Scandinavian Journey

Post Date: May 19th, 2015


I don’t know the temperature but I can see my breath. A brisk wind flaps a Norwegian flag on the back of the ferry. The sun warms our heads and shoulders as we sit in the stern on plastic chairs. When the ferry powers away from the dock it turns so that we view the fjords and mountains as they quietly recede from us.

The sights along the fjords that are noteworthy are unchanging, so the announcements pointing them out are pre-recorded in a variety of languages. The crew custom selects the languages for today’s ride after asking boarding passengers their country of origin. I’m intrigued to hear the announcements in Norwegian, English, Dutch, French, Italian, Japanese and Chinese.

Notable, the voices on the loudspeaker tell us, are a small village with a church that seats 40 built in the 1100s, a tiny village accessible only by water, and another attributing its residents’ longevity to the pure drinking water. While some villages are nestled into the mountainside at water level, another is so high it was accessible only by ladders “in the olden days.”

Most remarkable, though, is the simple beauty of the fjords with their surrounding mountains and waterfalls. We glide along them in their serenity, their majesty, their ancient steadfastness. While a few other tours motor past us at higher speeds, our ferry gives this terrain its due by taking fully two hours to journey through a horseshoe of fjords. Mountainside after mountainside impresses itself upon our retinas and our souls. We relax in this grace.

After we disembark, we enjoy pan-fried salmon in the local restaurant, then hop on an old tram to a railroad station where we board a train for the five-hour ride back to Oslo. As it trundles over mountains, the train stops for skiers to board. Rain is falling when we arrive in Oslo, but the city center is alive with nightclubs and the young. We pass them en route to our tiny bedroom in a fourth-floor apartment. There we slumber contentedly.