Hygge

Winter can be a challenging time for some as we adjust to the seasonal changes. Winter in 2020 is even more likely to be a challenge. As we seek safety by staying at home, we might find that we are struggling to maintain sanity. My husband and I turned to a country used to adjusting to difficult winters for a solution.

Denmark is a country that is often rated one of the happiest countries in the world. When visiting Scandinavia, we embraced their culture, and attempted to bring it home with us. With long, dark winters, what is their secret? The answer is Hygge.

Hygge is a concept that has recently gained popularity. According to Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge, this phenomena is “about an atmosphere and an experience rather than about things.” According to his book, there are ten elements to help achieve this feeling of home and comfort. Let’s take a look.

Credit: Meik Wiking-The Little Book of Hygge

So, how do we do this? It is important to find pleasure in little experiences – to notice these moments. My husband and I have created a Hygge advent calendar the past couple of years so we can enjoy something special and unique together each day. Some things you may want to try to include:

  1. Light candles at dinner.
  2. Put on those fuzzy socks when you are around the house.
  3. Plan special meals and eat slowly. Enjoy the act of cooking and eating.
  4. Create a little book nook with pillows and blankets. Make time to read.
  5. Enjoy a warm beverage such as tea, coffee, or hot cocoa when the sun goes down.
  6. Avoid reaching for your phone when you have down time.
  7. Try to stay connected to others. Zoom, Facetime, recipe exchange, virtual bookclub, etc.
  8. Go outside when you can. According to cold cultures, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Enjoy time outside during daylight by going for a hike, playing in the snow, or sitting by a bonfire.

Hang in there. Try to enjoy our time now, even when all we want to do is press fast-forward.

Bergen

Bergen, Norway was the perfect way to end our honeymoon.  It was different than any city we had visited, and we shared many memorable moments in the port city.  One of our favorite moments took place at a bar and cafe while trying to escape the rain.  We enjoyed beer, coffee, waffles, and awesome Norwegian music.

Another cool feature of Bergen is all of the street art.  We are huge fans of this art medium, and we enjoyed going on a scavenger hunt to find pieces all over the city.

 

 

Fjords

Norway is home to troll-worthy fjords carved out by the glaciers.  Nature has created these waterways surrounded by steep cliffs.  This was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to.

There are numerous ways to see the fjords of Norway.  We chose to stay in the town of Flam for a night rather than see it all in one day.  Seeking a little more adventurous form of transportation, we went with Fjordsafari. They bring a small group of people to explore the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord on their speedboats.

Staying in an apartment in the fjords was everything I thought it would be.  We drank wine and tried to watch the sun set even though daylight seemed to last forever.  My husband listened to music and drew as the light grew dimmer and dimmer.

 

 

Oslo

Our first stop in Norway was in Oslo.  Oslo is a beautiful, clean city.  While there, we were able to balance the outdoors with art and history.  We visited the Vigeland park which housed more than 200 sculptures showing humans in a variety of capacities.  We also made a trip to the National Museum to view The Scream.  Our other major destination was the Viking Ship museum.  This was probably our favorite stop.  The museum is well set up, and a video presentation is impressive and informative.  Besides visiting these places, we mostly enjoyed the city by foot.

The biggest shock we experienced in Oslo was the prices.  It was nearly impossible to eat out and have a meal for less than $100 for two people.  Beer was about $15 for a standard lager.  Although we thought Oslo was very beautiful, we were not expecting such high costs.

 

Fika

Yesterday you got a chance to see what Stockholm looks like.  Today I’m sharing a tradition in Sweden that I think we should adopt here.  It is called fika (fee-ka).  The basic idea of it is to have an afternoon coffee with a sweet treat, but it is more than that.  It is a break to be shared with people you care about.  A chance to step away from hectic life and remember what is important: loved ones, sweets, and good coffee.

The illustration you see is one that I created using Adobe Illustrator.  The dessert you see in the image looks like a cinnamon roll.  It is called kanelbulle.  Rather than being smothered with frosting, it has sugar pearls sprinkled on top.  The best ones have a flaky, buttery crust.  Interested in having your own fika?  It doesn’t take much.  Grab a friend, a cup of joe, and a little dessert.