Plane, bus, bus, hitch, boat, hitch…paradise!

I’ve just arrived in paradise. I’ve been travelling all day, so no tales of wild activities just yet. But getting to the remote village of Herand has been an adventure in itself. This holiday hadn’t really hit me until I stepped into Gatwick Airport this morning. As tedious as the whole charde surrounding catching a flight is, with all it’s waiting and queuing, airports give me the anticipation of exciting things to come. That said, I really don’t like flying, especially take off and landing, but I coped alright and glued myself to my James Frey book. Norwegian is a nice airline to fly, very comfortable and they don’t charge for checking in a bag. When I arrived in Bergen airport, I took advantage of the wifi tto figure out where the hell I was going. With an Air BnB apartment booked in the middle of nowhere, and not having joined the ‘SMART’phone generation with the ability to googlemaps on the go, I needed to get sorted. Turns out the place I’m staying is so remote, they don’t use addresses and aren’t properly mapped, so I had to make do with a screenshot of the picture of a house.

I took a bus from the airport to Bergen bus startion, and though I have hear that Bergen is a stunning city, the space between these two transport hubs is certainly not. There were hills surrounding the area, but there was kinf of an industrial plateau in the middle which was all the Bergen I saw. (Perhaps a trip to porperly see Bergen is on the cards one day?) I caught the bus which I thought would take me to Herand, but the driver had never heard of the village. All the lovely Norwegian passengers were trying to help me figure out what to do, and I found a lady from the area who told me I had missed the last connecting bus to Herand and I would have to hitchhike from Normundsheind to a ferry port, take the ferry, the hitchhike the other end to Herand. The bus journey was lovely – tunnels through mountains covered in fir trees surrounding expanses of water, with wooden chalets scattered through the hills. At the end, I managed to get a lift with someone from the bus to the ferry and she was amazing. She supports MSF, the charity I work for and we had a great chat about the refugee crisis and how we all need to be doing more.

When I was waiting for the ferry, surrounded by the stunning views and buzzing from all the people who had helped me, I just felt supremely happy and at peace, and I was smiling so hard I just started laughing. Nothing makes me happier than travelling and having adventures, and I felt like I’d shaken off my London defences and embraced Norway with all it’s wonderous people and sites with my arms wide open.

I got on the ferry, the only pedestrian amidst a convoy of cars, and I managed catch a lady getting out of her car to ask if it was possible to walk the other side from Jondal to Herand. She said maybe not with my luggage and with the day getting on, and she told me to wait. She walked towards the queue of cars and started knocking on windows and talking to the people inside. She moved on to the next car and the next. Then she beckoned me over and told me she’s found someone driving to Herand I could jump in with. I was a bit overwhelmed at all the trouble she went to. I got in with a father and son who had lived their whole lives in Herand. They told me it has a population of 250. I showed them the picture of the house I’m staying at, and they knew instantly and took me there. The owners had just left the key in the lock for me to let myself in. That’s how safe it is, it’s incredible. In London I get twtichy if I leave a bag of groceries on my doorstep for a minute while I take the others up, let alone leave the key in the lock.The aprtment is lovely and far bigger than I’ll need. There’s a porch with a perfect view out back, which I’m sitting on now, watching the sun set behind the mountains. The weather is awesome too.

Things I’ve noticed about Norway – the people are incredible, friendly, and so willing to help. Everyone speaks impecable English. I find Norwegian a very difficult language to read, but if I read the words out loud, sometimes they sound like the German word which I am more likely to know. Norway is so expensive – I bought some bread and peanut butter to eat because not much is open and it cost me the equivalent of £8. I hope for Norwegians’ sake that their salaries are higher to match the living costs.