Okay kids, I hope everyone had fun on our trip to Lapland, but now it’s time to write down, what we have learned! That’s right, let’s write an essay about the things that you liked most, or least, full of subjective generalizations and unfounded assumptions. Ask your daddy what that means if you want to know.
Our Trip To Norway
by maarten de pue
- 24 hour bus rides are not as comfortable as they sound, and I realise very well they don’t sound comfortable at all. Counting down the hours has absolutely no use, at least not after 1/3 of the journey, where your ass is starting to get sore and you realise this is going to take forever no matter what part you’ve had already.
It is a good idea, if possible, to take a seat way back in the bus, so you can stretch your legs over the seats once in a while without bothering other travellers who need to pass. Busses are rarely full enough for the back seat to be occupied by more than 2 people.
Bring music, and perhaps something to cover your eyes with. It will make it easier for you to catch some sleep, and you can shut out crying children or hyper-active travellers.
The sign on the door of the toilet says ‘Sit down. Both men and women.’ Closer examination of the sanitary will make you break this rule without the slightest of remorse. So if you like your feet dry, and if you don’t want the person coming after you giving you the evil eye when he comes out, go while the bus is standing still. If possible, go somewhere else, but realise that the bus leaves with or without you, and probably With your luggage.
- Train stations are full of automatic ticket distributers, but I prefer someone to talk to and ask questions. You won’t have to stare at the screens like an idiot, or have to ask information from somebody who is likely to only respond in grunts or who will stalk you for the rest of the trip.
Long distance trains in Norway have numbered seats. Knowing this will save you a lot of trouble and potential embarassment. Examine your ticket closely, anything that resembles a seat number must be taken into account.
- Bulgy packs are an absolute bitch. Steel shovels on the outside don’t help, unless you like having all eyes on you trying to cram your stuff into the impossibly small compartment Over People’s Heads, your shovel leaving a nice deep scratch in the paintwork.
2. Local Money, Language and Habits
- Whenever approaching someone, ask if they speak english. 99.9% of all norwegians do speak it, but they always get confused if you just start talking to them, making you have to repeat yourself.
It’s fun to see the language change as you travel. It does from belgian, over dutch to german, which is still a lot like belgian, on to scandinavian languages which are hands down incomprehensible. In a translating dictionary, norwegian and dutch are much alike, but when spoken they’re a world apart. If you concentrate you can recognize a word now and then, so you at least know what they’re talking about.
- Exchanging some money to foreign currency – in this case norwegian money- before you leave is always good, but since Norway has distribution machines all over the place, like in shops or even the Mc Donald’s, there’s no need to bring a lot. All you need is a bank account with ‘Maestro’ service, easily checked on your card. If you’re european, anyway.
- Whatever you’ve been told about norwegian drunks or not drinking before the host goes ‘skol’, don’t take it too seriously. Norwegians are Normal people, with Normal habits. I know, I was amazed, too. In my experience, the few that I’ve met and talked to were very kind and interesting people. They don’t care what you do for a living or how school’s going. They ask you what interests you in life, as if they want to get to Know you. They share their vision on things with you, making you feel like you learned more from a 15 minute conversation than years of mindless talking to people who don’t care and just want to tell you how their day was, or which lifestyle they think is wrong.
3. Clothes, Gear, Camping, Misc.
I took 3 sweaters, 3 pairs of pants, and a bunch of other stuff like tee shirts and socks. Looking back I think I packed too much, since there was a washing machine just about everywhere I went. In case of longer camping or lower quality youth hostels, this would have been about right I suppose. Lessons I’ve learned for the future are, change socks more often and bring warmer shoes.
The whole 3-layer theory (ventilation, water/windproof, isolation) didn’t make much sense. Probably because it wasn’t all that cold or windy. In the end I just walked outside with just a sweater (aside from the obvious clothing, duh) like I do at home, no matter how cold it is.
Making the outside layer of the shoes waterproof with a water-repellant chemical has proven to be a great move. The outside of my shoes used to get wet, cooling my feet down without actually letting any water through. Keeping the whole shoe dry, the stuff I put on has kept my feet warm and cosy.
"A roadie’s leatherman is the extent of his penis." Cinsidering how we often compare leathermans to see who has the biggest, this makes much sense. And on this trip, it has yet again made my life a whole bunch easier. From busting open coconuts to killing and skinning bears, my trusty leatherman will save the world one day. And I don’t care that someone there had a bigger one than me. No sir, I don’t. Not one bit.
The kindling that I gathered in advance and carried with me was a good idea. I remember some lessons about making things waterproof with wax and carrying moss around now, but it didn’t occur to me when I was packing, I just figured out on my own. Not that I was able to build a decent fire, though. The wood was all frozen and wet. The shovel is a nice tool but since I didn’t need to chop wood or dig much, it served mostly as additional weight and a fitting background for my ‘Studio Brussel’ stencil. If I won’t be going camping or if there will be no need for a fire next time, I’m leaving it at home.
As expected I had no need for the medkits I carried, but I’m glad I took them anyhow. You never know, better safe than sorry. It’d be dumb if I had to stop a bleeding and I would know how, but I just don’t have the equipment on me.
The biggest mistake I made during preparation was not asking for advice when buying a backpack. Folding up my sleeping bag, tent and isolation mat took about half the time I needed to stuff them into my pack or strap them to the sides. The way I’m treating it, it won’t last very long.
Next time, with a better backpack, I might try hitchiking for transportation. Also, the lack of an interrail pass turned out to be a pretty great miss.
So that kind of wraps it up. All in all it’s been an experience of a lifetime. The guy that started it all asked if I had caught the addiction when he saw me, and I just laughed and answered ‘Hell yah.’
The first period, before newyear, I was sorry that no one could have come with me. The second part, I was mostly thankful for that.
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to miss it all so much, I’m kinda hoping it’ll pass before I do some Really stupid shit. It’s never too late for me to fuck something up.
Either way, I’ll be back. Possibly sooner than expected. Possibly later, but I don’t want to think about that.