Anyone who regularly knows snow won’t appreciate how excited I was to see it after landing in Oslo. I haven’t felt buoyant joy like that for far too long. The Norwegian customs agent was a young woman, and either she is new on the job or my wired, sleep-deprived, ecstatic self scared her: she stumbled in her questioning of me several times (she did not believe I was traveling alone). Come to think of it, I might have scared others at the airport (and train station and hotel!) with my snow enthusiasm; in retrospect, it probably wasn’t news to them that it was snowing . . .
Okay, so, yes I was blissed out to be in snow, but there was also the reality of waiting for the train in 30 degree weather and then walking from the train station through mushy snow and up icy stairs with my too heavy (winter clothes!) bags. However, Osloans (Oslonians?) are not at all deterred by the weather; there were thousands and thousands of them out and about, even eating and drinking in outdoor cafes, even at 2:26, 3:49, and 4:17am. Yes, that old devil of travel time adjustment has its claws in me,and sleep was a stranger; my body kept asking things like “Is it 4:30 in the morning today or 5pm yesterday?”
In preparation for this trip I tried to learn basic Norwegian, but I hit a thick and sturdy wall, and then gave up entirely when I learned English is widely spoken. And it is, but it is definitely not widely written, which my mind did not consider, so I’m doing lots of guessing sign- and menu-wise.
There is a wonderful variety of how people keep themselves and their babies warm in the chilly temperatures, including fur lined carriages. That said, I have also seen people in shorts.
One reason I decided to take this trip was the promise of vegan food in the hotels and on the boat. However, so far the concept of vegan food as translated by these places is different from mine: one concierge proudly showed me the corner devoted to “vegan” foods, with its large “Gluten-fre” sign over some bread and crackers and tray of broiled fish. Uh oh.
The seven-hour train from Oslo to Bergen is famous for being one of the most beautiful train journeys on the planet. Unfortunately, last three hours (from 4 to 7pm) were spent in darkness, what with the solstice approaching, so that’s sad, but I came at this time of year for aurora borealis viewing, which is ideal when the solstice is approaching, so I can’t have it both ways. Anyway, I’m pretty sure we went through lots of tunnels during those last hours, at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
Arriving in Bergen, it was a balmy 2C (that’s about 36 in American) and snowless. Surprisingly, so far the cold is not crushing me like I expected it would, but I suppose I should give it time.
After checking in at the hotel, I asked for a glass of wine, telling the bartender I’d bought a quinoa salad for my dinner, so, you know, to it pair the wine correctly. After handing me a glass of a French red, the bartender said, not unkindly, “I hope you enjoy the evening with your quinoa and wine,” and as I walked away I thought that sounded so pathetic for a Saturday night, but then I remembered I’m being pathetic in frickin’ Norway, and I felt a little better.
By the way – and I’ll need to check this for sure later – but I think Norway brings my list of countries visited to 28. Only about 166 to go!
Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.
The blotches are snow on the train’s window.