Ny name is Andrea. According to my ID card, I am twenty years old and come from a little city touching the Adriatic coast. I lose myself in the click of a photo, in the time it takes to capture a rectangle of life before the shutters close and the screen on the back of my camera darkens. Sometimes this moment is just a fleeting spark, a thousandth of a light which brightens the sensations. Other times this snapshot of life is an ambitious call, entire seconds or even minutes as thoughts form in my mind.
Norway has angles which you can’t quite fit into the imagination or the collective stereotype that the country suffers from. We leave behind the huge fjords, isolated open spaces and limitless cold forests in the west of the country and head north to the tiny zone of Skagerrak, which is a few hours away by foot from Sweden and Denmark. Vestfold is the smallest region in the country, although it also one of the most populated and is not touristic.
The deep historic roots of the area go back to the Drakkar who mingled along the coast and in Kaupang, the oldest town you can find on Norwegian territory. It swallows up the theory that the Vikings originated from these locations. Those men dominated the Northern Sea and set sail for beaches that we could perfectly well live on today, tightening together the lands of Iceland, Greenland and Labrador (Canadian province - ed).
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It’s easy to see why the four main cities all cropped up at the coast and grew over the centuries what with the fishing and trade opportunities across the Atlantic and Baltic. Sandefjord is no exception. The city of over 400, 000 residents developed thanks to an industrial port and hunting for blue whales. This latter activity ended in the sixties; today the Sandefjordmuseene (Hvalfangstmuseet) is the only one in the world dedicated to the whaling industry.
Of course, Vestfold is not only about history. Art fans can go to Stavern, a small and somewhat eccentric village known for its annual visiting artists. It also hosts an old naval arsenal which has been converted into a coffee shop and museum in the city.
If you want to abandon all essence of nature and take your time to discover the region little by little, visit the countryside. It is dotted with prairies with sloping hillslides hosting wooden houses and red barns. The tall forests of birch tree open up to valleys whilst harmonious rocky formations hide in the tranquil coves and baby islands, where typical summer cottages are built.
This part of Norway is diverse. Its nature is not as imposing or wild as it is in the east, but more peaceful and calm in its relation to man. Man after all made the freshwater lake Farris, a source of high quality bottled water across the entire region almost, and an important resource for hydroelectric centres in the zone, as well as being stunningly beautiful.
Submerge yourself in this country if you can. Find paths across woodlands as if by magic, glide across a mirror’s surface in a canoe and lie on cold rock surfaces whilst you admire the game of lights which the last day of August serves up. Norway’s calm yet intense atmosphere is dominated by bright colours, clean air and a fresh breeze which will nurture your skin as well as your mind and soul.