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A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

New York City, New...
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A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

This was our first trip to Norway, we'd been traveling around (Netherlands, France, Lux, Germany, Denmark) and were excited to get to Norway (Oslo and Lofoten).

However, we unexpectedly found that the people we dealt with, in general were pretty rude. A few examples:

1. Wanted to rent a bike for the day, hotel staff dismissive 'I don't know' and turns away

2. Watching a ferry worker turn a family away even tho the boat was docked and engine still off

3. Ferry workers lying to get rid of you so they don't have to deal with a problem

4. Shop keepers with very abrupt attitude (anywhere else - rude)

5. Restaurant staff turning you away with little regard, or just not waiting on you

6. Bouncers at even crappy sports bar that have to 'decide' if they'll let you in

7. Drivers with little regard for speed limits or safety (riding you until you get out of the way)

8. Dock signs saying do not enter (with the middle finger)

9. Some hapless tourist couple didn't have the right ticket for the airport train, (well dressed, rolex) and we watched the cops refuse to even talk to them or answer their questions while they were ticketing them)

10. Bus drivers that would actually close the door in your face and then smile as they pulled off

They also seem to have a militant streak for rules, not like speed limits - but as in using an existing rule to ruin your day if possible. More than once we saw someone being turned away from something and the Norwegian would turn around and either smile or laugh with his mate.

We also encountered a few really nice people, hard to tell tho with service industry.

I'm from NYC, and am used to arrogance, it just seems like here they delight in sticking it to you. Is this just the attitude in Norway or have we experienced an exceptionally bad trip?

Edited: 10 May 2018, 08:19
44 replies to this topic
Oslo
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1. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

Sorry to hear about bad experience, but without more context it is hard to judge.

A certain aloof or direct style is common in northern Europe and Norway. Norwegians are genereally reserved but a very direct style of asking and answering, Norwegians dont use many cotton-words like please, sorry and thank you. These are cultural differences.

Buses and trams in for instance Oslo are very frequent and drivers just leave and you have to wait for next. Perhaps this can be the reason?

The same can be for ferries that at some point just have to leave to keep timetable. This is common when cars keep coming to the dock.

Reckless driving you see everywhere, but Statistics show that Norway’s traffic is very safe and drivers law abiding.

Oslo, Norway
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2. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

7. Not experienced this, Norwegian drivers are typically very relaxed, When lines of traffic merge then generally slip in without hassle, never heard of road rage here, speed limits strictly enforced. Traffic accident statistics back this up - compare with US.

8. Never seen a sign with middle finger!

9. Police don’t ticket train travellers - that would be the train companies own ticket controllers issuing a standard fine - sorry no-excuses, Rolex or not.

10. Bus drivers don’t close the doors, they are automatic, press the button to open.

Your experience is certainly not my experience - if you engage with people in the right way.

For a Norwegian visiting US the falseness of the ‘have a good day’ is really irritating.

Oslo, Norway
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3. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

There is a very flat social structure in Norway. Workers have a high degree of autonomy and you won’t find ‘supervisors’ like you do in US. Approach staff as friends on the same level, solve problems by negotiation. Act like lord and make demands and you are likely to be considered extremely rude and ignored.

6. Strict fire regulations limit number of people in bars etc. Any popular place, however crappy, needs to have control on entrance.

Edited: 10 May 2018, 17:25
Harstad, Norway
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4. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

7. Roads are narrow, you are supposed to be considerate, pull in and let drivers pass if they show signs of wanting to overtake. If they break the speed limit, so be it. Not really your concern. Maybe they had a ferry to catch ?

Berlin, Germany
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5. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

Human interaction is often - not always - an echo, means you get back what you send. And I do not mean language and the political correct kindness. The deal is already don before you speak the first word - says brain scientists, not me. As you wrote "I'm from NYC, and am used to arrogance" ... may be you have that adapted already in your way of approaching people before verbal interaction - so you may "destroy the relationship" before it could be established.

With 1 exception from drunken young Norwegians who wanted to beat me up :-) I experienced all my travels to Norway as very friendly, open-minded and obliging. Norwegian people also stop on the road and ask pro-actively if you need help even if you stand right in the way of following traffic. Do not tdo that in NYC or Berlin - you know what I mean. And after all the history - especially in the North of Norway - I would really understand if they would treat Germans differently but I never experienced that.

One effect which we also experience in Germany: In Northern part of Germany and also especially in Berlin people interact very directly / functional. No blabla such as "how nice ..." or "Aww, may be ...". Some people interpretate that as rude - no it is not meant that way, that happens only in the head of the recipient.

Please do not get me wrong: I do not know you and do not want to imply something but if you experience so much cases in a country like Norway, may be it is not the people in the country you travel. I really mean that in a constructive way.

Rennes, France
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6. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

There are rude people everywhere, including Norway, so it's possible that you came across a couple of them, but I think a lot of the issues come from cultural differences and misunderstanding. I found Norwegian people in general to be no-nonsense, direct in whay they say (no flourishes, no overfriendly attitude from people who don't know you, as in the US) and rather reserved on a personal level. However I also found them always ready to help when I asked (some with incredible kindness), honest and law-abiding.

I can understand that their direct way of talking can be seen as rudeness when you are used to the flourishes and overfriendliness you can find in the US (for instance in shops and restaurant, and I personnaly find this a little overbearing, because I'm not used to it).

I have had also some pushy drivers on occasion (particularly truck drivers on the main road going from Svolvaer to the Vesteraalen ferry). I kept within the speed limit and pulled to the side to let them pass as soon as possible.

Not all countries have the same social norms. I think it makes a more pleasant trip if you try to understand them and take this as an experience, rather that go against it. Of course as I said it is possible that you really encountered some rude people, but in my experience as a tourist in Norway this is really not the norm.

Also, a Rolex is absolutely not a sign of honesty! ;)

Edited: 10 May 2018, 18:10
Nijmegen, The...
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7. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

1. Not really rude. Just very honest. I don't know and I can't help you so our business is concluded. That's the Norwegian way of doing things. Direct fair and honest. Instead of the american: oh I am so sorry but I am really afraid I cannot help you. I apologize deeply and a 100 more false pleasantries.

2. Time is time. Family or not. There will be a next boat.

4. Again directness and no false pleasantries is the way how it works in Norway and most of Northern Europe.

6. That's pretty common anywhere that bouncers decide who gets in and who doesn't. (at least here it is...)

7. This happens anywhere but you are supposed to let people pass. Always and always keep to the right lane unless overtaking (undertaking is not allowed). And on narrow roads stick to the right if someone is behind you. Don't keep to the middle.

8. I think I know which sign you mean and it isn't a middle finger. Its a guy putting up his index finger actually. I can't find a Google Pic of it.

9. So... If in New York I get on the subway without a ticket but am dressed in a suit and a Rolex I won't get a fine? Good to know!

10. As said doors open by a button. And time is time. City buses are very frequent.

All in allin the grand ach eme of things these were minor things and can be explained by cultural differences. That's the joy of travelling!

Oslo
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8. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

9. Ticket inspectors are not supposed to be very flexible, there are lots of excuses for not having a valid ticket and I guess inspectors have heard most many times. Inspections are not very frequent, once a month or every second I see inspectors on my tram, so fines have to be high and enforcement strict.

Oslo, Norway
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9. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

I will sympathize with you on the bus drivers if it happened in Oslo. There are statistics tracked on how often they fall behind schedule, and on some popular routes within the city, some will definitely look right at you and then pull away. However, I can also confirm that sometimes they’re completely the opposite, and I’ve encountered some very kind and considerate drivers.

As for expecting a Rolex to get you out of paying a fine for failing to comply with the ticket rules... It may have counted against the person. Although fines for ticket violations are fixed (and charged by the train company as mentioned above), traffic fines are actually assessed on a variable scale, so the more you earn, the higher the fine.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: A little rudeness with your Norway vacation ...

Of course, on TA - if you're making a negative remark on a populace it's going to be your fault, your attitude, your ignorance etc. That's cool. However, having visited 50+ countries, think I understand a bit about bias and what's rude and what isn't.

Agree, part of it could be a no-nonsense attitude. I can't (won't) help you and why should I bother to offer you an alternative. An example: a restaurant in a tiny town says they close at 11pm, however the kitchen closes at 9pm. We sit down at 8:50 and wait 10 min for the waitress to come back. She shows up at 9pm and says 'no, there is no food, we close the kitchen at 9pm! - you're late'...

You might expect she could show some compassion and say ' there's another restaurant (the only other restaurant in town) that's open till 10pm across the square.. but then, why should she? No-nonsense, right?

Had lots of cars on E10 going to A from Svolvaer going much faster than speed limit. Posted was 60, we were going 75 - and still had to pull over all the time to let them pass as they would ride our butt the entire way. We couldn't go any faster as we were not familiar with the roads and a ton of turns.

Good example is at the airport.. We were trying to board to Lofoten.. Walk up to our check-in gate, two Norwegian airport guys just stare at us indifferently. 'We're trying to check into the flight' - 'Well, did you use the auto check in??!' - sure, we try 4x but it stops when I plug my GF name in.... go back over to them, oops - they're too buys talking to each other to notice us... Finally he points to the machine he clearly watched us struggle with 'check in there!' - we explain it's not working and he spins around (not a word) and marches over to show us how stupid we are. It doesn't work for him either (again, not.a word) then marches over to a terminal (do we follow?).. We do. He checks us in and I notice we're on opposite ends of the plane.. When I inquire he states, 'no seats together, you should have chosen your seats earlier'.... Okay, thanks I've been reprimanded.. When we finally get on the flight of course it's only half full.

Par for the course of our experiences here, little petty snipish things they do to try to ruin your day. Maybe it's us - but this is our second month of travel through Europe and have NEVER had any issues in any other country. I could go on indefinitely with stories like this about Norway.

Love the country, but (so far) not so much the people.

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