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Bergen’s City Mountain

The Everyman’s Hike

The Fløyen mountain has become the symbol of Bergen’s nature and hiking culture. Therefore it has become the “mandatory” hike for every “Bergenser” (citizen of Bergen). The hike is about three kilometres long and it takes about 90 minutes from sea level to Fløyen’s peak where you get a view of the whole city centre and the city mountains surrounding it. The gravel trail to the top is not particularly steep, thus making it a simple hike for people of all ages.

The Three Billy Goats

On top of the Fløyen mountain, there lives three white cashmere goats. The woollen trio is called Fløyenguttene, simply The Fløyen Boys. During the summer, Elvis, Småen, and Festus Gilde stroll around the Fløyen forests keeping the vegetation in check. As well as gardeners, the goats are Fløyens mascots and the face that greets you while wandering through the forest. The welcoming animals always say hi and they are more than happy to pose for a photoshoot.

Not Just a Hike

Hiking is not for everyone, making the Fløibanen rail a favoured alternative for many. The 844-metre long funicular railway line from ground level to the top has been operated since 1918. The two blue and red railcars, Blåmann and Rødhette run up and down the mountainside dozens of times a day. In 2019 alone, Fløibanen had 28.940 round trips transporting almost two million passengers. It’s estimated that during its lifetime, the railway has transported tens of millions of people up and down the Fløyen mountainside.

The City Mountains

Fløyen is one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen. They are called the city mountains due to their visibility from the city centre. The mountains have become a part of Bergen’s culture and have given name to everything from craft beer to designer clothes. Extending from the foot of the first to the peak of the seventh, The Seven Mountain Hiking Trail is the perfect trip for hiking enthusiasts. The 36 km long trail which takes around ten hours to complete is said to be one of the most striking trails on the Norwegian West Coast. We will cover this unique hike in a future blog post. Follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get updates on new posts straight to your feed.

Bergen is not the only Norwegian city to feature great nature experiences right next to the city centre. Read our post about Nordmarka, the Norwegian capital’s own urban wildlife reservoir.

Interesting read? Then we suggest taking a look on other blog posts on Bergen, especially the one about Bryggen, The World Heritage Docks. Here at Nuet, we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read more at Nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit.

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A Tour of Scandinavia’s Street Art Capital

In Bergen’s street art database there are already registered over a thousand artworks and there are probably just as many unregistered ones scattered around the city. And with new ones appearing literally every day it is no doubt why Bergen is said to be the hub of street art in Scandinavia. The city is the home to many of Europe’s most reputable street artists like AFK, Argus, M.u.M and Dolk. For the average Joe, these names may not be recognizable, but in the world of street art, these are well-known and highly respectable.

Promoting the Craft

Although street art has been present in the streets of Bergen for decades, it wasn’t before the early 2010s the art form really took off and became a part of the cityscape. In 2012 the city council adopted a subsidy scheme to fund and promote street art. The “Grafitti and Street Art in the culture city of Bergen 2011-2015” opened up for artists to apply for permits and funds to create artworks in different scales around the city. The city’s decision to rather promote than crack down on the art form has had an overall positive outcome for both the city’s artists and its residents. Companies and cultural institutions around the city are now investing in decorating their walls with this kind of art, and the museums have had several street art exhibitions, thus giving the city its artistic status.

“Our task is to keep it clean and simple. We never thought that graffiti and street art would be this valuable for our city.”

Henning Warloe, fromer member of the Bergen City Council

The Artworks

Bergen has a rich flora of street art with motives ranging from fairytale figures to political statements to artsy creations. One of the most well-known works was created by one of the city’s best established artists M.u.M. “The Biking Troll” was created as a tribute to the Norwegian fairytale culture. The work was ordered by the city council as a part of the city’s decorations celebrating world championships for bicycle road racing back in 2017. Even though the championships where a catastrophe for the Norwegian bikers, the artwork still is a proud symbol of Bergen and Norwegian culture.

The Artists

As mentioned, Bergen is full of both expereinced and aspiring street artists. On top of the podium, next to M.u.M you find AFK. AFK is internet slang for the phrase “Away From Keyboard”, which fits his artistic chracter well. Few really know who AFK as a person, but most of Bergen’s inhabitants have seen one or two of his works. He is known for both large political statements and smaller more innocent artworks. Although his works has been known since 2013, he still remains anonymous to this day. No one knows when or if he will reveal his identity, but we do know that his work will keep inspiring new artists, both in Bergen and around the world.

“Anonymity gives me the freedom to be myself and the freedrom to express my art…”

AFK

Want to read more about the culture of Bergen? Then we suggest reading our story on Bryggen, the World Heritage Docks. Here at Nuet we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read more stories at nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new posts straight to your feed.

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Oslo’s Urban Agricultural Oasis

For decades, no one thought that the ground beneath Losæter could be cultivated land. But in 2011, the process of making this little area between a highway and an industrial dock into vibrant cropland started. Behind the process was Futurefarmers, an artist collective passionate about our nature. It all sprung out from the idea of making a public ecological bakery where people could learn about ecological baking. But to bake you need crops, to harvest crops you need soil, and to take care of the soil you need people. So the idea evolved into making Losæter a public space where the whole process from seed to bread was done in one place.

The Diverse Soil

In 2015, soil from 50 ecological farms around the country was donated to make the idea into reality. The soil was spread across the area to symbolize the diversity in Norwegian agriculture. Now, five years later Losæter is a symbol of what an idea combined with passion and hard work can result in. Here, what was a pile of gravel they now grow vegetables, fruits, herbs and berries, as well as keep bees and insects for food.

The name Losæter is a combination between the name of the area, Loelva and the Norwegian word Sæter/Seter, the pastures Norwegian sheep and goats roam during the summer. Losæter is a place where the people of Oslo may visit during the summer to escape everyday life, making it a sæter for people. 

Where Everyone’s Welcome

Losæter is a place for everyone. It is free and anyone may come to have a look in the park and join in on the process for harvesting food from the soil of Urban Oslo. Losæter has weekly visits by groups ranging from kindergartens to nursing homes. Here, the passionate “city farmers” educate groups and people about where our food originates and how we can use organic produce in food.

From the heights of Losæter, you see Barcode, Oslo’s economical hub.

A Passion for Education

One of the three full-time employees at Losæter is Emilie Sandell. She is a biologist that just finished a masters degree in Plant Sciences and works as a “city farmer”, maintaining the farm and educating visitors about the area and works. She has a passion for educating about food and produce and is in love with Losæter and what it is.

“I want to tell people about the origins of our food, and teach people to appreciate the work that goes into producing our food. I see that there is a lack of knowledge, but at the same time an increasing interest in the field. So I want to raise awareness about our nature and natural resources.”

Emilie Sandell

Want to read more about the nature of the Norwegian capital? Then we suggest reading our story, Exploring the Oslo wilderness. Here at Nuet, we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read more at nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new posts.  

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Not just any Opera House

The Norwegian Opera and Ballet in Oslo is a truly special building with a lot of unique features. One of the most noteworthy is that its roof angles down to ground level, opening up for people to use the roof as a plaza or a walkway. The marble and white granite roof which extends from sea level to its 54 metres high peak is often used for social gatherings, concerts and other cultural events, making the opera house a cultural cub in the Norwegian capital.

An Epicentre of Culture

Naturally, The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet is not just a building, it is an international cultural landmark. In addition to opera performances and ballets, the Opera House hosts concerts and cultural experiences for people of all ages. Here you may experience classical masterpieces like Hamlet, The Valkyrie, and Suor Angelica, as well as solo concerts with Norwegian artists. They also offer baby opera, school projects, and guided tours.

Not Just Architecture

In addition to being an artwork in itself, the Opera House is filled with both small and large artworks. With a ceiling height of up to 20 metres in the foyer, naturally, it is room for artworks. The wall surrounding the lobby’s bathroom facilities is a large illuminated wall with hexagonal patterns creating an illusion of melting ice. The waving wooden walls and stairs in the lobby symbolize the waving seas along the Norwegian coast.

In the fjord right outside the Opera, we find She Lies, a sculpture of stainless steel and glass inspired by Caspar David Friedrichs painting, Das Eismeer. The sculpture is 12 metres tall and covers an area of 17×16 metres. The sculpture turns on its axis in line with the tide and wind, resulting in a different look and experience depending on the weather.

A Century-Long Process

The idea of a national opera house in Oslo was almost a century old before the Opera was completed in 2008. Its story starts way back in 1917 when shipowner Christoffer Hannevig offered to finance a dedicated opera building for the capital. Back then, the Opera was a part of the National Theatre, and many believed that the Opera should have its own building. Unfortunately, the plans were put on hold when Hannevig went bankrupt a few years later, but the idea was planted in people’s minds and there were several attempts on planning the Opera during the 20th century.

In 1989 an official process of building an Opera started, and it sparked a decade-long debate of if and where the Opera should be built. It wasn’t before in 1999 the Norwegian parliament issued the permits to build the opera in Bjørkvika in downtown Oslo. The building process started in 2003, and five years and four billion NOK later the opera house was completed. And it quickly became a symbol of both Norwegian architectural and cultural pride.

The Oslo Opera House was designed by the Norwegian architectural bureau, Snøhetta. Being one of Norway’s leading architect firms they have designed countless of buildings around the world, including Viewpoint Snøhetta, which you can read more about in our story, The Box in the Mountains. Here at Nuet, we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read more at nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new posts.  

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Decades of Norwegian Hot Dog Joy

Quality Sausages at its Finest

There is a reason this little hot dog stand has been in business for decades; quality. Trekroneren specialises in high-quality sausages with quality toppings. This is not just food to feed your hunger, this is a culinary experience out of the ordinary. All of Trekroneren’s sausages are prepared at a local butcher just a 30 minutes walk from the stand. And all except one sausage are made exclusively by meat from local farms. The last one is the reindeer sausage, where the meat naturally comes from Northern Norway. Quality costs, and Trekroneren is by no means the cheapest sausage seller in town, but these sausages are definitively worth the extra penny.

The reindeer sausage topped with lingonberry sauce and raw onions are a favourite among many locals.

International Recognition

It may be hard to believe that a simple Norwegian hot dog stand has gained any international attention at all, but during its lifetime, Trekroneren has become world-famous. In its 74 years, the stand has received visitors from virtually every nation in the world. Its quality sausages are mentioned by Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and countless other travel blogs and magazines. The stand features menus in five different languages and has internet reviews in dozens of languages.

The stand’s name translates to “The Three Kroner”, which made sense in 1978 when every sausage cost three Norwegian kroner.

Near Destruction

Trekroneren is located just next to Bryggen, Bergens largest tourist attraction. Bryggen attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, which is good for business at Trekroneren. It had always been there without problems, but in 2019 the Bergen City council looked into the beloved hot dog stand’s building permits. After a deep-dive in the archives, they concluded that the stand had no valid building permits and was placed illegally on the pavement. It all started a debate and some wanted to remove the hot dog stand. But the majority of the council’s members and the people of Bergen argued that the stand had been a part of the Bergen cityscape since 1946 with no complaints till that day and that the stand caused more joy than misery. The hot dog stand had become a part of the city’s cultural heritage and should remain as one.

Haven’t heard about Bryggen? Then we suggest reading our story, The World Heritage Docks, a comprehensive look into Bergen’s cultural pride.

A Tradition

Outside Trekroneren on a Saturday evening in late August, Henning and his mate Bjørn just bought themselves a couple of sausages. They are following a tradition extending decades where they have a sausage every time they are in the city centre together. When asked about how long they have been going on they both laugh and agree that it has to be around 50 years, at least. Here they have enjoyed hundreds, maybe thousands of sausages, and they will continue the tradition until “it closes down or we die.”

I hope this place never closes down. Every time we are in the city centre we have to go here. It has become a tradition. “

Henning, Local Hot Dog Lover

Want to read more about Bergen? We just published a blog post about another important part of the Bergen cityscape; street art. Read more in our post, A Tour in Scandinavia’s Street Art Capital. Here at Nuet, we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read more stories at nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new posts straight to your feed.

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A Spectacular Train Journey Through Norwegian Nature

“All aboard” the conductor shouts. He makes sure no one is entering or exiting the train, then he blows a whistle and leaps onto the stairs and enters the front carriage. The train starts moving, slowly but surely. We are now leaving Myrdal station, a station in an empty village 866 metres above mean sea level. Right next to the station is a tunnel, the first of many. We enter it, and after a few minutes, we are out. Then we already see why Flåmbanen is considered one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys.

The train tracks curve through the mountains and valleys. It is late summer, so the trees and fields are still vibrant green. And it has rained for a few days, so the waterfalls are spitting out tonnes upon tonnes of water. In an hour we will be at Flåm, a town almost at sea level, so the descend will be steep. We pass deep valleys, tall mountains, large waterfalls, and small houses and cabins along the way. Each carriage is fitted with two monitors showing facts about the line and its history, and over the speaker system it is announced every time we pass a great view or landmark.

“You’ve heard the saying; The journey is the destination, right? Well, this has to be where they invented that saying.

Overheard conversation between British tourists

Some call the Flåm Railway “the 20-line” because a recurring number in the Flåm Railway’s history is 20.
The line is 20 kilometres long, featuring 20 tunnels. It took 20 years to build, with 120 to 220 workers working shifts day and night. To top it off, the construction cost 20 million Norwegian kroner. During the late 1800s the planning of a railway between Norway’s two largest cities, Oslo and Bergen started. Included in the comprehensive plan was two short branch lines, one to each of Norway’s largest fjords, Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. Flåm is located relatively far into Norway’s largest and deepest fjord, Sognefjord, as well as close to Myrdal and where the line was planned to go. Thus making it the obvious choice for a connected branch station. The Flåm Railway was for long used mainly for passenger transport corresponding with the Bergen Line. Although they are still corresponding, today the Flåm Railway is mostly a tourist attraction rather than a key transportation method. In the last few years, the Flåm Railways has seen up to a million passengers a year.

The train is fairly empty today. Except what seems to be two locals, everyone spends most of the time enjoying the view or capturing the moment with cameras in different sizes. Two of the people making a digital memory of the ride is Hansi and his friend Fynn, two german tourists taking a detour on their way from Bergen to Oslo. They are train enthusiasts and have interrailed all across Europe. Just halfway through the ride Hansi is sure that the Flåm Railway is a good contestant to become his favourite train line.

“This is not just a journey, it is an experience”

Hansi, German Tourist

Interesting read? Here at Nuet, we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read other interesting posts at nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new posts straight to your feed.

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Visiting the Arctic’s Tallest Waterfall

The water splashes when we embark. While we slowly push ourselves off the riverbank, a few salmon swim past us up the river. We are on Reisaelva, a river in Northern Norway, far north of the Arctic Circle. Steffen Bakkland, the captain and local guide navigates the river with ease. Even though he’s only 29 years old he knows these rivers better than many. It takes years of experience to understand this river’s flow and floor. Luckily he has five years of experience and hundreds of trips behind him, so manoeuvring his 30-feet-long boat is no problem. On our way up the river we pass waterfalls, see small wooden cabins, and wave to fishermen, and Steffen knows where the waterfalls originate, who owns the cabins and who the fishermen in the river are.

Along the river, there are hiking trails on both sides, but they are far into the woods and can not be seen from the water. Throughout time, the river and its surrounding forests have been used for hunting, trading, transportation of goods, and lately, tourism. The river’s headwaters are located close to the Finnish borders. Therefore the river has played a key role in trade between the locals and Finns. Today, there is no trade in the valley, but there are still Finns crossing the border to fish in the river and visit the breathtaking waterfall. Steffen runs a company offering riverboat tours along the river to Mollisfossen, and all the way to Imofossen, another waterfall 15 kilometres up Reisaelva.

After an hour on the river, we finally see it. We take a last turn before we arrive at the wooden dock by the riverbank. With the boat safely tied up we disembark, pass a small campsite and approach the waterfall. With its 269-metre three-tired-fall, Mollisfossen is not just a spectacular sight in itself, but also the tallest waterfall in the Arctic. Every second, its mouth spits out over 6000 litres of water, enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in under five minutes. There is no doubt why this magnificent waterfall is such a destination for many travellers.

“You feel pretty small when you stand next to one of Europe’s mightiest waterfalls. Approaching the waterfall, you hear the water roaring as it hits the ground, and feel the vapour hitting your face. The experience is wet, wild and wonderful.”

Peter Vang, traveler

Interested in the Scandinavian outdoors? Then we suggest reading our story about Nordmarka, Exploring the Oslo wilderness.
We at Nuet publish weekly posts about Norwegian outdoors, culture, cuisine and more. Follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit for instant updates on our posts.

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A Cornerstone of Aquavit

The Home of Scandinavian Caraway

In Trønderlag county, in the middle of Norway, we find a small peninsula covered in fields and forests, responsible for over two-thirds of Scandinavia’s caraway production. The peninsula is Inderøy, where around 15 farms are producing tonnes upon tonnes with caraway every year. From Inderøy, the caraway is bound for spice makers, tea manufacturers and aquavit distilleries all across Scandinavia. One of the farms harvesting and selling caraway to the nordic market is Inderøy Karve. The small family-owned company has been in business for decades and delivers the spice to the majority of Norwegian aquavit distilleries, among others, Nuet Aquavit.

Small Margins

The production of caraway is more challenging than many other spices. The plant is harvested annually, mainly in late July or early August. It is only a matter of a few days where the spice is ready for harvest, after that the quality may shrink dramatically. Therefore, caraway farmers have to check their crops daily to see if it is ready to be harvested and then start the process right away. The caraway plants are also prone to temperature changes, air moisture, rain, winds and insects. With so many factors influencing the production, a good harvest may be ten times as large as a bad harvest.

To get the most out of the flavour, the processing must be precise. After the harvest, the caraway has to dry in a barn for four to seven days with continous oversught. This is done so the harsh oils evaporate and leave the spice with its rich flavour. When it has dried the caraway is partitioned into bags of 25kg each ready for the market.

A Swinging Demand

Although the story of caraway goes back 5000 years, it did not become widespread in Norway before the 1800s. For a long time, caraway export was a thriving industry. But around the mid 20th century, other crops became cheaper to produce and the nationwide production almost came to a halt. For decades the industry struggled with low demand. But in the early 90’s the interest for the crop grew, and so did the production. In 1994 Inderøy Karve was established and they kickstarted the spice production on the small peninsula where we now see the epicentre of nordic caraway production.

Interesting read? Then consider reading our blog post about the story of aquavit, 500 Years of Scandinavian Moments. Here at Nuet, we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read our posts at nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new post straight to your feed!

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The World-Class Hotel in The Middle of Nowhere

Small Town, Large Hotel

In 1891, Hotel Union Øye opened in the village of Øye by the Norangsfjord in Western Norway. The hotel was one of the first Norwegian hotels in its class; a five-star hotel surrounded by astonishing wild nature. At the time there were only a couple dozen people living in Øye, so why would someone build such a hotel in a place like that? Well, the hotel was meant to be a quiet resort in a beautiful landscape where people from all over the world could come to relax and take a break from a stressful everyday life. The hotel quickly served its purpose and people from every corner of the world started visiting the hotel. It became a sought after destination for many. Royals, adventurers, artists and locals alike started spending time relaxing in the hotel.

Famous Residents

In its 129 years lifetime, Hotel Union Øye has been visited by famous adventurers, writers, kings and queens. Surrounded by alpine nature with tall mountains and large forests, the hotel has offered perfect facilities for a get-away. People have travelled from far and beyond to visit this well-established and unique hotel. Visitors like Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, German emperor Wilhelm II, painter Edvard Munch, British writer Arthur Conan Doyle and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen have not been an unusual sight at the hotel. Some of the hotel’s furniture has actually come from its famous guests. Of many things, one of the most interesting ones is located in one of the rooms’ restrooms; emperor Wilhelm’s private bathtub where he allegedly spent a lot of time contemplating about how to run the German Empire.

Stuck in Time

Whilst the world around it has modernized substantially in the last century, the hotel has been stuck in time, keeping the old feel and atmosphere that has filled its rooms through time. Although some maintenance and renovation have to be done from time to time in order to keep the hotel up to standards, the hotel’s historical foundation and design are intact. Built during the late 1880s, the hotel’s interior design is a mixture of elements from the baroque, renaissance and neoclassical artistic styles. Around the hotel, you find a unique collection of antiques, paintings and sculptures brought by guests from all over the world in appreciation of the hotel’s welcoming reception.

Closeness to Nature

One of the hotel’s main selling points is its propinquity to wild and untouched nature. The Sunnmøre Alps, a massive alpine mountain range encompasses the area, resulting in staggering views from the hotel and its outside area. The region features a great extent of hiking trails used by locals and visitors alike, leading the way through large forests to enormous mountain peaks. On these trails, you experience the same hikes as European royals, Scandinavian explorers and American writers all have experienced throughout the last century.

Interesting read? Here at Nuet, we publish weekly blog posts about everything Scandinavian. Read other interesting posts at nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new posts straight to your feed.

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The Twisted Gallery

Walking Through Art

This is The Twist, an art gallery located in Kistefos sculpture park, one of Europe’s largest sculpture parks of contemporary art. Walking through the Twist you are surrounded by the gallery’s ever-changing exhibitions while walking through a sculpture of itself, a quite outstanding experience on its own. The 15.000 square feet park features sculptures and art installations by some of the worlds largest artists like Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson and Yayoi Kusama, among many others. With such a rich fauna of art pieces, there is no wonder why the small-town museum has become so internationally recognizable as it has today. A walk through the park is a journey through one of the world’s most unique art collections. 

International Recognition

In its short lifetime, The Twist has gotten a lot of international attention for its groundbreaking design. People from all over the world have come to visit the architectural masterpiece, and worldwide media has sure coved the museum once or twice. British news website, The Telegraph listed the museum as one of 2019’s most beautiful buildings. While across the pond, the New York Times ranked it number 21 on the list of the world’s best places to visit. And this year, The Twist won the most prestigious award in the architectural world. Awarded  Leading Culture Destination Awards 2020, the Twist won what is said to be the Academy Awards of Architecture, the best of the best around the globe.

A Constructional Challange

As you may imagine, constructing a unique building like this is easier said than done. Being a combination of a fully functional gallery building, a 60-metre long bridge, and a sculpture in itself, the construction has to check off many constructional boxes.  Because it works as a bridge, the building has to be able to adapt to the river’s constantly changing water levels, and contracting and expanding soil depending on temperature. The construction of the gallery-bridge-sculpture hybrid met a lot of obstacles on the way and experienced a few minor setbacks. But with some help of exceptional engineering and architectural skills, the gallery stands safely on the ground.


Interesting read? Then we suggest reading another post about astonishing Norwegian architecture; The story about Viewpoint Snøhetta, a viewpoint in the Dovre mountains featuring a panoramic view of Norwegian alpine landscape. Read more in our post, The Box in the Mountains. Here at Nuet, we publish weekly posts about everything Scandinavian. Read more at Nuetaquavit.com/stories and follow our Instagram @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new posts straight to your feed.