Stacey Margaret Jones: Norway – Adventures in Travel-cizing


Now shall I walk or shall I ride?

‘Ride,’ Pleasure said.

‘Walk,’ Joy replied. – W.H. Davies

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I’ve read that if you cannot comfortably walk or run a mile, your lack of fitness is significantly impacting your quality of life. I didn’t get into running and working out for that reason, but on the current trip I’m taking with my husband, I was reminded of this axiom, and I have been grateful that both of us are fit enough to enjoy all the experiences available to us.

As I’m sure you’re aware, travel can be wearing, even arduous at times, especially if you’re like me and pack a lot of stuff (I need all those dresses!). My husband and I are currently visiting the land of his ancestors, Norway, and he has looked forward to this trip for 40 years.

But this was not like our trip to Peru in 2008, when we hiked 21 miles through the Andes, camping at 14,000 feet and feeling like we were going up hill both ways. This was to be much more of a typical European holiday, with lots of city days, café life and museum touring. This is just as well, because summer is my “downtime” training wise, and my husband has been sticking to daily 2-mile walks of our borzoi and collie.

But it isn’t posh, either. Just getting from the airport to the hotel in Oslo was not easy. Dragging our luggage through the airport to the express train terminal and onto the train, then pulling it several blocks to the hotel was a light workout. (It felt good after 20+ hours of being crammed onto three different airplanes.) And any day we changed locations – from Oslo, to Lom, to Ålesund, to Bergen – provided similar adventures in suitcase exercise.

We were both excited to see Oslo and Bergen and cruise the fjords, but my husband was most focused on seeing where his father’s mother’s family came from, the Vetti Farm, near Øvre Årdal. After picking up our rental car, we drove toward the area on our way to our inn near Jotunheimen National Park. The farm is in a park and recreation area, kept up as a historical site. Not only could he see the land, but he could also walk about among buildings that dated from the era of his great-great-great-grandmother.

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen said, “Adventure is just poor planning.” In this case, we weren’t quite ready for what Vetti held for us. We thought we’d drive to a nearby car park and stroll onto the historic lands, lollygag for an hour or so then return to our drive.

We arrived at the warmest part of the day, on an actually hot day in this very northern nation. We looked at the map and were a little shocked to find we had a 6.5-mile round trip hike to make along a gravel and dirt path to get to the farm and return to the car. We were wearing jeans, t-shirts and athletic shoes, at least, but we weren’t really prepared for an invigorating hike.

But this is what we had come to do, and in many ways it was the foundation of the whole trip to Norway. So my Norseman and I set off, undaunted. It wasn’t mountain climbing by any means, but we hiked up and down hills for more than three miles in the hot sun, watching the local Norwegians gliding along in their proper hiking gear with water bottles and walking sticks. (I had an apple in my purse…)

We reached the Vetti farm, and my husband walked among the centuries-old farm buildings of the rural Norwegians from whom he is descended. As we returned, the clouds and the mountains shaded us from the sun, and we realized we were seeing some of the most spectacular scenery of the trip, a blue-green glacial stream, lush forest, wildflowers, colorful mushrooms, and long, gossamer waterfalls – all of it in the deep, glacial-carved valley between two dark, hulking mountains. All we could hear was the rushing water, chattering birds and footfalls of other occasional hikers. We had hiked into the heart of my husband’s Norway.

As we prepare to return home to our animals and our daily routines, we were talking this morning about what we’ve most enjoyed on this trip. Though nothing fell short of expectations, this walk stands out for both of us as not only significant, but also a beautiful experience of the gorgeousness of the country – one we would not have had if we didn’t have a basic level of fitness.

We decided we’ll definitely keep training and working out to be ready for life’s next beautiful adventure.

norway Travelcise Photo

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