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Norway et al

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After two weeks in Scandinavia, it’s clear: we are both too Dutch for proper recycling. Secretly hoarding our trash to avoid a reprimanding from our AirBnb host as he hovers over his six-compartment recycling bin, we continue our trip from rural Sweden to Copenhagen looking for a public recycling station.

“Imagine if we got so nervous about doing it wrong that we ended up just dumping these bags by the roadside” I say to Anja.

“Last Tuesday, two Dutch lesbians were found dead just outside of Lidköping after the Swedish environmental police task force shot them at point-blank range for abusing the recycling system. Their families have been notified, begrudgingly.” Anja jokes, staring off into the distance.

“Not Queen & Slim, but King & Thicc!”, I suggest, “You can be King”.

“But I’m thicc, too”, Anja complains.

By now, we’re home again, back from our first proper vacation in four years, and boy oh boy, did we need it.

Our plan was simple: make Anja’s dream come true by renting a Tesla, drive it to Norway, do nothing there for a week, and then spend another week slowly making our way back via the Swedish countryside, and Copenhagen, where our friends live.

After two long, well-airconditioned days in our wonderful car we made it to Eastern Norway. In Hallingdal, one of the country’s most popular ski destinations, we found a beautiful and cozy cabin on top of a mountain, overlooking the Tisleifjorden. To our surprise, it proved the perfect getaway for people who didn’t really want to… do anything.

It’s indeed exquisite, the Norwegian faith in our human ability to treat nature with respect. Quietly, it makes an enormous difference. The difference is in the shared understanding of where we leave our trash. It’s in the thousands of cabins spread out across the country, where travellers can stay for next to nothing. It’s in the fire wood left behind in the freely-accessible grillhytte. It’s in the canoe that just lays by the water, available to anyone.

“You don’t even really have to lock your doors”, one fisherman commented while teaching his son to throw a line.

We never kept our doors unlocked, of course. The city is embedded in our system too deeply, as were the countless “cabin in the woods” movie plots I remembered. If anything, though, it helped us pause, listen to the sound of nothing, and listen to our bodies, which were telling us to take that second nap of the day.

On Sunday, one day earlier than intended, we swiftly packed the car and drove all night to Lidköping, by Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake. While we’d been napping and relaxing, the world was reading the headlines about Storm Hans, a twice-a-century type of storm that would’ve gotten us stuck on that mountain if we hadn’t left when we did. That three hours of driving through landslide-prone mountains wasn’t going to be pleasant, even in a well-heated Tesla.

The clouds were low as we drove off.

Copenhagen, kubnhawn for the in-crowd, was a lot lighter, sunnier, and safer. We stayed with Naomi, Shlomik and little Goldie. Their cute, young family, the house, and the fact that were surrounded by thousands of people everywhere we went, was everything I needed after the quiet Norwegian fjords. One day exploring the city was enough to convince me: I need to visit again.

  • So far, not impressed with Norwegian bakeries
  • Brunost, however, is my new favorite snack.
  • The quiet atmosphere of the fjords in the Summer months is spectacular. We went days without seeing a person.
  • Polarbröd remains amazing, and next to jubileumskaka I now also love hällakaka
  • Sheep are scarier than I thought they would be
  • Lemonade appears to possess a strong instinct for herding sheep
  • Copenhagen gives hints of The Hague, Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam
  • They weren’t lying about mountain air
  • Whatever positive things you’ve heard about Copenhagen’s Hija de Sanchez are true
  • The Norwegian mountains have Karens just like any other place in the world
  • There’s a gas station in Gol, Norway that sells one of the finest soft-serve ice creams I’ve ever had

General vacation notes

  • I should get my driver’s license
  • An icebox with proper cooling elements can go a long way
  • Vacuum-sealed cheese stays fine for at least two weeks (provided you have an icebox)