We sit in the lobby of the boat waiting to be disembarked and muse for a while about our Norwegian adventure. It’s strange that other cyclists we meet seem to have had much less rain than us, until we consider that they have been cycling much faster (and/or electric) and have done a lap around Kristiansand and thus stayed at least twice as long in the southernmost part and maybe even more eastern than us. Fortunately, it’s not just the experience. What is entirely subjective is how we experienced Norway’s degree of organisation. Coming from Eastern Europe, Sweden was already super well organised, but Norway beats everything. Topper was the huge amount of ‘border posts’ along the road. Border between what and what?
Or the ‘main road’ from Egersund to Flekkefjord made in 1920. Max 10% gradient and at least 4m wide otherwise it was not allowed to be called a main road, but most importantly: now that there is another main road, this ‘cycle path’ is a place where you can stay overnight for a fee. There are picnic tables and some kind of tripods for bbqing.
Richard, Jacqueline’s husband, with whom we spent our last night in Kristiansand, reckoned how more than 80% of Norway’s population is in government service, direct or otherwise. A picture that ties in with the feeling that everything is well controlled. It also explains why life is so expensive in Norway (high labour costs), but the Norwegians have found something for that: large portions. An ice cream of e.g. 1 scoop costs almost €4 but is then certainly as big as 3 scoops at our favourite ice cream shop in Delft. Fortunately, social security and the lowest salary are about 40% of a director’s salary and education is free at all levels and for everyone, keeping life affordable for everyone.
Where we expected to encounter large empty areas in Norway, we found that even in the most remote outlying areas there was always a house to be seen. This too appears to be the result of government policy, although we didn’t really get/understand the justification for it. It also leads to large packs in supermarkets (then you don’t have to shop as often?). Fortunately, people who live in the far north and thus have to heat considerably more to keep warm in winter get subsidies on energy bills that tripled last year in Norway too, despite widespread white power (from waterfalls). Could this almost socialist-style society be related to the matriachal society and/or the high labour participation by women? Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it any easier to connect with Norwegians. The basic attitude is one of every man for himself, or as Jacqueline says: you have space to do your thing there without anyone else thinking anything of it or bothering you with judgment.
Only the mining area we cycled through prides itself on being more open-minded, having attracted many foreign workers to mining since its early beginnings. So there we promptly had a nice conversation with someone at a playground where we paused. Surely the dominant memory of Norway will be the great quantity and variety of water(falls). Always and everywhere, water flows down. We took a lot of pictures of it but still never enough to show the variation. This is one we should keep in our hearts. Or we should come back again soon to cycle to the North Cape – yep, that’s a good plan.
But right now we’re touring family in NL for a few days before we move on to England. So we’ll be out of action for the next week or so. Until then👋
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