Postcard 3 from Norway – Oslo – The Unsupervised Scandy Tour

Oslo and Voss

Today is a culture day with more use of city bikes to explore places that I don’t think I would have found. I didn’t plan the routes but found some excellent parks and finally got an outline of the city, the jetties, the centrum and how to get to the main railway station quickly. The latter will become important tomorrow when I use the 6:25 train to Voss.

I need to drop my rucksack off at the new hotel and ring them to see that it’s possible. During the conversation the lady asks me where I am and I look around for a sign on the platform, “Utgang”, says I. There’s a short pause followed by some Norwegian being shared with a colleague followed by more laughter. She asks me to look around the platform for other signs, what I’d just read out means “Exit”.

Now traveling light I make may way to the landing stages to seek the special little ferry that loops around the three sites that are built on spits of land at different parts of the fjord all within 10 minutes of the jetties and offering wonderful views of the city as a bonus.

I’d encourage you to do this trip for the views and for the quality of the Kon-Tiki Museum. I bought the ticket for all three but only managed two and I would have paid the money just for Kin-Tiki, marvellous.

I make my way back for a meal at Salt. This is getting to be a habit but the quality of the food is first rate and many countries are represented so tonight it’s Mexico without the cheese and it’s excellent.

So it’s ‘early to bed early to rise’ and that’s what I do. It’s an unexpected pleasure to walk the warm streets of a city at five in the morning. The actual process of getting up is a challenge but once washed and dressed I’m ready for the world which is just as well as that’s what I’ve got in my rucksack, it’s on my back and I’ve got a jaunty step that represents my current demeanour well as I walk through the park.

I arrive with lots of time for a lengthy discussion about the likelihood of the filled baguettes having butter or any kind of melk [sic] in them and chose a bacon salad one which turns out to be tasty and devoid of lactose – result.

The journey to Voss is about five hours and goes by very quickly as one astonishing view follows another. All of the texts seem to conclude that this is one of the best non-specialist train journeys there is and I agree. I had read that sitting on the right would give the best views but having done it I can say categorically that, going from Oslo to Bergen, the better views are on the left. That said, you’re not going to be disappointed whichever side you sit.

Voss it a lovely place with lots of specified walks that give some of the most spectacular vistas of the fjord and mountains. I leave my rucksack at the hotel and spend the afternoon on the blue walk which takes me into the woods on the side of the mountain where various orchid like flowers grow with the lichen and ubiquitous daffodils – it tests my stamina but I still get a thrill from doing this ‘at my age’. When I was young at school we thought the millennium was an eternity away and wondered if we’d get there. We also concluded that 65, the old retirement age, would be a struggle to achieve and the people already 65 were fragile and never seemed to live long after they retired.

I’m 72 now and living a bit of an adventure. Sometimes my heart aches for Linda, my dear wife, especially on days that are idyllic like now and then her words ring in my ears, “Get on with it and enjoy, this is not a rehearsal” and she was right so I smile and ‘get on with it’. Something catches my eye and is gone, was it a butterfly? If you know, you know. I wipe my eyes…

It’s warm sunshine but at this height the temperature is suppressed and this is definitely a good thing especially on some of the more extreme slopes.

Now I’m in shade and I’m guessing it stays that way as I start to make giant steps through the snow. I’m not at the snow line, nowhere near it, but this mini gorge that’s permanently in the shade has its own climate and I follow the compacted track that others have made with their footsteps before me.

Now, I’m out in the sun again, it’s a clearing in the true sense of the word. The trees have been harvested and the ground prepared, and then allowed to naturalise before new trees are planted.

This part of the track is a delight as I variously, slide, scramble and walk my way back down into Voss with the sun behind me. It’s the biggest super trooper in the world and it lights up the fjord casting long shadows as we enter the golden hour. But you don’t have to be a photographer to utilise this precious time, it’s there in golden glory even without a camera so I put my phone back in my pocket and complete the walk without taking any photographs. This one was for Linda and me but you can enjoy the other snaps. G x

Arriving back in the town square. It’s evening and there’s a small market with ‘street food’, so it’s time for a change and Thai wins.

It’s a joy watching the families meet up in the square in the late sunshine and the thing that stands out is what a melting pot this country is. The kids are playing the usual ball games and the boys are climbing anything that’s static but what stands out is that they’re bi-lingual. They chatter and shout in Norwegian but drift into English when talking to others. It’s like it’s one language and for the second time today, I’m lost in amazement and thought.

I’m loving this adventure.

Enjoy the snaps. (Some are taken through glass) G x

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