i have officially backpacked through Europe, well, part of Europe anyway. With just a school backpack stuffed to the breaking point on my back (but still under the 20 kg carry-on limit) my traveling buddy, Maylin and I started off on our 5 week adventure.
12/5-10/08 Norway--Drammen, Sandnes, Stavanger, Denmark, Bergen.
I was so excited to go to Norway, one of the two places that I told myself I HAD to see while over here (i am 1/5 Norwegian, or some odd fraction like that). We arrived in the land of the vikings mid afternoon in a small Ryan-Air airport outside of Oslo (Ryan-air is a discount airline around europe--you can get really good deals if you're willing to be flexible/you catch them at the right time--definitely worth checking out).
First thing we see in the airport:
They sold hot dogs everywhere we went in Norway. I never knew a country could like hot dogs so much.
We took a bus from the airport to a town called Drammen and ended up waiting for our over night train which didn't leave until 11pm. Drammen looked like Christmas, which made the 6 hour wait after a day of travelling more bearable:
If you ever happen to be stuck in the Drammen train station for an extended period of time, go across the big bridge that's outside and to the right--there are actually things to see/do on that side of the train station. The overnight train was AMAZING!!! they gave us a packaged blanket, eye mask, and earplugs AND our seats fully reclined. Wonderful.
We stumbled off the train at 7am and were picked up by my distant cousin Trygve. Maylin and I were welcomed into his beautiful flat with open arms and introduced to more of my relatives. I had already met GK 4 years earlier, in KS, and she was kind enough to take us on an entertaining "behind the scenes" tour of Stavanger/Sadnes. This was my favorite monument that we saw:
three swords that stand for peace. awesome. the Norweigian name for it is "Sverd i Fjell" It's right on the shores of Hafrsfjord--call it a fjord, not a lake. there is definitely a difference. But this mix of fresh and salt water is breathtakingly beautiful, as were many of the places we saw in Norway, come to think of it.
GK also drove us to the overnight ferry that we took to Denmark. We met some interesting people on the ferry, i do believe that we were the only non-Norweigians on the boat, but everyone we met on the boat knew english, so we didn't have that hard of a time. Apparently these overnight ferries are for Christmas shopping, and business parties. . . it was interesting. . .to say the least. We were actually only in Denmark for 5 hours, but I think it was a trip more about the journey than the destination anyway. Why yes, this was a harbor in Denmark. It was really cute.
I also met quite a few other relatives and got to visit the 2nd largest mall in Norway. Everyone was so wonderful, I hope to meet up with them again someday, maybe host them once I have my own place, wherever i end up living.
We took off for Bergen on a joint bus/ferry trip. honestly, i slept through the first part of it--but the part that I was awake for was absolutely gorgeous. pure nature, undisturbed, peaceful, just as it was meant to be. I really can't wait to go back. On to the land of the Dutch!