Travel

Published on June 4th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor

Three Ways a Trip to Scandinavia will Move You Like No Other Destination.

When we think of Scandinavia most of us conjure up the traditional images of the region – towering waterfalls and soaring fjords, quaint towns and northern European cities.  And of course, the northern lights.

And while it’s true that the dramatic landscapes are something to see, there is much more to experience in a tour of Scandinavia than just the natural wonders.

This region has inspired travellers and seafaring adventurers since ancient times. Today, the esthetic of Scandinavian life, cuisine and culture is enjoying a newfound popularity the world over.

Here’s why a tour of Nordic Europe will stay with you long after your trip is over.

Embrace Your Hygge.

The Scandinavian concept of hygge – a philosophy that promotes comfort and wellbeing – has become an increasingly popular lifestyle trend.

Hygge – pronounced “hoo-ga” – means finding contentment is the simple everyday pleasures of life and in the company of others.

Some say hygge is the secret to happiness. Perhaps that is why the Scandinavian countries are consistently ranked as among the world’s happiest.

The concept is gaining international attention as well. The word hygge made the shortlist for the Oxford Dictionary’s 2016’s Word of the Year. Okay, it lost out to ‘post-truth,’ but still. The minimalist concept of embracing the moment, the importance of simplicity and slowing down the pace of life is something that visitors not only embrace while in Scandinavia, but also many try to bring back with them when their trip is done.

Take a moment to stand in awe at a deep and magnificent fjord or at the foot of a crashing waterfall just to appreciate the wonders of nature. Then have a candlelit meal with a glass of wine at a cozy local eatery. Good food, good company and taking the time to enjoy them is very hygge. Treasure the moment and then see if you can incorporate the practice of being present and giving your full attention to ordinary moments into your life back home as well.

Discover the Tastes.

Speaking of enjoying the good food in a cozy eatery, don’t let your impression of Scandinavian food be coloured by Ikea meatballs alone.

It’s a smorgasbord of flavours to try (smorgasbord actually comes from the Swiss words for sandwich – smorgas and table – bord). A traditional smorgasbord consists of a table lined with a variety of small hot and cold foods, including fish, cold meats and warm dishes, breads and cheese.

Fish is a staple of the Scandinavian diet. Herring – pickled, fried or smoked is the most popular, but cured or smoked salmon is also very common.

The national dish of Norway is a dried fish called lutefisk, served with bacon, potatoes and a puree of peas. Flæskesteg – roasted pork served with gravy, caramelised potatoes and red cabbage is considered one of the national dishes of Denmark.

Of course, meatballs do play an important part of Scandinavian cuisine. From Swedish meatballs to Norwegian kjøttboller, they come in thousands of varieties reflecting regional differences. They can be made with beef, pork, veal or various combinations of meat and are usually served with boiled or mashed potatoes.

There’s a reason why we call Danishes ‘Danishes’. This part of the world is famous for its breads and baked treats. From Swedish cinnamon or cardamom rolls to dark rye and sourdough loaves or crispbread topped with meat or cheese, local breads can be enjoyed with a coffee or as an accompaniment to most meals. Open-faced sandwiches are a staple of many Scandinavian diets.

Savour a delightful farm-to-table dinner with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and a taste of local wine.

Follow in the Footsteps of the Vikings.

Although hygge is considered to be one of the defining aspects of Danish culture, the word comes from Norse, the language of the Vikings. Those early northern European seafarers used the term that has come to mean comfort and wellbeing to refer to warm shelter from the cold seas.

Today, the rich culture and history of Scandinavia still bears the imprint of those legendary explorers. Modern visitors to the region can be inspired by sailing the Skagerrak strait that joins the southeast coast of Norway, the southwest coast of Sweden and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark.

Experience the nautical heritage of the Vikings with a guided tour of the majestic fjords and a cruise through the canals and Dutch-style waterways of Gothenburg. You can see the only almost fully intact 17th century warship that has ever been salvaged at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden or step right into Norse history at the 750-year-old Bergenhus Fortress and Haakon’s Hall, the imposing stone keep that was once the home of ancient Norwegian royalty.

The wild and rocky coastlines of Scandinavia jut out into the sea with towering cliffs, dense forests, quaint fishing villages and modern cities. Ancient seafarers navigated these waters by the endless stars and marvelled at the Nordlys – the Norse term for the Northern Lights.

Today you can see those same natural wonders for yourself. From some of the world’s tallest waterfalls, to fjords, glaciers and hot springs you can experience the same beauty and natural wonders that inspired the great myths and legends of the Vikings.

From its rich culture and history, to its distinct flavours and succulent cuisine, to the dramatic landscapes and the unique approach to living that they inspire, a visit to Scandinavia is sure to move you. What you see and experience here will be a world apart from anything else you are likely to ever encounter.

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