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Published: September 30th 2017
On the first leg of the "Norway in a Nutshell" Fjord tour.
Geo: 60.9036, 7.20172
Up early for today's "Norway in a Nutshell" tour of the fjords. I sold some family heirlooms on Ebay and used the proceeds to buy two individual containers of yogurt for breakfast, then was off to the train station.
The first leg was Bergen to Voss - not too much to see because there were several tunnels. It was funny because you'd hear the gasps of tourists when they saw something beautiful, then "awwww ...." when they couldn't take a picture in time. This continued for a while, so I was entertained for quite some time. I guess I couldn't really laugh because I picked a terrible spot between two windows, so I didn't have the best views.
We passed a particularly beautiful section with a line of fog dividing the cliffs in the background in half vertically, and pristine water at the base. As this happened, Jimmy Eat World's "Chase This Light" started playing. I thought it was a very fitting moment - after all, what is light? It's a symbol of many things - hope, knowledge, truth, or simply something beautiful. It's that something we are always for, and though we may never find it, we still
Future Spanish heartbreaker - I got to talking to her parents on the scenic cruise, and turns out they are Mexican, but Aitana (or was it Aidana? Either way, a very unique name) was born in Barcelona. The father is pursuing his Ph. D there.
I asked them why Barcelona and the husband responded "Because deep down we hope that we can stay there once I am finished." He probably wanted to say "Because of the Spanish women." but couldn't with his wife there.
Anyway, they are from Tabasco (who knew that it was more than just a hot sauce?) and suggested I one day check out Chiapas and Canon del something ... supposedly beautiful beach areas relatively free of tourists.
try. In the end, aren't we all looking for light to call our own? Today we are all hoping to see something beautiful and perhaps experience something profound. As a side note - there is some nice eye candy on the train! Chase this light, right?
Next up was the bus portion of the trip - I helped a Brazilian mother/daughter sort out which bus to go on and helped them with their luggage. They're both Asian-looking and they were eating some Spanish-sounding potato chips earlier on the train. I kind of understood what they were saying to each other on the train, but knew it wasn't Spanish and guessed it may have been Portuguese. I'll have to investigate more later ...
Sat next to Sue on the bus, a lady from Oakland that now resides in the Napa Valley. She happens to be on a Rick Steves tour, as are many others on the Nutshell tour today. We compared our travel notes over the years - she actually visited Poland, Romania, and Russia when she was a young child, during the Cold War era. It was part of some musical school trip. She also spent two years teaching in Japan
Beautiful birds ... too bad one of them shit on me.
and did a bit of Asian travel. Apparently this is her third Rick Steves tour - I think one day I will do his tours once my feet fall off from excessive backpacking.
Sat with the Brazilian mother/daughter on the next portion of the trip - a scenic ferry ride. She's fourth generation Japanese living in Brazil - who knew that there are over 1.5 million Japanese descendants living in Brazil? They are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Japanese in Brazil next month. Going to be a crazy party, from the sounds of it!
Apparently, Asian guys are considered more desirable in Brazil because they are seen as being smarter, harder working, and more educated. I guess they aren't so much into the bad boys there because of the unstable political/socio-economic system - us Asians are viewed as being stable. Hmmm ... gotta move to Brazil!
Solange Keiko Urushima is the daughter's full name - I know that Beyonce's sister is named Solange, but I always figured the parents just made up their names. Now I at least know it's for real! Solange doesn't know the exact meaning, but it might be a combination of the word for
My sleeve, AFTER washing the bird shit off of it. Much cleaner now, but also much less colourful.
sun and angel.
I think she's the female equivalent of me, but with Swedish guys! She met one online a few years ago and lived with him in Stockholm for a year. Recently, she met another - he went to visit her in Sao Paolo, and now she's going to see him. She also needs to pick up some stuff from the ex's place in Stockholm ... gotta be difficult ...
Cool work story - used to be in marketing but is now involved in electronics trade with China, and does some web design on the side (that's how she paid for the trip). She's pretty excited about the prospect of traveling to China next year for business. Interesting girl - she's heavily into electronica but is lead singer in two rock bands.
She told me that Sweden is famous for having "cold" people that take forever to get to know. They say the Finns are even worse, and the Danes are the gregarious ones.
So far the scenery has been great, but in all honesty, I wasn't as impressed as everybody else. There are similar things to see in Canada, so we are spoiled that way. Grabbed a yummy pancake
I hid under this shelter for the rest of the cruise.
on the ferry - I think these are the only relatively affordable things to eat in Norway!
We got off the ferry and grabbed a quick bite to eat while waiting in Flam for the next rail portion of the trip. I couldn't bear to pay $16 CAD for a slice of garbage-quality pizza and salad, so I went with the $7 hot dog. Also garbage-quality, but at least it was kind of cheap.
There wasn't much in Flam, so we successfully got on an earlier scenic train to Myrdal. I had a quick chat with a family from Madrid - I am getting tons of practice with Spanish small talk. But I'd rather be getting more practice at deeper Spanish conversations, preferably with the senoritas ...
The train stopped at a stunning waterfall - too funny, because they actually have a soundtrack playing. There's also a legend about a singing lady that lives at the waterfall, and I think they actually pay a lady to dance along with the music, nearby. We didn't notice, but Solange's mom (Alice) actually did. Of course, maybe that was just some random crazy lady, or perhaps it was something supernatural ...
Myrdal - we should've just taken the later train from Flam, because Myrdal is nothing more than a train station, where we had a two hour wait for the final train that would take us to Oslo. I hadn't really eaten anything substantial all day - bananas, dried mango, nuts ... so I picked up a ham, cheese, and lettuce sandwich at the station, along with some water and juice. The baguette was pretty awesome, but the sandwich filling was kind of crap. Pricey!
The girls offered me some Brazilian crackers - however expensive Scandinavia is for me, it's much worse for them. Their suitcase is stuffed with all kinds of snacks - chips, cookies, crackers, you name it. Too bad they didn't pack some Brazilian BBQ with them 😞
Alice was asking me some strange questions - age, sign, etc. ... I think she's sizing me up for a back-up plan in case this Swedish guy doesn't work out for Solange. It's OK, I'm used to being the back-up plan - somewhere, my friends back home are laughing as they read this!
Because seats for the final train ride were reserved beforehand, we ended up sitting in different train cars. We
Imagine how beautiful it would be to live in this town?
exchanged emails and I said I'd help the ladies with their luggage, but wasn't able to because the train cars were completely separated (I'm in first class because of the railpass that I've got). It wasn't possible to pass through all the cars on the inside, so I might have missed getting into my car had I helped.
It was pretty posh sitting in first class, and there was lots of leg room. I needed some alone time - if I have too much human interaction, I'll wither up and die! I noticed that I smelled like DEET all day - I wonder if it has something to do with the bird crap? So today's tour was nice, but nothing spectacular. It might have been better had I done the entire fjord tour, instead of just one branch of it.
We arrived in Oslo and I made sure the girls got into a taxi OK. The area near is Oslo's train station is apparently pretty sketchy at night. We agreed to meet up at their hostel tomorrow night, then I walked to mine.
The hostel room is in a strange location - off in a courtyard, separate from the rest
Huge waterfall found on the last scenic portion of the tour. Funny - they had a soundtrack playing some type of Norwegian operatic music.
of the hostel, and beside some dumpsters. OK ... also not enough toilets in the joint. Luckily, a bonus is that there is free laundry. It's up in the shower room and there was nobody around, so I figured I might as well strip off everything and toss it all into the laundry, then put on my PJs.
Well ... then I realized that the window in front of me looked directly across into the hostel's guest kitchen. This could've been quite embarrassing for me, because I noticed three girls eating dinner, but I don't think they noticed me! Three brunettes ... eating dinner at 11:00 ... very cute ... they had to be Spanish! I needed to go investigate (once I put my clothes on, of course ...)
I confirmed that they were indeed Spanish. One actually looked a little like French actress Julie Delpy, if you can imagine that! And if you can't ... you should really try, because it's quite the sight 😊 The other two were the usual cute Spanish hotties. Beautiful accents ... sigh ...
This hostel wasn't highly recommended on the internet, and so far I wasn't a big fan of the place. Until I
Me and Solange. She took her mom on this trip because it's always been her dream to see the fjords and to also go on a cruise, which they will do going from Stockholm to Helsinki. What a good child ... I'll bet my parents wish I was like that!
noticed the three Spanish senoritas! Now this place gets my full endorsement - I give it 8.5 Spanish senoritas out of 10!
It finally got dark in Norway - at midnight!!! I was up quite late waiting for my laundry to finish up. Luckily for me, the management ended up locking the laundry room at just after midnight, so it was my excuse to go to bed.
I'm sharing my room with an Aussie couple - nice people, but a little too talkative for my liking. Both quit their jobs to do the extended travel thing. As I dozed off, I thought to myself that it's good having nice bunkmates like the Aussie couple, but why couldn't they be the three Spanish senoritas instead??? Then we could all have a pillow fight - I'd gladly be the referee!
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