Traveling from the sunniest place in Germany to the rainiest place in Europe for a vacation was full of unexpected delights. Here are my ABC’s for our short, but enjoyable, time in Norway.
A – Another Race
I have started a tradition when travelling in that I look for a race in which to participate. While I did run through the city of Oslo, and up along the banks of the Akerselva river trail to see the fish ladders, spawning channels, rapids and waterfalls all with scenic cafés and clubs nestled in amongst moist air and velvety moss; this was not the main race goal for this vacation. The main race event which I registered for was part of the Bergen Marathon Carosel, which has a race every couple of months throughout the year of varying length through the forest trails near Bergen. The races range from a 10 km to an Ultra-marathon of 100 km, but I entered into the “Skogsmarton” for a half marathon. Determined to feel better and still taking medicine for my stomach condition, I planned the race ahead as something to aim for as I wanted to get healthy. The race itself was mostly gravel trail which undulated through the beautiful forest with a small section of narrow track that had turned to thick dark mud after a few hundred footsteps of those who had earlier in the day raced a 10km and marathon. Dodging roots, other runners, and trying not to loose shoes to the sticky mud, was the best part of the race as far as I was concerned. There are some very fit and friendly people in Norway, and while I didn’t get a personal best, I did place first for Canada (wink, wink). I walked away from the race with a nice race t-shirt and a ‘trophy’ shot glass in which to say Skål!
B – Book
Ok, who am I kidding, the title should read ‘Books’ as I can never read just one. Before I left for our trip I bought a small Jo Nesbø book called ‘Midnight Sun’ to enjoy while I travelled in Norway. However, even before I left I started reading a book passed on to me by some church members called, “Der Pfau” by Isabel Bogdan. Der Pfau, or The Peacock, is not available in English, but written with English humour – think Faulty Towers. I regret that due to having only carry on luggage, I could only take one book and settled on the Jo Nesbø simply because it was thinner.
Thin books rule went out the window on our last day in Bergen as I had long finished my copy of Midnight Sun and now had some space left in the luggage after giving away our presents that we had taken with us for friends and family as our travels took us north. Now the real hunt was on for the 5th volume of the Min Kamp (My Struggle) series by Karl Ove Knausgård entitled (at least in the English versions) ‘Some Rain Must Fall’ which is a wrist-breaker-of-a-book. We thought of getting another bag just to take my new book home with me, or maybe getting it a seat on the plane. The book highlights Knausgård’s years living in Bergen, and I am getting to travel the city again having been to many of the streets, cafés and locations that are mentioned in the book. In a way it is a holiday after the holiday ever time I open up the book for a read.
C – Cold Water
Despite all the warnings of it being the rainiest place in Europe, Bergen proved to be sunny for the time we were there. As soon as we had boarded the airplane bound for return trip to Germany we were grounded due to a large thunderstorm. Maybe we really did bring the sun with us.
On a couple of warm sunny days we went swimming in the Bergen harbour at the ‘pool’ which is more than just a pool, rather it is a sauna and warm saltwater swimming pool with diving boards off the cliffs into the fjord. This place summarized all the swimming holes of the North Shore in Vancouver, and others along the coast of Vancouver Island. I love swimming in saltwater even if it is a water temperature of 14-16 Celsius. Jumping off the diving board and watching out for ghostly pale jellyfish the size of dinner plates was worth it, especially as cruise ships entered the harbour and waving passengers looked shocked to see tanned Norwegians and tourists alike, springing into the dark water made choppy with the wake of boat traffic.
In almost every situation, not only at the poolside, did I find Norwegians striking up conversations. Usually I was addressed first in Norsk and once people figured out that I was an English speaker we enjoyed many short chats with the locals who liked to joke and were generally easygoing and relaxed.
I remain deeply impressed by Norway, from what little I was able to see of it, and could easily continue with an alphabet of new letters like ø and å of enthusiastic sights and stories.