Monday, August 31, 2015

Trolls, Witches, and Ancient Ice

Warning: this is not a race report. It's not even about triathlon. But it's short, and has pretty pictures.

What to do after competing in the ITU Long Distance World Championships in Sweden? Bid adieu to my bike and Elliott (who had to return to work) and travel with my parents to the land of fjords, mountains, and $12 Big Macs, of course! Prior to this trip, I had been to Sweden a few times already--first while an exchange student to Finland, and again to visit a Swedish friend I met in Switzerland (yes, those are two different countries). But Norway was new ground. (Fun side note: I had first attempted to visit Norway in 2000 but fell asleep on the train from Stockholm, missed the connection, and woke up in Göteborg. Oops.)

Making friends with the locals.

First stop: Oslo, where we explored the city on the Osloian (Osloeese?) version of Capital Bikeshare, City Bikes. I also got to catch up with my AFS exchange student mentee, who is now a producer for a Norwegian reality TV show; I supplied her with some potential plotlines, so if you ever catch an episode that involves Norwegian D-list celebrities pre-gaming with Jon and/or Kate + 8, you're welcome.

Shall we start drafting our Emmy acceptance speech?

From there, we headed north and west for what seemed like forever (European countries are small, right?) but was really just a blip on the map. Destination: Solvorn, on the Lustrafjorden. Haven't heard of it? Neither have a lot of Norwegians, but it's a beautiful, peaceful, not heavily touristed place.

Definitely not in DC any more. 

It was also a great jumping off point for a kayak-hike-trek day trip to the Nigardsbreen glacier, described as "appropriate for ages 10 and up." When the guide started handing out ice axes and created a rope line (in case someone fell into a crevasse), I realized this was a bit more hard core than anticipated. Major props to my 60-something parents for being up to the challenge! (Though my mom will be quick to point out she was also misled by the "fun for all ages" description.)


Small town Norway has some advantages: quiet forests, amazing views, friendly locals, and few tourists. It does, however, require some attention to detail. To wit, the only restaurant in Solvorn is open until 9:00...but stops taking orders at 8:00. And the ferry across the fjord to the Stave church at Ornes starts at 7:00...but the church doesn't accept visitors until 10:00.

Worth the wait.

For the drive to Bergen, we could either take the longest tunnel in the world or the much longer-only open in summer-don't look down route. We opted for the latter, which still had snow banks as high as the car. In June.

And this is when my mom pelted me with a snowball. 

It also had the weirdest rest station attraction I have ever seen. Plus side: now I can say I saw a bear in Norway.

It was in a cave. Since I guess that makes sense.

Eventually, we left the mountains and entered the bustling metropolis of Bergen. It was strange to see other tourists again. Plus, lots of cod. You see, back in the day, Bergen was a German trade town and cod was king. (Seriously.)

Its fish-focused history lives on as aprons and tablecloths.

While many people approach Bergen from the sea, we decided to take the funicular up the hill to get an bird's eye view. Two key takeaways: 1) Bergen is known for being cloudy and rainy, which is not ideal for said bird's eye view. 2) Birds are not the only creatures flying around the city.

If you insist.
All in all, a fun adventure!

1 comment:

  1. A very fun adventure, indeed! Glad that we went on it with you. Too bad we didn't see the witch!