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Published: October 4th 2009
Not a lot of thought went into the planning of my last trip and when I punched in to Skyskanner my dates with the search criteria of London to ANYWHERE the computer responded with six quid tickets to Norway. You would think that with prices like that I would automatically want to book them but I was hesitant and I am not really that sure why. Possibly because I had given absolutely no thought into going to anywhere in Scandinavia and to be honest, had no real desire to. But after a couple of days of thinking and a short consultation to my trusty Lonely Planet I booked them. I didn't have long to learn about the country but found out two things that caught my attention. The first was that Norway is the home of the Vikings which have a historical appeal similar to that of the Egyptians or Incas. I don't really know anything about their history other than that they existed, but hey, what an opportunity to learn. The second was the Norwegian fjords.
We flew into Oslo and all I knew was the place that I wanted to be was Bergen. Around an hour flight or
a seven hour train journey, about the same amount of time it takes to get from Dubbo to Sydney on the XPT. Its been a while since I took that train journey but I remember it being very very very long and incredibly boring however I read somewhere that that particular train journey is suppose to be one of the most beautiful in the world so at 6:30 on a Sunday morning I found myself awake, camera in hand, sitting on a train about to depart for Bergen.
It’s very difficult to describe the landscape in Norway as it is nothing short of spectacular and it seems though nothing I can say would even come close to doing it justice. Whether it is the lush green mountains packed tightly with maple trees or the rugged mountains that look like giant tortoiseshell cats or the mountains that had delicate white hats of snow placed upon the peaks, the crystal lakes cut through them with such deliberateness that it is hard to imagine that this land could have been created for anything but a fairytale. And the wonderful thing was that regardless of if the sun had broken free from the
armor of clouds and was shooting light across the lakes or if those gray clouds were slowly moving down threatening to engulf the countryside with its hazy mist, the view from every angle was breathtaking and I hadn't even gotten off the train yet. The train journey was long, yes, and I did indeed get numb bum after about five hours however, in that time I was fortunate enough to travel through possibly the most beautiful country in the world.
It rains in Bergen at least 275 days a year and I must admit I was not there to witness one of those 90 days that it didn't. However, unlike my experience in Ireland where I couldn't stand the rain, I expected it and because I packed my umbrella it didn't even bother me! Not enough can be said for research and preparation! (Never thought I would say that!!) Bergen is a beautiful city which is located on a harbor surrounded by mountains. As if that isn't enough beauty for the place but the Norwegians have built the place like one huge doll house city! No really, they were huge and brightly painted houses and shops with stone streets
that ran through the heart of the city. There were a number of hiking tracks around and one morning I took the trek to the top of one mountain that overlooks the nearby fjords and the city. Magical!
I took a day trip out onto the one of the fjords which took me on a boat ride and a coach and the flam railway which is one of the steepest railways in the world - see learnt something - and although the photos pretty much speak for themselves they are nothing compared to the pictures that I have inside my head. I am simply not skilled enough as a photographer to capture the air, the quality or the tone of that environment. It was incredible and I spent the whole day cleansing my brain of the rubbish that floats through it on a daily basis!
I cannot say it enough, Norway is beautiful, however there is one thing there that is a major deterrent for any return journey that I may have otherwise planned. It is expensive. And I am not talking, gee whiz the prices of a beer in Sydney compared to that in Dubbo is expensive,
I am talking, 'Holy Toledo Batman that shit is fucking expensive'! Now, in amongst my research and preparation about the weather in Norway I may have read a couple of times that it was going to be a little more pricy than usual however, it was so bad that I was outraged every single time I wanted to buy a fucking drink. And I mean, outraged so much that Brooke pretty much had to listen to me go off on a rant quite similar to the one I am on every time I had to pay for something. She repeatedly told me to stop converting but my stupid mathematical brain would calculate so fast that before I knew it I was going off about the fact that I was paying over AUS$10 for a bloody hot chocolate. I mean really, that is ridiculous!
I was thinking on the way to the airport about home. I was on the other side of the world and I had just noticed that the sun hadn't risen all day. It had skimmed across the horizon and although it was after midday the pinks and purples in the sky made it look like the
sun was just about to set. One lady that we were talking to in Flam said that her house doesn't see the sun for four months of a year. There are places further up north that have six months of sun and six months of dark. There is no doubt in my mind that I had just visited one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, the people were absolutely charming but still, I was thinking about home. I have always resisted the charms of Australia and believed that other places in the world were more appealing, hence my journey aboard. The more time I spend away and the more of the world I see, the more I realise what a wonderful place Australia is to live in. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for me I believe it is in the heart. What I saw in Norway was spectacular but my heart was not there. It lays safe in the Australia where it belongs, because no matter where I go or what I see, that is where I eventually want to be. The beauty of that country for me lies deeper
than the dry lanscapes or the glorious beaches... Or maybe I have just had too much fresh Norwegian air!
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