Posts Tagged ‘norway’

Day 100: Wild strawberries and fjords

July 23rd, 2011 6 comments

I’ve had the second* best road-trip of my life and it was all without any planning on my end. There couldn’t have been a more perfect location and combination of travelers! The Norwegian fjords, my spontaneously bizarre, philosophical, and funny cousin, his patient, thoughtful, brilliant-planner wife, my long-time friend from L.A. with her contagious laughter, and my mom. Between the 5 of us, we spoke 8 different languages on the ride and by the end were starting a conversation in one language and ending it in two and still understanding each other. We traveled 1,500 km in 5 days by car and ferry through some of the most breathtaking and humbling landscapes that I’ve ever seen. We saw hundreds of waterfalls (I’m not exaggerating), drove under, over, and around mountains, walked on cliffs, and took our car on ferries across fjords.

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We visited 3 fjords – Hardangerfjord, Sognefjorden, and Geirangerfjorden – and took in some touristy as well as off-the-beaten-track sights like the old houses in Bergen, the Fossheim Stone Center, and the Troll’s Trail (Trollstigen). Every evening, we stayed in cabins, conveniently located along all the main roads, with complete bathing and toilet facilities. Most of them even came with a full kitchen and dinette set so we just needed to bring our own bedsheets, towels, and groceries. When split amongst us, the cabin costs were also very reasonable (<$50/person). The cost of groceries in Norway is another story though. [slickr-flickr tag="norge_roadtrip" sort="date"] That was just a sampling. View the rest of the pictures on Flickr, here.

Notice the scattered towns and cottages all throughout the countryside? It’s amazing how many cottages there are in all this nature. Some farms were located on sheer cliffs and only accessible by boat. I’ve been told that young children are sometimes tethered to keep them from literally falling off the property into the water. Norwegian cottages are often simple and eco-friendly, blending in well with their surroundings with their grass roofs and wooden walls. We also passed many old stavekirkes (churches built from wooden staves), some from the 13th century.

I was amazed by the resilience of the backpackers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and mosquitos who roamed the cold, wet, and foggy highlands and the treacherous mountain switchbacks. Well, the damn mosquitos didn’t confine themselves to those areas.

“What about the wild strawberries you talked about in your post title,” you may ask. Regretfully, I ate no wild strawberries during the trip but I did eat handfuls of freshly-picked farm strawberries bought right at the edge of the fields. However, I did have the best strawberries I’ve ever eaten in Norway and they were the wild ones I picked in the forests. They’re also the smallest strawberries I’ve seen, about the size of a marble at best. It goes to show that things can come out best if you let nature do its thing and stop trying to make things bigger and better. The best things come in small doses.

(*) The best road-trip is still when I decided I didn’t want to go to school anymore and I got into my car with a good friend and started driving. I eventually hit the U.S.-Canada border and didn’t have my passport so we turned back.

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Day 99: Troll’s trail, Norway

July 22nd, 2011 3 comments

The events that have occurred in Oslo today are shameful and terrible. Norway has been a peaceful country for decades and there is much trust amongst the people. I’ve felt this all through my travels in Norway – the locals trust each other and trust tourists – doors are often not locked, cabins are fully equipped with all the cookware and amenities you’d need for a comfortable stay, and they’re not checked when you leave, you’re asked to clean up after yourself and it is, indeed, a very clean country. I’m afraid that events like the bombings and shootings today will breed fear within ourselves, against our fellow humans. I’m saddened and ashamed to be part of our species at times like this.

I am thankful, however, that I’m not in Oslo at the moment. I’m spending the night with family and friend in the area of Romsdal in western Norway. Our cabins are in the valley at the base of “Troll’s Trail” (Trollstigen). I wish I could send you pictures of the road down into this valley but is was foggy and raining the whole way down so we could only see about 20 meters ahead. I’m sure it is beautiful if you could see it. Here is the view from my cabin window.

Peace to all.

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Day 90: First week in Norway

July 13th, 2011 3 comments

The problem with family is that they have records of you that even you may not remember.

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(This is my cousin’s reel from 1978 with me when I was about 3 years old.)

Yesterday, my cousin’s wife threw a 5 kilo (~11 lbs) bag of rice onto her shoulder with the motion that one would use to swat at a fly buzzing over one’s shoulder. I didn’t even think much about it until later when I realized that the bag of rice was the size of my torso. And she had thrown it over her shoulder like I’d throw my face towel over my shoulder. She says it’s nothing, really. I’m learning that is a Norwegian thing, actually. They’re extremely mild-mannered people with quiet voices and and enormous amount of perseverance, patience, and strength. You can even sense it in how they drive and the way traffic flows. Of course, they have a lot of space/land and are a wealthy nation so maybe it’s become part of their culture to not have to fight for things. I’m sure there are a lot of other factors and I’ve only been here about a week so who am I to generalize but still…

I can’t describe, in words, the natural beauty that abounds here in the summer. At least, outside of the city. The pictures may give you a taste but you really have to come here and enjoy the smells of the freshness as well. Of course, the weather is a little unpredictable. It’s gone from 10 degrees C to 24 and sunny to pouring rain all in a matter of minutes. It helps build character and resilience, I guess.

Of course, we’ve also visited the city of Oslo. It is a surprisingly multi-cultural city. I went to an area of downtown (Sentrum) Oslo where I heard 6 different languages being spoken when I was standing in one spot for less than a minute.

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I also spent a lot of time taking pictures at the Vigeland sculpture park. Here are a few of those pictures and you can get all the Norway pictures on Flickr.

In case you missed it, I also updated back-dated posts for Tallinn, Göteborg, and Grenen.

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