Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Notes on the train

I may have mentioned before that I spent a lot of time on trains while in Europe. A lot of time, some journeys consuming practically my whole day. Most of the time it wasn't bad at all. In fact, one of my favorite parts of my trip was the train ride between Oslo, Norway and Bergen, Norway. I knew Norway was beautiful, but I was practically floored. Here are some of my notes that I wrote while on my journeys:
*Copenhagen to Oslo (a trip that took me four hours longer than I previously planned, one of the rails was closed so I had to hop a bus in Goteburg, Sweden, and take one or 2 more trains from Sweden to Oslo.)
One of the cool things that I noticed as I was standing in a very crowded Swedish train to Goteborg, was a mother and son, both in full back-packing gear. I thought, how cool is that? What a great bonding experience for them both. I'm guessing they were German. The boy, who looked no older than 8 or 9 years old had his own large backpack with a tent hooked to it. Clad in typical outdoor wear, including a bandana around his neck and his shaggy hair poking out from his hat, he looked like he could be a model for REI. They finally were able to get a seat and there was such a tender moment to see the boy napping on his Mom's lap. I really was tempted to take a picture, but circumstances wouldn't let me, and I had no idea how to ask their permission in German. It was a sweet moment. I had seen a lot of young adult backpackers, but this moment was special.
As I spent a lot of time looking at the scenery (and I apologize for lack of pics in this blog, my windows on the trains would not open), it would start to bring out an inner poet. As I was accomplishing my 17 year dream of going to Norway, I could not help expressing some of my thoughts, so here are a couple...
"I stare at the horizon where my dreams and reality meet,
A view only attainable by the hills I climb.
The heavens above watch over me like a protective parent,
Reminding me of its consistency and infinite presence..."

Oslo to Bergen route
It's hard to describe some of the beauty of Norway in English, but here is an attempt with some words that I wrote down:
"Wildflowers of purple, pink, yellow, and white against the green back drop of fields, hills and fjords. Pine tree needles hanging from the boughs like the oversized sleeves of a wizard or the wings of angels. Patches of snow in late July cling settles in the crevices of the hills. Lakes and streams of emerald green. Grass-covered roofs, some occasional livestock, and capsized row boats catch my attention." For a moment I considered living out the rest of my days as a Norwegian shepherd in such scenery, but I realized this would not pay off my loans.

Some notes based on random thoughts from 7/30/08:

"The train system has not been as easy as I thought it would be. I'm stuck in a tunnel on the way to Bergen and we've just been advised to open the windows, (I was in that tunnel fo almost an hour, that's when I broke out my notes and camera and kicked off my shoes a seen above). Oh, and did I mention there's no air-conditioning? I'm beginning to worry about my trip from Bergen to Stockholm, since I jus have such a short window of time to catch the train from Oslo. From one end of a country to the end of another... "
In regards to eating on a shoestring in Europe: "They say man cannot live on bread alone (that's all I had on my train ride). Well, maybe kebab-pitas, an occasional hot dog, water, and chocolate milk can be sufficient. Not very well-balanced, I know. I still await mytaste of the famous Norwegian strawberries (bought at the fish market in Bergen, I liked the ones in Denmark better, but they're soooo good! And little too! And beautiful - almost took a picture of the Danish ones, but was holding out for the Norwegian ones.) I have become a con osier of Scandinavian chocolate milk. My favorite was called Chocio, which I believe was from Denmark. I have also discovered that there is such thing as hot dog dressing. Some dressing comes with a bit of a garlic taste, it was quite good. Sometimes potato salad might be added to the hot dog wrapped in a Scandinavian tortilla. That was new. "
"Phillips batteries stink - will not buy any more of them." I bought 2 packages of Phillips in Copenhagen for my cameras, none of them worked. I tried to uphold this oath when I was looking for camera batteries in Stockholm. Four or five stores - all Phillips. Finally got some more expensive German batteries at an electronic store, but oh, the peace of mind.
"Train seats are more comfortable than airplane seats." I had painful circulation issues on the flight over that kept me up most of the flight. Love the space of train seats.
"Why does a cool lightening storm have to begin once I get back to my hostel?"
"Scary, I'm starting my new job a week from now/ Luckily I have my Tarascon Outpatient Pediatrics pocket book. Something to rotate between my pocket Book of Mormon and Norwegian phrase book."
"Dutch guys rock!"
"Time to liberate my feet from my shoes. They've been so good to me. On Sunday I counted about 6 blisters. I curse my sandals!"

I'm going to leave it at that for now. I'll probably post more thoughts traveling between Bergen and Stockholm.

1 comment:

Mr. Hall said...

Awesome! This is bringing back some great memories of my own travels through Scandinavia! Of course, I never had any issues with the trains when I was there. . . I've read in the Norwegian newspapers online that they have been having such problems this year for some reason.
O, if life did not come with responsibility. . . I would join you as a shepherd in the Norwegian mountains! :)
Keep posting!