Canada! Kan dat nou?

Part of travelling is the actual travel. The kind that makes you sick and tired, stressed and irritated. I have spend the last two days in trains, buses and planes; getting close to people and their sweaty smell, keeping calm replying to the hundred of questions asked by the american custom officers, having unhealthy meals at inappropriate hours (but I still believe it is oke to have ice cream for lunch, am I right?)

But I have happily made it to Montreal where I could hug my Cousine Bécassine, settled here with her boyfriend for a few years. Somehow, it is better than being home. You have that satisfying home feeling as you can speak freely and in the strongest  »I come from the North of France » accent, and yet you are on the other side of the world eating a ice cream sandwiched between 2 chocolate chip cookies (yes. another ice cream)

I traveled back from Bergen to Oslo, through the snow. I flew from Oslo to New York, and finally from New York to Montreal. Few highlights in those two days : ice cream from lunch comes in first position, as it is the purest form of freedom. No diet, no rules, no  one to hold me back, I am crazy like that. Second comes the flight New York-Montreal. I do not know if it was the flight attendant and his communicative happy mood, the adorable accent in the french words spoken by the captain, the complimentary pretzels or the view of Manhattan. All together, this final flight fixed all the little bumps of the last two days.

The ride from Bergen to Oslo was a never-ending torture. Next to me, the snoring beauty offered a 7 hours show to the very packed car. A group of students found this trip was the time to experience Jägermeister for the first time. And the juice I bought EARLY morning for my breakfast was made from concentrate. But I am happy to announce that I have now reconciled with Oslo. I had one last Norwegian afternoon before catching my flight; and I was not too excited about it. 10 days ago, I left the grey city with mixed feelings – I thought the place was just to be visited in winter, where it could show its rainbow colors. For a few hours, expecting nothing but a few streets to stretch my legs, I found myself in a cosmopolitan town full of life. Pulsating and yet peaceful, I walked the harbor where singing accordions lead my feet. In the park, happy kids put a smile on the exhausted faces of their parents coming back from work. The tiny and not inviting bridge around the corner actually opens to a square with sunny terraces where friends enjoy a (13 euros) beer. The sunlight reflects in the bright eyes of people all around, till late in the afternoon. Oslo, you got my heart back. So, I raise my glass to you and I hope to discover more of your secrets soon…

Though the flight to New York was the most time consuming event of the last days, it really was of no interest. The chocolate and coconut cake was oke, and it was fun to watch Mrs Doubtfire again; but really, it was just a long flight. In the waiting line to go through US security, time flew as I met an adorable dad and his two daughters. One of them was very enthusiastic when I started talking about my trip to Japan. While we starting talking about our love for travels and cultures soaking, Cute Dad’s heart went to my parents, whom he thought would be scared, if not scarred for life, knowing their baby girl alone on the other side of the world. I do not think they are, I hope they are not. They raised me with the simple idea that I should always do and act in order to keep all my options open. Be good, not to be successful (I mean here socially accepted successful); but to keep your options open. I took lots of different options over the last few years, and I believe that as long as they see me smiling, their hearts are filled with pride more than fear.

Boarding to Montreal, I have to leave the 2 years old who desperately wanted to share her banana with me. I did play with her and Elmo, but really the banana was one step too far.

Taking off, the skyline of Manhattan appears. It is quite majestic from here. Gave me the chills to see all those little boxes, perfectly aligned, creating streets where I once was running and cycling. I carry and cherish images of spring holidays, spent there with my partner in crime.

Soon the nature takes over and I am already dreaming of all the great things I will be able to see and do once we land in Canada. Hundreds of ideas are running through my mind, and as we fly over the Canadian border, I am over the moon.

Next week will be rich, I cannot wait to tell you all about it. Spoiler, I am going on a road trip to Quebec – Trois Rivieres – Mont Tremblant. But for now it is family time and I am very happy to settle down in a cozy place, with Pierrot the cat and homemade bread.

 

 

 

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Hidden paradise

Everything I have experienced so far in Norway could be summarized as  »peaceful ».

Today beats the game.

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Hellesoy

Two hours of bus rocking from the center of Bergen, offshore, sleeps Øygarden. Birds and sheep are masters of a kingdom split between the North Sea and the Bergen Bay. Here, the hills and the trees are about the same size. The water is so clear you can sea the fish fooling around between the seaweeds. Seagulls change shifts above the water, to never miss a good meal occasion. If you leave the coast and lose yourself in one of the many hiking or cycling paths, you will meet sheep and goats- no matter if they are black or white, they all sing in chorus. On the main road; large expanses of lawn, gracefully dotted with purple and yellow flowers merge into a wetland supervised by gulls and smaller birds. Further, when rocks and pines are growing everywhere, the crows are taking over the domain.

Shameless, I started the day in Øygarden with a nap in the sun. Dreaming on a rock, contemplating the ballet of the ducks and geese. I find their travel fascinating. Ducks are so loyal to each other, you will never see one on his own. Dozen of harmless ducks are quacking in a puddle. Left corner of the clear blue sky, a squad of 4 ducks perfectly assembled makes a dramatic entrance. Within a few seconds, all feather asses are flying away together.

When I was a kid there was that amazing musical about a little girl named Emilie. A night she was restless, she found comfort in her story book. There, all characters would come to life and take her on an adventure. She would talk to a big bird, begging him to fly her away; she would save bunnies from a very contagious cold and re-unite a sad witch with a prince who ignored he was charming. Laying down on the warn rock, losing my mind to the blue sky, I started singing the bird song to myself. How amazing would it be to snuggle between the feathers of a giant bird and to fly from a continent to another!

I grew up a little since and accepted the travel on big iron birds instead. It is not like in my dreams but it does the job. P1000997

 

The rest of the day was a show, of bright light and colors. Riding a bicycle up and down the island, I stopped a few times for short hikes to give me a bit of height. On the winding roads, riding in the rocky scenery, I felt a bit like Beep-Beep playing Coyote.

 

The last hike of the day opened the view on a clear skyline, drew by the mountains, looking over sea. Hoping from a rock to another, I am absorbed by the dizzying landscapes. The sea side, opening up a world of opportunities… a salty wind caressing my face (drying up my sweat), feeding my ideas and giving my energy. The bay side, grassy and adorably arranged with fishermen houses and the refreshing and escaping smell of pine trees.

 

By the bus stop, few meters down on the left side of the road, I discover a hidden treasure. I feel a bit like Cristoforo Colombo. A tiny creek, like I have seen dozen today; but this one is actually accessible by foot. The clear sand gives the water a deep turquoise note… irresistible! Foot bath, 5 seconds before definite freezing.

A day full of highlights, and finishing on a high note. I am claiming my Dutch side here, when I proudly announce I did not have to pay the ticket for my trip back to Bergen. Long story short, I am simply adorable. (Also the bank card machine was broken in both buses, but I do not think it is relevant)

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Strawberry lunch in Hellesoy

 

500 miles – and braids

Norway, I have a question. Why so many hairdressers? More than 90% of the girls plait their long blond hair, they do not need a hairdresser for that. I have seen of few originals with bright colored hair (like my Little poney, really). But you don’t need 3 hair salons per streets for that. There, it feels good to talk about it.

Today I was looking for a place to grab a cappuccino. In a city which seems to hibernate on a sunny Sunday, it was more challenging than expected. Closed hair dressers, everywhere. Open coffee bars, nowhere. Well, yes, one, next to the church.

Bon gout. Walking up to the Church, I am magnetically attracted by the window of Noe. My heart capsized. Heels, beautiful simple classy heels. A world of colorful heels. I am like a kid in a candy store. I can picture myself in each and every color, I know already which dress will be perfect with them.

I do love my comfy leggings + fit like a glove nikes + messy braided hair look. But oh! I miss walking on heels, feeling tall and pretty, be feline and powerful. I don’t know what it is with heels, but the higher they get the more confidence I acquire. Such a girl.

Last sips of coffee and I start walking again. Gracefully, comfortably. I have the allure.

I do not really know where I am, and I have no clue where I am heading to. Two girls (blond, braided hair, both) on the way give me directions. Apparently I went the opposite way to the touristic path, and if I keep right I will be  »soon » on top of blablabli Mount. Sounds good to me.

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After 3 hours of unexpected hiking/climbing, reward!

I do not (only) refer to the refreshing apple-blueberry juice and the (delishh) guacamole-cheese sandwich I carried in my bag all the way up.

But the view! Sitting on a rock, facing the sun, day dreaming mode on. Down the cliff, a huge lake with small rocky islands is inviting me for a swim. I am already swearing to myself in pretty French how stupid I am for not packing my bikini with me this morning.

That was before I touched the water with my fingertip. Brrra, I am not in that advanced viking stage yet.

Right on schedule for teatime, I am back in the city center. Keeping the buzzing city in my back I walk towards narrow streets. They shimmer with wooden houses in dozen of colors. There is that white one with green window frames and a bright red door. And the blue one with the white frames. And the yellow one, with a view on the bay. Notting hill in Norway, with a Swiss touch – the city reminds me a lot of Bern.

The street ends with a park. Bench. Legs must rest. On the horizon I can see the outline of Oygarden where I will be cycling tomorrow. For now, I lay back and smile: I just remember I have an avocado waiting for me at home, and I am cooking in my head.

 

Kilometer long smiles

Have you ever noticed how seagulls keep their legs crossed together while flying? Tight and nice. And so they go, gracefully flying and looking for ice creams to steal from a distracted kid.

I have time now to pay attention to those tiny details. To observe and admire the landscape changing with the light. I have time to sit, see and think. I am not creating anything of commercial value, and yet I have not felt so useful for a long time. I am constantly smiling, greeting people with a nod or a word that sounds like Hi, Hey, Hei, Hoi all together. I am floating over earth, I feel light and complete. All things call to me and I feel fully available.

I am living much more instinctively, and it brings to best out of me, out of the world around me too.  Just the once will not hurt, I missed the bus – again- this morning. I woke up at 6.30 to catch the first bus heading to Hardangerfjord. Walking down the street, I saw it rolling one street below. I hate him.The next one is in 1 hour, meaning I will never make it on time for the connection. After I had sworn a few times in French, I see a car coming down the street. Without thinking I stop the confused driver ‘’Morning! Do you want to start the day as a hero a save a French girl in distress? I just missed the bus, any chance you can drop me at the central station?’’ He laughs and we drive together to the city center, from where I will make my connection just on time.

Solidariteit! I am delighted.

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Norheimsund, where my journey starts today, is a dead city. Strolling around trying to find indications for the hiking paths, I ran into a couple who looks just as lost as me. She is from Rome, he is from Savoie. The coffee (not one, the) opens at 10.00. Few minutes to wait before we can sit down, compare our printed maps and share our guesses for directions. A cappuccino later, we split. We will see each other again to take the bus back to Bergen at the end of the day.

Along the way up to the Steinsdalsfossen (the waterfall), I keep thinking about the discussion we had earlier with the girl from Rome. Leaving in Northern countries (she in Germany, me in Holland) but coming from countries with a Latin culture; we appreciate yet are affected by the very structured organization of both countries. If for us rules are more guidelines than restrictions, in our host countries they are strictly followed, even sometimes subject to sanction. It makes our daily life easy, trouble free: making us more efficient – not to say easy to manipulate. In a way, it is comfortable although questionable. Rich topic which I will not develop now, but hey, think about it.

From my own experience, Latin cultures use rules almost exclusively if they are in their interest. In other situation, we try to find a way out, to create an exception to the rule that will fit our particular need. There comes my question: what is natural? Organization or chaos?

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Walking up from Steinsdalsfosser to Byrkesete (the girl from the hotel told me I could not walk there… try me baby!), I keep thinking. Nature can appear organized:  seasons, water cycle, food chain… But she is also chaotic for she is not fixed; she constantly evolves, changes.

Now. Did she change by herself (yes, Ice age!) or does she react to external activities (humans… who broke away long ago with their natural state)? Today, looking at the tangled roots under my feet, the toggle-switch of the clouds, the fascinating and devastating cascades… I came up to the conclusion that Nature is, by nature, chaotic. She only knows her own rules, and despite our human attempts to read her, and worse to control her; she always wins. She does not know seasons – she can make it snow in May if she wants; she does not know borders and she can change faces (for short and long term) whenever she feels like. She is free and cannot be caged.

By trying to organize and control Nature, we have been destroying her. We show no respect for her chaotic nature, as we do not understand it. We have a hard time bowing down to the natural chaos of Life.

This being said, I must say I am grateful for humans who created paths through the woods so I can access the -almost- top of the mountain. I have no idea where I am. But there is snow, so I accomplished my challenge of the day. Walking up to the snow.

On the edge of the cliff, facing the fjord, I spot a small cabin and its sun-kissed wooden bench. Perfect picnic spot! Stunning panoramic view, pines which perfume dazzles me, snowy horizons which makes me wants to fly and cascades songs which makes me want to pee. (Badly) Quick visual check, I am alone. Hmm. Not so sure after all. In the cabin, a few marionettes are hanging from the ceiling, all facing the windows, smiling and enjoying the view. Somehow, my need to pee, my thirst and my hunger are resolved. On the road again!

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The sun shines high in the sky, and down the valley the pound of crystal clear water is clearly inviting me for a swim. I hurry down the mountain, dreaming of a feet bath. Hoping from a rock to another, I am stopped in my run for refreshment. Meeheeee! On the side of the road, three lambs.

I will spend a good 15 minutes cuddling them and giving them with my milk free fingers to suck. They eventually gently bite, trying to get something out. I feel guilty and decide, heartbroken, to leave them behind. If them were mine, I would call them Pim, Pam and Pet. In my mind, they are mine; you got that already.

Before the bus for Bergen arrives, I have just enough time to climb up to the Church, just to enjoy a different view of the Fjord. Still pretty. But my feet hurt, so I will now wait in the sun, enjoying a glass of the local apple juice.

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Burning Flam

Flam has been good to me.  Pure nature, accessible escape, peace around the corner. Lost in the mountains, Flam is a treasure.

Riding to Bergen, I won’t stop being amazed by the beauty all around. The train strolls around the mountains, like a snake under hypnoses. Being on board is like travelling through seasons. Endless thick snow melts into baby waterfalls, filling up turquoise natural pools. Between dark rocks, clear water finds its way down the valley, running into a growing river. As the train keeps on going, life grows all around. Trees turn green, birds fool around, tiny white and purple flowers are showing up, shy and humble. In some places, the grass has already been burn by a playful sun, showing up between graceful clouds.

It is ridiculously easy to travel in Europe. In a few hours, you can go from home to a place so peaceful you might be the first human to touch ground. I am homeless, yet I feel I am right where I am supposed to be. No address needed, you do not belong to one place only. Travelling is empowering. It gives me the courage to defy my fears. The further I go, the further I want to go. Each step gives me more. More to see, to feel, to tell, to share… also more to look forward to as each step gives me more strength, feeding my furious envy to keep walking. As weird as it sounds, I know where I am going (still have to work on left/right, but that is not what I mean).

You do not need a destination, either a plan. You just need to listen to yourself. Are you happy? Keep going. You are not? Look further and switch direction. I make it sound as easy as cycling to the Aurland’s Farm, and it actually is. You are your best friend, and worse enemy. Pick the right battle, and the right partners to fight with and for.

We are scared of the unknown. Unknown places, people, culture. We are taught to keep the unknown on safe distance, to be ‘’careful’’. We do not even know what we have to be afraid of, as we do not know this ‘’scary’’ unknown. Children want to touch fire, roll up in the snow, jump in water, run down rocky paths, walk on their hands… they listen to their instincts, until their parents scream loud enough to ‘’bring them back’’ to a ‘’reasonable’’ behavior. We are taught to be careful, to fear the loss of control. It is for the best for a lot of reasons. But we create societies of people closing up to themselves, their own beliefs and own habits. Everything differing from what they know would be a threat, to their so called freedom.

But remember: you can walk because you were done crawling in the dirt; you can run because you wanted to feel the wind on your face; you can ride a bicycle because you wanted to feel like a bird; you can jump and do back flips because you want to defy gravity… You can move because your instinct does not want you to settle down in one place. Do not shut yourself up.

It has been only a month since I started to give my instincts full priority. It has been more challenging than expected. It is too soon to draw conclusion, but this is how I feel now. I am not scared of travelling, I am afraid of coming back. To a zone made so comfortable it takes all you got to leave it. You know your zone is an illusion, yet leaving it seem like the worse thing to do. I am afraid of coming back for I am afraid of not finding the resource to break away again.

Coming back.  Terrible expression. Like everything you have done does not count and you can just go back where you started. I hope I will never forget how great this is, to be free of movement and social responsibilities. I hope I will not forget what really matters and what makes me feel alive. Thinking about the ‘’after trip’’, I feel good. I am blessed for I have great reasons and motivations to settle. But settling surely does not mean going back.

When I say it is ‘’that easy’’, let me just explain one thing. Knowing I can always fall back to a safe and loving nest has given me wings. I decided to open them up; but I could not have moved without having them in the first place. I haven’t only been taught to be careful, I have been taught to go get what I wanted. Education is key. Do not teach your loved ones how to stay close to you, how to build walls around what you cherish, how to create ‘’valuables’’ in an efficient way. Teach them how to be happy, proud, furious and unique. Teach them how to stand and let them move their own way, their own direction. Love birds always find each other again; you have nothing to lose in letting someone fly away for a while. Easier said than done. I know.

Being on my own far away brings me closer to the ones I love. And I love them even more for supporting me, for letting me go despite the heartache; which I feel too.

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This said, I have arrived in Bergen today. Clear sky, shinning sun, smiling people. Everyone I met so far was helpful and friendly. Quick tour of the city, quick taste of the Norwegian salmon on the fish market, and quickly I am dreaming of hiking those mountains I see all around the city. As lifeguards, they create a protective crown around Bergen. Strewn with colorful wooden houses – similar to crown jewels – the majestic Bergen’s lifeguard are keeping a beautiful secret. Behind each of them, multiples lakes and fjords… as far as your eyes can see.

Visiting the Mount Floyen, I figured how endless the beauty of this place was. I walked a few hours in a place with a very particular spirit. Witches and trolls live there, I am quite positive. I feel at home. From shelters to cabins, hidden in deep forest or on the edge of a cliff; I stroll around for 2 hours. The clear weather provides wonderful views in every direction.

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Lake Skomakerdiket (I did not even make this up) accommodates a family of ducks. Lake Blamansvannet is shared between trolls and witches. In Floyen, Vikings to be are playing in a pirate ship built up facing the fjords. Lots of adventures are going on in here.

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Back in Bergen, I have dinner in a traditional pub, next to Christian who gives me great advice for the menu. Local beer is very tasty, and the fish cake I am having is a perfect addition to it. Back to the hotel, I got confused with the bus stops names (can you blame me?) and got out way too early. Ill end up my journey walking up the hill. Strangely enough, I did not get lost. The beer probably increased my sense of direction – which everyone who knows me would say is below -10.

Tomorrow, up to the Hardangerfjorden. Look it up, it is beautiful.

Floating …

How lucky can one be? Personally, I feel blessed.

7.30. I step out of my room, stretch out, breath in. The waterfall up the mountain is growing; I can see the difference in 3 days only. Probably the reason why the ‘’orange level’’ for avalanches is maintained. I have seen one on my first day here, or to be more accurate I heard one. I thought it was thunder, but the sky was clear. Looking up, I spot it. Few meters away from the path where I was walking earlier, a small flow of brownish snow was on the move. Well, good timing.

Bit before 10.00, all swim-suited up, I step in a kayak with Harry. His wife would have loved to join us but the group is complete, and it is not advised to follow the group by swim. The water is crystal clear, mirror like… looks inviting but it is about 4 to 5 degrees cold.

Paddling up the Fjord is a one of a kind experience. The relaxing music of the paddle entering and moving in the water, the immensity of the fjord opening in front of my eyes, the taste of salt on my lips…

Where we stand, the Fjord is about 300 meters deep. I learn that the height of the cliff is actually the same as the depth of the fjord. The deeper you paddle in the Fjord, the deeper the water. For those who followed, it means the mountains are higher as we get closer to the North Sea.

Contemplating the surrounding, I suddenly feel watched. On top of the cliff, shadows are moving. Sheep! (Again) Every spring, the farmers bring their sheep and goats to Flam’s beach, from where the happy troop can climb up to the cliffs. This valley basically is the Summer Camp for Norwegian sheep. I bet they are having the time of their lives… (Can you picture now the sheep version of Dirty Dancing? I can. I do)

We paddle a little further, getting frustrated trying to take photos of the scenery we are evolving in. This is huge, and yet so peaceful. Those rocks have so many stories to tell for they have seen so much… from the Ice age to the (sad) ballet of touristic ships.

One of my favorite stories takes place during the World War. A ship coming from Rotterdam is on its way to Russia. It is not safe to go any further than the Fjord, so the ship finds shelter in the Flam valley. The crew, not mastering at hide and seek, is about to be found by their enemies who are already bombing around. The inhabitants of Flam, not happy about this battle coming a bit too close to their land will kindly ask the Dutch ship to leave the valley. Few days later, still no sign of departure. Call them as you wish, but the Flam people will come up with what I call a genius plan. (It is a genius plan). They organize a party in the city, and invite the all crew to join them. Once the ship emptied, the dedicated people of Flam drowned the Dutch ship, and with it the shadow of a sea battle at the door of their beloved city. The morning after, most crew members blamed the ship-less view of the bay on their heavy hangover before they could actually believe their eyes. Few went back to where they came from with the train; others stayed here and found a safe place in some softer she-lter.

After two hours of coordinated arms-core exercise, we stop for a sort hike and lunch break. The waterfall we reach (one of the many you can spot on the cliffs all around) creates a cute little lagoon. If it was not 2 degrees cold, I would gladly jump in. My bright yellow bagpack attracts all kind of insects, nature loves me. I am basically Cinderella. Or an evil witch. Or a magic troll connected with the nature.

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Heading back to Flam’s beach, we have the sun in our faces. The wind too. Little bit heavier, but it means I will (really) deserve my chocolate snack when we land.

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It is only 2 pm when we say goodbye. Erica, our guide today, is from Montreal. Till the last minute, she gives me enthusiastic tips for my trip there in a few days.

Later in the afternoon, I stroll around in the park next to the river. Up and down the hill, the view of the Fjord keeps on changing and I do not get tired of those colors and shapes. The contrast between the bright snow and the dark rocks, the deep blue of the water, the luminous green of the vegetation coming back to life… I can hear sea birds crying for food, sheep singing (you know the song), children running around, and the voice of the Ferry’s captain making the departure announcement.

Tomorrow I will be in Bergen, about which I have already heard some good stories. I have been told where to find good coffee. What else does one need?

 

 

Bird on wheels

The scenery here is ridiculously beautiful.

I woke up to sunbathing mountains, in a light so bright it can only be divine. This place has something special, and I am on my way to discover more.

Sitting outside, rocked by the song of the sheep’s bell all around, I enjoy my homemade breakfast: muesli, yoghurt, and plenty of fresh fruits. Oslo 0 – Flam +10!

Bike rental is arranged by the hostel, helmet is included. Safety and style! I jumped on my fancy ride and hit the road. Following the fjord line, I quickly arrive to Aurland. The city seems to be asleep, I keep on cycling.

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I cannot describe the feeling. The road is all mine, on my left (yes I did the L with my hand before typing), majestic water. So quiet it looks frozen. On my right, the cliffs topped with snow. Riding in between gave me wings. I could not stop smiling.

After a few km, the roads shrink smaller and become steeper. Do not stop, do not stop, do not stooop. But I did, next to a small farm. From this point on, I will walk. I can hear a waterfall, it becomes my target. I am not sure if the path I am taking is supposed to be walked, but I feel comfortable, adventurous and turning around is anyway not an option.

There are 3 bridges at the waterfall. No need to be Indiana Jones to figure out there is only 1 safe enough. From the other side, it is more a climbing path than a hiking one. But the promise of a stunning view is leading my feet. Few rookie mistakes (rocks, rocky, rookie…see what I have done here?) before heading to a viewpoint only the sheep seem to enjoy. No one around, not a sound. Praaaachtig.

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Going back to the waterfall, I made new friends. At first they would not really let me pass but after tough negotiation they even decided to follow me to the bridge where we had to say goodbye.

The way down is way quicker. in less than 15 minutes I am back in Aurland. The city has woken up, and there I find shelter in a small organic coffee. I fall asleep on the terrace, in the sun. Few minutes pass away and my roommate of yesterday walks in. We share a cup of coffee and a few stories.She is from Quebec, very much in love with her city and gives me some valuable tips for my next stop in Canada. I love her expression and accent, and I bet she might think the same about my way of talking.

I have always been fascinated by languages. How funny is it that, same or different language, humans can communicate by producing sounds, that put together make sense? We both talk French but in a different way. Yet, I understand her. Even when she talks in expression I have never heard before. I just find it brilliant how accessible we make our thoughts and feelings to each other by the mean of languages. It is a human feature, yet this is very much linked to our instinct of living and being together. Using words we make a connection, regardless to the words we use.

It was a good day, I am at peace and I at ease. I even did a bit of yoga in the garden. It is Wednesday after all, and despite my happiness I do miss a few of my Dutch habits.

Tomorrow, VIKING! Kayaking in the fjord!

Kiss and Fly – Velkommen

Monday 2nd of May –

Amsterdam, around 10 am: huge coffee, laughter and tears (mine), hugs, happy dances (mine too, I got moves). Kiss and fly, away. It is about time.

Kiss and Sail

Aker Brygge, Oslo.

Oslo, 12.30. I remembered the city from a few winters ago: limited light, great blueberry muffin, dream stores with non affordable lifestyle gadgets, the Iceberg Opera, and ‘’fish’’ in tubes (you think it is mayonnaise, it is just fat with a synthetic fish taste).

I feel at home within a minute: the train to Oslo center is delayed and my hotel is on strike.

Finally found a bed in a hostel close by. Oh-slow, here I come. This time I’ll pass on the ‘’tubed fish’’, on the Tube too. These shoes are made for walking.

Around 15.00, I reach the harbor. Last time, at this hour of the day the sun was going down in a sky torn between pinks, oranges and blues. Today I am offered  fifty shades of grey. The Kaffebrenneriet behind the tram stop is still there. They do not serve the blueberry muffin anymore (I basically walked here for no reason) but they still have the powdered cinnamon on the ‘’customize your coffee’’ corner. Last time I got mislead by my greed for chocolate and used a lot of it on top of my cappuccino. I did not renew the experience / mistake.

Following the harbor path, I got out of the maze/citadel in no time (pride! Last time took us too long to admit) and arrived at the Opera. Still impressive. Looking like an iceberg from the outside, the inside is very much Guggenheim inspired. People walk in the Opera (in surprisingly casual outfit ). The show is about to start, leaving the outside empty and quiet; I climb on top of the iceberg, and find a spot to enjoy the view of the city in the late sunlight.

On my way back to the hostel, I found a lost coffee place (I admit my eyes were caught with the handwritten inscription on the window ‘’coffee and crepes’’). The owner does not speak English and my Norwegian is limited to ‘’Heiii!’’ and ‘’Takk!’’. Drinking a cappuccino (yes in the evening, yes, I am crazy like that) in the empty and cozy place, I cannot help myself but to smile when they start playing old French songs … ‘’tant qu’il y a de la vie, y’a d’l’espoir’’ lalalala … If there is life, there is hope

Nord         nord coffee – Oslo

Tuesday 3rd of May –

Leaving my one night roommate, I head to the train station. Early tasty breakfast in Nord: yoghurt with 1 blueberry and 1 raspberry. So generous, not sure if I can handle it. The drawing in my cappuccino (right timing) and the tasty scone make up for it.

The ride to Flam will take a bit more than 6 hours. Stunning views on the line Oslo-Bergen. After 4 hours, all we can see is snow. Each time the train exits a tunnel – I stopped counting them as I fell asleep (Tunnels are the new sheep – be aware), the all train is drowned in light (is that even English?) by the powerful reflection of the snow. Impossible to picture. Could not look at it without sunglasses – drama queen much.

12.50. The first stop is Myrdal, we are 811 meters high. Next train a few minutes later:  the Flamsbana will take us back to the sea level, all the way to Flam and its fjords. This ride is supposed to be the ‘’one of the most beautiful train journey’’. Sure thing, it is good competition to the RER C during rush hours.

Everyone is excited, camera by the hand, trying to picture the beauty running in front of our eyes through the windows. I chat with a British man. He carries a huge camera and we talk about the necessity yet the stupidity of picturing everything that moves us, especially when in movement. I lose him a few minutes later when he asks an American couple what their position is regarding Donald Duck, I mean Trump. (j’me suis –pas vraiment – trumpé)

Flamsbana, in and out 

Arrived in Flam. Postcard landscape. Plus one hundred of Chinese people. Most of the train passengers are taken directly by boat for the rest of their organized journey. A guy next to whom I spent most of the trip from Oslo follows them. While waving goodbye, he admits envying my freedom of planning but doesn’t trust himself to go hiking alone. I start figuring out how lucky I am, and how cool this trip is about to be.

Flam view

Flam valley, from the waterfall 

In less than 1 hour, I am already on the way for the first hike to Brekkefossen – Flam’s waterfall.

Brekkefossen waterfalls

The hike is breathtaking, and I don’t mean only the view. I wasn’t expecting the ascension to be so stiff, but it is all worth it. I met a Dutch family who was on the way down. We talked a bit and I was proud to make conversation in Dutch, despite my panting and donkey sweating.

On top of the waterfall, facing the immensity of the nature, I made my plan for the coming days. Tomorrow I will visit the other side of the fjord by bike; and the day after I will follow my Viking’s instinct and explore the fjord paddling.

To keep my so called instincts alive, I had dinner tonight in the Viking’s pub of Flam, local brewery. After my splendid hike I met a friendly black dog, whom boss happens to be one of the waitresses in the brewery. She told me to come and have dinner tonight, which I did. (I had my desert free of taxes. #makingfriends #cellulite) And yes, I tried the 5 local beers. To me, the IPA is the best. But the Amber Ale is in a close second place.

To end in a classy way, here is another friend, smiling for the camera

Sheep

Norway, pays des merveilles!