he Kingdom of Norway is a rather large country with a rather small population (4.953 million as of 2011, with a population density of 16 persons per km2, or 34.6 persons per square mile) and a huge enjoyment quotient — particularly for those who like the outdoors.
Norway occupies the western part of the Scandinavian peninsula and shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia. Its long coastline is pierced by spectacular fjords and its mountainous interior is blanketed by some of Europe’s largest glaciers. Over 500 sq km (194 sq miles) of the country lies north of the Arctic Circle, but the country’s western coast usually remains ice free year-round, thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.
Midnight-sun days, when the sun never drops below the horizon, extend from 13 May to 29 July at Nordkapp in the far north, and from 28 May to 14 July in the Lofoten islands. Even southern Norway has daylight from 4 am to 11 pm in midsummer. On the other hand, the sun does not rise in the north at all from the end of November to the end of January.
One thing that is guaranteed is high snow quality, due to the sometimes extremely cold temperatures. The weather can be changeable though, and during midwinter the daylight hours are short because of its extreme northern latitude. The Scandinavian ski season is pretty long and runs typically from mid October until late May. If you are a true skiing aficianado, the long dark days of winter will not bother you. And there’s always the Aurora Borealis shimmering across the skies to brighten your soul.
Yes, Norwegians are skiing people and proud of it. There are at least 200 skiing resorts in the country – Hemsedalen, Geilo, Trysil and Häfjell are some of the largest, with vertical drops of between 300 – 750m, and board parks tend to be quite impressive. Telemarking originated in Norway and is another popular pastime. Of course, it is also a haven for cross-country skiers –– it’s got some of best terrain and facilities in Europe for serious Nordic skiers.
Beyond skiing and winter activities, Norway is is a great choice for a family holiday at any season, with many resorts having great ski schools for kids and impressive childcare services year round. Children are welcome almost everywhere, and often spoiled terribly during their stay– which takes some of the pressure off mom and dad.
If you are looking for nightlife, you’ll find the country to be somewhat hit and miss due to the exorbitant taxes on alcohol, and in some rural areas virtual prohibition is the norm — but you can still find plenty of places to party the night away if that is your aim.
Norway is at its best and brightest from May to September. Late spring is a particularly pleasant time – fruit trees are in bloom, daylight hours are long, and most sights and resorts are open but uncrowded. This is especially a good time for leisurely walks in flowery meadows and frisking along fragrant pathways.
As for food, some typical Norwegian dishes include laks (grilled or smoked salmon), reker (boiled shrimp) and torsk (cod). You will also find numerous mouthwatering smorgasbord dishes of all types, excellent cheeses, and in the larger resort towns and cities are restaurants serving fine international cuisine.
A popular dish at Christmas time is lutefisk (dried cod made near-gelatinous by soaking in lye, and then properly soaked in water to get the lye out and simmered until it is more or less edible; its name literally means “lye fish.”). It is generally served with creamed peas and new potatoes, perhaps with a sprinkling of crisp bacon on top, as shown in this photo from MyLittleNorway.com. Lutefisk is definitely an acquired taste and if you are there during Christmas and are an adventurous type you might want to try it — but most of you will want to politely give it a pass.
One of Norway’s top ski and snowboard destinations is Gålå, located in the south-central part of Norway only an hour from Lillehammer and within easy driving distance of fjord country and the glaciers. Situated on the famed Peer Gynt trail this is a true 4-season resort you are sure to enjoy whether you come to walk or ski in the winter (with more than 230km cross country trails and 15 ski slopes), watch nature blossom in spring, breathe fresh mountain air in summer, or enjoy the mountain’s colorful splendor of autumn.
A quiet, family oriented resort, it is somewhat lacking in places for “going out” but what it offers makes up for that perceived lack: total relaxation and a variety of activities for all ages and abilities including both downhill and cross country skiing, ski school, ski rental, sledding, ice fishing, indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools, horse sleigh rides and even Sami tents with wood and matches so you can have a break in warmth! The length of trails here varies from 500m to 30km so there really is a world of choice in what has been described by one Danish newspaper as “the world’s best cross-country skiing resort!”. The activities are organized by Gala Ski and Summer Arena, for which they were awarded the “Product of the Year 1998″ prize.
When you’ve had enough fresh air and scenery for a day, you may be tempted by more culinary adventures in the cozy surroundings of Gålå Høgfjellshotel, located with great views across a lake to the Jotunheimen and Rondane mountain ranges. The entire staff of skilled staff do their utmost to make you feel comfortable and feel at home. This resort offers cottages, apartments, hotels and a restaurant with good food (try the lake trout) and a warm atmosphere
And it gets very good reviews on TripAdvisor, too.
The timeshare part of this resort is the Interval International-affiliated Premier resort Gålå Fjellgrend, cabins built in traditional Norwegian style and fully equipped to a very high standard, where you can ski directly from your log cabin onto the slopes and trails. The cabins are 2-bedrooms with a loft and sleep 6.
Note that this is also a Diamond Resorts International Club-affiliated resort.
Each cabin comes with a complete kitchen equipped with dishwasher and microwave, bathroom with heated floors, central heating and a sitting room with fireplace and satellite TV. In addition, this resort has a library with books available in several languages, a front desk that is open 24 hours a day, and a full compliment of activities. Available at the nearby Gålå Hotel are a fitness room and an outdoor heated pool — for summer only, of course — and tennis and a restaurant, and there is even golf not far away. You will find that most of the hotel’s amenities are available to timeshare guests.
Gålå Fjellgrend is not exactly a name that trips off the tongue of hordes of people the instant the subject of vacations is raised, and perhaps it never will be. Perhaps this will remain part of its charm, and part of the reason that you really might want to visit!
Some Web sites you may want to visit for more information:
- http://tinyurl.com/zxxtanr — About Gala Mountain Resort
- http://www.norway.com/ –Online travel guide, very complete
- http://www.visitnorway.com/ –The official Norway guide
- http://www.cyberclip.com/Katrine/NorwayInfo/ –Interesting links to Norway things
- http://www.lonelyplanet.com/norway/ –Lonely Planet’s Norway guide
- http://www.ski-norway.co.uk/ –Ski Norway
- http://viking.no./ –All about the Vikings
- http://www.ifi.uio.no/~terjek/rail/ –An unofficial Railway page for Norway
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of “On the Road” is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. Premier quality. However, these resorts are not usually the only timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out— enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
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