Norway

Surf in the shadow of Vikings.

Where: With nearly one-third of the country above the Arctic Circle, Norway puts the North in Northern Europe. The best and least crowded surf in Norway (not that crowds are a problem) is located in the Lofoten Islands, just above the Arctic Circle.

What: Norway has thousands of miles of coastline and empty pointbreaks, beachbreaks, and cobblestone setups dot its shores. Norway isn’t big-wave world-it’s more about head high, and a bit bigger, rippable waves. Also, before the words “Arctic Circle” freak you out, keep in mind that the warm Gulf Stream keeps the water in the low 50s in fall.

When: Early fall, before the vicious storms of the Norwegian Sea and Arctic Ocean gain full strength, is the time to go to Norway. Any later and you’ll have little time to surf because the days get really short and the weather gets crazy cold. Think September and October as your best bets to score.

Why: Because you can go to Hell (population 352)-a quaint little town where anything goes and is the birthplace of the 1990 Miss Universe, Mona Grudt. All kidding aside, Norway is a beautiful country filled with fjords, glaciers, forests, scenic villages, friendly people, good surf, and absolutely gorgeous girls everywhere (hey, you can’t surf all the time!).

How: Round-trip flights from John F. Kennedy airport in New York to Oslo (the capitol of Norway) will run you between 700-1,000 dollars. Check out Iceland Air, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, and United Airlines for more information. Flights from Minneapolis are also available. Once you’re in Norway, take a commuter flight to Lofoten (it’s usually cheaper to buy a ticket upon arrival rather than in the States) or drive to the coastal town of Stavanger-Norway’s most popular surfing area.

Places To Stay: For those on a budget, there are over 1,000 campgrounds in Norway, and they’re clean, well run, have most amenities, and cost around sixteen dollars per night. There are hundreds of hostels in coastal Norway, and like the campgrounds, they’re clean, comfy, and cost around 25 dollars per head. Check out the Web site vandrerhjem.no for a complete list of hostels-an inexpensive alternative to hotels and great places to meet people.

Eats: Smoked or grilled salmon, shrimp, and cod (both dried and cooked) are all popular dishes in Norway. Sweet brown goat cheese and pickled herring are normal breakfast fare. For those who can’t stomach the local fare, Americanization has crept in to Norway and “normal” food is widely available. Chocolate and sweets of all types are popular in Norway and of excellent quality. Beers will break the bank at bars-they’ll run you between nine and twelve dollars. Try picking ’em up at a supermarket for a better price.

Where To Meet Viking Chicks: Everywhere. Norwegian women are known worldwide as some of the most gorgeous females on God’s green Earth. So instead of meeting them somewhere else, why not go straight to the source? Future supermodels flip burgers at McDonald’s, bars and restaurants throughout the country are packed with English-speaking hotties, and if you’re on a surf trip in Norway, that’s your first pickup line! It works every time.

Crowd Factor: Not much of a problem. However, this doesn’t mean nobody surfs. Show some courtesy and respect to locals when you do encounter them and you could make a friend for life-who knows, they could have a really hot sister.

Stuff To Bring: A 5/4 fullsuit with a built-in hood, five or seven millimeter booties, three millimeter gloves, and cold-water wax will take care of your surfing needs. When surfing with all that rubber on, it’s a good idea to ride a board that’s a bit thicker to compensate for the extra weight. Don’t bother bringing a bunch of guns-your shortboard and maybe something a little bigger will suffice. Also, bring a lot of money-Norway is an expensive place.

If The Surf Is Flat: Slaughter a whale! Norway is one of tthe only countries that still harvests whales, and Norwegians are said to love whale meat on pizza. For more tree-hugger-friendly excursions, cruise Oslo-one of the oldest cities in Europe-and take in the natural, pristine beauty of the city. For the stargazers, head to another town with a cool name, Hammerfest, and wait for the northern lights to blow your mind. However, wherever you are, your best bet on flat days is to walk around and talk to girls-you can’t lose.

Helpful Web Sites: Check out visitnorway.com, surfschool.no (run by a Norwegian surfer), and our favorite, lonelyplanet.com, where you can reserve rooms, arrange excursions, and find out anything about anywhere.-Justin Cotà‡