Norway: The land of trolls, apparently
When I think of Norway I associate it with three things: Vikings, fjords and… -Okay, two things: Vikings and fjords. (Things in jokes and stories work better in threes, but yeah…) When I went to Norway there were in fact a lot of fjords but the whole viking thing was down played quite a bit. If there’s anything they hype up on the souvenir and forced tourist attraction front it’s actually trolls. Norway is big on their trolls. So I decided to go looking for one.
Technically in Norwegian folklore and my vague memories of troll-related fairytales that I heard as a kid, trolls usually have negative connotations and seem to be represented as creatures to be feared if anything - Like in Gummy Bears! But then Disney went and released Frozen which was set in Norway (ooh, that can be my third thing!) and they made trolls seem nice. That also resulted in me having the soundtrack stuck in my head for the whole of the three weeks that we spent there (and obviously the whole of last year, just like everyone else). I even went looking for Arendelle …and found it …on the map. It’s spelt “Arundel” and my ship didn't go anywhere near it.
Anyway, if Disney portrayed trolls as nice then trolls must be nice because Disney would never lie to us (one day my prince will come) and I’m nice so I figured if I found a nice Disney rock troll they would surely grant me three wishes (because wishes also work in threes).
- Good tea (As I explained in my last blog, I had run out of Yorkshire Tea and what I didn’t mention was that I then finished my Cruise Director’s half decent (also half not-so-great) tea (sorry, Iain) and blamed it on the trolls (sorry, trolls))
- A coat. (The arctic is cold.)
- A live unicorn, obviously. (Forget world peace. I’ll wish for that when I run out of wish-granting magical creatures to wish for.)
Now, everybody knows about my plight for a decent cup of tea and everyone understands the unicorn, but what you may not know is why the eff anyone would go to the arctic without a coat? Well, when I signed on this contract I thought I was going to Alaska. I didn’t have that much space in my bags when I was trying to pack for two climates but I bought a jacket or two on Amazon and judging by the the Facebook photos of my friends wearing T-shirts in front of Alaskan glaciers, that probably would have been fine. Then I was transferred to this ship and Norway turned out to be a little colder and it was too late to order anything else. I just had to think warm thoughts and layer.
On top of that, the one day we went to Honningsvag which is right at the top of Europe. In fact, North Cape or “Nordkapp” is commonly referred to at the northernmost point of Europe, but according to Wikipedia it’s actually on an island and so it doesn’t really count. Whatever. It’s even further north that the northernmost point of Europe, okay? They were looking for tour escorts to go with tour groups up there, make a couple of announcements on the way, and take any abuse if anything went wrong, so I signed up! Obviously. Who wouldn’t want to go to a place even further north than the northernmost point of Europe and be somewhat responsible for people while not wearing a coat in the frigid arctic? It’s free!
Considering in summer (like now), the sun never sets at all (that was fun), it’s amazing how cold a place can be. In fact, my mom said something about how she read somewhere that there are no trees up there because the subsoil never defrosts enough for them to grow. I’m going to assume that she was right because there were no trees and moms are always right.
In my quest to find a troll to grant me my wishes I found a number of other mythical creatures - like the reindeer for one. People think that they only exist in bad Christmas movies that star Tim Allen but they are real (just like unicorns). I also discovered that pretty much every reindeer-themed christmas card I ever got was a lie. Reindeer don’t look anything like they do on those. For starters, I thought they were brown, they’re more of a creamy light brown colour and their antlers aren’t very impressive at all.
|Those are not cows|
I also found a witch climbing up a mountain in Bergen and a Fairy.
Some of our ports had interesting old towns and cities to visit, some of them did not (Leknes), but all of them had hills to climb with rocks covered in moss and therefore potential for trolls.
And we climbed a lot of them:
(...Okay so you can't really see the rocks in these pictures but take my word for it.)
No quest is ever without sacrifice and somewhere along the way Rodrigo lost an eye. This is not the first time he’s lost something. He lost both his legs once in the Turks and Caicos islands but we got those back. He lost a beak in Venice - Well, the paint melted off in the heat. And the eye he just lost was in fact a replacement eye for the one he left on a virgin atlantic flight somewhere between Miami and London. I hope that wherever this eye is, it’s facing one of the views shown above - not that he could see with it even when it was attached to his head (being plastic and all). Fortunately, I still have some spares but he’s just going to have to wait until we get back to South Africa to get one.
I don’t know if the trolls were really sleeping or just pretending but I shouted at a lot of rocks that month - possibly more than any other sober person in the history of Norway. In the end, we didn’t find one but somewhere along the way I think the witches, fairies and mythical reindeer collaborated and granted me my wishes:
1. Someone knew someone who was coming from South Africa and she brought me tea. Thank you Lindi. Faith in mankind = restored! Nobody ask me for a bag, Jerks! I’m not sharing!
2. I was selected to be a tour escort to Nordkapp (that in itself is a wish granted) and my roommate Nevena lent me a coat, so I got to see the even further north than the northernmost point of Europe without losing any of my own furthermost bodily points.
|Tour escort in borrowed coat selfie|
3. And okay, I didn’t get my live unicorn but the magical reindeer were a nice consolation prize.
|Rodrigo and Rudolph's cousin Jeff|
In other news:
I went to the Abba museum ...I mean "ABBA: The Museum"
And it was awesome.
That is all.
I saw a giant squid
Okay, no I didn’t. I had more “in other news” but I wrote it on a piece of paper that I lost. I could rewrite it but I worded it so perfectly the first time. It just wouldn't be the same.
Cruise count: yeah, I really don’t know…
Cubans rescued since last blog: 0