Isn’t it gorgeous? This picture is taken from the area where I went to high school. As you can probably tell, it’s located on a hill. Each morning around 7 am, I would start the trek. The school bus stopped in the city center, and we had to walk from there. It was a narrow path, some stairs here and there but really it was a steep, off-beaten uphill road that made sure students arrived at school sweaty and out of breath.

Today, you don’t have to hike to get up to the top.

Last year, they installed a $10 million glass elevator. Instead of 10 minutes of exercise, you’ll get to the top within 30 seconds, all while observing the stunning view. Many locals were furious about taxpayer money being spent on a fancy elevator with a view. Also, they built a new high school at a different location so the old school building is now government offices.

This is just one of the things I noticed have changed since the last time I went to Norway, in 2020. Although the elevator was very cool and probably boosts tourism, where’s the appreciation for a good old workout?

1. Ice cream on the beach

Norwegian beaches are not commercialized.

You will not find boardwalks or shops along beaches as you do in some places in the United States. In Norway, people are visiting beaches to tan and swim, to catch creatures from the ocean, fish or crabs. Scandinavians pack their simple lunch pack and bring water to the beach to stay hydrated. Beach visitors are not there to shop for souvenirs or eat funnel cake, because it’s simply not there.

However, this time, I noticed several ice cream boats. Teenagers with what was probably their very first summer job, selling ice cream on the beach.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen ice cream boats, or teenagers selling ice cream, but how often they stopped by was new to me. During previous summers, I’ve run into a handful of kids selling ice cream on the beach from June to August. This time, at most, three sellers stopped by in one day.

There’s a market for it, I assume.

Young, polite humans trying to sell ice cream and your own kids asking for it, non-stop, is a bad combination. It’s hard to say no.

2. Electric scooters

Popping up everywhere.

The first time I saw electric scooters, ever, was when someone I know in the United States got it for their birthday. It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago but then again, time flies.

I have been adamant about not getting these kinds of scooters for my kids. Not that they are bad for you, but I enjoy the natural aspect of exercise and want to encourage that for my kids as well. In my opinion, it doesn’t hurt to use your feet riding a scooter instead of pushing a button to let it ride on its own.

I haven’t noticed electric scooters in Norway until this summer. I know they existed before then, but this time, the scooters were all over the place. With the pandemic, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to visit my homeland so they might’ve been popular here longer than I am aware of. In Oslo, which is the capital of Norway, the scooters were parked on the sidewalks, in parks, outside restaurants, everywhere.

I noticed more electric scooters than bikes, and I didn’t think I’d ever see that in bike-loving Norway.

Read more: 15 most beautiful destinations in Norway

3. Snack bars

They made it overseas.

The last time I visited, they still had them, but they were not mainstream or in all grocery stores. This time, I saw rows of snack bars, energy bars, protein bars, the majority of them high in sugar. There was salted caramel and chocolate chip energy bars. Cashew and coconut bars. Exactly like the ones I see in the United States.

I’m not sure if it’s a demand for it in Norway or if it’s the industry simply pushing to get the bars on the shelves. With the number of snack bars I noticed, I am sure it’s a mix of both and I am sure they will keep taking up shelf space in the Norwegian grocery stores.

4. Bus stop turned veggie garden

This used to be a bus stop:

A former bus stop converted into a garden.
Photos by Sara Melissa Frost

Now, it’s a rose/veggie garden, open to the public.

The entire bus station in the center of the city has also been transformed into a library and part of the outside area where the taxis would park is now a playground for toddlers and kids.

My hometown has done significant improvements in the past years to make the city more attractive for young families and they have made an effort to move heavy traffic away from the heart of town. Seeing rhubarb growing where I used to get on the bus was a perfect illustration that they succeeded in doing just that.

Change is normal, yes?

I am not a fan of when convenience is taking over the natural way of doing things — walking up a hill is better for your health than pressing an elevator button. But an elevator makes the area more accessible, so there’s that. Using your feet, biking, is better for your body than standing still on an electric scooter. Consuming a quick energy bar on the go is not the same as eating an apple.

That vegetable garden, though. Seeing that made me smile.

Read more: Must-see European winter destinations