Norway has long been on our list of places to visit, so when we were invited to the launch of a new drill rig in Tampere, Finland, we jumped at the chance to travel to Scandinavia. Twelve days, ten flights and two countries later, we returned home with impressions of spectacular scenery, warm, hospitable people, abundant food, impressive engineering, clean, simple design, chiseled cheekbones and an abundance of statuesque blondes - both male and female.
Finland was a whirlwind of impressive engineering, and interesting young, hard working people. It was beautiful interiors - clean, simple lines, dark walls, blonde wood, reindeer antlers and pelts. It was delicious food with smoked or cured fish in abundance and the new tastes of moose, reindeer and lingonberries. It was lavish hospitality, dazzling entertainment and the making of new friends. It was the sound of voices from all over the world laughing, talking, learning, enjoying. It was a surprisingly enjoyable business trip that left a lasting impression and a desire to return one day.
The rest of our time was spent in Norway. We jammed in as much as we could in the week that we had there. We were helped considerably by the fact that Clive has an abundance of warm, welcoming, cousins in the Fjord region of Norway. A region described as the world's most iconic destination by National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Norway was breath taking scenery, impossibly steep roads, sweeping bridges, ferries and tunnel after tunnel after tunnel. It was snow capped mountains, crystal clear waterfalls, icy blue glaciers.
It was red barns, white steepled churches and meadow roofed houses. It was fat, woolly sheep and shepherds huts tucked into mountains. It was tiny stone cottages that spoke of long ago beginnings.
It was friendly, hospitable people - generous, warm and welcoming. It was hurricane lanterns glowing a soft, warm welcome. It was candles being lit, wine poured and coffee brewed at the end of a long day of sightseeing. It was delicious breakfast smorgasbords with eggs seasoned with smoked salmon or herring. It was blueberry, raspberry and lingonberry jams made from garden plucked berries. It was brun ost and jam on rye. It was freshly picked plums and coffee and cake, cake and more cake.
It was ferry trips on majestic fjords and spectacular train trips through impossibly beautiful valleys. It was morning hikes, visits to winter cabins in the mountain and summer cabins on the Fjord.
It was a time of meeting as strangers and leaving as friends Our time in Norway was far too brief but we left with hearts full of gratitude knowing that one day we would return. Norway had been as special as we had always thought it would be.