The train from Bergen wound through ancient glacial scars to Flam fjord. Jorge (smooth, image-conscious), Nelson (youthful idealist), and I caught the boat that would take us from Voss to Flam. We cruised along the smooth as glass water that lay between vast rock walls. They rose on either side of the water, nearly to the clouds, crowned by evergreens like sparse, spiny hairs.
Ancient Vikings came here as the ice receded. From here they built their longboats, forged their axes and set out to plunder Celts and Saxons and Britons. They say the ice will come back some day.
|Solitude in Flam|
Next day, it was back on the train. Nelson (youthful idealist) had caught the eye of a Swedish beauty in Bergen who offered to show us around her hometown in Sweden, so we were off to Goteborg. Genuine curiosity, you understand . . . not just Nelson's libidinous aspirations. (Well, he was from Brazil, yes?)
|Monolith in Vigeland Park|
Eventually, we made our way back to the train station and caught the train to Goteborg. We taught Spanish and English words to some Norwegian children as we rode. Bye-bye, Norway. Hello, Sweden.
What to say about Goteborg? The Goteborg Book Fair was going full tilt when we got there. All the hotels were booked solid. But we won the sympathy of an accommodating hotel clerk who put three cots in the hotel bar and let us sleep there. We dropped off our packs and headed out into the warm night to get a good look at all those beautiful Swedish women. "Be careful," the hotel clerk warned. "You're apt to meet a lot of drunken Swedes."
Well, he was right on that score. We entered their vast underground shopping mall where there were a dozen drunken Swedes with a single guitar, belting out boisterous sea chanties. Sounded like chanties to me, anyway. All good fun, those drunken Swedes.
We joined in the general revelry. At least Jorge (smooth, image-conscious) and I did. Nelson (youthful idealist) was too noble to get drunk. But he had a good time too: there were plenty of beautiful and friendly Swedish women, even though we never did find the girl he had met back in Bergen.
Next day we wandered around Goteborg nursing hangovers. Well, Jorge and I did. Nelson, burdened already by his unyielding morality, was spared the additional onus of a hangover.
|No need for guilt, madam.|
The plan was to leave Goteborg that night for Stockholm. But we missed the train. So, it was back to the hotel with us, to once more beg the favor of the kindly hotel clerk. One more night in the hotel bar.
Jorge, Nelson, et moi. One more day in Goteborg.
It was time to say goodbye to Jorge (smooth, image-conscious). He was off to Amsterdam to meet a friend from the States. I was learning by then, how traveling with a person can bring you close. Jorge was a good friend in less than a week. A handshake. A hug. Never to be seen again. Goodbye, Jorge. Fare thee well.
Nelson and I, on the train again. Stockholm, here we come.
To be continued...
- Pt. I Amsterdam - Arnhem - Copenhagen
- Pt. II Copenhagen - Oslo
- Pt. III Bergen
- Pt. IV Flam fjord - Goteborg
- Pt. V Stockholm - Gavle - Stockholm
- Pt. VI Berlin
- Pt. VII Prague
- Pt. VIII Budapest
- Pt. IX Vienna
- Pt. X Munich
- Pt. XI Salzberg - Innsbruck
- Pt. XII Venice - Florence
- Pt. XIII Siena
- Pt. XIV Rome
- Pt. XV Naples - Pompeii
- Pt. XVI Cinque Terre - Geneva
- Pt. XVII Avignon
- Pt. XVIII Arles
- Pt. XIX Barcelona
- Pt. XX San Sebastian
- Pt. XXI Bordeaux - St. Lo
- Pt. XXII Paris
- Pt. XXIII Brussels - Waterloo
- Pt. XXIV Brugge
- Pt. XXV Amsterdam at last