Thursday, January 25, 2007

Some observations on Norway ...


The “UnDutchables” is a great straightforward book about Dutch culture and habits. It’s cynical ánd comical, but at the same time registering and analysing wonderful observations about our little country and inhabitants.

I thought this would be a good present for the people who invited me to Norway, Karen and Sigrun. While reading it at the airport and in my hotel (I bought one for myself too), I thought that I would have to observe the Norwegian and see if they have some peculiar habits too, or at least register where things differ from the Dutch.

I dare not to say that if things in fact dó, they would be peculiar, only compared to the Dutch, and I if I got the message from the book right, we’re also uncomparable -;)

Some observations of this week:

  • Their No Smoking policy resulted in massively smoking outside, taken to a extreme level. Never seen so many people smoking before …outside buildings that is. Don't get me wrong, I think it is very good! While we still have seperated areas for smoking in bars and restaurants, in Norway they follow the “hard line”, absolutely no smoking inside public buildings, bars and restaurants. In Oslo I could choose a smoking room in the Hotel Eggerkoppen, but in Trondheim I was "condemded" to sit in one of the heated areas outside the neighbouring restaurant, because Hotel Augustin was No Smoking. They did have very good blankets available, but with degrees below zero (Celcius that is) you can imagine that my collection of imported first class cigars never got to meet my Highland Park and most of them have returned home. Luckily there is some left of the Highland Park too!
  • Staff eating together in the library at the same time: that was a very good thing, very social, a bit early though at 11.00 in the morning!
  • Not serving at tables in bars and restaurants It might be coïncidence but I visited a few bars and restaurants and they did not take orders at your table, but expected you to come to the counter. The one restaurant that díd serve food ánd drinks at the table was selected by the seminar organizating committee, probably very expensive –even for Norwegian standards- and certainly far over my budget. Thanks you again, Kari & Karen!
  • Alcohol tax 300/400 %? So getting your own beer or aquavit, even in company, in not uncommon.
  • Wine is treated like expensive whisky with special measuring cup, and whisky …, well,let’s just say: I bought my own single malt, this time Higland Park 16 years.
  • Also very related to the alcohol issue and most surpising to me: all staff getting excited about their weekly event “The Wine Lottery”, usually held at Friday at closure of the working week. Everyone can buy a lottery ticket to get a chance to win a bottle of wine! So if you are lucky, you can go home with a nice bottle (because you are not suppose to share with colleagues -;), and if unlucky, well, they probaly spend the extra money in staff parties?
  • But my overall impression: Norway is a great country, that I would love to visit with my family someday! (You could get the impression that I was drinking, smoking or eating ALL the time, but that is not true, because even I had to sleep some time -;)
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