Travels in Norway

Old May 8th 2023, 4:18 pm
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Default Travels in Norway

This really belongs in my "Back in the Day" thread in the Rest of the World forum, but I'll put it here for a change... In 1963 I hitch-hiked around Scandinavia. Norway was quite a poor country in those days, and there was a lot more hiking than I expected. One place I would like to have visited - but didn't - was Nordkapp, the most northerly town in continental Norway. A friend of mine told me he went there the year before, but there wasn't much to see. There was so little motor traffic when I was dropped off at the turn-off that I shrugged and kept going east, to Kirkenes near the Russian border. But I'm wondering, now, if any BE member has ever been up that way.
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Old May 9th 2023, 4:32 am
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I had hitched up from London to Newcastle, and caught the ferry across to Bergen. Five or six of us low-lifes gathered together and exchanged information on Norway. One of our number - a young chap with a strong Geordie accent - claimed that the Norwegians could actually understand much of what he said. None of us knew enough to argue with him. We went our separate ways when we arrived. I got by for the next month or two with a little travel dictionary.

I was in Narvik - inside the Arctic circle! - on the day I turned 24, and celebrated with a "swim" in the bay. A very short and token effort, let it be said. It was (still is?) one of those bays where you have to wade half a mile out to get even waist-deep. I ducked down enough to get my head wet, and waded all the way back as fast as I could.
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Old May 10th 2023, 2:12 am
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On the wharf at Narvik, I hitched a ride in a desperately smelly little fishing boat across to one of the Lofoten Islands. The captain/owner/crewman spoke no English, but we got on well enough for him to let me sleep on board that night (I still recall the stench of oil!), and invite me to go with him up to Spitzbergen/Svalbard. I didn't think I'd survive the journey, so politely declined.

Forty years later my son, then working for the Oslo Opera House as an Assistant Stage Manager, was in the running to accompany a group from the Opera to Spitzbergen, but didn't quite make the cut. At least they would have flown him up there and given him a bed in a hotel. No smell of oil to ruin the visit...
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Old May 10th 2023, 9:42 am
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Default Re: Travels in Norway

Might get up there one day.
Our Brit/Aussie son moved to Tromso with his Norwegian partner (who he met at Melbourne Uni) during lockdown.
Looking forward to discovering Norway when time & funds (lol) permit.
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Old May 10th 2023, 11:07 pm
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Gosh, that's very adventurous! Please tell us what on earth he's doing in Tromso! What work is there up there? I've no idea, and I'm interested. My son did what yours did - went with a girlfriend to her homeland and stayed there. The relationship didn't last, but he has three much-loved children there, and has lived in the country on and off since 2003. Down around Oslo, though, not up north. He also speaks Norsk fluently, which no doubt your son will do, in time!

I don't remember anything about Tromso, apart from passing through it in 1963. I had a book showing all the "Youth Hostels" in Europe, so if Tromso had a YH, I will have stayed in it. You'll probably be flying up there when you visit, but if by chance you drive up, you will pass the Geiranger Fjord, which (from the mountain road from the south) is the most breathtaking scene I've ever seen in all my life. You can find plenty of photos on-line that will support that judgment.
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Old May 14th 2023, 11:16 pm
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He’s an adventure sports guide. Partner doing her PhD at Tromso Uni. Understand it is quite an international community in Tromso nowadays. They’ve friends, mainly students, from all over the world.

Tourism industry is booming. Unfortunately flight prices still quite high & no other means, other than driving or Hurtigruten ferry of getting there.





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Old May 16th 2023, 12:50 am
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Default Re: Travels in Norway

Originally Posted by OzSheila
Might get up there one day.
Our Brit/Aussie son moved to Tromso with his Norwegian partner (who he met at Melbourne Uni) during lockdown.
Looking forward to discovering Norway when time & funds (lol) permit.
Well, I wish I could assure you that Tromso is the loveliest place in the world, or at least in Norway... But in truth I don't remember anything about the place! For one thing, I was just drifting along without purpose' and for another thing, it was sixty years ago. So I hope I'm excused. I tend to mix up Tromso and Trondheim anyway, in my mind.

Be sure to ask your son if he meets any Sami in the region. The Sami - called Laplanders by foreigners - are the aborigines of Scandinavia. Wikipedia has not a bad summary of who they are and how they got there. One thing I found fascinating just the other day from one of my (Norwegian) granddaughters is that they have their own mini-parliament headed by a President, in each of their modern-day nation-hosts: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. I wonder if the Australian aborigines are learning anything from them, politically. Maybe that's where the idea of "The Voice" came from. We may never know. I didn't even know of their existence until recently. I never encountered any in my travels. (Maybe they're like the US's Amish and didn't have motor-cars. Hitch-hikers aren't really interested in anybody who doesn't have a car!) Also, back in 1963 there weren't many cars on Norwegian roads at all. It was a very poor country, economically.
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Old May 17th 2023, 9:36 pm
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By the way, I have just discovered that one of the US Army bases in Norway is in the Narvik municipality, which is next door to the Tromso district. Better tell your son to keep an eye on the international news. If the Russia/NATO conflict gets real, all US bases could become targets. I don't know where Russia keeps its nukes, but the international border isn't all that far away. I remember being driven right up to the then-Soviet border-fence from the nearby Norwegian town of Kirkenes, back in the day.

I don't mean to be alarmist - and a nuclear war is unlikely just at the moment. But still...
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Old May 23rd 2023, 2:01 am
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After studying my atlas, I remembered how I came to Narvik... At Mo-i-Rana I had turned right and hitched into Sweden. I thought it would be fun to nip in and out of countries. There's a road that runs south-north and I was picked up by a youngish couple (in their 30s) who were headed for their hytte/shack in a forest that happened to be inside a Swedish military reserve. I could stay with them overnight, if I didn't mind lying doggo in the back seat with a pile of blankets over me so the military guards didn't see me! There was a very old grandmother waiting to greet my hosts, but after a pleasant enough welcome she seemed to take offense at my presence. My host just laughed and explained in English what the hostility was about. She was angry at her grandson for lying to her. He had insisted I was Australian, but she had watched a TV nature-program last week which had shown her that all Australians were black people who didn't wear clothes. I was a fake, and she didn't see anything funny about being lied to for no reason. She sulked all evening, and dismissed my passport as false.

Next day I was driven outside the military area - under the blankets again - and put on the road to Narvik.
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Old May 28th 2023, 1:20 am
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Default Re: Travels in Norway

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
Well, I wish I could assure you that Tromso is the loveliest place in the world, or at least in Norway... But in truth I don't remember anything about the place! For one thing, I was just drifting along without purpose' and for another thing, it was sixty years ago. So I hope I'm excused. I tend to mix up Tromso and Trondheim anyway, in my mind.

Be sure to ask your son if he meets any Sami in the region. The Sami - called Laplanders by foreigners - are the aborigines of Scandinavia. Wikipedia has not a bad summary of who they are and how they got there. One thing I found fascinating just the other day from one of my (Norwegian) granddaughters is that they have their own mini-parliament headed by a President, in each of their modern-day nation-hosts: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. I wonder if the Australian aborigines are learning anything from them, politically. Maybe that's where the idea of "The Voice" came from. We may never know. I didn't even know of their existence until recently. I never encountered any in my travels. (Maybe they're like the US's Amish and didn't have motor-cars. Hitch-hikers aren't really interested in anybody who doesn't have a car!) Also, back in 1963 there weren't many cars on Norwegian roads at all. It was a very poor country, economically.
Yes his partner is half Sami. Very interesting learning about their culture.
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Old May 28th 2023, 1:23 am
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Default Re: Travels in Norway

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
By the way, I have just discovered that one of the US Army bases in Norway is in the Narvik municipality, which is next door to the Tromso district. Better tell your son to keep an eye on the international news. If the Russia/NATO conflict gets real, all US bases could become targets. I don't know where Russia keeps its nukes, but the international border isn't all that far away. I remember being driven right up to the then-Soviet border-fence from the nearby Norwegian town of Kirkenes, back in the day.

I don't mean to be alarmist - and a nuclear war is unlikely just at the moment. But still...

No it’s a valid concern. Trust the Norwegians keep a close eye on developments.
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Old May 28th 2023, 3:23 am
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Originally Posted by OzSheila
Yes his partner is half Sami. Very interesting learning about their culture.
Ahh, Sheila - that makes you this thread's expert! I wonder if your son sees any similarity between the Sami parliaments and what some of Australia's aborigines are looking to do. I know very little about the latter, but a WhatsApp friend of mine in Brisbane is sort-of involved. One question for you, if you don't mind... One community of the Australian aborigines (200-odd people) has devised a dictionary for its language; it is one of 200 or so languages plus dialects in the whole of Australia. Are the Sami languages as rarely spread as that?
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Old Jun 7th 2023, 1:56 am
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After hitching my way down through Finland and Sweden, a week in Oslo rounded off my first Scandinavian adventure, sleeping on the floor of an apartment rented by the Australian speed-skating team. I bumped into one of them in town and they invited me home. They were the only four boys in Australia in 1963 who a) knew how to race on ice and b) were willing to drift around Europe for a year and try to win races. The Australian Association paid for their entry fees, but they had to pay their way otherwise. Their greatest - indeed their only - success to date had been beating the Luxembourg team into last place, in some German event. The more beers we drank, the funnier the story became. They had taken on board the classic advice on cross-country skiing: it's best to begin with a small country. (That's a joke, by the way...)

In Oslo they worked on the dock as casual labourers, as I did during my stay with them. No formalities, in those days. We turned up, signed on, helped the cranes move cargo around for a few hours, and collected our wages in cash at the end of each day. Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick, they reckoned. (That's also a joke. At the time - maybe not today - it was the standard Australian way of saying how good something was.)
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Old Jul 2nd 2023, 3:00 am
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After hitching my way around Scandinavia in 1963, I didn't make it back to Norway until 2004 (I think it was), on a visit to my grandchildren and their mother. My son had hooked up with a Norwegian girl in a hippie cult in Latin America a couple of years earlier, and she had brought her fatherless Norwegian toddler over there. Her (their) new pregnancy had ended with a birth in the mother's forest hytte near Oslo. Sadly, the parents' relationship didn't last all that long, but my son's bond with the two children has lasted wonderfully. I'm their loving grandpa - Pappa Gordon - and we chat on the phone in English. (I tried to learn Norsk, but couldn't get the hang of it; so English it is.) The older one lives in one of her dad's hyttes now, and they have both stayed with me here in the Caribbean, at different times. Linda and I visited all of them over there two or three times. It's a very 21st-Century arrangement, I guess.
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Old Jul 5th 2023, 5:05 am
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Sheila. I asked my Norwegian granddaughter how she can identify a Sami, and she said "only by his or her surname". They - in her experience - speak Norsk without any strange accent (except for the appropriate regional accent, of course), and they look the same as any other Norski. That surprised me.

She also told me that her English-born father speaks Norsk perfectly, and could be taken for a native, which also surprised me. He emigrated there at the age of 25, but has spent some years in other countries. He speaks with his children in Norsk, for preference.
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