Trip 15: Back to Scandinavia.

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June 16th 2007
Published: June 16th 2007
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After our move to Boston, our first (and only up to this point) trip was to Scandinavia. Besides a brief few days in Helsinki back in 2003, I hadn't been to the birthplace of my passion for travel in seven long years. What I found there was quite shocking. Prices were high back in my heyday, but now they had gotten even higher. A hot dog in Norway costed $5. Two metro tickets to go three stops in Stockholm was $10. Using the bathroom costed $2. We spent double on this trip then we expected too, but we were just fortunate we had the resources!

We started our trip by flying to Oslo and taking the train north to Bodo. We stopped over for a couple hours in Lillehammer and Trondheim. Both were nice little breaks. We had about half a day to kill in Bodo before our boat to the Lofoten Islands departed. Raluca rested in town while I hiked the surrouding mountains for stunning views of city, and the harbor surrounded by mountains. This was north of the Arctic Circle and I could feel the excitement of that in these views. A three hour boat ride took us to the wall of mountainous islands known as Lofoten. There's not a bad view in the entire island chain and fjords nicely cut out little harbours for picturesque towns. We stayed in scenic Å, a town with 90 people and 700,000 cod drying on racks. Due to letlag, I woke up at 3:30 am. Since the sun was out this far north, I began hiking the mountains surrounding the town. It was fantastic. When Raluca woke up, we took a bus north to Reine, another spectacularly set town. The problem here was that cold rain began to fall and small towns like Reine have few shops, so there was no shelter for us and no buses for 4 hours. We decided to hitch a ride. It took only a minute for a Dutch couple to pick us up and take us sightseeing with them. We stopped at the cozy village of Nusfjord en route to Stamsund where our boat back to Bodo left in nine hours. I would've hiked for nine hours since the weather was ok, but Raluca wasn't up for it so I only climbed one medium-sized hill for a nice view. Then we explored the town a bit and hung out the only restaurant open in town, which was owned by two guys from India. We talked to them for a bit before heading to the Hurtigruten boat terminal where the manager let us wait in his office and offered us free coffee and Internet access. Our boat finally came and we arrived in Bodo at 4:00 am. We walked through an envigorating rainstorm for 30 minutes to the airport and slept there until our flight to Oslo departed. This was truly an Arctic adventure and although it may have seemed difficult, this was the best part of the trip and I enjoyed every second of it!

In Oslo, we scheduled a treat for ourselves: a 4 night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas to Copenhagen and back. This was luxurious after the Arctic as we spent our days hanging out in the hottub and gorging on food since it was included in the price. Taking this cruise for $200 per person (a steal) was far cheaper than traveling in Scandinavia. Our stopover in Copenhagen was nice as I got a chance to say 'hello' again to one of my favorite cities.

The rest of our trip featured Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki, and Haapajarvi to visited host-families and friends. Nothing had changed, except me. Things were exactly how I remembered them, but a little bit stale. Scandinavia may be a bit too perfect for its own good. I found myself yearning for chaotic streets buzzing with people and activity. These may have been the places where my passion for travel had begun, but I then knew that I had moved on. This is kind of the closure I was looking for in this trip since I am type of person that was always looking backwards instead of forwards. What Finland was then is what Romania is now. What Europe was when I lived in Finland is what Asia, Africa, and South America are now. I have to continue the natural cycle and move forward instead of dreaming of that perfect long-lost exchange year.

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