We’re in Europe now, and although Norway isn’t on the ‘going to visit tomorrow’ list, it’s definitely on the ‘must visit before I die’ list. Here’s what stands out as weird in my research, in alphabetical order by city.
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
Image via Flickr from bjaglin (picture not from this particular hotel)
Quick! What’s one single word you’d use to describe Norway? Cold? Icy? Snowy? Sure, all good. This is the northernmost ice hotel on the planet, meaning you’ll see ice everywhere you turn. The walls? Yep, ice. The bed frames? Yup. The glasses at the bar? Of course! Look for the plentiful ice sculptures and a chapel as well. You’ll likely be sleeping in long johns and under reindeer hides, but you’ll get to try one of the craziest ice-to-sauna runs you’ve ever experienced. Ice hotels are never cheap, though – the cheapest room (a single room) for December 2017 is 3,000 krona, or about $350 USD.
Learn more at http://www.sorrisniva.no/igloo-hotel/.
Lepramuseet (Leprosy Museum)
Image via Flickr from Carlton Browne
You don’t hear much about leprosy any more, and that’s a good thing — it used to be a seriously gruesome disease. Now called Hansen’s disease, this 18th century building once served as a leper hospital, and is now a museum dedicated to the disease. We have Gerhard Armauer Hansen to thank for identifying the bacteria that causes leprosy, which he did in 1873. He was born here in Bergen, and this city held the highest concentration of lepers in Europe. There’s plenty of artwork showing a leper’s condition, along with some of the medical instruments used to treat people at the time. You’ll soon be thankful you didn’t have to be treated for anything back in the day.
Tubakuba – the rabbit hole in the forest
This one you have to see to appreciate. (No one has a Creative Commons photo to share with the world – drat! Pictures are over on Atlas Obscura — go have a look, then come right back!) Essentially a forest cabin that’s available to stay in overnight, it looks like a rabbit hole (I first thought ‘wormhole’) in the forest. Enter to discover you’re right on the edge of a cliff, with a great view of the city to boot. It was designed by architectural students at the Bergen School of Architecture who were challenged to get more children into Norway’s wild woods — and heck, it’s working even on me! You can register to spend the night here for free — the biggest caveat is that you have to pack everything in and out as you like a camping trip, and you might get visitors curious about the ‘rabbit hole’ at any hour of the night.
More info at http://www.bas.org/en/News/Tubakuba-er-apnet!
Norwegian Museum of Magic – an apartment’s worth of awesome
Call it the Norsk Tryllemuseum if you want — either way, the collection here began because local magicians were worried about losing their heritage and history. There are plenty of posters and exhibits from decades worth of magicians, but my personal favorite is the bunny pulling a man from their hat.
Visitors should note the museum is only open Sundays from 1-4pm (be there for the show at 2pm if you can).
Learn more at http://www.tryllemuseet.no.
The Mini Bottle Gallery – bottles stuffed with random stuff
Unique (on this planet at least) doesn’t quite begin to describe this one. That it’s owned by a person described as “wealthy” and “eccentric” should tell you a lot — over 50,000 miniature bottles are inside this three-story building. Some have the original beer or liquor in them, others have worms in them, while others have mice. Mice?! Yeah, you’ve got me there. Slide down (literally, slide down) into the ‘Horror Room’ for more bottles. Travelers should note that it’s only open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays — apparently the facility is used for conferences and parties as well.
Learn more at http://www.minibottlegallery.com/home.
Vigeland Sculpture Park – ‘Man Attacked by Babies’, anyone?
Image via Flickr by Ilkka Jukarainen
Sculptures of the human form have been around since forever, and the 200+ statues here run the gamut. Opened in 1940, the 200+ statues across 80 acres were created by Gustav Vigeland in bronze and granite, and it’s considered the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. Look for “The Wheel of Life”, which features a sundial at the end of an 850-meter axis, and yes, a man defending himself from four flying babies.
More info at http://www.vigeland.museum.no/en/vigeland-park.
Looking for more? Check out this Norway travel guide for a countdown of Norway’s fjords.
Also, check out this Bodo travel guide to see an old trading post and cool aviation museum.
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Also published on Medium.