My family and I recently had the opportunity to visit Norway to see a lot of extended family we’d never met before. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and hopped on a plane weeks after returning from the last jaunt to Europe. It’s a hard life. Several people have asked for general impressions of Norway since we’ve been home and I keep coming back to the same word every time I try to describe it. Peacefulness.
(Even the moose-crossing signs make them look like they have all the time in the world. No road-rage here.)
Sitting around the table on the sun-drenched deck at my uncle’s log cabin in the middle of nowhere–spruces all around, an occasional bird chirping or sheep bleating in the distance– he muttered under his breath, “So… this is how it is.” It was his favorite place in the world. And it’s not hard to understand why.
I know jealousy’s not a good thing, but it became a constant struggle the more we saw, the more commonplace beauty became.
In silent moments of conversation, the rustling of leaves sounded louder than ever before. And it wasn’t particularly windy, but they were the only ambient sound. Even our own breathing was audible as we basked in the heady aroma of meat smoking on the grill. That morning, we picnicked on boulders overlooking some rapids. A hoard of smiling helmets and wetsuits bobbed up and down as their yellow raft raced toward a small waterfall.
Another day, after poking in and out of second-hand shops and exploring the bustling city of Stavanger, we hiked a beast of a mountain (which was incidentally one of the smaller peaks in the range, go figure), panting as we scaled the most vertical section of rocks and caught a breathtaking view of several cities along the coast. We signed our names in the guest book that was tucked in a red tin box on a rock at the top (had to leave more permanent footprints somehow…) and celebrated the climb with some apple soda and cookies. Food tastes better on top of mountains.
That evening, we ate dinner and sat around the fire as the sun set. For hours upon hours we got lost in time, exchanging crazy stories with one of my distant cousins and her husband (they started to seem more like siblings than anything) about our travels around the world from Mali to Mozambique to India and got up to toast marshmallows in intervals. A little slice of paradise.
And that’s not to mention the late-night at a lighthouse, stumbling upon World War II German bunkers and Viking runes, seafood fests, huge family reunions, sardine museum, spontaneous Oslo exploration, wild strawberry picking, boat rides through fjords, visit to my grandfather’s farmhouse in our family’s namesake town, and a lot more I hope to remember as time goes by.
With every relative we spent a day with, there would be something we wouldn’t have time for, some fjord too far away or kayaking trip the weather wasn’t quite right for. To each of these, we simply said, “Next time.” with a smile. I honestly don’t know when I’ll return. The hoard of Norwegian chocolate we were sent home with will have to satisfy my hunger for that place for now. Until next time, ha det, sweet land of the midnight sun.
As if Frozen wasn’t enough of an advertisement for Norway…