This past week I made my first stop to the wine monopoly, or vinmonopolet. Alcohol in Norway is prohibitively expensive and also more tightly controlled than it is in the United States. All drinks that have an alcohol content higher than 4.7% (strong beer, wine, and liquor) are exclusively sold in the vinmonopolet.

Again, alcohol in Norway is expensive. For those of you who have Skyped with me, I like to think you have learned that references to Trader Joe’s three buck chuck are prohibited since I’ve more or less gone teetotal in Norway. So, for those of you who are curious about how much things really cost (and keep in mind that these prices are just what I’ve experienced in Trondheim) here’s a short summary:

  • A “girly” drink (Smirnoff Ice, cider, Bacardi Breezer, etc.) will typically cost you around 70 NOK (10 USD) at a bar
  • A beer out depending on the quality of the bar and the beer will probably cost you anywhere from 90 NOK to 110 NOK (13 to 16 USD)
  • Wine out will probably cost you around upwards of 100 NOK a glass (14 USD)
  • Normal beer at the supermarket for a cheap brand will cost you around 30 NOK (4.40 USD) a can–and yes it’s okay to pull beers out of a six pack and just buy however many you want

And now I can finally answer the question of how much a bottle of wine at the store actually costs here in Norway. To be frank, when I went to the vinmonopolet I was really just looking for a decent bottle of red wine to give as a thank you gift. Because I was in a bit of a hurry I didn’t spend too much time in the vinmonopolet, but from what I could see the cheapest wines were around 90 NOK (13 USD), with most wines being in the mid-100 NOK range. It’s been a bit of a shock to find wine that I was formerly able to buy for 5 USD at nearly double or triple the price.

I didn’t peruse the liquor too carefully, but it seemed like most prices were approximately what you would find in the US if not a bit higher.

I will say that overall the vinmonopolet was actually quite nice. The people working there were very friendly and helpful and thankfully were willing to accept my Norwegian residence card as proof of identification. I will even say that the store had a hint of sass–I appreciated how boxed wine was candidly labeled “Bag in box.”

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I have been out and about this past week hence the belated blog posting. So, first things first: last weekend I managed to ride an Icelandic pony! For those of you who don’t know, I loved horses as a girl and my former dream job was to be a cowgirl (I saw this as the logical way to spend a ton of time with horses). Although I have outgrown those dreams, I still enjoy going on the occasional trail ride. So, when I got an email over the NTNUI Riding* list about a weekend trail ride I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

In order to actually get to the horses, we had to drive from Trondheim to Orkanger. Luckily two of the students who were going on the trip happened to have cars and were willing to drive us there. The drive was when I encountered my first hitch: I hadn’t been expecting rain. I woke up that morning to gloriously warm weather and sunshine and did not bother to check the weather forecast. My mistake. The prediction for Orkanger was rain for the entire ride. My fellow riders were a bit skeptical that I would last long on the trail in jeans and the owner of the ponies managed to scrounge up some leather chaps for me to wear. I will say that contrary to popular belief chaps are hardly sexy, but I will also say that they are incredibly practical for riding. I would contest that my legs were by far the driest by the end of the trip and overall the least beaten up by the elements.

So having changed into the chaps, I managed to saddle my pony and mount up. One of the great things about these Icelandic horses is that they are fairly short, meaning that you can mount up without a riding block. The other thing to know is that my horse, Hordur, was a personality. I was told early on by the owner that his name means chief in Norwegian and he certainly wanted to be in the front of the group the entire time.

Having been on trail rides in the past, I was expecting a fairly sedate walk along a trail the entire time. Mistake number two. The owner had no problem with us putting the horses through their paces and wanted us to experience the different gaits of the horses (unlike most horses, Icelandic horses have five gaits instead of three).

We had a good time riding the horses around the countryside and forest since there really wasn’t a trail at all. I will say that this led to some great sightseeing as well as some mild terror. I quickly realized that the chances of Hordur knocking my knee into a tree while going through the forrest at full gallop were quite high. Thankfully this didn’t happen, but I do have a bruise or two on my legs from when we ran into some wayward branches.

While I ended the day cold, stiff, and very sore, it was a great change of pace and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As one of the other riders said, “there’s nothing more refreshing than a little gallop.”

*At NTNU most extracurricular activities are independent from the university. NTNUI (Norwegian University of Science and Technology Sport Association) is an umbrella organization that encompasses all of the student sports groups on campus. In order to join you pay a fee (that can also include campus gym membership), but it is important to note that you may also have to pay additional fees depending on the sorts of sports groups you join.

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