It is 7pm Tuesday evening, August 11, 2015. I’ve been nine days on the road—a very accommodating easy pleasant nine days…really I should call it nine days of visiting…and it has been among the most enjoyable times of my life.
Still…being without my pajama-clad anti-social weekends has made me a little tired. Therefore I declare tomorrow hole-up-in-my-room day with only raisin-bread rolls, yogurt, instant coffee, Surfy my trusty tablet for maximum writing pleasure—all interspersed with frequent naps. Next time I have this opportunity will probably be on the train to Siberia at the end of the month. So, while I acknowledge sloth as one of the seven deadly sins, surely just a day here and there of this sinful behavior won’t damn me to the eternal hell of seeing Donald Trump every time I check out CNN will it?
A long thoughtful post is in the works describing the joy and fun of getting to better know my Norwegian family. On the agenda for sloth-day.
Tonight I just want to talk about the train ride from Stavanger to Oslo. First of all though, it made me quite sad to leave Arne and Aslaug. They have made me feel so completely at home and it’s pure pleasure just spending regular family time with them—hard to consider the distance between us and how rarely we will see each other.
Arne took me to the station for the 10:17 train to Kristiansand and on to Oslo, arriving here about four minutes late at 18:40 or so. Actually it may not have even been four minutes late—Norwegian Rail is one efficient system. Everything’s clean and works well; it’s comfortable and quiet and even the dining car cinnamon roll and machine cappuccino were above average.
Waiting for the train to leave and then those first 20 minutes slowly out of the city called for a catnap. Fortunately Aslaug had put out special sandwich fixings for me: dark heavy seeded bread, salty Norwegian butter, brown cheese, thin slices of smoky beef. I promptly sampled this little feast half an hour into the journey, needing to be awake to watch gorgeous Norway gliding by.
The scenery for the first stretch out of Stavanger is reminiscent of the endless fields of vegetarian bounty along parts of California’s Pacific Coast. This coastline also has farmland pretty much up to the water’s edge but it’s more the Minnesota kind with pasture, hay fields, red barns and white houses—or the reverse, cows (the real live happy free-range kind), flock after flock of woolly sheep and troll eggs (see photo!)
Before long we were in the wilder scenery of the mountains all decked out in their firs and deep blue lakes and fiords. Some of the mountains have very stern grey rock-climbing faces with boulders abounding on the lower hillsides. The miles go by on this fast train, a mountain, a tunnel, a hillside of evergreens, bodies of water so blue they look photo-shopped, another tunnel, village of rust red maroon gold houses. My god, this is Heidi-land isn’t it? I guess Heidi was a little Swiss girl but she could as easily be climbing up to old Grandpa’s hut on that very slope just over there.
It was a bright sunny day today, good for postcard views, but of course not my favorite weather. Tonight in Oslo it’s a bit grey and chilly. Yay I say. Drizzling now…just keeps getting better and better.
Conversational chatter in a foreign (to me) language is either white noise or background music. I do not want to hear the sordid details of someone’s breakup or how the process of selecting the next meeting site is going…but if the same is said in a language I do not understand it can be rather pleasant. Norwegian has a nice lilt to it and voices are generally softer than we are used to stateside—which all is just to say there were a few conversations around me that further lulled me into travel-consciousness (what does that mean—maybe the state of just absorbing the surroundings without pondering or worrying or exclaiming or even taking a picture for a mile or two).
I’m a little homesick for Up Home Minnesota. Patches of purple clover blossoms, all the mowed hayfields, goldenrod burnishing the otherwise weedy roadside and signaling autumn is just around the corner. But I’m almost always a little homesick for Minnesota and it’s likely Norway will get all mixed in with dreaming of where I was, want to be, feel most at home. I used to love New Mexico, need to work on that again.
Back in Ellingsen’s Pension now. Love this cozy retreat. Heater on, rain outside, just spent a perfect few days, and the cops didn’t shoot anyone in Norway today. It’s nice here.