As soon as our airplane started the descent, the landscape came into view I knew that Oslo would be incredible. Before me lay luminescent green fields as far as the eye could see and clouds so full they might as well have been made of cotton candy. Stepping outside the cabin was even more remarkable than the view from above. The warm sun on my skin combined with the fresh smell of nature was something I had not experienced before (trying to describe this is so hard. It’s like you could smell the freshness, you could smell the warm earth and green grass and I swear even the glass of the airport smelled fresh). Norway was a country unencumbered by smog and pollution and it created an unforgettable and lasting first impression.
Unfortunately, as the red barns and colorful wooden buildings flew by outside the windows of the crew bus, I found myself being dragged under by the clutches of exhaustion. Once that bite of fatigue sets in it is very difficult to escape. After napping for an hour in the hotel my alarm clock went off to remind me to get up and get dressed because I had “fjord exploring” to do! I can tell you 100% that it was so hard to drag myself from the warm covers of the hotel bed, but in the end I am so glad that I managed to overcome the weariness and start this new adventure.
It was about a twenty minute walk to the pier for my crewmate and me. We quickly stopped along the way to pick up a secret Christmas present for my Dad and to take a completely shameless photo with a Viking helmet.
As we walked onto the pier, there she stood before us, a traditional wooden sailing ship, with tall masts and beckoning sails. She was all set to take us through a maze of blue water and green islands. The tour lasts for three hours, and included in the price is a traditional Norwegian prawn buffet with prawns “au naturelle”, lemon, mayonnaise, bread and butter.
We miscalculated the time and arrived about ten minutes before the ship was set to sail which made the seating a bit difficult. I borrowed two chairs from the inside bar and set them up near the edge of the boat creating a little space of our own. Since it was just the two of us we had to trade, one would take photos and one would guard our space.
The harbor sights were incredible! We drifted past brightly colored houses perched on hills, words of greetings were called out in Norwegian from passing boats. About an hour into the journey the Captain announced the beginning of the buffet and the real joy began. Nothing can compare to the way the wind tangles through your hair or how it stings as it swirls against your skin like salty fingers. With a plate full of prawns and a ravenous hunger we dove into our food with gusto.
After we ate our fill, we turned our chairs to face the edge of the boat and sat in a camaraderie of silence and watched the water slip quietly by us. When the sun began to set I realized that being able to spend time discovering the beauty of another country like Norway was just another reason my job is so incredible.
The sun sank in to the water and spread like a forest fire of red over the blue of the fjord, highlighting the multi colored hues of the water. For some time the red seemed to be winning against the blue of the water but in the blink of an eye the inferno was swallowed whole by the water. The stars began to drift out like lazy lightening bugs poking holes through the clouds and with the dying of the sun the cold crept in.
During the day with the warmth of the sun shining on our heads the weather seemed to be on the edge of just a tad uncomfortable in hoodies and leather boots. As the sun sank beneath the waters I was suddenly grateful for the layers I had on and the thick socks that snuggled my feet in my boots. Within a half hour I had pulled out three blankets and had my hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate like my life depended on it. It felt like the stars winked and laughed at the way our eyes grew heavy as the rocking of the boat and the warmth of our blankets began to lull us to sleep. All to soon, we began to sail back towards the lights of Oslo, passing the Opera house as we headed towards the docks.
One thing I still remember thinking was how beautiful the lights were reflected on the water. It was like the sky had turned upside down and the twinkling gave an other-worldliness to the seascape. It was as though a heavenly artist had painted a celestial landscape on the dark waters of the fjord and the lights seemed to be a living organism undulating this way and that in a unique rhythm.
As we pulled into the the dock and the plank was being lowered into place to disembark, I reflected on all the things I had seen and the quick three hour journey that I had just taken. I realized how utterly blessed I am to be filled with wanderlust, to be jumping around from one country to the next. Just a few decades ago the thought of a young woman traveling on her own would have been considered indecent and unheard of. Yet there I was, drinking warm cider and enjoying the company of my fellow wanderers, lost in the landscape and the languages of the strangers that surrounded me.
It’s cities like Oslo that remind me why I love this job. Not for the crazy adventures I always seem to wind up on or the daring stories I’ll have to tell my future children. It’s the images that have been seared into my memory. The unimportant things, like the way the water sparkled in the sun and how that blazing yellow orb melted across the water and clung to the horizon as it said goodbye to the close of the day. It’s the way I can close my eyes a few weeks later and still feel the wind against my cheeks, biting and fleeting like a salty kiss. It’s the memory of the way I turned my face up to the sun and sat with my eyes closed, feeling the warmth across my skin until there was no thought in my mind other than how utterly content I am with my life. No other thought than how very grateful I am to be living the fly life.