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My road trip to Norway was the first time I had traveled with Fabian after he was no longer a student and had acquired a good job with Shell as an exploration geologist. I met up with him in his new hometown of Groningen, Netherlands and we drove from there all the way to Trondheim, Norway (where Norway gets skinny) and back. This was a distance of about 2500 km or 1550 miles; our longest road trip ever.
Of course, one obvious perk of my job is almost free travel. But a secondary perk is my opportunity to meet interesting people from all over the world and be invited to their home, so no hotel cost is involved. Then, as Fabian had acquired a supped up Mini Cooper from his Aunt, there was no car rental cost. So, on this particular trip, a trip of a lifetime for many, I hardly spent more money than if I had stayed at home. Just the gas was extra!
I spent a few days in the cute town of Groningen in Fabian’s awesome new apartment. One evening he asked me if I’d like to meet a new friend of his for dinner. “Hmmm. Is this someone that could be important in your future?” He smiled and said “Perhaps.” He and Catherine will be married July 21, 2012 in Cambridge, England.
We left Groningen and our first stop was in Copenhagen where we stayed with Glenn, the hitchhiker we picked up in New Zealand four years before. Copenhagen is supremely civilized and the “biking-est” city I have ever seen. It was fantastic to see a very hospitable Glenn. From there we drove across the Oresund bridge connecting Copenhagen, Denmark to Malmo, Sweden and up the west coast of Sweden. As we headed north we drove past gorgeous fields of purple lupine, and I remember thinking to myself, jokingly, “These socialist Swedes! Spending huge amounts of money on roadside beauty projects!” — Until I discovered that they grew naturally. Incredible. See below.
In Oslo, our next stop, we spent the night at friends of Fabian’s. We arrived a bit late so most of the restaurants were closed except for the touristy one down by the harbor. When we got there, however, all they had left was four fish soups. Soups it is then! Heck, fish — we are in Norway after all. Alas, the soup could have been canned, and the price was $30/bowl. In the coming days we discovered that Norway has no indigenous food culture. They are the anti-France this way.
The next few days we spent traveling up through the mountains and crossing fjords. Norway is a structural engineer’s paradise; absolutely spectacular bridges, efficient tunnels, all paid for with Norway’s massive oil revenues. In the “old days” a mail boat went north and south and in and out of the fjords, taking the mail to the cities that were inaccessible except by sea. Now, these boats have been replaced with Cruise ships. A it is cruise I would highly recommend if the Caribbean islands vacation is not your style. We took our own boat trip down Grangerfjord — one massive fjord and not too far from our final destination in Trondheim. Throughout the mountains we stayed in little cabins with our sleeping bags. They were cozy with little kitchenettes and showers. The one pictured below was next to a babbling river.
We stayed in Trondheim for four days. This town was utterly charming, which is why I have more pictures of this place. As it was June, it never got completely dark and we once stayed at a beach until the sun just sat on the horizon.
One the drive back we again had the pleasure of staying with Glenn; he is a thoroughly charming and childlike soul with a silly side that belies his Viking looks. Apparently, picking up hitchhikers is not always a bad thing. We attended a garden party for all the residents at his apartment. I left for home in Copenhagen, leaving Fabian to drive the rest of the way alone. We’d next meet Chile.