The purpose of this page is to reveal to you the resources that we have used both prior to and during our trip to Norway. We have reviewed such resources so we can convey to you which ones we thought were most useful as well as those we didn’t find useful. Hopefully, this may better direct your information gathering efforts for your own trip…
The Rough Guide to Norway
Overall Rating: 2/5
This was the first book resource that we consulted prior to our trip to Norway in 2005. Perhaps it was the first by default because it was the first one to show up before the Lonely Planet book was delivered to us several days later. In any case, we used the May 2003 edition.
I found that as I was going through this book, it seemed like we weren’t the target audience for this guide. They went through most of the sights that I’d imagine Norway was known for, but when it came to the waterfall coverage, it was very sparse. I began to wonder if this was really a guide for the shoestring budget crowd or something.
What also didn’t help was that the book was very text heavy. All the pictures were pretty much in the front of the book. But the text and the pictures didn’t complement each other. So the result was that I was reading a lot of stuff then lost the context, and before long, I wasn’t really processing much of the information that I was reading. So this resource stopped being useful as a travel resource, and it was pretty much forgotten the moment the LP book showed up.
Lonely Planet: Norway
Overall Rating: 3/5
After being a bit disappointed with the coverage in the Rough Guide to Norway book, we consulted this resource, in which we used the 2nd edition published on May 2002. Since we were targeting waterfalls, we were quite pleased to see that indeed it had a fairly comprehensive coverage of waterfalls (at least the very well known ones) throughout the book. Our book had many bookmark tabs stuck onto the pages that had them, and they helped in terms of directing our research as well as mapping out where we were going to go on a much larger foldout road map.
Since this was one of the first LP books that we had bought and consulted as we were pretty new to international travel like this at the time, we probably didn’t appreciate the informational summaries of the country’s history and culture like we normally do in the LP books of other countries that we would end up consulting with over the years. Nonetheless, we found the maps pretty useful, and the write-ups were starting to fill in the blanks in our understanding of Norway before even going there and seeing the reality for ourselves.
That said, once we got to Norway, it didn’t get much use from us except for those instances where we might have looked for restaurants. So in the end, it was a decent trip planning resource, but it acted as more of a backup resource (as opposed to guide) when we were in Norway itself.
Adventure Roads in Norway (Nortrabooks)
Overall Rating: 4/5
This excellent english-translated, full color, hard-cover book by Erling Welle-Strand provided lots of information not found in the Lonely Planet books or other generalized guides on Norway (certainly not any of the literature we could obtain in the States nor readily online at the time). Best of all, they covered some waterfalls I haven’t heard of during our pre-trip research, many of which were accessible, as well as other major attractions throughout the country.
My only regret was that we weren’t able to pick up this book (as we hadn’t known about it) prior to our trip as it would have been an invaluable resource for trip planning. The book pretty much was divided into chapters consisting of suggested driving routes throughout the country. All along each of the routes, the book included descriptions accompanied by pictures so we had a better idea of what the text was talking about. Of course, each chapter also contained maps of the driving routes.
Julie and I didn’t find out about this book until we went looking for topographic maps in one of the local bookstores during our trip in 2005. Once we picked up this book, we were already pretty much set on our itinerary, but I was already thinking about a future trip to Norway hoping that we’d get an opportunity to experience much of what we had missed out on, which this book made us realize.
Then again, while I was reading through the book, it also confirmed some of the stuff we sought out were certainly worthwhile as well. But there was so much more to the country that was worth exploring that I still feel obliged to return there and see the country more thoroughly with the help of this book the next time…
Indeed, I felt that this was certainly a gem of a book, but I somehow doubt you’ll find this one in a retailer outside Norway.
Veiatlas Norge (Statens Kartverk)
Overall Rating: 4/5
It turned out that this 1:300k scale spiral bound road atlas was the lifesaver for our Norway trip in 2005, when we suddenly had the USB ports on our Dell laptop crap out on us while we were in Oslo on the first day of our trip. So without our digital map and GPS combination working for us, we were essentially navigating blind and struggling to adhere to our pre-trip plans, which we had drawn out and planned for on our larger foldout map of Norway (at 1:1M scale).
This book was actually a recommendation from our Lonely Planet book in terms of follow-up resources, and we were looking for it at every bookstore and visitor center we had stopped at during our trip to Norway in 2005. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until about one week into the trip when we finally saw it (probably near the Eidfjord area). Prior to that, we actually purchased a different road atlas called Norge Veiatlas & Feriehåndbok (Norway Roadatlas and Holiday Handbook), which seemed to be a wannabe Veiatlas Norge, and it turned out to be not that useful to us.
So once we finally got our hands on the official Veiatlas Norge by Statens Kartverk (we picked up the atlas with the red cover though later additions seem to be blue), we religiously followed (and even spontaneously pursued) waterfalls pointed out as we went. The thoroughness of this state-provided map definitely was unmatched compared to all the other published (and even online) resources except for Norgesglasset, which I’ll talk about later on this page.
In any case, this in-the-field resource was our primary means of both navigating and local trip planning as it probably best gave us the sense of distances and drive times that we were dealing with when other resources were simply too coarse to figure out the time constraints while on holiday. And since our pre-trip research grossly underestimated the time and constraints of open/closing hours, we needed this resource more than ever.
Had we been able to consult this book prior to our trip, I’m sure our trip planning as well as our trip itself could have been much more efficient, and I would have allocated much more time than the 18 total days we had.
Of course, this book is really meant to be a reference book and not for pleasure reading. Nonetheless, considering the circumstances we were in, we just had to give it a high score, especially with how it helped to mitigate the trouble we were in at the time.
Norgeskart (formerly Norgesglasset)
Overall Rating: 4/5
This could very well have been the single most important resource we consulted prior to our arrival to Norway in 2005. We pretty much consulted this online map resource (probably ahead of its time well before GoogleMaps was made popular) to map out possible hiking and driving routes throughout the country. We were also able to pinpoint locations of most of the waterfalls that we had come across during our pre-trip research, especially since it allowed us to use wildcards in our search queries (at least that was the case with the old Norgesglasset; the current one doesn’t seem to work as well regarding search refinement through wildcards).
Some drawbacks of using this resource were that it was totally in Norwegian (boy did the Norwegian lessons help somewhat here), the map tended to be slow and prone to crashing, and you really had to already have an idea of what you’re looking for in order for this map to be useful. Thus, I wouldn’t consider it to be a good “discovery” resource.
I also wished we could have had an offline version of these maps on a DVD or something so I could have used it as the base layer and have the GPS navigate and track on top of this thorough map. So since it was exclusively online, we couldn’t really carry this information with us in the field other than do the time-consuming task of printing out screenshots of what we had the time to focus on.
But given all that, it was still the invaluable resource for our trip planning. Besides, we can’t really complain since this resource was free.
Opplev Norge! (Statens Kartverk)
Overall Rating: 1/5
In our futile search to somehow bring a Norgesglasset (now Norgeskart.no) online map and info onto a CDROM so we could take it with us via our laptop and GPS combo, we stumbled upon this product, also by Statens Kartverk. Unfortunately, once we installed it, we learned very quickly (after getting through some installation problems) that its interface was klunky and hard to manage, it was completely in Norwegian (though that didn’t stop me considering I was learning the language), and it definitely lacked the detail, scale, and thoroughness of SK’s online service in Norgesglasset.
So in the end, I never really was able to use this CD-ROM as a resource for both trip planning and for navigation, and it ultimately ended up being a waste of time and money. Perhaps there might have been some functionality that I was somehow missing out on, but given the amount of time I spent tinkering with it, I ultimately gave up and now it’s just collecting dust.
In the end, if there’s a way to combine the land surveying info that’s on Norgeskart (formerly Norgesglasset) onto MapSource-like software, then you’d have an ideal combo that’s both functional and informative as a trip resource. In any case, I haven’t come across such a combo so we’ll have to do without though I’ll be on the lookout for such a product if we’re fortunate to return to Norway…
WorldWideWaterfalls (by Olaf Helwig)
Overall Rating: 4/5
This could very well have been the single most important personal website we had consulted with during our trip planning. It allowed us to identify most of the waterfalls we would end up pursuing on our 2005 trip to Norway, and it included brief descriptions and photos to further help us select the waterfalls we were to pursue.
We consulted an older version of this website, which had a really useful section on Norway’s waterfalls, which Olaf himself has personally visited. It looks like the site has been updated, but the waterfall entries are now in a database with links, which contain most of the same information that was originally in the older site, but I have noticed some descriptions might have also been omitted (e.g. Valursfossen) as well.
Still, I have to give props to this website for essentially guiding my trip planning research as I found it to be way helpful than the established guides like LP and Rough Guide.
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