My girlfriend and I started to date during the summer so that, when we decided to plan our first vacation together, it was already the Christmas holidays. We decided not to limit ourselves in any way regarding the destination, as long as the prices were affordable. So we started looking online for the most romantic cities – but Paris is a cliché – or the most entertaining places – but everybody goes to Amsterdam – and then I found a picture of a person from behind staring at a fjord.
What an amazing landscape! What a wonderful view! It was so breath-taking and stunning! However, I wasn’t great at geography – actually, I’m still not – and I didn’t realise that the fjords weren’t exactly close to my native Italy. But I always fall in love with these places, almost untouched by human hands, where nature expresses itself freely without constraints.
Luckily, it turned out that during the winter almost nobody goes to visit Scandinavian cities. In particular, a trip to Bergen was – and still is – very cheap. You may think that there is probably a reason why people don’t actually go to these places during winter – perhaps something to do with the cold – but what’s better than visiting majestic natural places almost completely alone, on a private tour, with no noisy tourists? As it turned out, we really were alone in Bergen that winter but, if you have a good coat and aren’t afraid of the cold, then the experience is really worth it.
Before then, I had never visited Scandinavia and I could not have imagined the feelings that arise when you find yourself immersed in huge natural landscapes. When the tour boat ploughs through the North Sea and the waters remain as still and black as marble, you feel calm and relaxed as if nothing could bother you anymore. When you take an old train from Bergen to Fläm, in what is described by the National Geographic as one of the most scenic routes of the world, with little wooden houses and their smoking chimneys sunk in the snow, you have a warm feeling thinking about how it feels to stay there during the Christmas holidays.
Further along, the train stops on a wooden bridge and you are able to get off on a little platform to admire a Frozen waterfall which will leave you speechless. Then you get back on the train and arrive in Flåm, the train terminal station, and there’s nothing out there except for the Aurlands fjord opening just in front of you; an immense rift between the rocks, paved by the glassy, black sea, and surrounded by snow covering the few houses that form the little neighbourhood around you. You feel happy and serene as if you were in a beautiful dream.
When you go back to Bergen and explore the streets, you can catch a glimpse of the lives of the local people through window decorated with flowers and figurines, and hear the sound of someone playing the violin in one of the apartments. Then you arrive at the harbour and discover the fish market, the most famous place in Bergen, where people either sell the catch of the day or cook it directly for you so that you can enjoy it while looking at the city and the sea through the glass walls of the market. And when you finally go back to the hotel and wonder if it’s even possible to consider going back to your city for next semester’s classes and work.
Nonetheless, this is only a small example of what you can experience during a winter trip to the Scandinavian countries. A lot more is waiting for you: the aurora borealis, huskies sledding (which is really something- after the ride, you get the chance to cuddle and feed the dogs in a chalet in front of a fire!), skiing, hiking, fishing, whale watching, and so on. This winter, I urge you to consider it!