June 4, 2014

I'm Loving My Cruise Through Norway's Fjords....

... Even Though It Doesn't Start for Another Month

Last month New York Times writer Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote a piece about the psychological connection between anticipation and happiness in traveling. Studies show that taking a vacation won't necessarily make you happier, but anticipation will, she said.

In 2010, researchers from the Netherlands interviewed 974 vacationers and found they felt most happy before their trips. Social scientists have been saying for years that we get an extra happiness boost if we consciously delay any type of pleasure.

Apparently there's an art to enhancing the pleasure of anticipation. Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and a leading happiness researcher, said savoring is an active, not passive, process.

Reading novels and poetry about your destination, watching films and television programs, browsing blogs... all these activities encourage you not only to learn about your destination, but to dream, providing some concrete detail for your mind to latch onto. If the reality doesn't quite measure up to the dream, we're less likely to be disappointed if we build up our expectation ahead of time, counter-intuitive as this sounds.  

"So go ahead and assume it's going to be wonderful," Professor Dunn says.

We Should Be Happy Traveling in the Two Happiest Countries in the World!

The United Nations' 2013 happiness ranking of 156 countries placed Denmark first and Norway second. Among North American countries, Canada ranked sixth, while Mexico ranked 16th, one notch ahead of the USA.

There are lots of happiness indexes are out there. The 2014 Forbes review reverses the top two, with Norway first and Denmark second. Canada ranks sixth with Forbes as it did with the UN. But the U.S. manages to slip in at number ten. As you might expect, the Forbes ranking puts more emphasis on the financial components of happiness.

Most happiness indexes I found listed Norway and Denmark at the top. The other Scandinavian countries -- Sweden and Finland -- were usually in the top ten.

Happiness I'll Anticipate in Copenhagen
I'm really looking forward to a reunion in Copenhagen with my treasured friend Terry, who will fly in from London to the spend the pre-boarding weekend with us. The world-famous Copenhagen Jazz Festival will be wrapping up that weekend, too.

An avid pre-Parkinson's cyclist, I'm happy to know that Copenhagen is bike-crazy, just like Amsterdam. Half of Copenhagen's residents pedal to work.

Yesterday's post concerned the "New Nordic Diet." Copenhagen's Noma, a New Nordic eatery, has been named the world's best restaurant for the last two years.

I don't usually like to shop while traveling, so I was surprised when I went on a mini spending spree in Reykjavik's design stores during our 2012 Iceland adventure. Copenhagen has a superb specialty shopping reputation, too.

Amusement parks don't usually make my must-see lists, but Tivoli is special. The world's second oldest amusement park, it's described as a schmaltzy but happy place.


I'm sure we'll pay her a visit if only to keep friends from saying when we get home, "YOU WENT TO COPENHAGEN AND DIDN'T SEE THE MERMAID?!"

Happiness Cruising Norway's Fjords

Here's our ship, the Crystal Symphony. See those life boats in the middle of the ship? Our staterooms are right behind one of them. Chalk up one more penalty for my procrastination.

The photos that follow are lifted from a Huffington Post piece titled "25 Reason's Why Norway Is the Greatest Place on Earth."

norway hiking

This photo accompanies Huffington Post's reason No. 3 -- "allemannsrett." Here's their explanation of this term:
Allemannsrett literally translates to "all men's rights." It's a "freedom to roam" public rights law that allows the right of access to and passage through all uncultivated land. This means you can pitch a tent or hike through any land that is "utmark" (non-cultivated). Also, wild-berrying is permitted everywhere. This little rule is extra awesome because there are tons of jaw-droppingly beautiful places to see in Norway and few barriers stopping you.

Huffington's reason No. 6 is "even the urban spaces are lush," giving Oslo as an example. We'll have a day ashore in the capital city.

fjord norway

Reason No. 8 is the fjords -- "natural wonders that just beg you to go exploring."


Reason No. 24: "Ferrying through Geirangerfjord is breathtaking."

midnight sun norway

We made a November visit to Iceland two years ago, hoping to see the Northern Lights. We didn't catch them. But we're guaranteed to see the 24-hour-a-day Midnight Sun on this cruise, since we'll journey so far north.

My anticipatory happiness is soaring day by day. 

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