Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fjords, Bergen, and Sand

Hello from Sand, Norway.  I am sitting at a little picnic table.  A few feet away a little boy is learning to cast his hook into the sea.  It is Sunday and the bakery is closed.  

So Norway.
The scenery.  My goodness.  I was expecting some pretty sweet views -- Norway delivered.  Over near Oslo, it was one cute house after another in richly farmed fields.  I was surprised at how many grain houses there are -- little houses on stilts.  They reminded me of the rice houses in Madagascar, only cuter, with fresh coats of paint.

We went up over a mountain pass.  It was windy and barren, and the rocks were covered in lichen.

Then we dipped into fjord country.  I guess it's all fjord country, but we saw the biggest, longest fjord.  It seems that every turn of the road (or boatride, as the case may be) reveals a whole new spectacular view that balances "stunning" with "adorable".  Oh, and did I mention the waterfalls?  Yeah, Norway has waterfalls.  Lots of 'em.  The braided gushing ones.  The high-cliff tendril ones that get swept away in the wind and then cascade down the cliff.  The nestled-in-a-valley ones.  Mother Nature didn't mess around when she worked on this part of the planet.

In that sense, it seems strange that most emigrants went to... WISCONSIN.  I guess the grass is always greener.

Anyways, we then went to this coastal town, Bergen.  Bergen is a fishing port.  We went down to the fish market, loaded with tourists, salmon, and crabs (and smelly dumpsters).
They, we took a little train (a "funicular") that goes up a really steep hill to view the entire region.  Not only was the view spectacular, but the trash cans had built-in ash trays (pictured below).  (Side note: there is a strong correlation between benches, trash cans, and ash trays.)
This is a pretty typical "Meredith shot".
Then, we meandered down the streets and wooded paths to town where we splurged on an ice cream.  I even found some potential relatives!
That evening, we went even further out to the coast and caught a ferry south.  This, quite possibly, was the most spectacular ferry ride I have ever taken.  Time of day had to do with it: sunset.  Trash had to do with it: the ferry had recycling.  The lunar cycle had to do with it: an almost-full moon was on the rise.
We gulped in the scenery -- rocky islands, pine trees, and little summer houses with boat docks.  We camped next to the lapping water that night, and took an invigorating swim the next morning (very brisk; very refreshing; very salty).
So now we've come to a little town called Sand.  My friend's family has a farmhouse here and generously offered it to us.  Thank you, Endre (and Family!).  (By the way, Sand not only has interesting recycling containers, pictured below, but the hotel has been composting for more than two years.)
My research (a generous term) has been proceeding.  I have primarily focused on taking pictures (heh -- "focused" "pictures") of all things related to trash.  Dumpsters.  Trash cans.  Recycling cans.  Signage.  I have not done as many interviews as I expected, but it is rather strange for me to jump into someone's space and start asking them about their trash habits.  I am thinking that the places where I have an inside scoop (Germany), I'll be able to get a little more cozy with the locals.

Since one of the stipulations of the fellowship I got calls for a "deep love of beauty", I figured I'd close with this pretty shot of a wooden boat at sunset.


elvira said...

wow! i am so excited for you! so how do you know the newlyweds?

David Ross said...

Beautiful, but according to Douglas Adams it was not Mother Nature but Slartibartfast who designed and built those fjords and he won an award for it.

Alison said...

Why did you not tell me you were heading to Norge! I miss you and Norway, dear Meredith. Good to see you're making a change wherever you go.


Heidi said...

Off to an awesome start!!

Gene said...

Sweet Meredith. Looks like such a great time, wish I were there. I will make sure that Gord sees the photos of the non-raining landscape.