For millennia, the Norwegians have been maritime masters, conquering the vast ocean and the country’s many inland waterways. Norway has the second longest coastline in the world.
The ocean provided food in abundance – and was the main highway of yesteryear. What the modern-day Norwegians tend to forget, is that roads, tunnels, and bridges are relatively recent creations in the Norwegian landscape.
The big ocean can also be a foe, and many a Norwegian family lost a much-loved family member at sea, with no grave to turn to for comfort.
The Norwegians travelled using all kinds of boats – big and small – whether when going fishing, to church, to funerals, or trading their wares.
Norwegian seafarers travelled to all corners of the planet, the Vikings as far as Constantinople.
As late as in the 1960s and 1970s, many young Norwegians spent a year or more at sea before settling down, just like their older mates had done before them. Til sjøs – being at sea – are words that still carry a world of adventure for many Norwegians today.
The Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857), a son of a fisherman and born in Bergen on Norway’s western coast, was a master at capturing the beauty and force of the Norwegian coastal life and landscape.