This Europe of ours

4. August 2016 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

This has been a long haul: from my last trip, which ended in Timisoara/Romania, to Tromsø I have now spent 91 hours on trains, ferries and a train that went on a ferry (between Germany and Denmark), but not on planes. Avoiding flying comes at a price (I met a Swiss student in Bodø yesterday who told me he had paid 130 euros for his flight from this minor northern Norwegian coast town to Zurich), but it has its benefits. If the train ride from Trondheim to Bodø is not on lots of people’s bucket lists, that is because it’s a well-kept secret. As opposed to the Hurtigruten boat, which runs from Bergen to Kirkenes over 6 ½ days, visiting every fjord and every portlet on the old postal route. Now it’s a pastime for English, German, French and (countless) Italian tourists who have seen it all and are perhaps reluctant to go on a conventional cruise.I did exactly 24 hours of Hurtigruten and enjoyed it tremendously, the slow progress between coast and islands, the quiet atmosphere, the inside cabin where the near-midnight sun didn’t bother me at all, the views from the top deck and from the panorama windows; it’s an absolutely unique selling proposition which they have up here, and they’re really milking this cow very professionally. The touristic culmination was a „little detour“ into the tiny Troll Fjord (much like an appendix on the larger intestinal canal), where you could almost touch the steep rock face left and right. And this is a huge ship, made for 600 passengers. Of course the postman didn’t do this extra bit in olden times, nor did he know of the special magic drink with the troll logo in it that the tour company offered (at €10, but you could keep the mug). This happened shortly before midnight, when the light was still strong enough to light the eerie scenery.

After the ferry to Oslo, it’s the train to Trondheim

Precisely on crossing the polar circle, a rainbow appeared

But after this slow approach, I’m raring to put my ass on the saddle and ride on, towards Riga, where in 2011 I started another bicycle trip, with Reto, ending in the Russian enclave Kaliningrad.So this will make a nice north-south lline (with a couple of gaps) together with my Polish/Czech tour to Passau, from whence I built another connection via Melk, Vienna and Budapest to Novi Sad and Timisoara, from whence I took trains and … oh, I think I mentioned that.

All of this goes to say that Europe, beyond its invention, is just a tremendous reality, with things (and languages) to discover in a lifetime. Just now I had a conversation with the young receptionist at the Skansen Hotell about why the young Scandinavians all talk in this broad American accent. You’ll know why (TV serials and all), but perhaps you didn’t know that this particular girl will tone down the American bit in her English when she travels herself, because after all, she says, she’s Norwegian.

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