Tromsø Wrap Up

I would say that Kari was quite accurate when she once told me that Tromsø is a vibrant town. It may be small, but it certainly has character and some wonderful views. Here are my tips and tricks:

  1. As with all major Norwegian towns, Tromsø has mobile applications that you can use to buy public transportation tickets and to map out a route on the public transportation.
  2. Unfortunately the buses do not actually list or announce the stops, so if you’re confused or a newcomer to the town definitely ask the driver to help you get off at the correct stop.
  3. You can take the flybussen or the local 42 bus into town from the airport (or from town to the airport)
  4. To be honest I think that Tromsø’s biggest draws are the reindeer races during Sami Week and the scenery. I wasn’t able to take the local cable car, but I’ve been told that it’s well worth the effort.
  5. The burgers at Blå Bar are surprisingly delicious and Smørtorget is well worth the stop for both cheap eats and some cheap shopping.

Grocery Shopping: Or Things That Make Me Sad

Not only is alcohol expensive in Norway, so are groceries! Again I like to think that my friends have learned by this point that grocery shopping complaints are strictly prohibited.

So, here are a few things to know about grocery shopping in Norway. First things first, there are definitely certain stores that are cheaper than others. At my Fulbright orientation in August we were told:

Cheap Grocery Stores:

  • Kiwi
  • Rema 1000
  • Coop Prix
  • Rimi

More Expensive Stores:

  • ICA
  • Bunnpris
  • Meny
  • Joker

Most Expensive Stores:

  • Statoil
  • Narvesen
  • 7-Eleven
  • Deli de Luca

While the cheaper grocery stores tend to fulfill most of my shopping needs, the more expensive stores, Meny in particular, tend to contain more variety. All of the grocery stores have sales that you can see on the mobile app Mattilbud.

There are also some added costs that come with grocery shopping in Norway. Plastic bags cost 1 NOK so most people bring their own bags when they shop. Another thing to know is that most drinks have an additional charge on top of the listed price. This additional cost covers the price of the bottle the drink comes in (it’s usually anywhere between an extra 1 to 3 NOK and the cost is listed on the bottle). Most grocery stores contain special machines that will process and recycle your bottles and give you the option of either recouping the cost of the bottle or donating the money.

On to prices! Here are some grocery store prices and all include the 15% tax. All of these items were bought at the cheapest grocery stores:

  • 1.75 liters of Milk (24.90 NOK = 3.51 USD = 7.54 USD/gallon)
  • 1100 g of oatmeal  (19.90 NOK = 2.8 USD)
  • Half dozen eggs (22.3 NOK = 3.14 USD)
  • Pasta noodles (5 NOK = .70 USD)
  • Tomato pasta sauce (20.90 NOK = 2.94 USD)
  • 125 g of blueberries (20 NOK = 2.82 USD)
  • 125 g of raspberries (21.96 NOK = 3.09 USD)
  • Onion (2.14 NOK = .30 USD)
  • Set of avocados (29.90 NOK = 4.21 USD)
  • Green beans (23.90 NOK = 3.37 USD)
  • 750 g of carrots (24.96 NOK = 3.51 USD)
  • 400 g of ground beef (51.40 NOK = 7.24 USD)
  • 500 g of scampi (109 NOK = 15. 35 USD)
  • 2 chicken breasts (35.60 NOK = 5.01 USD)

 

Early on in our Fulbright orientation we were told to stop converting prices to USD, but we were also told that if we felt absolutely compelled to apply an exchange rate to our purchases we should use the Big Mac Index. The Big Mac Index compares the price of big macs across the globe in order to give a conversion rate that is based on purchasing power parity (see parents I did take that basic economics class in college). Using the Big Mac Index the conversion rate is 10 NOK/USD. Using this rate instead of the current exchange rate makes the prices of the above items become more reasonable:

  • 1.75 liters of Milk (24.90 NOK = 2.49 USD = 5.39 USD/gallon)
  • 1100 g of oatmeal  (19.90 NOK = 1.99 USD)
  • Half dozen eggs (22.3 NOK = 2.23 USD)
  • Pasta noodles (5 NOK = .50 USD)
  • Tomato pasta sauce (20.90 NOK = 2.09 USD)
  • 125 g of blueberries (20 NOK = 2 USD)
  • 125 g of raspberries (21.96 NOK = 2.20 USD)
  • Onion (2.14 NOK = .21 USD)
  • Set of avocados (29.90 NOK = 2.99 USD)
  • Green beans (23.90 NOK = 2.39 USD)
  • 750 g of carrots (24.96 NOK = 2.50 USD)
  • 400 g of ground beef (51.40 NOK = 5.14 USD)
  • 500 g of scampi (109 NOK = 10. 90 USD)
  • 2 chicken breasts (35.60 NOK = 3.56 USD)

 

There are only two other things that I’ve found a bit atypical when grocery shopping in Norway:

  1. The units. In the US it is required that food vendors clearly state the volume or weight of an item on the front of the package. In Norway however it can be a bit like playing “Where’s Waldo?” to find the actual units on a food item.
  2. Milk. I used to resent not being able to buy a gallon of milk in Norway; however, this changed when someone told me that milk is never sold in great amounts (the maximum being 1.75 liters) because the milk is fresh. While this does make me feel healthier, this also means that milk usually won’t last longer than its expiration date (typically around a week) since it lacks preservatives.