Travel!

Plans Derailed – Part 1

By Dave Fox
En Route: Oslo to Bergen, Norway

When I told people I was going to Norway with my girlfriend, many people’s response was, “You have a girlfriend?”

Only that’s not quite the intonation they used. It was more like, “You have a… YOU?!?!

Yes, I do, and no, pervert, she is not inflatable.

I have worked hard for the last 12 years to construct a work and travel schedule that made it utterly impossible to maintain productive and normal interpersonal relationships, but apparently, I have failed in my ongoing attempt to be a whiny, perpetual bachelor. So we were off to Norway.

When a professional Norwegian tour guide travels to Norway with someone who has never set foot in the country before, the appropriate thing to do would be to go see some of the sights. That was our plan. First stop: The World War 2 Resistance Museum. It’s a gripping display that shows how a small but determined nation took a bold stand against Hitler’s much more powerful army. I’d been raving to Kattina about it for months.

When we got there, it was closed. Closed all week for renovations.

“Okay,” I said. “We’ll check out City Hall.” It’s mosaics showing Norway’s history are impressive.

City Hall was closed too. Something about a private celebration for the king’s 70th birthday. I was annoyed. His Majesty forgot to invite me.

ScreamNext stop: The National Gallery. On the way there, we popped into the Tourist Information office to ask if it was open.

“Yes,” they said.

But “open” is a relative term. Half of it was closed for remodeling, including the Edvard Munch room, the Norwegian Romantic era art, virtually all of the paintings with Norwegian political relevance –- basically all the good stuff.

We ended our day in Oslo with a visit to a shoe store. The shoe store was open.

Thursday seemed more promising. Our plan: Travel to Bergen via a route known as “Norway in a Nutshell” — a train high into the mountains, another train back down to sea level, a two-and-a-half hour fjord cruise, a bus back up the mountains, and then one more train into Bergen. I’ve guided groups on this journey many times in the summer, but I’ve always wanted to make the trip in winter.

The weather forecast for the fjords was calling for trickles of sunlight streaming down through the clouds — the only predicted sun all week.

“Lucky timing,” I said.

Then we turned on the news.

DerailedWhile we had been out exploring Oslo, a train on the Oslo-Bergen line was hanging precariously on the edge of a hill. It had derailed. It could have been our train. The train line between Oslo and Bergen would be closed for several days. Busses were meeting trains partway to Bergen and shuttling  passengers the rest of the way.

“So can we still take the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ route to Bergen?” I asked a conductor the next morning as we boarded in Oslo, “or do we have to take the direct route over the mountains without the fjord detour?”

“There will be a bus down to the fjord,” she said. “You can still catch the boat.”

Two hours later, I began to worry. Could a bus get us to the fjord in time to catch the boat? I asked another conductor.

“There might not be a bus down to the fjord,” he said. “We might not make it over the mountain at all.”

“Huh?”

“Well look outside,” he said.

Oh. Yes.

As I looked out the window, a veritable blizzard was raging.

“What happens if we can’t make it over the mountain?” I asked the conductor.

“Exactly,” he said, and walked away.

[Tune in tomorrow for part 2.]
Published on Friday, March 9, 2007

One Response to “Plans Derailed – Part 1”

  1. Kattina
    March 9, 2007 at 9:45 AM

    I can confirm my identity. I am not inflatable. And while much of Norway was closed, at least the airports were running…

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