For a real escape, go to Norway.
It’s amazing how a country with such incredible natural beauty can be so quiet and peaceful. Do they turn tourists away at the border? Are the locals in hiding? Maybe there’s just so many beautiful places to go that nobody is ever in the same place at the same time.
Save for a few major destinations (which are, unfortunately, overrun) you can travel across Norway to some beautiful destinations and not see another soul. And why would you want to? Nature shines when it’s peaceful. In the connected era we live in silence is a luxury, and we found it in Norway.
For great stretches of fjord Norway we barely planned our days a morning in advance, preferring instead to wing it and drive as far as the road took us. Even in summer there was no shortage of hyttes (Norwegian for cabins) available in the campgrounds, and they were always happy to share their slice of pristine paradise.
We found Meringdal Camping on a dirt road, off a B-road, 30 minutes from the main road. You could safely call it the middle of nowhere, and that was the appeal. What we didn’t realise was the setting. Against the lake, the campgrounds soaked up breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks which rose as steep as like church spires. In the still mirror lake their size doubled.
Our host lived in a beautiful old farm house – the cash transaction for the hytte taking place in the family kitchen. I took the keys and was directed up the hill. I knew the cabin as soon as I saw it. For the price we paid I wouldn’t have expected anything different: low, rusty corrugated tin roof, old timber walls, surrounded by tall grass and trees. A bunk bed in one corner, a fridge in the other with a small electric hot plate. In between a small wooden table and a shelf. No water, no bathroom. No different to the other cabins we’d stayed in, but as a package this place was special.
Our evening was wet – the rain bringing with it an added sense of peace a warm sunset could never provide. There’s something about putting on a jumper and staring out over the misty lake that you can’t get anywhere else.
It came to represent everything we loved about Norway. The simplicity of travelling on the basics and the luxury of being entertained only by the nature around us.