Norway Wins!! As an Outdoor and Historic Destination

Last Updated on January 29, 2019 by Janet Frost

For the last two weeks the whole world’s attention has been on Pyeongchang, South Korea.  While global politicking and U.S. drama swirls, the team from Norway has quietly accepted 30 medals in the 2018 Winter Olympics. This impressive total puts them on top of the medal count and surpasses their historic 26 medals from homebased Lillehammer in 1994. As the games draw to a close we can all see that Norway wins.

What is happening in Norway?

The “Why” of this phenomenon is trending as a FAQ on Google, with articles in such powerhouses as; USA Today, LA Times, Chicago Tribune and The Guardian.  Everyone has a theory about why Norway wins at Winter Olympics, the common themes are camaraderie and hardiness. We visited Norway in 2015 and I absolutely agree with these characteristics of the Norwegian culture. While writing, I had to stop and think about the correct word usage, hearty or hardy. I found this from the Grammar Girl

Hearty has a sense of “from the heart” and can be used to describe people who are warm and sincere or a meal that is nourishing and filling.
Whereas something tough and able to endure hardship or cold is described as hardy,

Ah ha! So both words describe the Norwegians and the reasons that Norway wins.

Visiting Norway

In 2015 Norway was experiencing a surge in tourism, in part due to the Frozen movie. Suddenly the rugged craggy mountains and frozen fjords of Norway promised romantic experiences. My husband’s grandparents immigrated from Norway and I suspect they would have found this unbelievable. Those rocky shores were tough to farm and many immigrated to the Midwest in the late 19th century. However, in the 21st century, Norway is populated by hearty, hardy people who are proud to show off their spectacular country. I offer one caveat, Norwegians will hike, bike, paddle and entertain your behinds off!


Compared to the US, Norway is a small country.  The US covers 9.8 million square kilometers and Norway a mere 385,000 km.  In spite of its small size, Norway is a treasure trove of spectacular and vivid scenery. Just like the United States, attempting to experience the whole country in one visit is impossible.  There are quaint villages, vibrant cities, isolated islands, majestic peaks, surreal glaciers, deep fjords  and ancient forests in this small country.  We visited the Western coast and the county of Hordaland.  


This western county is home to  Bergen. Bergen is Norway’s second largest city with a population of almost 300,00. The city is surrounded by mountains and many of its suburbs are islands. Historic Bryggen and contemporary Bergen meet in a picturesque setting. The port city was founded in 1070 by King Olav. It remains a bustling port for both freight and passenger traffic. What remains of the original quays and Old Bryggen have been designated as an UNESCO Heritage site. Modern Bergen is an international center for aquaculture, shipping, offshore petroleum industry and subsea technology. 


Norway wins
Bergen Harbor and a view of Old Bryggen


Bergen Harbor
Old Bryggen the UNESCO World Heritage Site



Norway wins
The lively and hard-working fish markets demonstrate an industry that Norway has lived on for generations.


Norway wins
The 21st century Bergen is south of the harbor and delivers the cheerful and colorful modern Scandinavian we have come to admire. Plenty of friendly Norwegians enjoying beautiful green spaces and welcoming plazas.

Norway wins in adventure travel

The famous Hardangerfjorden, the second largest fjord in Norway, bisects Hordaland County. I must confess, before visiting Norway, I actually thought of the fjords as the mountains rather than huge bodies of water. Ok, this is why I travel, to go learn things! The region also boasts several spectacular waterfalls and the  Folgefonna Glacier. This rugged  landscape gives Norway large unpopulated regions, many of which have been converted to national parks. Norway wins as an unspoiled wonderland for nature and adventure junkies. No wonder Norway wins the Winter Olympics with this kind of playground. 

Tom’s cousin Laila Johanne Reigstad is an Outdoor Outfitter located on the suburban island of Misje. Check out here site at Reigstad Unlimited she shares Norway with passion. She took us hiking, paddling, exploring ancient villages and visiting relatives.

Norway winds
Laila Reigstad Tom’s cousin. Our gracious host and hearty/hardy tour guide.



Norway wins
Reigstad Unlimited hardy Norwegians
Norway wins
Hiking to the Folgefonna Glacier with Laila


Norway wins
Yes we swam in this iceberg lake on the way up to Folgefonna Glacier

Historic Norway

Of course I must learn about the history of every destination. For us, this destination went beyond generally historic, it was also a heritage trip. Laila took us to the original ancestral farm and stave church. Europe always surprises me with the age of its historic sites. Several remodels of this church actually predate the discovery of America.

Ancestral Kvamme family church



Historic destination
Interior, Kvamme family still attends for important events.

















Norway wins
This sled was how Norwegians traveled over the Glacier

Why Norway Wins

Whether it is family history, the romance of Frozen or the agony of defeat (U.S. Olympians) we can learn from Norway. As a country they embrace their environment, rugged cold and all, as a nation they protect their history and heritage, as a society they commit to a quality of life for the whole community. They are the first to admit that Norway is a small homogeneous country, at the same time, they believe their values are applicable for other countries. They believe these values explain why they are winning at the 2018 Winter Olympics. I am not qualified to really weigh in on this debate, however I know I learned plenty in this beautiful country.


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