Monday, 29 June 2009

Excerpts from my never-written Norway-Diary 3


Why was I reluctant to follow him?

It was a really perfect day. Gift upon gift, the mere sight of nature’s extraordinary power in thundering waterfalls and the uncharted wilderness of large inhabited forest and bush-fields, the sub-arctic character of mountain landscapes, oh this was far more than what I ever expected of this Sunday.

Then the ferry across a fjord and the sight of another one from high... Then we were granted a gift journey to a mountain top. Under normal circumstances we work hard for such things, we walk and climb up and sweat and gasp while doing that. But now a sympathetic newly found friend bus-driver offers us a ride and we can do all of this 20 km mountaineering journey sitting in a vehicle. I guess, ten years ago I would have not admitted that this is how it happened. Now I am adult enough to be brave and tell: we didn’t climb Dalsnibba (1500 m) but were driven up there comfortably. Anyway, the view compensated us for any eventual remords of our mountaineer conscience.

The way back was just as spectacular as the way up had been. For the first time in years we went shopping souvenirs. And we actually had fun surfing through an entire huge shop in Geiranger. We touched and tried everything and bought things... And felt no dummies...

Then came the additional bonus of finding accommodation for that night! A beautiful little „hytte”, a hut, just as I had so much wanted to try out! A little red wooden house in the bushes, with white window frames, green grass on the top and a million dollar view from its terrace. The bonus of bonuses was an unchained waterfall in the proximity of our house, a real unleashed beast with sparkling wild white waters that stormed down in rays and – broken by the massive stones it fell on – returned for a brief moment to the air before relinquishing and being rushed away in form of white foam further down in the brook. I could have watched it for hours.

I found it hard to leave this sight for Zoli’s sake who discovered boulder routes nearby. He had climbed most of them, by the time I arrived to him. And then he disappeared just as I was still watching a perfectly constructed fireplace under the overhanging rock walls.

I knew instantly that he had found a path in the forest. Half of my heart wanted to follow him, the other half wanted to stay. I followed him on a narrow dark green pathway squeezed between green, plant-covered rocks dripping water and between the trees growing on top of another rock block.

We were on top of the bouldering block now. I was still halfway, he was already gone. It was almost midnight and I feared that the unexpected darkness would still come suddenly just when I am trying to find him in an unknown bush where who knows what imaginary and real trolls may wait for my companionship... I was actually more afraid of sprainting my ankle as I could no longer see well in the twilight of this narrow shadow-forest tightly stretched between two rocks. The path and its many stones seemed slippery and unstable at once – even if this was nothing compared to most of our mountain hikes. I knew he did not appreciate that I was reluctant and searched excuses of not going deeper into the forest, higher up on the slope. But to me this day has already given so much joy, so many surprises, so many gifts that I wanted to keep it that way, I was afraid not to ruin it with an ankle sprain in the twilight...

Then he finally appeared. We reached some water. Oh no, not some water, we actually found ourselves on top of the unleashed fierce waterfall. And the rays of the midnight sun penetrated the greenery now, framing our already fantastic view with tangible gold-diamond rays. Oh, good that I followed him... We were now in the middle of a guilded picture with translucent lights and cold watersteam and lush greenery...

My never ending day of luck and beauty – one in ten years – continued with a serene night-watching out in front of the house. Sipping milk and sitting, imagining how finally the grey shades overcome the facing mountains – and then I opened my eyes under the sun-glasses and that threatening night was still not there, the forests dreamed their lucid silver midsummer-night dreams and silently sang along the ceaseless roam of cascading waters.

Excerpts from my never-written Norway-Diary 2


Perpetuated afternoons

It is almost midnight. Then midnight. Then 1 a.m. The sky is still in fire, sunrays beat up wast self-building clouds until they shed red foam to the shoulders of distant mountains. We keep looking. Then Zoli goes on reading, obviously without any lamp or artificial light. I keep peeping towards the uncurtained window. The spectacular drama goes on up there on the other shore of the fjord, and far far away on this side, more to the west. Also more to the east. And more to the south... Sunrays paint mountain peaks... just be a climber and watch this, you heart will scream of rapture.

However, Zoli gave it up after a while. He goes to bed desperately trying to find darkness, oh, just anything that would cover his eyes enough. Desperately trying to usher me to bed, as he knows that I will have a hard timewaking up in the morning.

No, I don’t want to sleep now, tonight of all nights. I slept between 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. yesterday and woke up at a triumphant, brilliant sunlight out there. The day before yesterday also. Tonight I am not going to let the mystery remain unsolved: what happens to the sky in the REALLY late night or the VERY early dawn? I need to know that and I am going to find that out now. I watch and daydream with open eyes in this never-ending afternoon that will eventually wake up itself as a new day’s morning. I don’t grow sleepy but my eyes slowly become very tired. I am on the verge of giving up. Not the red and orange light and cloud scenery outside – that goes on, the mixed colours softly pour down on the slopes of the other shore...

Finally an idea comes up. We have two watches, each of them having two alarm functions. I set the first watch to alarm at 1.30 a.m. and at 2 a.m. The second one will wake me up at 3 a.m. and at 4 a.m. After 4 a.m. I have already seen how it is: it is like like midday in Luxembourg. Thus I have myself woken up at every hour – what a nightwatching J To see what happens, to see if there is darkness for at least a half an hour.

Well, I woke up at each alarm, at each hour and yet – although we were still far from the Arctic Circle – the dark night somehow never came. The same light-grey and reddish twilight was there all the time. It was never darker than an average cloudy-rainy autumn afternoon in Luxembourg. But it was definitely a happier shade, and a more heart-opening mood of the sky. Of course, Norway pays a hard price for this when winter sets in. But my surprised child mentality could not be more content with this natural white night experienced for the first time.

Excerpts from my never-written Norway-Diary

1) The endless hours of beauty

I change my mind often, but to the question: what was the best thing in Norway, I would always give the same answer. The best of all was that certainty of beauty.
The fact that I woke up every morning with a sure feeling: we see something beautiful again, today as well. Just think of it:how often can you be sure every morning that something good is definitely going to happen to you today? Especially if you live in a place like Bettembourg...

Well, somehow with my hard-earned money I earned from destiny these eight days when beauty and smoothless encounters with nature were granted and guaranteed. Thank you Norway, from all my heart, ’thank you’, all the nice and helpful people we met on our way, thanks for the civilised and clean infrastructures that made our journey comfortable for us, two backpackers who never want to grow old.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

24 hours and 36 minutes

In case you were wondering how much time one needs to travel by public transport from the coast of the Norwegian Arctic Sea (more specifically from the top of Fjellstua hill) all the way down to the Luxembourgish-French border, the answer is here:
24 hours and 36 minutes.

Yesterday evening Zoli and I rushed down this little rockhill overlooking a fabulous sea-coast-island-fjord-town landscape, we picked up our rucksacks from the youth hostel (Vandrerhjem) of Aalesund and with two (four :-) fully packed rucksacks (both of us had a big one and a smaller one for the daily trips) we trudged to the Nor-Way bus station on the coast. Our bus left at 21.00 hours exactly, and it covered the best parts of Middle and South Norway.

For us it was partly a recapitulation of what we had visited earlier this and last week: the coast of Aandalsnes, the enormous Romsdalshorn wall, the waterfalls breaking their chains and freely rushing into the Rauma (river), the valley of Dombaas, Lillehammer, deers crossig our route in the white night, the fjord-shore fires announcing this years Midsummernight... and a very well timed, "second-by-second precision to the schedule" arrival to a sunny, hot Oslo... a place we had come to like the week before.

The rest is just another story of journey, train to Sandefjord, aircraft to Hahn in Germany, bus to Luxembourg, train to Bettembourg. We are back, tired, with heads strangely stuffed, after all we hadn't had much sleep...
Just now Zoli is telling me what feels strangely for him: the fact it is getting DARK. Oh yes, for 8-9 days we didn't have nights. Except for three hours of sobre twilight in Oslo, more to the north we had really no night. At most one or two grey hours but even those were filled with life, birds still hunting, me still reading on the balcony of the hytte without any electricity or candle needed...
It was amazing not to have darkness at all...

Monday, 8 June 2009


Sometimes it is good to stay down. Closer to the everyday ground. OK, I am a little bit talking like LaFontaine's fox about the sour grapes, considering that recently I have been rather unsuccessful in mountaineering. But this latest trip wasn't even meant to reach somewhere really high. We just wanted to climb and exist... with no particular summit-like target :-)

And here we go, we found Meiringen (in Switzerland). It is supposed to be a Mecca for rock climbers. Well, the rock routes - they weren't easy for us to find. We had no maps. There were many, too many paths up there on the hillside, in the forest and none of them had any specific direction indication, except for "Wanderweg" :-)

This is how our day turned to be a little frustrating for him, he kept sighing that we didn't have a topo. That we should never leave without proper topos (maps). Well, true, but I hadn't been able to find any.

On the other hand I was just so happy trudging up the hills after him, much slower, yet keeping a steady rhythm in the exceptionally hot May Saturday afternoon... Finally out IN the forest!

Everything was so green. Leaves and trees, fields, the landscape was dominated by its freshness. Even next day, the river canyon we visited, the famous Aareschlucht wore overwhelmingly green shades, green water perpetually meandering along its own heavily carved narrow canyon-way, with green branches peeping in from the top of the rocks on both "shores" of the gorge.

All in all, it was a very inspiring green. A colour of hope and renascent life, that feeds you one last time before you, mountain climber set off again to steeper routes up into the White.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

strawberry temptation

the power of strawberries

Red when ripe, they are tiny Martian superbombs of taste... No, I am not talking about those artificial looking, unripened, half-green half-rosy, plastic-package strawberries you can buy in supermarkets (those are fruits of human impatience, hard fruits plucked well before time, because a contract with the huge commercial chain obliges producers to deliver in time - no matter what).

I am talking about REAL strawberries, the ones that may not have the size as described in an officially approved list (a directive or catalogue), but do have a thousand times more TASTE and colour. They bring with themselves the memories of earth, of a dark or dust-gray dappled grounds, dry or wet soils - so close to them once, until your eyes picked them and your hands plucked them... They bring you maybe memories of a childhood where you could run wild and devour childhandfuls of fruits from your grandparents' or -secretly- your neighbours' field. They bring a touch of temptation, too, just see your own wine-red lips and white teeth as you gently put them one by one in your mouth - the gesture both feels and looks so sensual, it hides an invitation to action and a sense of daring exposition.

Strawberries, oh, their ripening has always been a feast in my life. When they pushed up their little bright heads, it was time to stop learning for school, it was time to rush out to the garden. Their brilliant red fruits in a big bowl - this was my mother's simplest but best gift I claim every year even if I am thousand miles away. Except for this year...

This year was special. Specially bad - many challenges at work, in family, at my own time-management. Failures in things everybody else so easily absolves... Or just bad luck? Like in many other people's lives. To the point that I am not able to pay my strawberry pilgrimage to my parents' place.

And then came friends. They grabbed me out from my stupor and figuratively tossed me in a car to venture out to Germany to a "pluck yourself" farm. And there I was. Finally some real ground below my feet (still unused to the ever changing rhythm of earth and moving walkways)! Finally some real colour, real movement as I bend myself to reach ruby-like treasures. The smell of sand and earth, the smell of dust and bright-red fruity, hearty perfume puts me back to the trail again.

Here I am, still not giving up - still beating this path I created for myself after a Mondfinsternis, a full moon eclipse and a major car crash threw me out from an illusionary cradle and seemingly safe haven. I am out in the savannas, feeling the lion cub in me and learning to roar. Roaming on vast strawberry fields and turnig swiftly in our orange-white-red coloured kitchen while cooking strawberry jam...

I am back to life again, back to fight depression, back to strive to make this life enjoyable - to relearn and discover the little joys of weekdays - thanks to my friends and thanks to beautiful brilliant perfumed dark-red strawberries.