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In the Women’s Web ‘Travel The World With Kids’ series, we talk to mums from all over the globe who are interested in exploring their backyard attractions with their tiny tots! We hope you find them useful, if someday you choose to visit their part of the world. Though usually in Q&A format, this time Shalini Frøiland of A Wing And A Prayer, has given free rein to her creative juices and provided us with some wonderful suggestions on kid-friendly things to do in Norway! Over to Shalini!
I have a confession to make. Normally, when my husband suggests an outing with our kids in a friendly tone, my first instinct is to cower in the corner of my sofa, clutching my tea cup in terror. If pushed, I may even whine, “MUST I?” Don’t get me wrong. I love my boys, but going out with two kids with a 4 year age gap between them, presents certain challenges. I find myself staring longingly at random adults and thinking, “I’d take YOU out. You probably wouldn’t subject me to your tantrums, make faces at food and whine that your feet hurt.”
Of course, there are occasions when we are all pleasantly surprised by each other’s company and I’m going to put that down to some great destinations/hangouts. We live in Stavanger in south-western Norway, a small city with a population of 300,000 and a large expat population, given the oil and shipping companies that have a major presence in this region.
What to do with kids in Norway (and especially in Stavanger)
This is a region known for its stunning natural beauty and its proximity to the ocean, the mountains and fjords. If your family loves the great outdoors, this is a great family destination. Summer or winter, rain or shine, there is something for everyone – even if that means going on a skiing trip mostly to drink hot cocoa and feel your fingers come alive again as your grab the cup with both hands. Of course I’m talking about myself.
We both love beaches and regardless of the season we love going there with the boys. The beaches in this region – Sola, Bore, Orre and Hellestø to name a few are unspoilt, uncrowded and simply stunning. On a cold day, bundle up well and head out with a small picnic. The adults can try their hand at surfing or kiting, and if this level of adventure scares the living bejeezus out of you, just dig to China, collect shells, sip coffee and enjoy the wind whipping your hair.
Going outdoorsy with kids in Stavanger
Of course, no trip to Stavanger is complete without a trip to Pulpit Rock. Pulpit Rock is a massive cliff 1982 feet above Lysefjord, opposite the Kjerag plateau – and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Norway. The top of the cliff is approximately 25 square metres and almost flat. If you’re supremely lucky, you could even catch a Tamil film crew, gallivanting at the edge of the precipice. The hike up to Pulpit Rock is approximately 3.8 kilometres, and one doesn’t need to have an impressive level of fitness to manage the incline. This might not sound like a child friendly excursion, but if you have a child who enjoys walking and climbing, and you have solid shoes, it is perfectly doable. My son did his first hike to Pulpit Rock when he was 5. (Norwegian families and daycare centres get kids started early on long walks. If you are doing this with a child under six, make sure he is well rested, well-shod and well-hydrated during the trip. Also make sure he wants to. Promise him a sighting of an exciting troll if you must.)
Another lovely daytrip with kids in the 2 hour hike to Dalsnuten – a peak at 324 metres above sea level with gorgeous views of Gandsfjord. On a sunny day, the view of the fjord and mountains will clean take your breath away. The rule of thumb for the entire family is to dress appropriately, (even if it is a warm day, carry extra layers. You never really know when the wind will pick up!) and carry sensible amounts of food and drink in your backpack.
Most Norwegian families with small kids, carry them in a sling/baby carrier when they go on such hikes. If you possess the level of fitness/mental endurance that will allow you lug 12 kilos of happy/unhappy child up a mountain, please come this way. Allow me to pin this badge of honour on your lapel.
Eating out in Norway
Eating out in Norway (or buying socks for that matter) is exorbitant for most foreigners. The majority of visitors turn a whiter shade of pale, and assume the countenance of one passing a kidney stone when they see the prices in stores and restaurants. If you’re willing to overlook this fact and regularly frolic about in Norwegian kroner in the comfort of your home, there are some amazing child friendly eateries.
Our favourite is Charles & De in Sandnes, where the waiters will happily supply your child with paper and crayons while you wait for their stupendous mussel soup or special burgers. Ostehuset and Bagel Buddy in Stavanger are two other eateries which have a relaxed, child friendly atmosphere, though getting a table can be tough. If you win in Vegas a lot, you’re in luck.
Shopping in Norway
If bargain shopping is your bliss, you might just be in the wrong place. However, both Stavanger and Sandnes have all the regular high street outlets in addition to some edgy, concept stores. If you plan to shop with kids, (at this point I must stop and enquire if you really took your medication and in correct quantities) there are malls like Kvadrat, which have play areas and arcades which will keep your children busy, happy and safe, while you shop.
Getting around with kids, and other Norway tips
Stavanger is a safe city and getting around with children is not difficult. If you are visiting for a few days, unless you’re staying with friends, it is advisable to live in the city centre where public transport is easily accessible. Spend a few leisurely days enjoying what nature offers for free. At some point, plan a 3 hour boat trip through Lysefjord. It will take your breath away. If you want to minimize costs by not eating out so much, shop for food at supermarkets and carry picnic lunches on trips. This is especially advisable if you’re a vegetarian, who does not find her bliss living on onion rings from Burger King. Should you come here during the autumn/winter months, brave frostbite and try the ski slopes. If you (like me) think skis are your enemy, then I strongly recommend sledding with kids. These are easy to rent and your child’s whoops of joy alone will make this worthwhile.
If the great, beautiful outdoors wears you out and leaves you in need of a defrost, come to this warm home. Wrap yourself around this jug of cocoa. You’re welcome.
*Photo credit: seljes (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)
Previous Interviews In The ‘Travel With Kids’ Series:
Nora from Morocco
Toni from Manila
Uma from Chennai
The Mad Momma from Delhi
Maid In Malaysia from Kuala Lumpur
Lakshmi from Hyderabad
Sunayana from Kolkata
Sunita from Pune
Anuradha from Mumbai
Artnavy from Bengaluru
Leonny from Singapore
Travel The World With Kids: Zurich
Travel The World With Kids: San Francisco
Travel The World With Kids: Toronto
Travel The World With Kids: New York
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