Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I’VE NEVER BEEN TO NORWAY, but recognize this Scandinavian country’s accelerated transition to battery electric cars (despite nay sayers such as, you guessed it, Luddite me). Isn’t it about time I learn more about Norway? And what better way to start than with one of Ward, Lock & Co’s Continental Handbooks.

A New Handbook to Norway: With Maps of Norway; Street Plans of Oslo, Bergen, Stavenger and Trondheim, and Six District Maps, Ward, Lock and Co., c. 1930. 

A bit out of date, you say? As I’ve noted before, things in old guidebooks that are still around are all the more noteworthy. Here in Part 1 are Ward Lock Norway tidbits; Norwegian BEVs come tomorrow in Part 2. 

The Charms of Norway. Ward Lock says, “Nature has fashioned Norway on a grand scale, and had endowed the land with a charm that cannot fail to appeal to those in search of a real holiday—a sense of restfulness…. There, indeed, is loneliness and peace amid the silence of mountains and the sea.” 

“In the course of a single day,” the guidebook observes, “one can transverse smiling valleys, lofty mountains, plateaux and snow-clad wilds, and sail on deep blue fjords…. In summer the Midnight Sun reigns supreme over a great part of the land, and in winter the star-gemmed sky is illuminated by the marvellous Northern Lights—the Aurora Borealis.”

Hvor melder jeg meg på? (“Where do I sign up?” Google Translate.)

Motoring and Cycling. Ward Lock informs, “Some of Norway’s visitors take with them their car or bicycle. From either of the great automobile clubs a member can obtain a customs permit enabling him to take his car into and out of Norway free of duty.… Without such permits cars are subject to a duty of 40 per cent. of their value….”

More on this in Part 2, what with Norway’s 25-percent VAT on new car purchases. (Though not on all cars….)

Rules of the Road. “When meeting another vehicle,” Ward Lock advises fellow Brits, “drive to the right. When overtaking drive to the left, but it is not courteous to pass without asking leave. It should be remembered that Norwegian horses are extremely shy.” 

Keep to the right—and respect the horses. This and other images from Ward Lock Norway.

Language. The guidebook assures, “The difficulties of language need not deter the tourist from visiting Norway. English is widely understood in the towns, while in the country places many of the peasants who have been for a sojourn in America to secure a little capital [?!] are only too glad of the chance to assist the visitor by display of their skill as interpreters. At the same time a small phrase-book will be found of great assistance and interest. Norwegian is not a difficult language; those with some knowledge of German will find it comparatively easy.”

The Norwegian Alphabet. Ward Lock notes, “J, which seems to come so awkwardly in many words, has the English sound of y in “yes,” except that kj has the Scottish sound of ch in “loch”; skj the sound of sh in “shall”; and bj the initial sound in “beauty.” 

Fine. But how to pronounce Flămsdalskleiva?

The Flăm Valley. Ward Lock recounts, “From Myrdal the road descends the Flămsdalskleiva by a number of sharp winds into the Flăm Valley, the mountains on either side rising to a great height. The scenery on the road through the bottom of the valley is as fine as anything on the Stalheim road, some would say finer; travellers having descended the winding road should look back at the route by which they have come.”

You’re telling me.

Examine carefully and you’ll see the Myrdal/Flăm route.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll advance 93 years and consider Norway’s love affair with BEVs. Apparently money can buy happiness, provided it’s in sufficient automotive savings. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2023 


  1. -Nate
    March 13, 2023

    Wow ~ when was that book published anyway ? .

    I wish I could visit there and take my old ’59 VW Bug, it’d be *perfect* for that twisty mountain road if it still exists .


    • Mike B
      March 13, 2023

      Going down. Maybe.

      Experience: Old Priest Grade. 1963 Bug.

  2. Jack Albrecht
    March 13, 2023

    I don’t really have a bucket list, but my wife has one item on hers. To see the Northern Lights in Norway. Our old husky has passed on to hopefully a place of no pain and plenty of snow. Our new husky (only about 2) is young enough to make the trip, once he has gotten well-trained. Your article has me itching to go!

    March 13, 2023

    In 2005, bought a new Volvo in Sweden. Drove up to Oslo where we met a doctor with a four seat + 4. Gave us the grand tour of the place.Then took the “Nut Shell” train tour across to Bergan. There we found a 50s American V8 car show.  Of course I was wearing a Morgan T shirt. One guy asked if it was the V8. When I said four, he walked away. I bough the plus 8 six years later.John

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