I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Monday, July 08, 2013

The grim and frostbitten North

It's raining. And 13°c. We're further north than I've ever been. My watch has just asked "run with me later?" to which the only answer option given was "OK" ("looking forward to it" indeed). Hello, day 3.

We're in Norway. Have been since 5pm or so yesterday, will be til gone 11am tomorrow. This marks our first day without a border crossing, a rare ocurrence considering we crossed 7 in the first two days (our next border-free day is in a couple of weeks' time). Today is instead punctuated by our entrance into the Arctic Circle, a latitutde north of which it just doesn't get dark for 3 months of the year. We are in one such month. Back in Oslo last night it didn't get dark until gone midnight which was impressive enough.

Ah, Oslo, the place where we became quorate. As arranged, Albert and Mike were on the platform waiting with their stuff, a load of food and drink, and Andy, Mike's brother in law. They'd been to the beach during the day as we stressed and drank our way toward them. The beach. We were already further north than the whole of the UK. It was 20°c and would remain so until at least 1am.

Never checked in for a train before. Not check in Eurostar style, but hotel style - we had to report to a temporary reception in the dining car to pick up the keys to our twin rooms. Superb. I shared with Mike, we dumped our stuff, said goodbye to Andy - who was proudly sporting his guest GCERC shirt - and we started boozing. For a good hour or so we had a cracking session in the corridor of coach 11, obviously causing mayhem as evidenced by the woman travelling in the next couchette apologising to _us_ for walking past with her two young kids. We did get a "some of us are trying to sleep!" later though, but by that time everyone was juiced enough and retired to their bunks.

Everyone except me and Mike, that is. We went to the buffet car and bought beer and hot dogs. 2 of each. 23 quid. TWENTY THREE QUID. Christ almighty.

The train stopped.

Bloody weather. We had hardly left metropolitan Oslo when we became stationary, for about 90 minutes, reportedly because ita was too hot and the tracks had bent. What?

We were thankful our leader was missing this. I bought beer. Mike handed me the krone and taught me how to badly slur "2 more beers", which I dutifully badly slurred. I asked what "please" was and he said there's no word for it in Norwegian. Ace.

The barman appreciated my efforts, also telling me he would have refused to serve me had I asked in English. Ha. We repaired to the end of the carriage, alternately chatting to a lone traveller who was worried about the delay's effect on his journey and watching a woman go ballistic at the conductor. As if he could make us magically go ahead. Pfft. The guy told us we would almost certainly reach Trondheim (which Mike refuses to pronunce badly) late, but the train would wait for us. And anyway we'd probably make up a bunch of time while we slept.

More beer was bought. I refused mine. It didn't go to waste though.

Top bunk was nice and comfy. I grabbed 4 hours kip, uninterrupted save for a knock on the door. Turns out taking the key with you when you go for a 3am piss would be a good idea. Awake at 0630, 20 minutes before our scheduled arrival in Trondheim, we were bloody miles away. 90 minutes away, in fact. A relaxed tannoy announcement told us the connecting train was indeed waiting, but I ran into Lester in the corridor and he wasn't happy. Two nights, two sleepers, two long delays... is GCERC destined to fail?

I went to the buffet car at 7am for some wifi. The barman asked if I wanted another beer. I politely declined. Had a cup of tea though. That's one tea and 3 glasses of wine on this trip. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone.

Slightly happier about our Narvik prospects after examining the facts and options became very bloody happy a few hours later. The train at Trondheim had indeed waited for us, on the adjacent platform. We kicked a bunch of people out of our seats and left about 40 minutes late. Advice had been to inform the conductor of our bus connection to Narvik, which we duly did, but it really didn't matter. This is a 9 hour daytime train ride - much to John's disbelief - and we made up that 40 minutes in the first 80. Really. 5 stops in and we are back on time. Have that!

Breakfast was served. By Mike. And what a spread. We each had sandwiches with squeezy bacon cheese from a tube, plus slices of reindeer and moose. Seconds was a prawn sandwich, ably enabled by Albert's trip to the train's prawn draining closet. Then came chocolate. There was coke light, fruit juice, and some wonderful views of fjords and lakes. And connectivity, lovely lovely connectivity from the NSB wifi.

Norway's alright so far. We went through Hell. But there's no black metal stereotypes anywhere to be seen.

Now, what time can I have a beer without everyone getting REALLY worried about my dipsomania. However, literally as I was typing that sentence, our leader broached the subject of alcohol. To the bar! For some 7 quid Åss beer. Hmm.

1 comment:

auswomble said...

did you partake of whale?