Roaming the North

Obviously, you know that feeling: you’re in the theatre, watching Antigone, as we all do, and it seems like you’re the youngest person in the room? Well, to be honest I haven’t seen Antigone yet (I heard it’s great), but that lack of sociodemographic affiliation I sure know. Being on a multiple day cruise along Norways beautiful coastlines is a little bit like that. Including the well dressed elderly eyeballing you as if you had accidentally boarded the wrong ship. In any case, the Hurtigruten is Norways pristine cruise ships/ferry fleet and spending a couple days on one of their ships is an absolutely fantastic and highly recommended experience. The overall atmosphere on board brings you back to the 20s, with its large and spacious lobbies, its Art Déco interior design and luxurious appeal. Sitting on one of the many window seats, one can only press his face against the glass and stare outside. My trip first brought me from the Lofoten to Trondheim, where I spent a couple of days in a little AirBnB – due to a lack of hostals – close to the centre. Walking around in ‘busy’ downtown of this third biggest Norwegian city (cute, 180.000 inhabitants!) seemed like walking around in Tokyo, after having lived in the smallest little fisher village in the middle of nowhere for two months.

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I love how Norwegians casually  wear cloths for the outdoors (and running? Wtf) when walking around in the city. Outdoor brands like FjällRäven have a huge standing here and I noticed its getting an increasingly visible sight even in Germany. What strikes me most however, is the high penetration of Tesla cars, driving around in pretty much every corner of Norway, but especially the cities. One would think that, with this love for the nature and the wild, 4x4s would be the more frequent purchase. It ain’t. Sportscars everywhere. On every corner one can find the free charging stations for electric cars – and this is just one of the many benefits of driving more sustainably. So, good job government, for making those cars so appealing. I would be kind of pissed though, if my 530 HP, 100.000 dollar car is limited to 120 Km/h on a highway. Which it is. It feels like a big waste. On the other hand they look fancy , so I guess prestige has a little something to do with it, too. In Trondheim, I could finally catch up with a long lost friend I met eight years ago on my first backpacking adventure, which was absolutely splendid. Also, meeting locals is always so informative and I already forgot half of the many infos I learned just by speaking with them. Which is awesome – once the ice is broken, and it usually needs a couple of beers to get them talk.

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There are only very few ways to get from Trondheim to Bergen without a car, one of which geographically detours inland via Oslo. Not a problem, since the train ride is considered one of the most, if not the most scenic trip you can catch in Europe. I kid you not, my nose was so flat from pressing it against the window, I couldn’t breathe for two days. Bergen has a completely different charm of course, usually a very wet one, as it is known to be the continents rainiest city. Thor meant well however and I was able to get a glimpse of this fantastic and colourful city in the west. Numerous mountains surround the heart of Norways second largest city, which make for beautiful hikes and views. Everything is so clean and neat, it sometimes feels like Switzerland. Of course, Switzerland is a little cheaper. Cheap is an attribute, I can not associate with Norwegian mentality though: multiple times now I have been invited by random strangers, either for drinks or food. The youngest being a 20 year old guy from Oslo, the oldest maybe in his late 60s. I wanted to pay them back, but as quickly as they appeared, as sudden they faded into darkness as soon as I grabbed my wallet. Generous people indeed.

Of course you simply can’t leave Norway without having done the famous Trolltunga viewpoint. My shorttermtravelbuddy Marc, who I met in Bergen and I get to the parking lot to begin the hike many many hours too late – which turns out to be the best thing ever, as we make incredible good time and get to the actual site when literally everyone already left to avoid stumbling back in the dark. For this, I had to play the drill sergeant and make sure my jeans-wearing, smoking and hungover friend would follow my pace. “You can do it Marc! Just 3 more Ks!”, people hear me screaming from the distance. I wonder how many Marcs turned around… The view (even late in the afternoon, when the photos are shit because the sun is setting in front of the lens. But who cares about photos, really) is breathtaking and quickly all the pain is forgotten. I wonder what it would be like during the daytime though, when thousands of people strike a pose on this little rocky bulge. For the record: we made it back to the car well before sunset. Happy, tired and ready for good food. Nightlife in Odda, the town close by is right up my ally: 70s and 80s rocker, aged between 49 and 79, all of them hanging out in the dodgiest bars. Had I had more energy, I sure as hell would have… well at least tried to get in.

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I am leaving Norway with a huge smile on my face, knowing well, that I will be back. So many more places are to discover and yet for some reason I can simply not get rid of this strange and very intense connection to these lands up here in the north. It is by far the most captivating country I have ever been to, and I cannot wait to explore it further: snorkeling with Orcas in Andenes, ice-diving in Svalbard, and dog sledging in Langsua for example. For now however, I have had enough of this cold weather and I am facing different adventures in Thailand. Khao Lak will be my home for six months, and the warm water sure has a soothing effect on me!

 

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