Saturday, July 8, 2017

Chapter 23ree: Snapshot of Norway

We arrived in Paris on May 1, and I will get there yet with this blog, but Norway has always been on the itinerary of this great adventure: a short 9-day getaway from Paris to visit some Karlsen relatives. 

We flew into Stavanger a couple of days ago, and the excitement of being here has just made me want to share a little of the experience.

Why Norway? 

Well, my father was at sea when Germany invaded and occupied Norway in 1940. Some months later he was training at a Norwegian Air Force base in Toronto. 

To make a long story short, he married a Canadian girl, had a few children, I was one of them, and I have been drawn back to the ancestral roots several times.

I recommend a visit to this very special country.

One of my many cousins picked us up at the airport, took us to his home where we quickly settled in. I had forgotten that in the summer here, darkness comes at about fifteen minutes before midnight, and daylight, at 4 am!

Day One: Grocery Shopping

I have sprinkled my blog chapters with lots of French words. I do speak some French, but I also speak some Norwegian, so it is only fair to my readers that I throw some Norwegian words into this chapter.

 MEAT pronounced, tshutt
heard with an inattentive English ear, the word sounds like shit, but it isn't
 POTATOES pronounced, potetterrrr

SMOKED SALMON pronounced, roooket lax


Kjøttboller  = Meatballs pronounced tshutt-ballerrrr

Brød = Bread pronounced, brood

Brun ost = Brown goat cheese pronounced, brooon oast

... all of these are staples of the Norwegian diet.
The vast majority of non-Norwegian speaking people, which may be 99% of the human race, will have no interest in, or need for these words ... But, I do love the language.

Day Two: A Hike up to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)

waiting for the ferry, Port of Stavanger

About a 40 minute ride on the car ferry, Hardanger, to the town of Tau, a drive through Jorpeland, then up to the Preikestolen car park.

the old base camp

Above, is the route map at base camp. Including distance and vertical feet, I make the hike to be about 6.5 km. one way.
The route is well-maintained, some flat or gradual terrain, but most is walking over river rocks and flat rough stones. Some of these are very large. Sherpas have been hired to make the path very accessible with construction of stone steps. The steps make the hike accessible to the non-hiker with good shoes, but the run-rise ratio is inconsistent - suitable for both short legged trolls and for giant trolls.

Joanne and Arne Geir, stopping for the camera, still fresh and full of energy after only about 500 metres into the hike.

boardwalk over the marshlands

 "Only 4.5 km to go. We start climbing now."

Elevation change on this hike was significant for Joanne and I who are really not wilderness hikers. (See details on graphic above).

I had done this walk about eight years ago. It seemed so much shorter and easier even then. 

I told Joanne that every bend and rise in view would be the last one that would open up to the majestic plateau of Pulpit Rock. 

The years had blurred my memory somewhat so there was some fatigue and some angst, but slow walking and lots of rests helped. 

Small high elevation ponds and lakes were eye candy.

Small lakes and ponds filled large cavities in the upper landscape. Off in the distance, brush and small (by Western Canada standards) coniferous trees carpeted the rocky surfaces.

Finally, the fjord revealed itself -  stunning Lysefjord, a 44 kilometre inlet of blue water.

The sight was breathtaking.

But we had still not reached Preikestolen. Every laborious step up and over more rocks, across some hanging cliffside timber walkways

Afraid of heights anyone?
No worries. One does not have to get close to the edge.

And there it was:
Preikestolen, translation - pulpit rock. Like one giant jagged tooth hanging over the fjord.

Some brave, or maybe slightly crazy people, walk up to the edge and sit there with with their feet hanging over a sheer drop, 604 metres, almost 2,000 feet, to the fjord below. Not us. Far too scary. When I was 19 years old I lay flat on the surface to peer down. There is enough updraft of wind flying up the cliff to make your eyes water.

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  1. So glad you did this Joanne! Isn't it spectacular!

  2. The word that comes to mind is breathtaking!! What an accomplishment to reach the top and a bit scarey