In all honesty I have to say that the last time we left Flåm, it had been with a double feeling of sadness and relief. We had not expected the horde of tourists coming to this tiny town to be as big as they were, or as overwhelming as they were. I had not expected to get a culture shock by the sheer improbability of where people were living along the fjord, of the steepness and roughness of the terrain, of the feeling of being entirely closed in between high mountain walls, of how long it would take to get from point A to point B. Living and moving around here is a category in its own, but one that I and PJ came to cherish and one we found ourselves missing during the past winter.
We were both really happy when we were offered a chance to come back. We talked about all the mountains we had not been on yet, all the things we had yet to do. Now we knew about the masses, about all the strange kinds of questions tourists would ask us during the summer (“What does it look like here, when you turn the waterfalls off?”). I knew about the feeling of isolation – it’s a stark contrast to life in Belgium, and even in Sweden – and we knew about all the people that would be here, people we had last seen two years ago when we left for New Zealand.
There was much excitement when we left Oslo on the 17th of May, dressed in all marius-wool for the Norwegian national day. Even still, we underestimated the slowness of moving to the west and getting here took a good bit longer than we anticipated it to. Once we got closer, we started wondering. “Do you remember those mountains being so tall?” I asked when we got close to Lærdal. He did not. After we got through the long Lærdalstunnel and looked at the fjord, our eyes opened wide. Everything was bigger,steeper, higher, and far more beautiful than we remembered. I felt my heart starting to beat faster as we drove up the steep road to Stegastein. I asked PJ if he could drive down.
I couldn’t believe that neither of us remembered that is was thát pretty here. It felt like it smashed us in the face. We settled in to our new summer home and got back to work. The train, too, was much prettier than I remembered.
For the both of us it has been a long time since we came back to the same spot, to somewhere we already know people , where we already know the place. During the first days after we got back there was a lot of hugs and a lot of happy faces. It’s been so nice to see so many people again. We sat and talked about all the peaks we yet need to conquer, places we need to go and camp, hikes we need to do, boats we need to buy to get to more of those places we need to see.
We biked up in the valley after work and lay by some of the waterfalls enjoying the sun. We played beach volleyball with our colleagues on what is probably one of the most scenic fields of Scandinavia. We drove out after work for hikes on higher ground, chasing the sun from the valleys to the mountains. And we wait and watch the snow melt from the higher peaks, until they no longer gleam white in the sun and we can head for them.
It’s been a long time since we had somewhat of a normal life, and it feels good to have that prospect now. Summer has begun and it will be a good one.