Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So, things are becoming very busy as my trip is beginning to wind down. I already feel like I am rehearsing my coming home speach as I rush to see as much of France and Switzerland as I can before taking the boat (which is actually a plane) home. As every thing is beginning to feel so rushed, I am afraid you, my loved readers, will not have much new news until the end of October- after I get home. I am having a swell time, however, and I will have plenty to tell (and all I will tell) at the end of my travels. There may be a periodic update, but don't count on it.
Until later, I always love to hear from you all and I wish I had more time to type on these frustrating French keyboards...
Love, peace, and hair grease,

Friday, September 19, 2008


(more to come soon!)
I am in Copenhagen and am loving my time here. Today I am getting ready to go to a cabin in the woods! I am really looking forward to it. It is Mikkel´s grandfather´s cabin. There are six of us going, two Germans, Stuart (who is English), Mikkel and Casper (who are Danish), and myself. It is going to be a weekend filled with fantastic music and delectable food.
I am looking forward to it!

Gothenburg, Sweden

This post will be edited with more details next week...
Just a travel day to Sweden
Roller skates and chocolate cake. A calm, rest day in Trollhattan with my friend Tommy (who I met when I was in Fontainebleau climbing with Taz and Paolo).
Walking around Gothenburg and climbing in a gym. Hanging out with Annica and Anna (who were so kind to have me stay at their flat in Gothenburg).
Climbing outdoors near Gothenburg with Tommy. 
Walking around town with Annica.
This was one of those days where all that I saw reminded me of all the places I have been and will be. I really liked Gothenburg, it is a really nice city.
A shorter and colder version of yesterday.
Travel day to Copenhagen (farewell Sweden!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Åndalsnes to Flåm and another long bike ride 09.08 & 09.09

The train ride to Flåm was a good one. I could not see very much of the scenery, which made me very excited for the next days train ride and bike ride. What I could see looked stunning!
When I arrived in Flåm (population 200), I went straight to the hostel and set up my (Dave´s) tent. It was a really nice evening and I was excited for the next days bicycle ride...
This day was the most fantastic day. It was perfect in so many ways. I took the early train up to Finse, a train station that has the claim of being the station at the highest altitude in Norway. It was so beautiful up there. It had snowed the week before, so there were big patches of white snow between the crystal blue water and the greens and oranges of the mountain grass. The sun was out and smiling down on me, illuminating everything around me in a soft yellow. It was so nice.
At Finse I rented a bicycle and proceeded to ride the bike back to Flåm, over 60 km. It was awesome! Also, it was all down hill and some really great mountain biking and road biking. Some of the path was really rough and I almost bit the dust several times... it was so cool! It felt really good because I was riding really hard, not like my up hill walking bike ride.
The scenery was so beautiful, I was riding next to glaciers and lakes and rivers and waterfalls and mountains and forests. By the end of the ride, which took me about four hours, I was completely wore out and went back to the hostel to eat and sleep.
This was definitely one of the best days so far, top notch!

Stinky Clothes (the seventh of September)

If I read a book and really enjoy the way a character acts, I tend to take on certain attributes of that character for a short time. I just read Catcher in the Rye...
So bare with me.
Yesterday Serge and I rented a car, so today, I rented a bicycle. There was a walk that sounded really supreme that the lady at the information desk told me about. I thought I would ride the bike to the start of the trail, hike the trail, and then ride back and do some more walking. I really enjoy walking by myself, just for a change. I think a lot more and it is just nice to do that sometimes. Just walk and think. It helps me clear my head a bit. Today was a sunny warm day, the kind of day that you just can´t help but smile. It was perfect conditions for walking and bicycling and thinking.
It was sunny and cloudless enough to get a bit warm when doing strenuous activity.
I ate cookies and milk or breakfast, so I was looking to do a bit of strenuous activity. I didn´t eat milk but I drank it and let the cookies get soggy in it. Same for supper, but I am not there yet.
So, I rode the bike to Isfjorden and then up Vengedalen- maybe just towards Vengedalen... I am not sure if it is the name of a place or the lake or the road...
Yesterday I was so impressed and inspired by the cyclists going up the steep mountain roads and u Trollstigen. It would take so much physical and mental strength. After today, I felt like an Olympian, but I had no such strength as the people I saw yesterday.
The road going to the hike I wanted to do went up a mountain. A real, actual mountain. Over five miles of steep up. No relief for me and my seven speed mountain bike. Sometimes it would be a little less steep so I could attempt to actually ride the bike, but it never lasted more than a few feet. Sadly. I hardly even had a chance to ride my fancy bicycle (which even had a basket!) on the way up. It was a party on the way down, but not so much of anything exciting on the way up. Normally I wouldn´t say ¨Today I rode a bike (more like walked a bike...) up a mountain!¨ Because most of the time when people say they walked up a mountain, what they really mean is up a steep hill for a few minutes. It is used almost as a figure of speech rather than to state what actually occurred. But today, I really did walk up a mountain. My sore muscles can attest to it. Each time I thought ´this has to be close to the end. I must almost be there.´I wouldn´t be. The darn road just kept going. After about an hour of struggling and sweating my way up, I decided to eat lunch. The cookies were no longer cutting it. So, as I ate my stale bread (but not moldy!) and cheese, a father and son combo walked past me with their fancy full-on road bikes that I secretly wished I had. They even were wearing the official road bicycling clothes- they were the real deal. The only problem was the kid was around ten years old, definitely not over 12. I was thinking, after I had completely sweated any chance of cleanliness off my skin, did that kid ride the bike up? So I decided they had been dropped at the top. It made me feel better about myself. But I decided any way that I would ride the rest of the way because surely I was almost there (which I was not) and it looked like it was getting less steep. So, after eating, I set off and rode or about 300ft before getting off and walking again. good effort. noble attempt.
Oh! There was one time where I was riding up a less steep part and had enough push to go a little ways when it started getting really steep again and a car drove past me. All the passengers looked very impressed at my strength. They didn´t know I had been walking the previous five miles or that I was just waiting for them to go around the next turn so I could get off and continue walking. It still made me feel good. What they don´t know won´t hurt them.
I took a really long shower this morning. I even went to the extra effort of putting on a clean shirt for a while, before thinking better of it. Then I put on the same ol´stinky clothes. It was good thinking too. Not even half way up my ¨bike ride¨ I was starting to smell pretty ripe. So it made me wonder why I should go through all the trouble of showering when my clothes reek any way?
After nearly two hours, I made it to the summit and the base of the thirty minute walk I had set out to do hours earlier. But it was worth it.
I bet today was at least a 25 mile day, all in all. The views all the way up were fantastic and once I reached the top of the hike, the views were even more spectacular. Today was a top-notch day. As I was hiking up the trail, I felt like a true champ for making it so far and not turning around or giving up. It was a really good feeling.
And, on the way down I only nearly killed myself. I was going a bit to fast... to say the least.

Renting a car in Norway, 09-06-08.

That´s right! Serge and I rented a car!
As we were walking back to the hostel last night, we decided to go ahead and find out about renting a car. We went to the car rental place and the price was affordable split between two people, so we decided to rent one. The man working let us take the car only a few minutes after we walked in. It is a strange thing to rent a car in Norway. Neither Serge or myself had to show any sort of ID at all and he only took Serge´s mailing address and stamped his credit card. No signing papers, or any sort of thing. It was awesome!
The drive was fantastic. Today is easily the best day of my trip thus far. The scenery was the most spectacular I have ever seen and I felt like I was either on top of the world or on a different planet. The water glowed in its pureness and the mountain heights gleamed in the sun. There are stories about the trolls living in Norway, in the hills, forests and mountains. After today, it is easy to understand why a person could believe in such a thing. There is something really magical about Norway. 
We started our drive by going up Trollstigen Road (Norway´s most dramatic mountain road!). As the road winds up the mountain, there are spectacular views of waterfalls and the valley below. My favorite part was the top of the road. It feels like the top of the world and no other place I have ever been. After driving up the road, we continued to the other side of the mountains where we put the car on a ferry and found our way to Geirangerfjord, one of the best and most visited fjords in Norway. I found the top of Trollstigen better... so we continued on until we found ourselves next to a toll road winding up. We decided to take the mystery road and see where we ended up. We could not have guessed we would end up on top of the world, again (only this time for real). 
It was an incredible day, filled with such vivid colors and landscapes. I will have to let my photos attempt to describe it better.
Definitely the best day yet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A rainy day and a long walk. Norway, Part 2!

Last night at the hostel I made a friend from France - Serge. So today we went exploring with another couple that was staying at the hostel. We walked along the fjord (click on the word ¨fjord¨ for a definition) from Åndalsnes to Isfjorden, a maximum of a 5km walk. The couple we were walking with had to turn around to catch their train on time, but Serge and I decided to keep walking. So we did. We walked and walked and walked. It was really nice, and the views up the fjord were spectacular.  After a short bus ride and a lot of walking, we decided it would be a good idea to start heading back. We realized how far we had gone and decided to try our luck at hitch hiking instead of paying the expensive bus fee. After about 40 minutes and no sign of a bus to take us even if we decided to take it, a car picked us up. 
I got some really spectacular photographs and can now say I have hitch hiked!

train from Trondheim and Åndalsnes

On the 4th of September, I took the train from Trondheim, Norway to Åndalsnes, Norway...
It was another fairly early morning this morning. I woke up early to get the free breakfast from the hostel and have enough time to walk to the train station. No more attempts at finding accomodation in the dark- especially not places where the tourist office is only open until 17.00 or earlier. The train from Trondheim to Dombås was not too interesting, it was very beautiful and the landscape got much more mountainous- but I did not meet any one. Then, at the little train station in Dombås, I met some older people from Seatle. It was really good to meet some people from the States in Norway. I dont know why, but some times it is really nice to meet other Americans. This was one of those days, so I spoke with them while we waied for the train to Åndalsnes - which is suposidly the most scenic rail line in all of Europe. It was beautiful, and it was a beautiful sunny day to complament the mountains and streams and waterfalls. The waterfalls on Kawai, Hawaii have nothin on Norway- granted Norway is a whole country and not just an island... but it is the only other place I have seen that compares to the massive amount and beauty of the falls I saw.
Another spectacular thing... the water itself. The water is so vividly colored! It is crystal clear and is bright terquios and blue. It is so pure! I will write more about that later though...
Upon my arrival in Åndalnes, I went to the tourist information center and spoke with the lady working there for some good sight seeing and hiking tips. After feeling like I would have more than enough ideas to ponder, I split for the youth hostel.
End of Norway Adventures, part one.

Copenhagen and Ostersund

08-30-08 to 09-03-08
day one-
I had some very good train rides today. On my first train, I met a wonderfully nice chap from England who lives and works in the Netherlands as a designer- architectual and interior design. He made the first part of the train really good. The second half of the train ride was really good because the train was put on a boat and everyone had to get out of the train and go to the upper decks of the boat for the crossing. ¨Welcome to Denmark.¨ I got to see the sun set over the water from the boat and white jellyfish swim in the dark water. It was an incredibly good train ride to Copenhagen. When I arrived, Mikkel and his flat mate Casper where ready to pick me up and place me into the Copenhagen night culture- on this night, it was street parties. Whole blocks were consumed with people and music and food, some even little fires. Because I do not drink, it was a bit odd at first, but in a city where bikes are scattered up and down the roads, on the sidewalks and against buildings, it did not take me to long to adjust.
day two-
Today is the day I was supposed to go to Sweden but did not. As it turns out, I had to make a reservation on the train I was going to take and the train was already full. Ooops. So, while at the train station, I booked my ticket for the next day. Instead of riding a train to Stockholm and then Ostersund, I went to the coast in Copenhagen and enjoyed the sun. It was another good day in Copenhagen - sunny weather and good company (Mikkel and friends).
In the evening, Casper cooked a wonderful dinner and I prepared myself for the long train ride the next day with sleep.
day three-
Off to Ostersund, Sweden!
Over twelve hours of train rides led me to Ostersund, a small city by a big lake. There are so many lakes everywhere in Sweden! It is crazy! Upon my arrival in Ostersund, I was very fortunate to meet Andrew, a chap from Australia working in Rotviken looking for uranium and other minerals in the ground to be mined. It was already dark when I got to Ostersund and I did not know how I was going to get to the camp ground, then I met Andrew, a fellow traveler. He was kind enough to take me to the house he shared with the other guys he works with and feed me. It was really nice. He has so many fantastic travel stories too! Today was a great start to Sweden.
day four-
Rain. A nice, lazy day. I feel even more fortunate today for meeting Andrew, as I would be camping in the cold rain if I had not met him (and it is cold!).
day five-
A short travel day to Trondheim, Norway.
Now the adventures really begin...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

just checking in.

I am alive and well and in Norway.
Norway is the most beautiful and amazing place I think I have ever been... it is so wonderful!
I will write in detail some time next week, unil then,

Monday, September 1, 2008

Update, update, update!

Since the Lake District... I have been to Den Haag in the Netherlands (and Amsterdam briefly), Copenhagen, and am now in Sweden. The Hague was a restful period where I caught up on the what not's that needed catching up on. A very nice time, more to come later. Then Copenhagen, a brief stop on my way to Sweden- also very nice and more to come. Now I am in Sweden (arrived today) and it is going amazingly awesome. Super duper. The next two (or three) weeks will be brief on the updates but here is the itinerary: Sweden and Norway and a tent. The third week of September I will be back in Denmark... until then, I am adventuring on my own - although I never really find myself alone because there are always so many wonderful people around me.
Until later... Love, peace, and hair grease-

P.S. - Grandpa, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (I get to be the first one to wish you a happy birthday on your birthday because here it is just after midnight and you guys are seven hours earlier than me!) I hope you have the most wonderful birthday and you enjoy your time with the family. I wish I could be there to wish you a happy birthday myself. I am thinking of you and Grandma often, as I know you guys are me too. I love you Grandpa! Happy birthday!