We first traveled to Norway in July of 2008, visiting the capital city of Oslo. We returned in 2017, visiting the country extensively on a Princess Cruise. We stopped in Bergen, Trondheim, Haugesund, Hellesylt, and Geiranger and visited the Briksdal Glacier south of the Arctic Circle. In the Arctic, we visited  Tromso, Stappen Island, Honnigsvag, Gravdal, the Lofoten Islands, and the amazing town of Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen, 800 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Norway is most definitely one of the worlds most beautiful countries. It is one of the richest nations in the world, per capita, and that means prices tend to be high for most items. Because of Norway's wealth, they decided not to become a member of the European Union, though the are a member of the Schengen Agreement which allows free movement between European countries. 

The first settlers to Norway were hunters and gatherers who arrived near the end of the Ice Age. Of course, the country is best known for it's Viking Age, a period that many believe started with the plundering of England's Lindisfarne monastery by Nordic pirates in 793 AD. The Vikings were amazing sailors and strong and intimidating warriors and they claimed and conquered many places. Harold Hårfagre unified Norway around 900 in the town of Haugesund, which I visited in 2017. About 100 years later King Olav converted the Viking people to Christianity. The main Viking Age is believed to have ended in 1066 when King Harold Hardråda was killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge, after claiming the crown of England.

Oslo eventually became the center of power in the 13th century and Norway thrived up to the mid-14th century when the bubonic plague devastated its population centers. At various points in history, Norway was part of Denmark  and Sweden. But, eventually nationalism led to Norway's independence when it peacefully seceded from Sweden in 1905.

Norway tried to stay neutral during the world wars but was attacked and occupied by the Nazis in 1940. The Germans rampaged through many Norwegen towns and villages until they were soundly defeated by the Allies in May of 1945. 

In 1960 Norway joined the Schengen Agreement and the European Free Trade Association and over the next two decades, instituted policies that make it among the strongest of Europe's Social Democracies.  When I visited in 2017, it had the highest standard of living in the world. 

Click here to see the Svalbard Archipelago and Longyearbyen

Oslo 2008

Bergen 2017

Trondheim 2017

Tromso 2017

Stappen Island & The North Cape 2017

Lofoten Islands & Gravdal 2017

Hellesylt, Geiranger, & Birksdal Glacier 2017

Haugesund 2017