Having banged my head against the wall over two hundred and seventeen times due to a song from Disney’s “Frozen” being stuck in my head, I felt it was only fitting for me to get it out of my system in some way. Of course I’m sure you’re aware of this 2013 movie, an absolute hit (and I’ll bet that more grown-ups contributed to its success than kids) due to its excruciatingly catchy songs and the biggest names from Broadway singing them. But besides the movie’s show tunes, another one of its characteristics really blew me away, and that was the sheer beauty of the story’s setting. I’m sure many of you avid travelers would’ve figured out just from watching the movie where the location for “Frozen” was based upon: the absolutely stunning country of Norway.
Norway is located in northwestern Scandinavia, and is home to the northernmost point on the mainland continent of Europe, the Nordkapp. The country’s central and southwest coast along the North Sea is most famous for its dramatic fjords: narrow, deep inlets reaching miles into the country’s interior cradled by tall, forest-clad cliffs. They cut through Norway’s majestic snow-capped mountains, often as deep underwater as the mountains are tall. Once home to the infamous Vikings almost two thousand years ago, the fjords were originally so attractive due to their strategic nature: winding arms of the sea twisting and turning like mazes, quite beneficial for protection from invaders. More recently, however, the focus has shifted to the fjords’ uses as travel destinations. Mighty cruise ships accompanied by smaller craft like sailboats set out upon these waters during Norway’s brief summer, when both locals and tourists enjoy the sunshine and dramatic views in the fjords.
There are hundreds of fjords dotting Norway’s coast, from the Trondheimsfjord, the passageway to the historic city of Trondheim; to the Sognefjord, the largest open fjord in the world; to the Geirangerfjord, with its picturesque Seven Sisters Waterfall- a UNESCO site. Each fjord is unique, and has something to offer that is entirely its own. Characteristics specific to each can be found at visitnorway.com.
Because of the title of this post (which I have been chuckling at for the better part of ten minutes), Norway was the inspiration for “Frozen” in more ways than just Arendelle’s situation on a beautiful fjord. The unique Norwegian culture was also borrowed from to create the kingdom’s own culture. The clothes, for example, sport traditional Norwegian patterns and designs, while trolls (a part of the pagan Norse religions of the Viking era) play a big role in the movie as well. An actual Norwegian choir was also used for the angelic-like songs during the title sequence, Elsa’s coronation, and the kingdom’s thawing. Kristoff and his reindeer Sven are representations of the Sami culture. A people originally from northern Sweden, the reindeer-herding, generally blonde-haired Sami also populate the northern part of Norway. Even the names of most characters were Norse in origin: Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf. Hans…well…we won’t talk about Hans.
In my opinion, the best way to see Norway is by sea. Whether you’re going on a 100,000+ ton megaliner or a itty bitty converted yacht, you’ll still be able to see the best of Norway’s incredible scenery. Cruises sail through the fjords to get to their ports, so you’ll have plenty of time to take it all in. Because Norway is a seafaring country, the ports of call on cruises are generally very walkable, and important sights are right by your ship’s dock. On a two-week cruise to Norway last summer, I was able to visit six ports of call, sailing through four different fjords. While it was a bit chilly to partake in the stereotypical ‘cruise’ activities like swimming and sunbathing, I still had an amazing time and would definitely recommend it. When “Frozen” came out last November and I saw it in the theater, I was definitely impressed by how accurately Disney achieved the setting for Arendelle. The Norwegian culture was right on, too, and I truly felt like the story was happening in Norway.
So, with yet another verse of “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” stuck in my head, Norway is well worth the trip. It’s a destination that is quickly gaining fame, so it might be a good idea to head over there when you can, before the droves of tourists inspired by “Frozen” fill up cruise ships headed to the serene fjords. I will leave you with one last bad pun- Norway is a truly special place; it’s one of those rare gems that happens to be both amazing and relatively easy to get into and around. Its majestic scenery and vibrant culture make it perhaps the best place in the world to “Let it Go.”