Land of the Fjords, fantastic landscapes, Trolls, Northern Lights and “mild” temperatures that can reach up to -35°C.
Two months ago we have arrived in the country, supposedly prepared to live this frozen and sustainable adventure. However, Norway is proving itself to be much more incredible and challenging than we could have ever imagined.
We have landed at the country’s capital: Oslo. The largest city in Norway has also been elected the Green Capital of Europe in 2019, strengthening its position as a world reference in sustainability. Over the years, urban planners, managers and population have dedicated investments and efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the city and ensure a more sustainable future for everyone.
We were surprised by electric and hybrid cars dominating the streets, Norwegians riding freely through cycle tracks, urban parks around every corner and an impecable public transport system.
Well done, Norway! What an amazing reception!
On the next days we were introduced to the HI Norway Office Team and, without wasting any time, we started to establish the goals and strategies for this round of the project!
Our new Scandinavian life, nevertheless, was more than just work and pleasant sustainable surprises. Challenges such as: cold and snow, slippery thin ice, expensive prices and language barriers made a simple trip to the supermarket a difficult task.
One of those times we went to buy butter. Luckily everyone in Norway speaks English fluently, yet, packaging is written in Norwegian, which makes things a bit difficult. At the grocery store, we asked the friendly staff where we could find what we were looking for and the attendant pointed to a refrigerator full of different products. Our goals were: 1) figuring out what was butter and what was margarine, without understanding any Norwegian; and 2) buying a brand that did not cost us all of our wages.
After 15 minutes studying options and analyzing labels, we finally came to a decision. When we arrived at the hostel, we realized that our precious butter was actually a yeast tablet!
After 20 days living, admiring, getting lost in the subway (Ringen who???), and buying wrong products in Oslo, we moved to our base city: Kongsberg.
Located 70 minutes from Oslo by train, with approximately 27410 inhabitants, the municipality of Kongsberg is famous for its historical silver mines, beautiful woods and the ski center, as well as for being the official home to several world class companies, – especially in the field of advanced technology -, and the Royal Norwegian Mynt, the agency responsible for Norwegian Krone coins production. Quite fancy, isn’t it?
The city also stages the Kongsberg Jazz Festival, in July. The event brings together the biggest names of Norwegian and world music, and takes place annually since 1965. This year, we will be attending the festival as environmental volunteers!
Kongsberg, Norway – 15.03.2019
In Kongsberg, we work at HI Kongsberg Vandrerhjem, a hostel that offers one of the best breakfasts in Norway and is very committed to becoming more and more sustainable!
There, we had the opportunity to raise awareness for the environment and entertain guests and the local community through an event dedicated to the Earth Hour, where lights were off for one hour to protect the planet. The hostel also took part and supported many activities promoted by the Say HI to Sustainability team, like the Earth Day Challenge, along with several other sustainable goals for this year, such as obtaining the HI Q&S certification!
Earth Hour HI Kongsberg Vandrerhjem – 30.03.2019
Within those 60 days we’ve already: fallen on snow a few times; watched the Ski Festival in the middle of the forest, along with a bunch of Norwegian teenagers; eaten lots of fish for breakfast / lunch / dinner (salmon for life); tasted brown cheese (approved!); skied (and rolled) downhill; met some really amazing people; traveled by boat to Northern Norway and even seen the Northern Lights (story for a next post).
Our journey has just began, but if there’s one thing we can tell, for sure is that: WE Norway!
Press play to find out how Norway have received us in our first day, and follow our social media pages to keep up-to-date with our latest sustainable adventures through Norway and Brazil:
Written by: Amarílis Coelho and Emília Barreto.