Friday, June 8, 2012

Travelogue: Sarpsborg, Norway Pt. One

Hey loves,

I write this on a mound outside of the circus village, watching the big top and listening to families walk by, speaking in tongues I can only pretend to understand. The actual upload of this is most likely taking place at a McDonald’s because—hate to admit it as I do—it’s the only place I can find with free wifi.

I feel like there are already a hundred stories I could tell you. The trip to Norway was filled with flight delays due to strikes and a train ride down the coast in the twilight. Our current locale—The Circus Village in the park heart of Sarpsborg—reminds me a great deal of middle America: gently rolling, filled with fields and forests and lakes.

My travel companion (Adam) and I have been hard at work ever since arriving. Volunteering basically means you do whatever needs doing; we’ve done partner acrobatics in shopping malls and kindergartens for publicity, made cakes, painted signs, driven around putting up fliers on streetlamps, and cleaned toilets. Now, our work is mainly in the café, cooking or serving and pretending we speak an ounce of Norwegian. We’re learning. In all, up until the village opened to the public, it’s been a lot of hard work. Now we have set hours and will hopefully start traveling and training more. For me, I look forward to afternoons sitting in Der Grone Elefant, our little organic circus tent café, writing out plotlines for two new books. Hey, it’s called a working holiday for a reason.

So, about those stories.

Our first night here we sat under a makeshift tent, gathered around a firepit and sharing stories and dirty with a group of Vikings. I also got to shoot a handmade replica of a Viking war bow, learned some string tricks, and realized that the stereotype of Vikings drinking from horns and drinking, well, lots and lots of alcohol, were all, undeniably, true.

A few nights back, we went to a backyard concert in a friend’s glassblowing studio. There was a barbecue and more chat til 1am.

We went to Sweden for an afternoon (because in Norway, that’s what one does when one wants cheap food). We didn’t see much because we just stopped at the supermarkets to hand out fliers and get cheap beer. Oh, and two giant bags of candy. Yes, the rumors are true: this place is hellishly expensive. Imagine paying at least $6 for an Americano (small) coffee. $4 for a loaf of bread. And a beer at a restaurant? $10. For the cheap stuff. Thankfully, we haven’t had to pay for a thing. Volunteering is the way to go.

I haven't had coffee this wonderful/strong since...ever.

There are moments where I forget I’m in Norway and moments that seem to define the experience. There haven’t been any fjords but the Vikings made up for it. I’ve been averaging three or four layers of clothing a day. I haven’t seen nightfall since arriving.

The journey’s just beginning, too. After this there’s talk of heading north to see the more majestic landscapes. There’s talk of Prague and Bordeaux because holy crap do we need at least a little sunbathing the summer. Maybe the cliffs of Northern Ireland.

No one really knows.
But that, I guess, is how you know you’re on an adventure.

And now, pictures!

Adam in the train in Oslo

The trains had wood panelling, reclining seats, and wifi. NICE.

The 22m tent.

The 6m tent, 16m tent, and cafe tent.

Christine at work in her glassblowing studio.

Glassblowing studio from the outside. So many pretties.

Some tiny town outside of Sarpsborg. That's apparently very haunted. And has a fort.

Our uniform. And posters for the Pluto Crazy show. Not pictures: kids with staple-guns helping us flier.

The tents at night

And one more.


Shelby said...

Wow, really nice train. Apparently Norway knows how to do mass transit in style. I've got to say, working at a circus village that looks that enchanting has got to be the best way I've ever heard of to take a "working vacation." :)

Ara said...

Hi Alex! Stumbled over this blog while searching for your book, and felt the urge to tell you you're amazing. Way to go! xxx Randi from the Circus Village

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