What we Did in Denmark

Denmark was the first stop along our travels through Europe this year. We stayed for a week in Tolne, which is a tiny train station town in the northernmost part of Denmark.

We arrived at Tolne Gjaestgivergaard, a pottery studio which attracts most of the visitors to the town.

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Life in a pottery studio/ house

We discovered this place on Workaway, and despite not being all that artistically inclined we found plenty do at their annual international ceramic arts conference.

family travel, workaway, denmark, cooking in the kitchen

In the kitchen

For a week we helped with cooking and cleaning in exchange for lodging in the middle of a beautiful forest, and delicious Danish food everyday. Even better, we were able to make friends with a ton of amazing potters and ceramic artists! The studio is well-known for its resident artist programs, where artists from all over the world come to live and learn full-time at the studio. And they are always hosting many volunteers from workaway,  so there was always someone to talk to.

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New friend Lea in Skagen

On one day all the volunteers and some artists went to visit Skagen, a larger city on the northern tip of Jutland, Denmark. Skagen is one of the most visited places in Denmark . The city has some historical background as being a very popular gathering place for artists in the summers of the 1800’s and 1900’s. Many Scandinavian artists came to paint the beautiful scenery and lighting. Much of the art has been preserved and can be seen at the Skagen museum.

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The famous art of Skagen

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Yellow streets of Skagen, Denmark

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Kathryn eating a Danish danish

After the museum we visited famous Grenen Beach, the place where the North and Baltic seas meet. Supposedly, during the summer on a clear day you can’t tell where water ends and sky begins; the whole place looks like a huge blue dome. The day we went was rainy and grey, but dramatic and beautiful nonetheless.

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Grenen beach, the northern most part of Denmark. In the distance you can see the North and Baltic seas meeting in forever clashing waves

Our time in Tolne was probably the most authentic Denmark experience possible. Everyone was extremely nice and welcoming, and we felt like a part of the family almost instantly. I’m sure we will be back next time we are in Denmark, but until then I won’t forget the amazing people and memories made here.

Thanks for reading and happy travels! XX -Izzy

(P.S. if you want to learn more about Tolne Gjaestgivergaard and possible stay in their inn yourself you can click here. And if you want to learn about and donate to their resident artists project you can click here)

 

 

 

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Updated Guide to Saving Money in Norway

How to Save Money in Norway

Norway and Scandinavia are some of the most expensive countries in the world to visit. The standard of living in Oslo is 120% higher than in Bangkok. This is evident in all aspects of life. The air is clean, the roads are driven primarily by electric cars, the food is healthy, and nature is everywhere, well-preserved and beautiful. Despite the costs, here we are (for the second time), a frugal family of six living in Norway. People must think we are crazy, but honestly this country is not as expensive as everyone thinks. Here’s what we do to live on a budget.

How to Save Money in Norway, Feeding a baby moose at a nature park in Norway

Feeding a baby moose in Nesbyen, Norway

Eat cheaply and shop smart

Eating out in Norway is beyond expensive. Trust me on this one. A pizza is $30, a beer $15, a normal meal is $25 dollars. Avoid that at all costs. Cooking at home is a must.

Grocery stores can also be expensive at first glance. If you look a little deeper you will find some very reasonably priced food. The brand First Price makes an inexpensive off brand version of almost everything, from toilet paper to roasted chickens. It’s usually 50-75% cheaper than the brand name. First price is also healthy and delicious. We matched up the ingredients on some of their products to the brand name equivalent, and they were near identical. The chain grocery store KIWI carries the most first price products, and has the lowest prices. Sometimes before the weekend, or at the end of the day grocery stores give out free bread that’s usually $4 a loaf.

Shopping smart in Norway, a cart full of first price brand food.

Look at all that first price!

Asian grocery stores or similar family run stores have the lowest prices for fruits, veggies, and bulk good such as flour, sugar, or rice.

We even foraged for food, which is obviously season dependant but can yield great results. Summer has blueberries, raspberries, and lingonberries. Apples are plentiful in the fall , and many people will let you pick some from their trees if you ask nicely . Different mushrooms can be foraged every season.

How to save money in Norway. Foraging in the green mossy forest

Foraging for Mushrooms

Norway is pretty dry in terms of alcohol. Many Norwegians actually go to Sweden to get alcohol. Most cities will have one store which sells alcohol stronger than 4%. These end sales after 3pm, and are pricy… Beer and drinks under 4% are for sale at most grocery stores.

Thrift shop

If you are in need of clothing definitely visit your local Fretex. Fretex is a chain of thrift stores that specialize in brand name (mostly H&M honestly) clothing at a VERY discounted price. It’s very similar to the Salvation Army or Goodwill in the States.

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Fretex second hand store

If you knows some locals, or are staying in a local area, ask about school sales. They are big sales at local schools of donated clothing, shoes, furniture, ect. These are even more inexpensive than thrift stores.

Live Smart

Do what you have to do, whether it be Couchserfing, Airbnb, Workaway, or WOOFing, to avoid staying at a hotel. You can even camp, this is free everywhere that isn’t private property. Libraries have free wifi, charging stations, and computers. Remember, the best thing about Norway is that all the best activities are completely, 100% free. Hint: Go for a hike 🙂

Foraging in Norway, girl stares at tall pine trees

 

To read my 1st article on Norway on a budget click here. Happy travels XX – Izzy