Friday, August 3, 2012

I went to Norway and didn't bring a coat:

That's right. During the three week trip that the other and I took, in a tiny VW Tramper, as it's called; we set off from Amsterdam and drove over 2,500K before peaking in Balestrand, Norway–just outside Bergen, before setting off on the long distance drive south back to the Netherlands. But we did very much enjoy meandering down through Sweden on the way back, mind you. But, on the way up, I realized at one point: I didn't bring a coat. Who goes on holiday just below the Arctic Circle, and doesn't bring a coat!? It was late May by the time we made it to Bergen. It was 9C in Bergen. Luckily we stopped in Stockholm before we dipped across the border west, and so I purchased a coat there. Naturally we also went to Oslo (which was a bit of a let down; but I guess it depends on how you look at it–but that city is the least charming of the Nordic capitals, in my opinion; it's more grungy and dirty than anything), and Copenhagen–a city I know the in's and out's of–and even know where to go when the other once asked while we were there, 'Where's an ATM–I need some DKK (aka: some cash baby!)'. But really, I had for months prior to this holiday get-away envisioned sunny skies, billowing clouds, and lakes in Sweden just as pristine as can be, calling my name as I run and run out along the dock only to jump in the lake–cannonball!–itself surrounded by pine and birch aged over centuries with an alpine ski-jump platform popping out above the treeline in the distance. Well; there was none of that. The water everywhere we went was still composed of glacier residue and was more or less... freezing. But our three weeks in the Nordic were fantastic, rain withstanding, and now I've finally been to Norway! And, good thing, I now know that the Nordic truly gets warm, if 15C can be considered warm (and I realize warmer is possible; and you'd think I would have known better, dashing off to the Nordic in spring and expecting tropical weather–ha!–but that 'off-season' discount for the Tramper was just too good to pass up!), in mid July-August. As it turns out, the months of May and June in Scandinavia are still quite misty, damp, a bit cold, splendid when it is sunny; and in Norway, in May, the glaciers are still in plain sight. Seriously, one day I woke up up and there were icicles on the grass. Yikes! But really, everything you hear about Norway is true: the people are rugged, the weather is fierce, and everyone in the country's few 'cities' look as if they could suddenly dash off to go fishing or hiking in the woods at a moments notice. Sweden was my favorite of the three Nordic neighbors we visited; it's gentler, calmer, a bit more Americanized in its super-store abundance (since we had a small 'plug/in the cigarette-lighter-powered cooler/refrigerator, we appreciated that), and the landscape is truly something special. I lived in Copenhagen a few years back, and because of this we were planning on skipping Zealand and heading over to Jutland, to swim along the coast, but once again the rain caught us in a bit of a surprise, so we cruised southward, instead. On our last few days back on Dutch soil, since we don't have one otherwise, we took a few day trips with the car throughout North Holland; what cute countries, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. Stunning they all are. But really, I do love the Nordic. And will be sure to go back again soon. I miss Norway's fjords and wish they to once again be within my sight; a magical moment occurred while watching over them, in Balestrand...