Nordic Norway and Stockholm
Our lovely friends Henriette and Anders, whom we met in Central America, picked us up at the train station after a long train ride from Copenhagen. They took us up to the second highest building in Norway to get a panoramic view of beautiful Oslo. After a beer, we headed back to their place for some waffles and brown cheese before heading to the park for a BBQ. While we were catching up in the park, Joel got pooped on by a passing bird. It landed right on the top of his head. Very funny.
The next day, our gracious hosts loaded us up with a massive breakfast and even some sandwiches for the train ride to Stavanger. We were very grateful for the lunch when we got on the train. We were quickly learning that Norway is stupidly expensive. We payed $10 for two little bottles of water, $32 for 2 glasses of wine and $30 for some postcards.
The train to Stavanger in the west is beautiful. You pass through mountains, pine forests and about a million lakes. The town of Stavanger itself is just as beautiful. It is picturesquely situated on the water and it abounds with loads of cafes and bars to take advantage of the impressive scenery. We were only staying in this town for one night so we didn’t get to experience too much of what the town has to offer.
Our real reason for heading west was to see our friends Henriette (another one) and Gunn Lillian who we met in Africa and they joined us in Bali to celebrate our birthdays. The girls and Henriette’s boyfriend Henrik picked us up from our hotel and we headed straight to Preikestolen for a little hike before we headed back to where they live.
Preikestolen is a sheer cliff that overlooks a breathtaking fjord. The climb up was two hours, but it felt really good to get outdoors and do some exercise. At the top, the trail suddenly opens up onto the cliff top. What baffled me was the complete lack of warning signs or any sort of safety precautions. You could just walk up to a drop of over 300 metres. It was quite scary, but definitely worth it.
The town where the girls live, Aksdal, is quite rural, but beautiful. You should have seen the view from Henriette’s lounge room. Our first night with the girls, we headed to Henriette’s parents house to meet the rest of the family for a traditional Norwegian dinner, delicious meatballs. We also got to meet Henriette’s beautiful baby boy, Felix. He is a very happy baby! After travelling for so long, it was so nice to be around a big family. It was so comforting and felt like a big hug.
The next day we all headed off to a reconstructed Viking village. We got to dress up in chain mail and helmets. We even got to try our hand at hatchet and spear throwing. Joel, it seems, has a bit of a hidden talent for hatchet throwing. That night we headed to Henriette’s sisters house for another traditional Norwegian dinner. It was porridge with dried meats on the side. It sounds strange, but was delicious.
First thing on Saturday morning, we attended the world’s largest herring festival. I think they get that title by default as I can’t imagine that there would be too many other festivals in honour of those stink y little fishes. There was table after table of herring in different sauces, which Joel bravely tried, while I chickened out and stuck with boiled potatoes.
Washing the taste of fish out of our mouths, the girls took us on a tour of the gas plant where they work. It was actually really interesting. This sounds stupid, but I had no idea that it was such an involved and complicated process. We had to wear yellow jumpsuits, hard hats and safety goggles. Very cool.
That night, there was another festival, which promised to be a little wilder than the herring festival. It was to raise money for the local football club, but it boiled down to a big party in somebody’s barn. We started at somebody’s house for a pre beverage or two, which degenerated into shots of vodka that came from a wine box. The party was lots of fun and I even managed to talk Henrik into giving the mechanical bull a try. Joel and I, well, mainly me, had a bit too much fun and got Henriette’s sister to give us a ride home.
As you might imagine, the next day was a bit of a write off. We all slept in very late, watched movies and ate junk food. To be honest, it was awesome. It has been a very long time since Joel and I have had the opportunity to sit on a couch and do nothing.
All too soon, it was time to leave the girls. We had such a great time with them and it was so sad to be leaving them. I know that we will be seeing them again soon. I hope that they come to Australia so we can spoil them like they did us.
Back to Oslo we go. Anders picked us up from the train station again and took us back to his apartment where Henriette was cooking up a Thai feast for us. We had another great catch up and all too soon our time in Norway had come to an end. Thank you all so much for an amazing time and for spoiling us so. Norwegians are the best.
After Norway, we made our way to Stockholm, which is our last European city before heading out to Russia. Our hotel was really cool. It was a converted boat that was permanently docked. To be honest, Stockholm was a beautiful city, but we had reached European city overload. We wandered around and took photos of all of the sites, but our hearts weren’t really in it. We were ready to head onto the next stage of our adventure. Bring on Russia.