Poetry. I found myself in Norway for a colleague’s birthday. I was hijacked into attending. First I enthusiastically agreed to attend and then he told me where. Can you beat that? He held me to my promise. Then my supposed roommate was another neurosurgery colleague. Except John was very smooth with the ladies and he picked up his own roommate, a rather good looking blonde at the airport in Oslo. Harald had to scramble to find me a place to stay and I was consigned to the loom room in a shack behind a farmhouse. I would add that he was compulsive and needed to guarantee enough rooms for guests coming in from around the world. So he bought a hotel for the weekend. The farmer had remorse about selling it to him, so Harald sold it right back at a profit. The room I had was view to the cows passing back and forth to the barn several times a day. It’s a bit of a different view from the Manhattan skyline.
And if you look, there are houses on the mountain. What beauty. With a good internet connection, you could let the world come to you. Otherwise you are a long way from civilization.
Fiords are what make Norway famous. I imagined deep glacial valleys with high cliffs on either side. This is not too bad. I can’t say that this is what I had imagined but it’s a pretty special view.
I imagine Norway to be a hardy land in the winter. The houses along the water and nestled against the mountain is like a contest of nature versus man. Yup, that’s snow up there, and it’s only September.
You drive and drive and look constantly for photo ops. With a little more time I could have seen so much more. But I didn’t have time. The map though small did not reflect the narrow roads and time it took to get from one point to another. I was too ambitious. Still I spent a lot of hours in the car passing from one memorable landscape to another.
So after the party… I’m on my own. I didn’t want to impose upon Harald with so many guests and family still about. My traveling companion south was Kristina (that blonde) and she filled me in on some of the Scandinavian life… like how to tell if a woman was Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish. I was wrong every guess. But I think she set me up. I dropped her in the airport in Oslo and continued west to Bergan. Without accurately knowing the km conversion from mph, I was driving way to fast on the narrow roads. Arriving late into Bergan, I took a likely room. My view to the water and early morning fog was priceless.
Norway is stupendously beautiful. Was that convincing enough to make you want to visit? For the birthday party, which was biggest thing in the valley, Harald purchased a hotel. The owner had been reluctant to guarantee all his rooms for the guests. Afterward, Harald casually mentioned that he was selling a (this) hotel. The owner had gotten second thoughts and wanted it back. So Harald made a small profit on the side to cover expenses for the party.
I caught this picture of Norwegian farm life somewhere north of Oslo on the road to Unset. Remember that town with the entering/leaving sign on the same post? The directions to Unset are easy. You leave the airport and drive due north on a two lane road. It’s not divided as I learned quickly swerving back to my side of the road when I found myself facing oncoming traffic. Arriving in Unset, I saw no town (stores, gas station, restaurant) but followed a bus figuring it would lead me there. The bus turned into a driveway, the bus driver having parked in his home driveway. I asked for directions in English and a nice man who didn’t speak English motioned me to follow him. We drove up the road two houses further on and I was at Harald’s place. Meanwhile, back at the haystacks, I saw the covering on the stacks, but never quite got an explanation of their meaning. It’s not something I have seen in the United States.
So my friend and colleague Harald asked, “I’m having my 60th birthday. Will you come to my party?” He’s much older than me, really! (wink)
I replied without hesitation and some enthusiasm, “Sure, I’d love to.”
“Great!” he continued, “It will be in September… in Norway.”
I believe that this is/was one of the best set up lines…ever! So here I am in Norway, never having planned to visit, but somewhere thinking it was on the list somewhere below the 50% point that I would visit. I’m not even in a known town. You can’t call it a town even. The entering and leaving message is on the same board. It saved money/firewood I guess. That’s Harald, the big Viking. He did eventually marry Hiromi. The blonde is Kristina who’s related to another rather famous neurosurgeon. Harald has been a true friend and I wish him the best.
Bergen, Norway. In the summer of 2000, a colleague, Harald Fodstadt asked if I would attend his 65th birthday party. My reply was, “I’d be delighted Harald. Anything for you.” He lived in Manhattan at the time but his response was, “Great! It’s in Norway in September.” So there I was on a plane to Norway in September 2000. Harald had a house in Unset in the north. Arriving at about 8AM I approached the Hertz rental counter and afterward asked for directions thinking Unset was a city. The agent said turn right and drive north. My first realization, that Norway was quaint, was upon exiting the airport and discovering the road was two ways and not divided. Unset was indeed to the north about seven hours drive. The back of the entering sign read leaving Unset. There was a single store that was closed by 5PM. I followed a passing bus and figured it would bring me to town. Alas the driver went 200 yards up the road and parked at his house. A motorist who spoke Norwegian finally understood and escorted me to Harald’s house. What an adventure! After leaving Unset, I drove to the coast to Bergen to explore the fiords. At dawn the fog had not yet lifted over the picturesque harbor.