I love Scandinavia.
The reason one loves places is mysterious and buried in childhood. I loved exploring Norway a couple of summers ago. When I mentioned this to a Norwegian, he asked, mystified, “Why did you want to go to Norway?”
Why indeed? I think it comes down to a book of Norse mythology I had when I was little, which I read numerous times.
Odin, Freya, Thor, Loki, Balder, the Ragnarok: It resonated with me. I longed to see Scandinavia, which was Asgaard, as far as I was concerned.
* * *
I lived in America for 17 years–in Columbus, Ohio, New York, California, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Minneapolis,Minnesota. The only places in which I felt happy and at home were Binghamton, New York and Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Minnesota was full of Scandinavian-Americans–Norwegians Swedes and Danes. I felt the most accepted and at ease and comfortable there. I also picked up a bit of a taste for the food!!
Funnily enough, though I’ve always travelled as much as I could afford, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to visit Scandinavia. I think the fact that it was reputedly the most expensive region on earth put me off. Travel when one hemorrhages money is no fun at all!!
However, both our trips have been in camper vans; we’ve picnicked for one or two meals from the excellent grocery store fare, eaten out for just one or two meals a day, and have not found it too expensive. The lovely Allemannsratt, every man’s right, allows you to camp or motor home free and wild, with certain commonsense restrictions. I think few things compare with the thrill of waking up facing the sea one day, a lake another, in the midst of a pine forest on the third day…
* * *
I just love Scandinavia in summer–the clear crisp air; the expanses of water; the lakes, the pine and spruce forests, the rocky beaches, the relaxed, quietly happy people who leave you alone as long as you are not being inconsiderate, but will be helpful, polite and friendly if you need help, and who all speak English with charming accents; the ghosts of the Vikings and Thor in the strapping athletic blonde long-haired giants; the excellent food, the sense of relaxation, the beauty, the wilderness.
Finances and health permitting, I would like to return to Scandinavia for the next two summers–to Iceland and Denmark, perhaps.