We scramble down the last stone steps and arrive on a way too trimmed green lawn in front of the forest which just spit us out after a 6 hours hike. We are in Norway for three weeks, traveling around and sleeping in a micro camper van.
Today’s hike, the Romsdalseggen, a beautiful ridge hike with a couple of sketchy passages, was a spontaneous decision after we realized yesterday that we are 1) in the right area and 2) the weather would be finally sunny after 4 days of rain and coldness down into the low one digits.
Our only thought now is where to find food, so, we take the safe option and walk back to the Nordic climbing center where our day has started this morning.
I walk up to the bar, expecting to order there, when I see the signs pointing people to sit down and order via an app. I can recognize the word Avstand in the Norwegian description while we walk over to a free spot and I quick read the signs. Avstand. Keep distance.
For 5 days we are now roaming around in Western Norway, for 5 days we didn’t wear any face masks or were allowed only one by one into stores. Granted, we also haven’t been around people a lot or in stores except for groceries two times.
Bridget points her phone at the QR code and opens the ordering website. We quickly scroll through the Norwegian menu and pick drinks and something to eat. The climbing center is right next to a popular harbor where the Hurtigruten, the cruise ships along the fjords, stop. There are two ships in our view, one going North, one going South. ‘I guess it makes sense to have the distance rules here if a lot of people pass through.’ I wonder.
Norway has strict rules in place: for who is allowed to enter the country at the moment and who has to go into a 10 days quarantine. Once we crossed the border and had left Oslo the next day we were basically in a parallel world. Corona seems so far away.
We drive, go for a hike, explore the fjords and find a spot somewhere to stop the van, cook and rest for the night. Once in a while we stumble over signs about Avstand. Most of the time we are off our phones. From time to time we have messages from back home, Germany and the US.
We don’t talk about it much and try to take it as a gift to be so off grid. A tiny bit of normality before we will go back to Berlin, back to Avstand and adjusting to the normal 2020.
With all its regulations, yet also all its possibilities.
The waiter arrives with our drinks. His face is super serious, yet there is some twinkling in the corner of his eyes when he puts a kid’s sugary juice box right in front of me. It even has the little plastic straw glued to it.
I guess my Norwegian is still in its baby shoes.
I silently applaud the waiter for not bursting out in laughter. Because I had to.
Notes and context
After 4 days of rain and clouds we were so lucky to reach Åndalsnes on such a perfect day. These were the last days that the hike was officially offered with transport to the starting point by the Nordic Climbing Center before they ended the season.
The hike was fun with a few interesting parts – when you read others’ blogs they always refer to “the chains”. We didn’t take any pictures there. You know, just to reduce the risk of falling. More than once we had to stop and check for the right way to follow. There would be more hikes during the following days with the Norwegian mentality of “If you can’t find the way yourself you should not hike here. We will not put up signs for you, tourist.”
Also, I had to ask Bridget how to call this kids’ drink. I would have never called it juice box. I guess a photo says more than thousand words. I enjoyed it.
After the hike we searched for a nice campground to stay, do laundry, shower properly, play guitar and try some fishing. I ended up losing two lures to seaweed. Better than catch and release, I guess.
And last but not least: It is a rare sight to find Bridge, doing a bridge on a bridge in front of a bridge.