Feeling the heat and humidity of the August desert climate? Then a quick trip to cool Norway may be the perfect way to refresh!
My journey from sunny Riyadh took me to Istanbul and then on to Oslo in only 12 hours. In this time, the hot sand gave way to the green tree-covered expanse of this northern paradise, landing me in the capital city of Norway.
Sea, ships, ferries, waterways, fishing and shopping are the lifelines here. Even on a hot summer’s day, which can be more than 30 degrees, the architecture tells its story. It expresses the winter by showing us the winter colours, reminding all who visit of the long winter which will soon arrive. I enjoyed the most fabulous fish dinners in the harbourside Pipervika fish restaurant, choosing the fish I wanted to eat, freshly cooked – delicious! I also passed a cultural afternoon enjoying the piano accompanied male voice in the futuristically designed angular concrete and wood paneled, Oslo Opera House. Oslo combines northern nature with historic and contemporary city life, setting up my feelings for the change I was soon to experience!
Only 8 hours after beginning the drive north and west, crossing rapidly changing scenery from hills to highlands to mountains, and down the other side into the deep valleys (called fjords), where the mountains meet the North Sea, I saw the expanse of cold – and often stormy – sea, reaching towards Scotland and Iceland. I stayed in Alesund, where I saw the sea and two adventurous wild reindeer seeking their dinner in the garden, all from my window. Here, I felt the cool, wet fresh sea winds cutting into the rugged landscape. It was a photographer’s dream and a mariner’s nightmare; jagged mountain edges and rocks, sunlight, changing clouds, deep narrow waterways, the sanctuary of small harbours and gigantic working ships. The water was perfectly clear. In this landscape I felt the environment touching my emotions. I chose the Atlantic Road for a day of exploration. Driving this route, linking the North Sea facing islands, was one moment a boat ride and the next a fairground rollercoaster. Vast curved bridges rose and fell steeply above the sea; the winter sea lashed the road with torrents of sea water. I was becoming close to our planet’s feelings too.
My days were spent travelling by boat; seeing harbours and historic seaside towns, eating fresh foods, wearing pullovers, hats and woollen scarves crafted locally and harmoniously with the climate.
I found one of my favourite foods, salt dried fish, in Kristiansund. It was sold by Gustav in his fishery, Klippfisk av Skrei, overlooking the arriving fishing boats. Gustav sold me fabulous locally caught cod fish, dried and salted to perfection by his hands using his experience from his family’s long tradition. Summer fruits were sold at the seafront; strawberries, deep red in colour, raspberries, sweet and soft, blueberries, freshly picked. I felt the togetherness of summer and winter in one moment. The rain would soon turn to blue sky and back again. The summer nights would be daylight to mid-night and beyond. The seafront cafe would be open to the sky and then heated with radiant electricity.
The time came for change again and I travelled to the highlands, passing once more over the mountains, into the heart of the Rondane National Park. The sea weather stayed behind me and I was met with blue sky, radiant sun, cool air and the freshness of mountain lakes. I sat beside clear water, saw fish and heard the bleating of mountain sheep. I walked narrow paths between trees, my feet sinking into the moss as I tried to follow reindeer footsteps.
My host, Nilssen, part owner of the mountain hotel in Mysusaeter, told me about the winter snow season and soon expected rainfall. He told me of his family’s long association with this region. It is a land of long history, of working with the elements, of nature almost pure from our busy city lives. I shall return again to this region, perhaps taking to the far north of Norway by motor caravan, staying under the bright summer night sky, cooking the amazing fresh ocean fish. The food in the hotel was fabulous too!