I have diagnosed myself with travelling blues. There was a bitter taste in my mouth as the finality of my last full day in Norway weighed down in my stomach. These last few days have made it hard for me to leave.
I spent Monday and Tuesday in the lovely town of Nesoddtangen, which very much resembled Bergen to me. It is only a thirty minute ferry ride from Oslo and it takes you straight out of city life and plonks you in a lovely quiet town with picturesque houses, large gardens and gravel roads. The peninsula rose out of the water like a lump, providing the houses pocketed along the hillsides with a breathtaking vista of ocean and land.
Munching on Munch
I started my day by visiting the Munch Museum which resulted in mixed feelings. It was my last tourist activity, a sort of closing the loop. Everyone I knew in Norway raved about it.
I entered the exhibit after some locker trouble. It is the gallery with the highest level of security I’ve seen with guards stationed in every room and several security checkpoints to pass through. My favourite gallery is Henie Onstad which I had visited a week ago with Henrik’s family. It was open and warm, and I loved the work of Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup.
In this exhibit Edward Munch was paired with another artist, Jasper Johns, who draws on the themes and style of Munch’s work. I enjoyed Munch. He captured the familiar cool colours I associate with Norway. His art also had a weight to it, a certain depth the other artist seemed to lack. It was interesting to see how his style and subject matter changed throughout his life. Most of the exhibit was scattered with his self portraits and his experimentation with cross-hatching and texture.
A Note on Norway
I am in awe of the Norwegian culture. I have spent a good few conversations observing and analysing the habits and social norms of Norwegians. I have not seen anyone shy away from work or call any task too big or too small: they take it in their stride and just do it.
I have seen seventeen year old girls weed public parks, Henrik’s entrepreneurial endeavour with Juicetralla, and other youth tackle all sorts of everyday tasks.
The reason I have been able to visit this lovely town is because Henrik and Bendik are renovating a house. Every morning Henrik gets up and takes the ferry to Nesoddtangen to labour until 6/7pm. Not only are Norwegians industrious, they take pride in their work!
Henrik and Bendik are doing everything themselves, from washing, to grinding, to spraying and painting. I have to commend them on their feat. Many in Noway seem to be independent that way, choosing to rather complete tasks themselves than continuously hiring someone. It has been so refreshing. I hope I can assimilate this world view into my life.
The Sun Goes Down
I still felt uneasy. I cannot get rid of the twisting and turning sensation in my stomach.
A friend reminded me that I only feel such sadness at leaving because the memories I made here are so good. I can relate to that. Travelling for me is not just about sightseeing, it’s about the in between spaces, those moments in transit or suspended between activities. I selected to take a trip down to the beach for my present in between space.
I lounged on a rock, soaking up the last bit of the Norwegian sunlight before my flight the following day to Cape Town. It helped. It felt like my mood lightened with the ebb and flow of the tide, which slowly dragged out my discomfort into the North Sea. I was at peace.
Henrik and Bendik soon joined once their tasks were done, and we set of searching for a spot to leap into the water. I was barefoot again, but this time relished the sharp feeling of gravel on the soles of my feet. I felt alive.
We found a spot and the men leapt of the pier. Ahead I could see clouds on the horizon, with sunlight piercing through to give the illusion that it was raining light. It was magnificent. The bay was dotted with elevated and coloured boathouses, but a chilly wind was sweeping up from the water and we set off home for dinner.
The rest of the evening unraveled like a scene from a movie.
We got home and prepared some salmon paired with potato boats and cucumber salad. Then we each took a beer outside and sat on the porch, feeling satisfied and talking about the funny things in life. I looked at the two boys. I would miss them. They both had kind blue eyes and sported a hearty laugh, and a love of life.
Bendik also pulled out his guitar and sat for a spell, just strumming and humming as the sun sank below the horizon. He is quite the musician, and a song that he had played earlier resonated strongly with me now on the cusp of leaving to go home:
We enjoyed a lavish and delicious dinner. I was glad to have eaten a decent portion of Norwegian salmon before I embark. As the evening grew darker we took our last few sips of beer as the polite rain fell outside. And to quote Perks of Being a Wallflower:
“And in that moment, I swear, we were infinite.“