By Ravi Pandit on 7 August 2012
From the midnight sun above the Arctic Circle to polar bears, Norway indeed is the ‘World’s most beautiful voyage’. Read on as Mr. Ravi Pandit, Chairman and Group CEO, KPIT Cummins shares with us experiences of his visit to Norway.
For a long time, I was planning to visit a country in northern Europe.
I had visited Sweden quite often for work and was interested in seeing the unexplored parts of Sweden. While I was finalizing my plans for a visit to Sweden, I chanced to read something about Norway, and at the last moment, we (my wife and I) decided to travel to Norway.
I think it was a great decision!
Norway, especially the Norwegian countryside, is an absolute treat. But before I start talking about the countryside, let me say something about Norway as a country.
Unlike most other countries in Europe, Norway was a colony of European colonial powers for a long time. After the glorious Viking conquests spread over 300 years, Norway was ruled by the Danes and the Swedes for over 350 years.
Even during World War II, it was under German occupation for most of the time.
By 1950s, Norway, a socialist country, was in deep financial trouble and was close to bankruptcy. Sounds familiar?
Well, Norway is a very different place today. It has world’s largest per person GDP, at US$ 53,300 per person, a country size of 3,85,000 km2 (almost equal to Maharashtra and Goa) and a population of 4.7 million - equal to Pune! Norway found oil and that changed the economics of the country in the last 30 to 40 years. Oil exports account for 20% of Norway’s GDP. Another 10% of the GDP comes from tourism. Norway’s industry is largely concentrated on oil and gas. It does not have any automotive industry, but it is amongst the fastest growing countries in Europe. It has full employment – actually negative unemployment. It is not a part of the Eurozone, and unlike any other place in Europe, the sense of optimism is very high. The Norwegian government, like other Northern European countries, is a socialist government with greater focus on social security than enterprise.
But so much about history, economics, and politics!
Norway, I would like to say, is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It has thick forests, large mountain ranges, plenty of lakes, a very picturesque sea and, above all, very warm and welcoming people. An intercity train or bus ride can get you to see this very beautiful country, which, to me, seemed like an unending stream of picture -postcards.
We landed in Bergen, which at one point in time, was the capital of Norway. It’s a beautiful port on the Atlantic Ocean and was once Norway’s door to the rest of the world.
Around Bergen, you can see fjords.The extraordinary things about the fjords are the tall mountains jutting into the deep sea. You can see the bluest of blue water next to dense green mountains with white snow-capped peaks. There are of course no beaches.
From Bergen, we travelled by bus to a National park called Hardanger Vidda.
It has beautiful mountain ranges covered by thick forests. We travelled through the fjords in a ferry and then hiked in the woods. I was very excited (some others would be terrified) by the sight of fresh bear pug -marks .It seemed we just missed him (or thankfully, he just missed us!)
We took a train ride to an area called Jotunheimen and stayed in a town called Lom. This area is all rivers and lakes covered by mountains. We hiked extensively here, and also had the opportunity to meet a native Norwegian who was an avid hunter and so we drove around with him from 9pm to past midnight looking for wildlife. We saw many moose and deer - one of the high points of our Norway journey.
Look out for the next part of my adventure, when I tell you about my experiences in Svalbard…
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