Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Norway Post 1

This last summer I kayaked in Norway and wrote about it. Without further ado, I present my writing in blog format, one day at a time just as it was written, though several months late.

Arriving in Norway

I spent the year teaching math to middle schoolers, and as a reward for my labors I get the summer to myself.  What to do?  What to do?

I want to paddle 10,000 Nautical miles before I die.*   If I put in 500 a summer, I'll be done in 14 years, with time off for good behavior like more serious expeditions.

I decided to start in Norway.  Of all the places on earth,  it was for his work here that Slartibartfast won his award.   It is while searching here that I hope to find his name etched into the side of a cliff.   I'm here to explore the fjords by kayak,  one of the most magnificent geological features on earth, and I'm really excited.

The plan was to arrive in Oslo on Wednesday, pick up a sim card, charts, and cooking gas.  Today I take a train up to Alesund and tomorrow, Friday, I begin paddling in the Valley Aquanaut that Lidun Hareide generously offered to lend me.

It's a tight schedule, but if I don't pick up the boat Friday morning than Lidun will be off to Spain and I'll be out of a boat.   But enough time for everything and everything has a time.

After flying over a vast field of summer snow mountains the plane landed in Oslo.  After a short conversation about the purpose of my stay, an officer stamped my passport and welcomed me to his country.   The next step was picking up my duffel bag.   I waited at the carousel until the belt stopped moving; my bag never came.

It wasn't at either of the two alternate locations for big bags either.  I filled out a form explaining where I’d be that night, and the night after that.   After that,  I didn't know where I'd be, especially without my gear.

In Norway you can take the train from the airport by swiping your credit card like you do a metrocard in NYC.

Once in Oslo,  I picked up the charts waiting for me at the chart shop.  They cost about $100 because Norway is expensive.  I began the half hour walk to the same hostel I stayed in before my last expedition.  I was proud that I remembered my way.

I needed a bathroom.  I stopped in a cafe and asked "Toilet?"   The woman behind the counter gave me a lengthy answer in Norwegian that had the ring of "Only if you order something"  to it.

I continued my walk and passed a hostel.   It wasn't the one I was staying in, but still worth a shot. 

 "Hi.  Can I use your bathroom?"

"Sure,  it's right over there."

I liked using the bathroom.  I did what I had to do and then walked another twenty minutes to my hostel.  I checked in, found my bed, and set my things down, my carry on pack and my map case.  Only I didn't have a map case.  I searched my jet lagged brain for an explanation and found one.

I walked back to the bathroom hostel, and sure enough my map case was next to the toilet where I left it.   I returned to my sleeping hostel.   On the way I passed two thin tall blond bicycle cops in bicycle shorts patting down a miscreant.

A day earlier I went through preflight security.  I declined to go through the machine that irradiates people to nudity. A heavy-set security guard informed me that he would pat me down.  When patting my genitals and buttocks he would use the back of his hand.

"Okay.  Just because you're using the back of your hand, doesn't mean I'll enjoy it any less,"  I didn't tell him.  I didn't enjoy it either, but I wish I had.

When I die, I want to go to Norway.

Later in the afternoon I bought fuel for my stove and food for a few days.

I tried to get a sim card for my phone.  The sales lady and I spent two hours failing to make it work.  A second card didn't work either.  My second hand phone is supposedly unlocked, and I didn't have any trouble slipping an American sim card into it.  But here in Norway, it didn't work.

My Logistical Support Coordinator (LSC) in New Jersey (NJ) called me. I wrote down his number as my home phone number on the lost luggage claim. The delivery man had my bag and was looking for me near the hostel. I should call him pronto.

I went down to the front desk and explained the situation to the receptionist. Yes, I could use their phone to direct the delivery man to me.

"Hi, I'm Neimand. Do you have my bag?"

"I left it at the reception," the delivery man told me.

I looked over the desk and saw my big blue duffel bag besides the receptionist.

* Jewish tradition says I max out at 120. I've got 89 years and counting.  So little time, so much to do.

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