Things have changed since last year, one thing stays the same:

Alcohol in Norway is still expensive...

Dearest Embracers, 

each year, about a week before we start, embracers from all over the world are eagerly awaiting our traditional post about alcohol in Norway - it is a welcome reminder for those returning as well as a shockingly enlightening education for all not-Norwegian first timers to Bergen Embrace. 

And if you think that having a glass of wine together with your friends is as straightforward as almost everywhere in the world, we want to try to remind you and explain how special our lovely country is in its relationship with alcohol.

So here is a list of points to keep in mind:

1. Alcohol in Norway is EXPENSIVE! - yes, we know, you know - it’s sad but true - this has not changed - we have given up hope that it ever will.

2. You cannot buy alcohol in supermarkets. Only beer. AND cider!  AND gin tonic, spritzers, rusbrus(ask a local what that is) BUT only up to 4,7% of alcohol. And only until 8 pm. And only until 6 pm on Saturdays. And not on Sundays.

3. If you want some wine or spirits or bubbles, you can only buy it in the “Vinmonopolet”-shops located in special and discreet places around the city center. *(there are ONLY 2 shops serving the ca.30.000 inhabitants of the city center!!!) the closest one to the dancing venue is in Bergen Storsenter at the bus station. And only until 6 pm. And only until 3 pm on Saturdays. And not on Sundays.

4. If you drink anything with a % on it, in a bar or cafe you can only do so within the premises of the venue. Or within the clearly marked red tape around the venue. And only until max 3.30 am.

5. And it’s EXPENSIVE! How expensive? In a bar/restaurant, usually between 6-10 times the price of the drink if you had bought it in the wine-monopoly.

6. That is why you will see Norwegians filling up their legal customs quota as soon they land and cross the border at the airport. Here's how much you can buy:

7. Norwegians have discovered that buying tax free is really smart. We use it to build our social networks. Both for its personality and friendliness enhancing effects, as well as a currency for expressing gratitude for all kinds of services. Among anthropologists, Norway is often used as a case study for such gift exchanges.

8. Advertising for alcohol and tobacco to the general population is prohibited by law in Norway. Staff in shops are not allowed to take initiative and recommend any type of alcohol or existing offers and discounts. If you want something that will affect your health, you need to know what you want and then persistently ask for it.

9. Officially it is illegal to drink in public spaces. (But when the sun shines - who cares. And when it rains - everyone understands. And when it snows - you have other things to worry about in public) Actually - this has changed now, even the local authorities have seen that it is useless to try to enforce this, so now it is legal to drink in the park or on the open street. Our deepest apologies to those of you hoping to do something illegal safely in Norway!

10. It is not allowed to bring alcohol to venues and restaurants. This includes Grand Hotel Terminus, our main dancing venue.

11. At our venue there will be a BAR but with some time limitations. There is also a beautiful bar next to the hotel reception.

12. These bars are EXPENSIVE. How expensive? See point 5.

13. Fjordlonga-freedom! On Monday at our legendary fjordlonga we have the venue for our selves. We don’t have a license to sell alcohol, so we will have to give it away to you for free. But otherwise, feel free to bring with you whatever you want to drink or eat (but don’t drink it on the boat - you can buy alcohol on board the boat from the bar and you’ve guessed it - it’s EXPENSIVE).

14. By now you might have understood that there are many restrictions to drinking in places that have a license to sell acoIhol. And if you see Norwegians drinking coffe, tea and water from opaque bottles, it's because they want to keep hydrated.

15. Last, but not least: SKÅL!!! (especially because it’s EXPENSIVE)

And as a last tip - why not try some of the local fermented or distilled drinks? We have some of the best cider in the world (the Hardanger ciders, try the brands Alde or Aga) and some of the best gins in the world (Bareksten and 9 sisters have won gold medals at international competitions for several years in a row) (and yes, it is very EXPENSIVE)