Among the Fjords

There’s something truly magical about this place.

May 30

Yesterday we took a bus to the Bergin airport, rented two cars and started driving. The road, windy, speckled with tunnels, and threaded with our own anticipation, felt like the beginning of a movie. We headed east, towards the interior of Norway. Bent on truly experiencing this thing they call fjord.

All of us, brimming with excitement. We watched in awe as the quaint windy road became engulfed by massive grey canyon walls. Suddenly we were seeing waterfalls, more waterfalls than I’ve ever seen in one place. Beautiful, spindly, twining strands of water coming from every direction. We opened the car’s sun roof to watch the water descend from the top of the arching canyon walls.

I was so struck by the beauty of it all I was practically giddy when we reached the campsite. IMG_2551

In the morning we pack everything up and stack our backpacks in the back of the cars. The air is brisk and moist. Unsure of what to expect I dawn multiple layers of clothes to keep the chill at bay.

IMG_2555A few minutes later we’re pulling into a gas station parking lot. Behind the gas station is a bus and a few kayaks, our only indication that we’re in the right place. We’re early, of course, if traveling has taught me anything thus far its to leave early and assume you will get lost on the way.

Our guide is an athletic young man from New Zeland. He shakes our hands emphatically, repeating our names often so he can commit them to memory.

All of the supplies are stored in two shipping containers and our sea kayaks our laid out IMG_2565on the grass between the picnic tables and the water. Zack, our guide, jostles around in the storage container for a few minutes before producing wet suits and spray skirts. We go change in the gas station bathroom.

Brief note:

Most businesses we’ve encountered thus far have been like this one. Kind of nonchalant about their look and set up. In Iceland every building outside of Reykjavik was some variation of a double wide trailer. All of the car rental businesses we’ve encountered have been run out of garages. Overall they lack the polished wastefulness of an American McDonalds, but I’m more than okay with that.

Voyaging

I’m slightly colder the kayaking gear. Zack assures us it will be warmer on the water, so I’m dancing lightly to keep myself warm. After a brief huddle where we discuss the plan and who will carry what food we thump our spray skirts into place and cast off.

Zack gets out the cookies right away. Our first experience with maneuvering sea kayaks is a quest sidling up close enough to catch a vanilla Snackwell. You know how ambiance in a restaurant contributes to the experience? Right now this cookie has more ambiance than any  restaurant Gordon Ramsey has ever worked in.

IMG_2570The water surrounding my boat is a deep glossy blue. The Fjord is surrounded by high canyon walls dripping with tall waterfall spires. Nestled along the banks of the deep blue water are emerald green bumpy knolls of grass and trees.

I feel totally immersed in this place, as if my boat has flipped over to reveal a different dimension. How can this water be so dark and richly colored and the grass so vibrant, and how can there be so many waterfalls!?

IMG_2606A small wood cottage situated on a grassy knoll with an open garage and a gravel driveway baffles me. That someone lives here, that this place could be part of someones every day life! Zach explains that the people who live here mostly keep sheep. His tale is verified by three white sheep, a mother and two young, tromping out from a low forrest near the water.

Only the second time we’ve seen sheep with the most picturesque of homes. At this point I wouldn’t mind being a sheep if I got to live in such a magical place.

Magical and Cozy and Delicious

We paddle like this for a few hours, mostly in rapt wonder and the serenity of this place IMG_2597with a few small conversations sprinkled in. When we come to a small gravel beach bordered by low trees Zach instructs us to pull off for lunch.

This is when I notice how hungry I am, though the Snackwells were insanely delicious 5 cookies is no substitute for a meal, especially when you’ve been paddling for the better part of the morning.

Zack, sensing the hunger in our eyes, shoos us off from helping with the food and instructs us to find a waterfall. Intrigued and distracted we follow a trail further into the trees. The vibrancy of green in this forest is so animately perfect I have to stop myself from searching for Keebler elves.

A faint rumbling indicates the waterfall is close. I hurry up the path to a quaint, arching bridge situated just at the bottom of a stout waterfall. Its almost too much. With the dreamlike allure of the setting the waterfall leaves me stricken with joy.

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Across the bridge is a sloping pasture. Several sheep dot the hillside, with a backdrop of the Fjord and the waterfalls I am mute and in awe, my senses entirely focused on absorbing it all.

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There is nothing to do by rollick. Seriously, were in a field that’s impossibly green, with sheep and waterfalls, and brisk, pristine air so naturally we rollick. Skipping around the hillside till hunger gets the best of us and we meander back to the boats and the smell of roasting peppers.

We sit on a picnic blanket and cozy into some hot chocolate while Zack serves up lunch. There’s no chairs, tables or candles but still the ambiance is prevalent. IMG_2561

One of my favorite parts about meals outside is that you have to eat it all or else carry it back. Right now I’m more than happy to eat everything I can get my hands on.

We eat with gusto, then chat lazily across the picnic blanket.

Once we finish digesting it will be time to go. We’ll rewind back to the beach and the shipping containers stuffed with gear, back our dry clothes and rental cars. We’ll drive back out of the canyon, back to the airport where we rented the cars. We will get on a plane and arrive in Stockholm while dusk is falling and the street lamps are lighting up.

All these things will be set in motion when we pack up lunch and slide our boats into the water. I’m wistful about leaving this place but that wistfulness is countered by the excitement about going somewhere new. We’re still only a week into our month long adventure with so much yet to do. Although no other experience will be just like this one they all have the potential to be amazing and I’m looking forward to that.

Hours later, when all our stuff is packed up and we’re driving away from the fjord the parting feels less bittersweet and more savory. We savored every moment of that fjord and like a good meal the fjord has left us happy and hopeful for the next one.

Until next time.

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The Crew and the Fjord

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