World By Shotglass

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Thursday, December 23, 2010


World By  Shotglass
Chapter 3 :

  • Location : Northern Europe
  • Capital: Oslo
  • Language: Norwegian
  • Population: 4.9 million
  • Total Area: 385,252 km2
  • Currency: The Norwegian Króne
  • Annual average liquor consumption per capita: 7.5 liters per year
  • Annual Beer Consumption Per Capita: 56 liters per year
  • The most popular drink: Akevitt containing beverages



The city:

Oslo is a hub of Norwegian banking and maritime industries.  It also holds a questionable honor of being the world’s most expensive city.  That, however, does not deter its population from growing at one of the fastest rates in Europe of 2% annually, mostly by immigration, now accounting for more than 25% of residents.  Norway is recognized as one of the rainiest part of the continent.  The weather can change in just seconds, and in one day, I have experienced a mind-boggling midnight sun, then pouring rain, and immediately following that a midnight rainbow basked the town.

The People:

Norwegians are characterized by their willingness to live in contradiction.  Outsiders notice it in many aspects of Norwegian life.  Governmental structure follows a system of Constitutional monarchy with Parliamentary democracy.  Norwegians have an immense national pride and will be very offended if you mix them up with Swedes, yet many cross the border to do their grocery shopping in Sweden.  They can grocery shop Monday through Saturday at a supermarket, but on Sunday only at a gas station or kiosk or across the border.  They are simultaneously one of the largest exporters of oil and have the highest prices on petrol at home. 

What to do:


Norwegians have long associated drinking with religion.  Olaf Triggvason who was the King of Norway from 995-1000, according to the sagas, converted Vikings to Christianity by getting people drunk and burning their houses down if they dared to refuse.  Two of the Norwegian drinking customs that I truly enjoyed are vorspiels and nachspiels.  Vorspiel is when you get drunk at someone’s house before going to a bar and nachspiel is when you continue drinking in someone’s house after going to a bar.  Both can and do happen on the same evening.  Very low alcohol content beer that tastes like soda can be purchased at a supermarket, but for anything stronger, Norwegians are forced to shop at Vinmonopolet.  As the name implies, it is a government owned monopoly with a license to sell alcohol. 


Norwegians are avid outdoorsmen and cabin owners.  While some cabins have been renovated and are equipped with modern luxuries such as a coffeemaker, refrigerator and running water, I wanted to stay in one that has been passed from generation to generation.  It was a decision I later questioned.  My cabin had tiny rooms filled with near antique furniture.  It was easy to imagine ugly trolls messing around after sun set turning brown moldy furniture into their playground.  In fact, after having some alcohol to warm myself up after a "warm" summer day, I could swear that my tea kettle itself was a troll in disguise making very strange swearing noises at having to perform its duties.


Driving in Norway outside of the city to explore its extensive coastline is a deceiving experience.  Everything takes longer than one would expect.   Domesticated animals and roads carved into the mountains in Fjord religion make for very slow drives.  Speeding fines that are higher than punishment for heroin usage also take away all of the desire to speed.  While watching a shepherd

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