Sunday, 1 April 2007


Bodø was where the cold started to feel truly familiar. It was also where I experienced a small crisis in that I realized that I could not access my UK bank account and would have to rely on my Canadian visa card to see me through the rest of the trip. This was before I found my hotel and was told that they only accept Diners cards. I know Bodø very well; I spent a lot of time trudging through the snow trying to find a bank machine or a phone.
After I had settled into my hotel, I wandered to the other end of town where I found a phone box. I wanted to tell Andrew my sorry tale of financial stress, but I couldn't get the bloody phone card to work. 40 NOK later I also realized that I had used up all the credit on my mobile. So there was nothing left to do but to have a good cry in the phone box between sips of chocolate milk. I came to love the chocolate milk in Norway. The stuff in Britain is crap.
Returning to my hotel room, exhausted by my emotional outburst, I stared numbly at a Norwegian television show for nearly 30 minutes. It was some kind of reality show where the contestants voted each other off. To try and stay in the game two contestants had to name five different species of fish on a table. That's what British reality telly shows need - more fish identification challenges. Then I watched the Disney channel until I snapped out of it and decided that being unconscious was much preferable. So I went to sleep.
The next morning I spent some time looking out the window at the frozen world, and also at the lone crow who was sitting in the tree across the road. He jittered with black energy, a feathered jolt of joy in the white landscape. I went downstairs for my complimentary breakfast and was pleased to discover I had the entire dining room to myself. There was so much food, including a great many items consisting mostly of mayonaise. Aside from many glasses of grape juice and two cups of coffee, I ate two of the best soft boiled eggs I have ever had. While I ate the radio played My Name is Luca, which I found amusing. The announcers would come on after each song and jabber away in Norwegian. Of course I couldn't understand so I entertained myself by making up the conversation to match the tones of their voices:
-"It's 8:56 and that was My Name Is Luca by Suzanne Vega. A great song, don't you think Jenny?"
-"Sure is Bill. It's actually a song about child abuse!"
-"Well it certainly is catchy."
-"The kind of song that gets stuck in your head for days until you want to shove a pencil in your eye to make it stop."
-(laughs) "Don't I know it."
My plan to put my pack in a locker at the train station and wander the Sunday streets until I had to catch the coastal steamer at 3pm was abandoned when I mean Sean, a 20-year-old Canadian who was also hanging about until the steamer left.
This was when the journey started to look up. I love just being thrown together with interesting people by chance - it was one of my favourite parts of travelling. I sat at the dock waiting area with Sean, who was traveling around Scandinavia until his money ran out. Since he was planning to spend $1,500CAD staying at the ice hotel, I was guessing this would not take too long. Soon we were joined by Fyodor, a Russian reasearch student, who was taking a few days to get as far north as possible before he had to return to Oslo. Within moments of meeting Fyodor, a thin man with a long ponytail and a huge camera, he told me that a fellow researcher was convinced that vitamin C could repair DNA and was on a mission to proove it. He was so wonderfully unique that I knew the rest of my boat trip would be brilliant with him as a companion.
Sean got on the steamer in the photo, while Fyodor and I hopped another one. Fyodor bought a ticket to Tromsø , which would take him until the next afternoon. My journey would be only four hours, and it was only then that it began to dawn on me how close I was to finally meeting my dear friend Craig, with whom I have corresponded for nearly four years.
Next time - a four-hour journey condensed. And the start of the mountain photos.


Anonymous said...

u should be a travel writer. your title of your first book would be "Norway on no money a day: a peaen to choco milk"

Anonymous said...

or it could be called "No Way, Norway!"

or "Norway, Eff that, get me a latte!"