Morty grew up in a tiny village called Grytting, in a region of northern Norway called Vesterålen. I’ve visited there three times previously, all for Christmas visits, so I was very excited to know we’d be there for 10 days during the summer days of the midnight sun. We decided to take the long way up by train and coastal steamer (the Hurtigruten). We booked a sleeper train for the first leg of the journey, so we headed to the Oslo train station around 9 p.m. for our almost 11 p.m. departure. Shortly before the departure though, we received word that there were problems on the tracks (a freight train had derailed!), so we would have to stir from our sweet train-slumber at 3 a.m. to get on a bus to take us to another train without a sleeping compartment. (Insert grumpy face here.) But, these are the little moments that make travel memorable, so we found our way to the train, promptly set up our bunk beds and tried to get as much sleep as possible as the train left Oslo and winded its way up to Vinstre.
Here we are in our little cabin shortly before lights out:
Sleep was hard to come by since the train made several stops and I was restless knowing it would be short sleep anyway. We eventually reached Vinstre, and a train-full of sleepy, bed-headed passengers exited onto the platform to await our bus. My lack of rest and general grumpiness were seriously challenged as two passengers next to us on the bus were crunching and smacking on their pistachios louder than I’ve ever heard anyone eat before. My passive-aggressive stares were met by Morty trying to convince me to
look hear past it, and when we arrived at the next train, we both made sure we were nowhere near the crunch-happy couple. A pistachio-free three-hour train ride later, we arrived in Trondheim to board our final train that would take us to Bodø.
I’ve ridden on a few trains in my life – touristy excursions in small-town Texas, a day-long (but speedy!) trip from Paris to Nice, an otherworldly departure from the floating buildings of Venice to arrive a few hours later in the bustling and beautiful Florence. So when we boarded the train in Trondheim at 7:30 a.m., it wasn’t a novel experience – but when the conductor announced all of our upcoming stops and that we’d be arriving in Bodø at 5:30 p.m., I took an excited gasp. To know that we’d be in the same cozy nook for 10 hours with nothing but each other, our books, our music and the landscape creeping by (no high-speed trains for this mountainous country!), was one of the most comforting feelings I’ve ever had. We emptied our bags of our necessities (book, ipod, camera, CHOCOLATE), and put them on our little table. Then the train whistle blew and away we went into the bright, hopeful day.
The rest of the day was a mélange of reading, gazing, getting up for coffee, chatting, falling asleep on Morty’s shoulder, drooling on said shoulder, reading, snacking and gazing some more. We passed farms on rolling green hills, rocky lakes of crystal blue water, fields of fireweed and eventually wound our way up steep passages before leveling out as we crossed the Arctic Circle.
Passing the Arctic Circle (a stone pyramid in the field indicates the point):
Around 6 p.m. we said goodbye to our little home for the day and stumbled out onto the platform at Bodø. We walked up to the front of the train and I stopped to take a picture of it. Right before I snapped the picture though, a little girl about 5 years old walked up to the train and gave it a kiss goodbye. I wish I had been fast enough to snap a photo, but it was such a surprising and sweet moment, I’m glad to even have seen it.
Adieu to our 10-hour home!