The Strange Year Of 2020 – Local Travel And Unexpected Ending

2020 has been a strange year, especially in terms of travel. Many of my plans didn’t work out, but I’ve managed to do other things instead. Have a look at the summary of unusual 2020 here.

If there is something that 2020 has taught me it is this: adjust when plans don’t work out, value what you have and do not put things for later (because you might not be able to do them anymore).

And that’s how I’ve spent my 2020 – not planning, but going with the flow, trying to adjust to the situation and work out the best course of action.

It has not been easy and I’ve let myself slip away into negative thinking, especially in November when it’s hard to be joyful in the darkness in Norway. It’s this time between Norway autumn and the beautiful white Norway winter, that is dark and rainy and quite depressing. The idea of spending Christmas without our families didn’t help either.

But let’s go back.

Note: all the trips I took, were in line with governments regulations, well-researched, social-distanced and with all precautions.

Starting the year in Turkey

I started 2020 on a beach in Turkey, full of hope for the next months. I’ve watched the hot air balloons rising over the mountains in Cappadocia during sunrise and planning the trips in the year ahead. Little did I know that none of it will be possible.

As you can expect, all my planned trips were cancelled and I focused on local travel in Norway instead. 

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Watching hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey
Watching hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey

Local Travel in Norway

2020 has been a year of extensive travel in Norway. Luckily, we were still able to travel around for most of the year and outdoor activities were possible. My Norway’s bucket list is never-ending, so I was glad to explore more parts of the country, including some incredible hikes.

I went through different stages – of staying at home doing nothing, to wanting to be outside for as long as possible, to finding things to just pass time. It wasn’t the most productive of times, but slowing down and appreciating small things were what I needed. I also felt very lucky to be in a safe place that (for most of the time) dealt with the problem quite well. 

Norwegian deer in a snowstorm, Norway
Norwegian deer in a snowstorm, Norway

Winter in Norway

The year started with all things wintery – that included winter camping (my first time!), ice climbing (so cool), snow-shoeing, walking on frozen lakes and winter hiking. I love Norway in winter, and with proper winter clothing, every trip is a blast.

Winter camping, Norway
Winter camping, Norway
View from tent in winter, Norway
View from the tent in winter, Norway
Ice climbing, Rjukan, Norway
Ice climbing, Rjukan, Norway

Around Oslo

Beginning of the year was focused on local travel – mainly around Oslo. I’ve discovered a lot of new options for hiking in Oslo and around – and I was surprised how pretty they are!

The days when I didn’t do hiking, I tried to explore the area around Oslo. I’ve combined the best trips around the capital in this post – 27 most interesting trips from Oslo. Let me know which one is your favourite!

Hiking in Oslo area
Hiking in Oslo area
Spro cave, near Oslo
Muscovite
Verdens Ende
Verdens Ende
Canyon in Drammen
Canyon in Drammen
Waterfall in Lier
Waterfall in Lier

Spring in Norway

Spring in Norway was quiet, but I’ve managed to visit places on the west coast that I’ve planned to for a long time. Remote working allowed me to stay there for longer and explore the area of Vestland and Møre og Romsdal. I fell in love!

I need to write more about places I visited, that included magical mountains and islands near Hornelen, where I stayed in the wooden cabin similar to this one(that’s where I tried sea line fishing from the tiny boat for the first time and caught two big fish in 30 seconds!), the puffin island of Runde, colorful city of Ålesund and areas around, as well as Sunnmøre Alps and Hjørundfjorden (you can read about this place, and all the picturesque swings, in the link!). 

View to Hornelen
View to Hornelen
Puffin on Runde island
Puffin on Runde island
Swing in Sunnmore Alps
Swing in Sunnmore Alps
Alesund
Alesund

Summer in Norway

Summer was very intense – to forget about all the problems in the world, and the inability to travel abroad, I would spend every minute in nature. I’ve hiked every single weekend and enjoyed it a lot. Some of the top hikes, that I’ve done this year included Trolltunga via Ferrata and Romsdalseggen Ridge.

This was also the first time when I tried via Ferratas in Norway and I got hooked!

Trolltunga
Trolltunga
Trolltunga via ferrata
Trolltunga via ferrata
Romsdalseggen
Romsdalseggen
Rondane
Rondane
Gaustatoppen
Gaustatoppen

Ostroya
Ostroya
Utladalen
Utladalen

Late summer, I took a trip to Northern Norway. My Nordland Travel Itinerary included Helgeland Coast, Lofoten and Salten area in Norway. I’ve been to the north before, in Lofoten and Senja.

During this trip, I’ve visited several islands, which all had their own character. There was Hawaii-like Traena, puffin islands of Lovund, magical Vaeroy and the rest of Lofoten. This was a truly wonderful trip. 

In the summer, I also managed to go back home to Poland (and Slovakia) to visit my family for the first (and last) time this year. I’ve done some local travel to the mountains with my family. It has been the longest that I spent home since I moved out to Scotland 8 years ago, so everyone was over the moon to have me home for so long (the only positive thing about this corona world).

Lofoten
Lofoten
Vaeroy
Vaeroy
Traena
Traena
Puffins on Lovund
Puffins on Lovund
Golfing while feeding fish in Lovund
Golfing while feeding fish in Lovund
Seven Sisters hike
Seven Sisters hike
Marble castle
Marble castle
Lovund and wine
Lovund and wine
View to Traena from Lovund
View to Traena from Lovund

Reinebringen
Reinebringen
Lofoten beach
Lofoten beach

Autumn in Norway

2020 has been probably the first time when I spent full autumn in Norway. Usually, I would travel abroad to escape the cold and grey weather.

But this year, Norway in autumn took my breath away. Admiring vivid colours while hiking in Rondane National Park, watching fjords covered in yellow and orange foliage, or staying in the traditional Hobbit “hytte” in the forestNorway in autumn is not that bad, after all.

Hobbit hut
Hobbit hut
Autumn in Rondane
Autumn in Rondane
Fjords in autumn
Fjords in autumn


Looking for more unique places to stay in Norway? Check out this post: Hytte in Norway – 8 Cute Cabins In Norway You Can Actually Afford


Winter in Norway

Norway in the winter is a fascinating place, especially with all the snow. There’s also a lot of fun things to do in Oslo in winter! The only problem? In 2020 snow didn’t arrive until mid-December (like, if anything would actually work out normally anyway).

Before that, I went back to northern Norway, to visit Tromsø and Lyngen Alps. It has been on my list for a while, so I was happy to finally make it up there. I’ve watched Northern Lights, stayed in a wooden cabin similar to this one, hiked through the fairytale landscape, and spent a couple of days with a friend in Tromsø.

Back south, I’ve managed to get out to the Norwegian cabin in Gaustablikk near Rjukan and swim in the frozen lake. But after that, I isolated myself for 2 weeks, because…

Tromso from above with Northern lights
Tromso from above with Northern lights
Reindeer in Tromso
Reindeer in Tromso
Northern Lights, Norway
Northern Lights, Norway
Hike to Blavatnet
Hike to Blavatnet
Blavatnet
Blavatnet

Gaustatoppen sunrise
Gaustatoppen sunrise

Holidays in the Canary Islands

I’ve booked tickets to the Canary Islands for Christmas and New Year.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t spend that time with my family, so I tried to look for a safe alternative – for us and for the place that we decide to visit.

I was looking for a destination within Europe, that desperately needed tourists, that would still be possible to travel to, and that had a bit more sun and warmth than grey Norway. We took our negative tests certificates, booked ourselves a Rental car and separate apartments to minimize any risks, and went off to discover the enchanting nature of volcanic islands.

It was probably one of the best decisions I have taken last year and one that I really really needed. I came back stronger, ready to take on the challenges the new year brings and feeling more like myself again. Remember – take care of your mental health, it’s really important!

Also – I do not encourage travel right now, as it is more tricky, risky and stressful. I, however, encourage you to do your research, act with common sense, analyze the risk, take a lot of precautions and do what you think is the best for your health (and health of others). This was a decision that I felt was the best – and I made sure it didn’t harm anyone in the process. 

Gran Canaria sand dunes
Gran Canaria sand dunes
La Palma black beach
La Palma black beach
Hiking in Gran Canaria
Hiking in Gran Canaria
Volcano in La Palma
Volcano in La Palma

2020 highlights 

A few specific items that I was lucky to be able to experience this year:

  • watching hundreds of puffins up close in two different locations
  • watching Northern Lights
  • climbing to the top of Spain at 3715m (technically it was already in 2021, but in my head, it was still 2020 ;))
  • hiking a famous 20 km volcano route crossing through the volcanoes of La Palma
  • hiking hundreds of kilometres in Norway
  • climbing several via Ferrata routes – without a guide
  • ice climbing (again)
  • swimming in a frozen lake (again)
  • camping numerous times under a blanket of stars or midnight sun
  • winter camping
  • swimming in the Arctic and in the Atlantic
  • getting my photos published in a book sold worldwide
  • playing golf on top of the mountain
  • taking more than 15 000 photos (!), including more than 10 000 only from Norway.
  • And much more!!

Even though 2020 was far from perfect and a lot of things didn’t go as planned – there’s still so much to be grateful for. I hope you can also find something yourself! Here’s to the better future! 

Read more:

60 countries before turning 30 

Oslo hiking trails

The best Norwegian gifts and souvenirs 

Norway on a budget – locals’ tips for cheap travel in Norway 


And how was your 2020? Let me know the good things in the comments!


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