Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Travelogue : Norwegian recap

It's amazing how difficult it's been to start writing this.
At first, I blamed it on being busy, on trying to settle back in or relax or whatever. But the truth is simple: I didn't and don't want to admit that this set of adventures is complete.

The big Eurotrip is being postponed. Long story short, Adam and I made it to Oslo, fully intent on getting our bus ticket that would take us around mainland Europe and back to Glasgow. That's when plans fell apart. Timing and pricing and destinations were incorrect, and we learned at 8am (after an overnight train from Stavanger to Oslo) that we had hit the end of the road. So we cut our losses and came back to Glasgow a few weeks early.

Let's not focus on the end, though. Let's focus on what happened.

Oh, Sarpsborg. How you smelled like the local sausage factory.
Our time at the Circus Village was fast-paced, chaotic, and filled with great people and laughter. We met artists from all over the world, saw some fantastic productions, and I even learned that my life is incomplete because I do not own a hurdy gurdy. There were concerts til 3am and hot chocolate with rum. And on the last day in Sarpsborg, we canoed the border between Norway and Sweden before going back to watch horror movies and eat pizza.

Sjaman Gathering
The day after we left Sarpsborg, we headed north and west of Oslo for a weekend of volunteering at--you guessed it--a gathering of Norse Shamans. There's simply no way to put this experience into words. One weekend in a valley, surrounded by fir-covered mountains, where people are drumming 24 hours a day. We met storytellers and Sami mystics, heard tales of Odin and the origination of shamans and visionaries. It was, simply put, a once in a lifetime experience. I've spent a lot of time amongst shamans and medicine men and mystics of all faiths, but there was something powerful in seeing a lineage like that--traceable back to the Vikings and practically unaltered over the ages.

After the Sjaman Gathering, Adam and I got a ride up/over to Stavanger. Look at the distance between Oslo and Stavanger on a map. It's not that much. But we took a very leisurely route through the mountains that lasted two days. We passed fjords and snow-covered peaks, waterfalls and mountains and glades and stony fields. Every landscape you could imagine, really. And Stavanger was nothing short of amazing.
The city was cozy, on the harbour, with big cruise lines awaiting their crew. The city streets were filled with tiny shops and cafes. Amazing, amazing graffiti and painting. A gay bar with mirrorball mannequins inside. Adam and I opened the day with lattes in the book bar/cafe, which sounds as amazing as it was: bookshelves in a bar and a courtyard in the back with Moroccan lanterns and a giant concrete dragon. We ended the day in a 'gay cafe' that didn't really serve coffee, and the two middle-aged men were drunk and vogue-ing at 9pm. It was very strange. Book bar was easily preferred.

As stated, we arrived in Oslo after an overnight train from Stavanger. It was, at best, an uncomfortable experience--the car was stuffy and hot. I didn't sleep at all.
Adam and I left the bus station a bit sad at having to cancel the long-term plans. When we actually saw Oslo, we had to laugh. First, Oslo was very clean, very open, and very very sunny. Boats in the harbour, music from the pier. A giant gay pride festival that took up two blocks and was brimming with families and stalls. And everywhere, everywhere, were beautiful people. I have never seen so many attractive men in my life. Apparently they've all just moved to Oslo. I'd move too, but the only thing we bought in the city was a bottle of water for (roughly) $6. Might need a job first.

It was raining in Edinburgh when we got back that night. I tried to be grumpy about it, but I had to admit--something about coming back to the drizzle and fog felt like coming home.
The neds currently yelling outside my flat? Another thing altogether.

Photos from Sarpsborg and the Sjaman Gathering below. Will put up Stavanger/travelling soon!

The cat is dead. Long live the cat!

Art for the big party

the party begins!

all that glows is gold

the food cart, where I spent most of my time. models: Adam and Helene

food cart and behind-the-scenes

the first hurdle of canoeing: crossing the train tracks

this bridge goes between Norway and Sweden. I think Sweden was on the right...

beginning of the gathering

11pm in the woods and all is glowing

midnight sun(set)