier-formed mountains, deep fjords and beautiful little mountain huts. This time it’s been the second time I visited Norway, and I spent a week eating local food (as much as it can be veganized), meeting lovely and calm Norwegian people, seeing incredible views and, overall, falling in love with the country yet once again.

Bergen

Going to Bergen is quite typical, and a lot of travelers’ routes involves Bergen. Bergen was my first stop (simply because I landed there) and I spent two days exploring the second-biggest city in Norway, which did not seem big at all. Bergen is a beautiful waterfront city, which has got a cozy old town right on the water on the edge of mountains. Bergen’s most famous site is Bryggen – it’s World Heritage-listed Hanseatic wharf with painted wooden buildings that have been standing by the water for hundreds of years. I couldn’t have helped to take a few pictures over there!

The Fishmarket is yet another interesting and very Scandinavian landmark worth visiting. It’s located with by the Bryggen and it’s a nice place if you’d like to do some window-shopping or you’re hungry for a bite (and do eat fish). Even though it smells quite fishy (hehe.. surprise!) it’s interesting to have a sneak-peak into where do “general” Norwegians shop.

 

 

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Haugesund

Haugesund is the regional centre for nearly 100.000 inhabitants and happens to be one of Norway’s foremost trading towns. The abundance of fish (in particular herring) made it possible for the city to develop rapidly, making it an important town for the export of herring, and into one of the largest maritime towns in Norway.

This time, Haugesund was my final for this time, as I was visiting my dad who currently happens to live there. Having been in Haugesund previously, this time I enjoyed a walk in the city finishing my walk with the meal and a drink at Indian Gate. I know, perhaps not the “most Norwegian place ever” you’d say, but it was a perfect choice for my soul (and tummy) hungry for some delicious vegan meal and a beautiful view. There’s a whole bunch of amazing cafes and restaurants located by the shore, called Smadesundet. It’s definitely worth a walk.

Having been in Haugesund before I was quite surprised finding a new unheard and unseen place – Futurefood. It’s a very small shop-cafe, fully vegan, however did not seem too popular at that time. I just dropped by to see their menu promising myself to drop yet another day for some “junk food” but I ended up being pretty busy. Next time it is! After all, having some free time I’ve finally decided to visit Langfoss – the fifth largest waterfall in Norway and awarded to be one of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls by CNN. The weather, unfortunately, has not been very pleasing which ended up in a few ruined photos and a lot of wind – but hey, I saw it, right?

 

 

 

 

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While in Norway, just take some time to enjoy a long sightseeing tour, a long walk by the local fjord or simply a nearby lake. Nearly every corner is a wow-worthy, and I’ve been amazed on how peacefully, calmly and happily Norwegians live. It’s worth taking a short break and just being there with your thoughts – I can guarantee that you’ll come back home richer, fuller and a lot more calm.

Norway travel tips

Accommodation - Like everything else in Norway, accommodation is not cheap. Sometimes (depending on your location) accommodation prices may be twice or even three times higher the European average. You can however get some decent discounts for hostels and get a dorm room for a cost between 200-500 NOK per night, whereas private rooms cost around 800 NOK. Hotels begin at around 1200 NOK per night for a double room. If you happen to visit Norway during the spring / summer you can also camp, and on a lot of public lands it’ll be for free (remember that it tends to be quite cold at night, thought!).

Food - Eating out is not cheap, but you can normally (like anywehre else) get some cheap(er) foods in small local eateries, such as kebab/pizza houses, where sit-down fast-food meals start from 80 NOK. I spent a little over 200 NOK for a one-person meal and a drink at Indian Gate restaurant in Haugesund (remember, however, that small cities are a little cheaper compared to Bergen and Oslo).

Transportation - Trains and busses driving from one to another city normally cost between 300-700 NOK, depending on the distance. If you buy your train ride early enough, you can expect it to be a lot cheaper. And if you’re lucky (and happen to snatch a good discount), you can travel for as little as 80 NOK. A lot of young people also hitch-hike, and the great majority of Norwegians are keen on taking and dropping passenger if it happens to be on their way.

Activities - If you are hungry for the “real” Norwegian landmarks, then you simply must visit a few fjords. Walking and fjort sight-seeing is a very popular activity in Norway, despite whether you’re a tourist or local. Multi-day tours normally cost ~1050 NOK a day, however you can find cheaper day tours for around 400-750 NOK. Museum prices are normally 80-100 NOK and you sometimes get a discount if you show an international student ID.