Six forty-six PM, Norway time (whatever time zone that is), December 28, 2007. Brian and I are sitting on a train and making the long, dark, journey to Voss. We’re on the, ‘most beautiful train ride on Earth,” but it’s dark. Our plan was to catch the 10:33 train heading to the same place – unfortunately, this train was full.
It’s a small miracle we even made it to Oslo’s train station to figure this out. When Brian and I were planning our departure from Jessheim last night, I said, “At the very latest, we need to be walking out of the apartment at 9.” As it turns out, I was running around like a madman trying to pack my things at 9:05. We literally ran from Espen’s apartment to the train station in Jessheim. Ran with our packs on our back. Nonetheless, we made the journey that should have taken twenty minutes by walking in about 8 minutes by jogging. We arrived at Oslo’s station thirty minutes later only to find the train was full.
Time for plan B. Brian actually handled the situation better than I did. It was frustrating knowing we’d miss the train ride in the daylight. But, as Brian said, ‘There’s nothing we can do. We’ll figure out something different.” After doing some research at the station, we found a “Norway in a Nutshell” tour. We’ll leave from Voss tomorrow morning at 8:40 and via train, bus, and boat tour the mountains and fjords surrounding Voss. We’ll end up back in Oslo late tomorrow evening. I guess things do happen for a reason.
As of right now, we’re four and a half hours into a seven-hour train ride. We’ll be (assuming they have room) staying at a hostel in Voss tonight – a hostel which advertises a sauna. Perfect. Anyway, I wanted to sit down and share a couple funny quotes and scenarios that Brian and I have found ourselves in over the past day.
As we were relaxing yesterday at Espen’s apartment (the friend of our couchsurfing host), we were talking about the mountains and fjords that cover much of Norway. Espen was telling us how he used to live right at the base of a mountain – one that he worked on the top of. Sounds beautiful, yes? Well, Espen said to us, “It’s great to be able to look at the fjords and mountains in this country, but it really sucks to live by them.” It would clearly add hours to your travel times – which probably explains why we’re in the middle of a seven-hour train ride.
Brian and I spent the greater part of today at the train station – buying tour passes, train passes, food, and coffee. Needless to say, we had to make more than one trip to the minibank (ATM). The currency in Norway has taken some getting used to. Not in the fact that the notes and currency are difficult to become familiar with (they actually look very similar to Euros), but in the fact that you go to the minibank and withdraw 500, 1000, 2000, etc. Krones. You feel loaded until you buy a cup of coffee for 40 Krones, a sandwich for 60 Krones, and a train ticket for 475 Krones. But, as we continued to buy things today, I kept saying to Brian, “It doesn’t matter Brian, they’re only Krones!”
Our two seats on the train are separated by three feet before you find yourself looking face to face with another two people. It’s impossible not to want to have a staring contest with your neighbor. Our two neighbors were eating some delicious looking Norwegian pastries earlier – topped with cheese and filled with what appeared to be some sort of meat. I told Brian I couldn’t help but hungrily eye them with the hopes they would offer to share. “If I was on a train in Iowa with some Norwegians,” I told Brian, “I’d offer them some of my sweet corn.”
Brian and I are storing our luggage at the train station in Oslo. It was relatively cheap (they’re only Krones), and it will be nice not to have to carry our packs for the next day. For whatever reason, as we were leaving our packs, I decided I’d leave my shoes and wear my chaco sandals with my socks. Why? First, it had quite frankly been quite warm since we’d arrived in Oslo. Second, there wasn’t much snow to speak of. And, to be true, I hate shoes. This decision is becoming more and more apparently ridiculous as the amount of snow at each stop continues to add up. I was just now reading to Brian about a place in Voss where we can get cheap Norwegian food. Brian replies with, “Great, now I just hope I can find a place that sells nice sandals.”