Experiencing Friluftsliv in Norway

I spent last weekend in Norway, staying high above the city of Oslo in a winter wonderland that felt like a fairy tale. The woods behind our house, the majestic views, and the piles of snow providing the perfect Nordic landscape that I'd been dreaming about all winter. Enough of getting excited when there's a tiny sprinkling of snow at home, this was the real deal. Cars buried in snowdrifts, trees bending over with the weight of the snow on their branches and smooth, perfect, freshly fallen snow just waiting to be jumped in.

We were in Oslo the exact same weekend last year, but we stayed on an island in the fjord. There was still snow, lots of it, especially when we ventured up to the sledging run on top of the mountain, but this year it felt different. Maybe because we were actually staying among the snow, in a tiny village with just a scattering of houses and insane views over the countryside below. The start of the forest was literally on our doorstep and the tram to the peak was just two minutes walk away. All we did during our stay was race down the sledging run, walk in the forest and curl up at night in front of the fire.

I wrote about the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv a few months ago, and I definitely practice what I preach. I try to spend as much time as possible outdoors and love nothing better than walking in the countryside. Our weekend break was all about embracing friluftsliv, on its home turf no less. The only part of the city that we saw was the train station when we stocked up on groceries before switching lines to head up to our destination. No restaurants, no bars, no shops, no galleries; just an entire weekend focused on spending time outdoors. 

Despite the bitterly cold temperatures, there was never any temptation to spend our days indoors. Wrapped up in thermals, a ski jacket and snow boots, we were completely comfortable spending whole days out in the snow. We sledged first thing in the morning before anyone else was on the run, and late in the evening under the glow of floodlights. I stood at the edge of the hill watching the sun set, rubbing my hands together to warm up my fingers enough to capture everything on my camera. We walked through the woods in the snow, relying on my sense of direction to guide us, watching cross-country skiers enjoying their day. Even when we'd lit the fire and were ready to cook dinner, I would pull on my boots and head outside to wander down the road and admire the sky changing colour.

Norway is the perfect country for friluftsliv. We constantly remarked on how different life would be if we lived there. Rather than spending weekends and evenings meeting friends in the pub or going out for meals, socialising would mean grabbing your skis and heading to the forest. Outdoor sports, walking and breathing in the crisp, fresh air is a way of life in Norway. With everyone based within easy access of the wilderness, even in the cities, the temptation to head outdoors is always there.

It definitely rubs off. I'd happily have stayed out for hours on the sledges, without any regard to how cold my nose felt. When you're wearing the correct clothing, you hardly feel the freezing temperatures - in fact, I'd go as far as to say that I actually feel the chill more back home, as I'm not dressed suitably for the low temperatures we're experiencing at the moment. 

There's something about Norway that fills you with an excitement to be outdoors. The landscapes are so wild and dramatic, the A-frame houses so picturesque, that it just feels like a waste to be stuck inside. You want to be outdoors, soaking in the scenery and getting active to keep yourself warm. I've definitely returned with an increased wanderlust for wild outdoor spaces and a keener sense of friluftsliv.