Friday, April 26, 2013

Travel Thoughts

            Is there such a thing as a travel hang-over? I feel a slight buzz in my head after driving over 2,800 miles and then taking a train back and forth across Norway from Oslo to Bergen. I am not complaining nor whining, but deeply grateful for this high privilege of being able to travel like I just did.
            First, I was able to fulfill a fantasy of a solo road trip through Europe. Last week Monday, I left southern France and drove the north-south length to Metz, France. On Tuesday I drove all the way through Germany to Hamburg. Wow, driving the autobahn with no speed limit was a driving experience like none other. Where do all those Mercedes, Audis and Porsches come from? On Wednesday I drove all the way north through Denmark to the ferry-town of Hirtshal. I walked the town, the dunes and the German gun batteries. The three hour ferry ride across the North Sea was fun, even though it was raining. I got into Horten, Norway (south of Oslo) Thursday night to spend with artist friends, Jan and Vipsen Kohlstad. They put me on a train Saturday morning for Bergen. The train ascended into the mountains, still covered with snow and frozen lakes. I arrived Saturday evening just in time for Martha’s opening (more later). It was sweet to be reunited with Martha and see her fabulous art work!
            Sunday we actually found a Covenant church in Bergen and worshiped with them. We spent the day taking down the show and having dinner with Asbjorn Hollerud (Martha’s former student and director of Trykkeriet Print Studio). We took the train back to Horten on Tuesday, having dinner with Kohlstads that night and left around noon on Wednesday by ferry for Sweden.

  I’ve never been to Sweden before, though I’m 100% Swedish heritage. While it was a longer ride, Martha insisted that we take this opportunity to see where my blood came from. We drove leisurely through the length of Sweden, hitting Smoland (where my roots lie) and Varmland (where some other family came from). We stopped at the café shown below for genuine Swedish coffee and cake. What it did to me was remind me how much Northern Michigan looks just like Smoland: lakes, trees, small farms. But it was also harsh and tough. I can see why my ancestors left the known land for the promised land.

            Wednesday night we stayed in a delightful Best Western in Denmark (exhausted). Thursday we left Denmark, drove though Germany (high speed!) and Luxemborg, and ito France. We made it as far as Dijon for the night at an Ibis hotel next to the train station. Friday we rose early and high-tailed it the last 500 km to our little village in France. On the way in, we decided to have a leisurely lunch at a place we had never tried, an old train station. Oh my! What a surprise: fresh salad, fish, baguette, and cheese, followed by great coffee!
            I’m filled with Europe! Each country has distinct architecture, roof-lines, field arrangements, roads and food. As I traveled north into Scandinavia, I saw myself in the faces and bodies of the people: bigger, ruddy faced. 


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