The Cabin in the Woods

We were on the road again. The landscape spilled out around us, green seeping out from the hills. We were heading south out of Oslo to visit Henrik’s cabin in Nevulunghavn, about 160km from the city.

The drive was scenic. I was happy to escape the cityscape again, and eagerly glued my eyes to the passing landscape. I still struggled to believe it was real, that I had made it all the way up North, a full 10 378.2 km from Cape Town.

Four of us were spaciously seated in Henrik’s mom’s car. The bag was loaded with shopping for the two nights we would spend at the cabin. There was a vast assortment of food and drinks, and we probably spent 2 o00 NOK (close to R4 000) on our stash. Food is expensive in Norway!

We arrived at the cabin on Wednesday evening and got ourselves settled in before we started dinner. We prepped for three hours, but it was worth it. At 10:30pm we were seated around a feast! We ate, laughed, and ate some more! There was plenty to drink to.

We had prepared too much food, and resorted to indulging more in the delicious dishes the following day. The boys had ‘grilled’ (braaied) and Yasemin made an amazing assortment of side dishes from her Turkish home, all absolutely delicious. I cut things.

After dinner I had to retire to an early bed time (12 pm is late for me as it is). An Afrikaans phrase “Magies vol, ogies toe” (stomach full, eyes closed) epitomises exactly what I felt at that moment.

The Barefoot Expedition

I woke up early the next morning. The sun was up and had softly buttered the sky. A faint pink still clung to the clouds. The sea, which was choppy yesterday, was as calm as a mirror. The morning was beautiful. I escaped my room in the cabin, and made my way to the water. We were barely fifteen metres from the sea.

The rock outcrop I had my eyes set on.

I went on a barefoot expedition and trip, which should have been short, took me over an hour. I was prancing around like a love struck pony in the sunlight, and decided to remove my shoes during the first leg of my journey.

I soon regretted that decision.

My journey turned into a Fear Factor event. I stuck my toes in the cool water and decided to walk along the beach, only to discover half way that the small mounds I was walking on were lumps of worms, huddled together. My inner child freaked out, and I splashed the remainder of the way, camera in hand, to get out as quickly as I could.

No sooner had I made it back onto solid ground and picked a grassy route, then I was surrounded by a throng of fluffy bees, seduced by the flowers and the sunlight. I had no idea if they were aggressive or not, but I tried to weave between them to avoid finding out.

Next was a test of skill. I had to clamber along a rocky outcrop overhanging the water to get across to the spot I was after. The lichen was slippery and I had my camera with me, so falling in the water was not an option. A few scary slips later I had crossed safely. I descended onto a big grassy patch where a few boats were stored.

As I walked I admired the houses. All of them were cabins made of wood, and usually white, red or yellow in colour. They looked like plants potted along the bay. Peace at last.

Suddenly, as I walked, I felt something squelch between my toes. I wasn’t close to the water and lifted my foot to see what had made the noise. It was a giant slug about fifteen centimetres long and as thick as my thumb. I wish I could say slugs of all shapes and sizes, but they were only one size: large.  I kind of imagine these were the ones Hagrid struggled with in his garden. I winced in disgust and hopped between the rest of the slug colony to rinse my feet in the salt water.

After some more trial and error, I found my rock. It was part of an outcrop extending into the bay, which sheltered a pier where a few boats were anchored. I sat there a while and watched the boats pass by. It was such a peaceful morning. I found solace in the silence.

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After a while the clouds came rolling in quite thick. Thick stratus clouds had coated the sky and a nippy breeze was slicing through my inept clothing. I sighed and turned to head back, taking a detour through the farmlands to avoid more misadventures. I guess I am made for the sun after all.

Viking Graveyards

After a filling breakfast, the four of us packed up to take a walk along the coast to visit some viking graves. Henrik’s dad had been really excited about them, so we decided to include them in our journey. Our feet found a well beaten track and we walked less than a kilometer to reach the viking grave site at Mølen.

Mølen is Norway’s largest beach consisting of large rounded stones. This geological feature was deposited by the last Ice Age of 10 000 years ago. Apart from being famous for being littered with these large, glacial deposits, Mølen is known for being strewn with large viking graves, referred to as ‘cairns’. These cairns (Scottish for “man-made pile of stone”, not Viking made pile of stone Adrian), can be up to 35 meters in diameter.

We hung around the rocky beach for a while, drinking beer and appreciating the wildness. We found ways to entertain ourselves. Henrik was convinced he could bring balance to the force and spent the better time of thirty minutes trying to balance single stones on top of one another. The next hour was passed by trying to hit a beer can set about seven meters away with stones. It turned into a very fun (and competitive) pass time.

At times the sun broke through the cloud, and the North Sea shimmered in all its glory. But then thicker nimbus clouds would pass over again, cloaking the landscape in a grey haze. It was terribly beautiful and lonely at the same time.

We headed back when our stomachs cried for dinner. We still had leftover food from the night before but we continued to prepare more. Henrik made a lovely quiche while others played table tennis before the rain set in. Around 5pm we tucked inside to fill our bellies with another lavish meal, indulging in every ounce of food we could fit in our mouths.

Needless to say we were immobile after such a feast, and we plopped down in front of the television to watch some National Geographic show on snakes in Southern Africa. I kept reassuring my friends that South Africa was not actually that wild.

All Fun and Games

Once we were all lounged out a table tennis tournament ensued. We played with a twist, turning it into a drinking game (there is a lot of drinking on vacations in Norway). The game was intense, with highs and lows, and a lot of beer and wine sipping. I played my best but met my match, I couldn’t compete with Adrian’s style!

Just as the tournament was being rounded up, the rain started lashing about us as the wing whipped up a storm. We retreated indoors to indulge in another game: Passport. Passport is a Norwegian board game centred around the geography of the world, specifically created to test players on useless facts and stir frustration. Henrik and I were teamed up, versus husband-wife couple Adrian and Yasemin. We decided to use this time to sharpen Yasemin and my Norwegian skills, as the game is only in that language. After many jubilant laughs, applauds , cussing and broken glass, the game finally finished at 2:32 am. Bed time.

Passport – fun for the whole family (as long as they’re Norwegian)

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