It's been 2,5 months since we moved from Tromsø to Stavanger and to be honest, I had quite a few expectations about autumn in Western Norway. I was picturing myself going chestnut picking, going for long walks in the forest and enjoying the fact that it doesn't snow in Stavanger in September.
Now some of these expectations got totally crushed while others just turned out to be a lot different to what I had expected! Here are 8 weird things about autumn in Western Norway that I didn't know about before moving here!
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Halloween is actually a thing here
You may have heard that Halloween isn't actually a thing in Norway. It's becoming increasingly popular in kindergartens (mainly because the staff doesn't know what to do with the kids this season otherwise - or so they say?!), but it's still not celebrated as much as it is elsewhere. Now, I didn't expect things to be much different in Stavanger but to my surprise, there is a lot more going on for Halloween than there was in Tromsø!
They sell pumpkins in the stores (and I'm going to try and carve one for the first time ever) and the city even organizes a Halloween walk around the city, where they tell you all about Stavanger's dark past, which I am SO excited for (follow along on Instagram stories to come along)!
It's too cold for chestnuts
One of the things I was most looking forward to about leaving the Arctic and experiencing "normal" seasons again in the south, was picking chestnuts in autumn. They remind me of my childhood in Germany where they have been a vital part of autumn each year!
Turns out, chestnuts are a rare find in Norway as it seems to be too cold for them here! I, therefore, may or may not have gone crazy on my trip to Switzerland in September, collecting ALL the chestnuts I could find! After 3 years in the Arctic where I've legit never seen any, I must have looked like a 4-year old picking up dozens of chestnuts in Zürich...
Then again, it's so much warmer than I would have thought!
While it may be too cold for chestnuts, it's certainly much warmer in Stavanger at this time of year than I would have thought! Locals keep telling me that Stavanger has an average median temperature of 12 degrees Celsius year-round, but 12 degrees back in Tromsø would have been spring!
Now I find myself constantly dressing way too warm and ending up having to take off my jacket and scarf whenever I'm out and about. Not sure why all the locals wear their winter jackets while I'm still running around in my H&M parka but I'm curious to see when (or if ever) I'll adjust to the mild climate down here.
I saw the Northern Lights in Stavanger
Another thing that literally shocked me, was that we were able to see the Northern Lights here in Stavanger a couple of weeks ago. When I left Tromsø, I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to see the lights again (unless I'd come for a visit to the Arctic of course). When I got the notification on my phone that there's a 13% chance of seeing the lights one night, I thought it wouldn't do any harm to at least try to see something.
And even though it was actually partly cloudy that night and we live in a quiet bright neighborhood, we did manage to see the lights quite clearly!
And honestly? It's so much more exciting to see the Northern Lights in Southern Norway! Not that I'd recommend you to book a trip to Stavanger just to see the aurora, quite the contrary, but I did find myself becoming really blasé about the lights back in Tromsø, so it's great to see that they can still excite me!
You can actually sit outside when eating out
I never thought I would voluntarily sit outside to have dinner at a restaurant while it's pouring rain but thanks to the mild climate here, that's what I've actually been doing several times now. It helps that most restaurants have outdoor heaters, blankets, and an awning, though. And it's not like restaurants in Tromsø don't offer all of this, but I've just never been keen on spending more time in the cold than I had to, if that makes any sense.
Like, I knew it was going to be cold in Tromsø and I didn't mind it much, but I just didn't see the point of being outside when you can rather get warm and cozy inside...
It doesn't get bright before 8 am
One of the things that shocks me most these days is how dark it is in the mornings! It doesn't really get bright outside until around 8am, which makes it really hard for me to get out of bed before that... I'm beyond excited for the switch to winter time later this month. I don't currently mind that it gets dark quite early in the evening too so I'm hoping that an hour earlier won't make a difference to my mood as long as mornings get brighter again!
Even without polar night and a total of 6 hours of daylight in Stavanger in the midst of December, which, granted, might sound very little but is way more than we had in Tromsø, I have a slight suspicion that I still won't make it through winter in Norway without fish oil...
The leaves don't turn orange before October
I have been warned that autumn takes a while to arrive in Stavanger but it was so weird to see that the leaves didn't really start to turn bright orange until October. We even had days of 20 degrees and sunshine in September which was such a nice change after 3 years up in the Arctic!
Indian Summer goes by in a second
You would expect autumn to last longer in the south, but that's so not the case! We've had quite a few autumn storms lately (no surprise, we do live right by the coast after all), so a lot of the orange gorgeousness has tumbled to the ground and started to rot already.
That did put a damper on my dream of walking through heaps of colorful leaves on my forest walks, but, with the lovely evening sunlight we were able to enjoy recently, it doesn't make autumn walks in the forest any less beautiful.
What did surprise YOU about autumn in Western Norway?
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