It’s 9am in middle of Norway. 3am back home in Atlanta. I’m on a train from Oslo to Bergen listening to Kings of Convenience, one of my favorite artists who happens to be native to Norway. The train is pretty high up the cliffs and we are looking down on a breathtaking river and another steep and foresty cliff opposite ours. I’m not taking photos. I’m enjoying the view and my music. The mountains are incredible and offering a new tunnel for my ride every five minutes or so. I can’t get over just how green it is here. With as much water as Norway has, I should have expected it, although it’s hard to expect something you’ve never seen or known before. I’m blinded by the greenness all around. Every now and again I’ll see a boat tooting along, many more docked and remnants of old stranded boats alongside the water on the bank. Another tunnel. I think the tunnels make the green even more of a kick to the senses after emerging from the blackness.
I am still completely awe-struck by these mountains. Some look as if they have tar dripping down them, stains perhaps from something, I have no idea what. They make the Appalachian look dwarfish. They are incredibly humbling. A morbid thought: Why do people jump off of bridges onto the highway when they could use mountains like this instead? I suppose their goal isn’t beauty. Whenever I travel to a new country or region that is so vastly different than what I’ve seen before, my college geology course comes back to me. “I’ve never seen trees like these before!” “Look how the rocks have been weathered.” The details have faded from memory but the appreciation has been preserved. The power lines wrapping around the mountains look like silver garland on a Christmas tree. I wonder if the people who live in these houses we pass take this all for granted? Sometimes that’s the greatest benefit of being a traveller or tourist over a local. Fresh eyes.
I would love to come back and drive Norway in summer. If I had come a month earlier, I could have seen eighteen hours of daylight per day. I couldn’t even fathom. I’d explore all the well-walked paths I can see in the grasses, hike up these rocks, I imagine experience a few elk and perhaps even be able to find a boat to navigate their rivers. Thoughts of these things are so far away from home for me. I’m a city girl. A city girl who finds immense pleasure and solace in nature. Norway offers more than it’s fair share of it. How many farmers do you think there are in the world? I’m beginning to understand a little more of the appeal of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program) — farms where you can work in exchange for food and boarding. I could only imagine how rewarding that could feel, contributing to a foreign community first-hand, versus just passing through.
The prices in Norway really are killing me. I was already having some issues staying on budget in mainland Europe. It will require sacrifice and a lot of strategy to make it through these Scandinavian segments. Some well-spent money? Adding the “Komfort” class to my train ticket to Bergen. The train is out part of the way to Bergen so they put us on a bus to Honefoss which wasn’t a problem because I was still out of it also at 6am. Switching to the train, I had a little difficulty finding where my seat was as this was the first commuter train ride I’ve yet to do. I quickly discovered the cars were numbered and that “Vogn” on my ticket must be the car number, followed by “Plass” which was my seat. The gentleman on the train told us to sit anywhere within the appropriate sections. I dropped my bags onto a seat in the Komfort class as the crowd that had boarded after me proceeded forward. I was a bit nervous I was in the wrong section since so many people were sitting up front and there were only about six people in the Komfort section but when the staff member came along to stamp our tickets, I was just fine! It’s so nice to have legroom, a table and free coffee and tea! I can’t remember the price increase off-hand but I feel like I only paid about $5 USD above base price to add Komfort to the six-hour segment. Worth every penny.