Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hurtling towards Hell (part 4b of 5)

Many of the days I spent in Norway were travel days as there were so many kilometres to cover to get up to Hammerfest but along the way we made some absolutely amazing stops. One of those stops was the Winter Olympic Bobsled track where we were offered the opportunity to hurtle down the course at speeds that caused my head to smash quite violently and unladylike against the metal cage. It was very scary but great fun. They strap special braces to your stomach and back so that the g-forces don’t do permanent damage to your spine and guts. You have to hold onto the smallest handles I have ever seen and just before they push your sled off at the start line you get an attack of the panics and want to scream “Let me out!” I am very pleased to announce though that my sledding team won third place. We were even awarded bronze medals at a mini award ceremony on the bus afterwards too. Photo - my bobsled team preparing for take off. I'm the scared one at the back.

We also stopped at Trondheim which is a beautiful and quaint little city located about midway up the side of Norway. I loved the feel of this place. It is home to only about 145,000 people and it certainly makes a difference to the 7.4 million people I fight with every day to get a seat on the tube in London. Most of the Trondheim townspeople are actually students studying at the local university. It was slightly chilly and I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like in the middle of winter as snow would cover the city like a big, fat, fluffy doona. I bet that they celebrate Christmas in style there! I could just see them hanging fairy lights and decorations through the trees and the snow lining the pavement.

Another stop was at the Geiranger Fjord which is an amazing valley and river system nestled in the crevasses of mountains. We took a boat cruise down the river and the scenes were simply stunning - beautiful, shimmering water at the base of monstrous mountains. Waterfalls cascaded down the rock faces, racing to meet the river like a lost child might race to its mother. Breath taking doesn’t do the fjord justice. It is a magical place where your imagination can run wild. It sounds clich├ęd to say that you almost expect dreams to come true there, and for one couple on our tour it did - Andrew asked Bree to marry him. Photo - Standing just above the Geiranger Fjord.

We pit stopped at Hell, a small dot on the map not that far from the Geiranger Fjord. Many people spend their faithful lives questioning the meaning life, of the existence of heaven and hell and I can safely assure you that yes, there is a place called Hell and it is in the “Middle-of-Nowhere, Norway”. What is in Hell, I can hear you asking? Well, as disappointed as I was not to meet the red horned little fellow carrying a pitchfork, he just wasn’t waiting for a train that day. The only thing in Hell is a train station, with a post box! That’s all. The station has only one platform. Trains come in, trains go out. And that’s about it. Hell was a strange experience for most, but more so for poor Ryan, who spent the night before becoming acquainted with some local ladies and reacquainted with the bottom of a few beer bottles, promptly overslept and was woken by his room mate 3 minutes before the bus was to depart. He grabbed his unpacked suitcase (I’m sure that the next hostel patron will love Ryan’s towel, undies and Aussie green and gold socks) and hauled his butt onto the coach. Sleep was all he could think about and didn’t seem to mind that the only part of Hell he saw was the flat top of the garbage bin! To add insult to his already fragile head, we decided that for his own safety Ryan needed to be tied into his coach seat. He was swaying dangerously from side to side in his slumber and as his seat with directly opposite the back door, we could see him tumbling out of his seat and down the back stairs at any moment. Imagine his surprise however, when he woke up at lunchtime and couldn’t get himself out of his seat. Photos above - The train station in Hell. Photo below - Ryan having a kip on a skip in Hell.

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