Norway - 

She is my rainbow! Cycling in the north of Norway

Michael Wagener -corrections Mauro Hernandez (Canada) - 4 th november
Cycling in Norway was a new experience for me. I had already made a few trips aboard my bicycle, but this time the tour was different… and I was older, too!

There were beautiful landscapes out of a Hollywood movie such as Lord of the Rings and the North Cape with the midnight sun. Impressive as it all actually was, the green and blue colors of nature started to bore me after a while; questions about my everyday life, my job and my girlfriend kept going round my mind. My boredom was probably due to the fact that I had already been to a lot of different places, which made new impressions less intense. There seems to be less attraction after having previously seen amazing landscapes and other highlights that each trip could offer.

At my friend’s suggestion, he and I set out on our bikes along the coastline. I was totally unaware of irregular relief and high altitude awaiting us. My friend pedaled effortlessly whereas I had a hard time cycling uphill and keeping going; however, my body would soon shape up and I was again in the mood of exploring the area.

Norway is an underpopulated country where I did not get to meet very many people.  It is an outdoors country, and we slept in our tent for four weeks, sometimes pitching it on a nice beach or on top of a hill overlooking great views. Meals were cooked on a stove and clothes were washed in a river—and we bathed in a cold lake. During heavy downpours, we stayed in our tent.  Over the last few years, Norway has become an expensive country to travel to because of its oil industry and strong economy, so I thought of camping as an alternative.

I regret not having had the chance to talk to the locals very much; we had to cover 1.000 Km in four weeks. So, there was no time to socialize, and truth be told, there was no one around either.

We passed by a lot of caravans along the way, mostly Germans. Everybody wanted to be left alone; there was no other thing than small talk. So, we followed suit. Nature was just captivating with reindeer crossing over the road! It is curious to cycle for seven kilometres through North Cape Tunnel at 212 meters below sea level. Despite the length of the tunnel, the cold air of the Arctic winter can still be felt inside.

It was amazing to see grandma swimming in the Arctic sea at sunset

Not only is the Lofoten archipelago, home to spectacular sights where mountains meet the sea, it is also at times the place where artwork by unknown artists as well as some by renowned ones such as Dan Graham can be appreciated in remote areas.

In this group of islands, I had the pleasure of meeting the Skagen family, who runs a camping ground on Flakstadoya. It was amazing to watch grandma swimming in the Arctic sea at sunset. In summer, water can warm up as high as 12 degrees. I tried it once, and could not stay for more than ten minutes in it.  In conversation with grandma Skagen, she felt quite a Viking herself. She was equally proud of her daughter and grandchild. It is on the Lofoten where the life of the Vikings can be experienced. In Borg, there is the possibility to row a real Viking boat or to shoot a bow, as well.

It is not rare to cycle through the day without seeing anyone around. The thought of sitting somewhere remote in order to watch the sun set can quickly go away when the place gets filled a by a flash crowd coming to enjoy the sunset, too.  If luck is not on your side at the time, a big caravan will park right in front the tent, blocking off the view.

One rainy day, we visited an aircraft museum in Bodo to enjoy a bit of culture again after four weeks spent in nature. It was surprising to learn the role played by German aircrafts and the war of the Nazi regime in Norway. At least, I found the whole thing surprising because it sounded like there was a lot of respect for the Germans having fought in a remote country such as Norway.

Other than its great landscapes, attractive girls and stockfish, Norway is also good for romantic scenes. In the picture was a young Italian couple. The girl seemed so happy to be able to see the ocean; her boyfriend, who looked like a hard rocker, whispered to me: “She is my rainbow!”

In the time of NSA and Prism, the big question at the end of my month in Norway was why no airport official ever bothered to check my passport.

Michael Wagener


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