We left Oslo on the train headed for Bergen, a pretty six-hour ride across the Norwegian heartland. But we stopped along the way in the tiny settlement of Finse for a couple days of hiking and bike riding.
When I say tiny, I mean it. There is very little here, other than a train station and a hotel right next to it. In fact, this charming hotel, Finse 1222, can only be reached by train or by a gravel path that brings in hikers and bicyclists.
The “1222” in our hotel name refers to the elevation of 1,222 meters. Apparently this is enough elevation to dramatically alter the weather patterns, compared with the coast. We were pretty excited to head out on a hike on our first day in temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit, under partly sunny skies. The dramatic landscape really sparkled in these very comfortable hiking conditions.
The next day we decided to rent bikes so we could make our way further out from Finse, though we were somewhat concerned about a weather forecast that included rain all day. As I suspected though, it was that kind of Scandinavian rain that doesn’t bother you too much — a really light rain, the kind where the sun sometimes peeks out even while it’s raining. At least that’s what we got at first.
We headed west on our bikes toward the next “town” of Fagernuten, about 10 km away. The gravel path was a bit rough, but not too bad. But as we went along, some stretches got a little worse, the rain kicked up a bit more, and we hit occasional patches of snow that you had to walk the bike through. As the conditions worsened, I made up my mind that reaching Fagernuten would be enough accomplishment for me.
As we guessed, Fagernuten, with its one building, made Finse look like a bustling metropolis. I turned back for Finse there, and Jim decided he wanted to try going a little further. On the way home the wind was in my face and the rain got worse and worse. I was totally soaked and unbelievably relieved to make it back.
After I peeled off my dripping clothes and took a hot shower, I headed to the cozy lobby to await Jim’s return. Meanwhile I met a super friendly couple — Mike from Chicago and Ina from Bergen, though they live near Oslo now.
When we somehow got on the subject of the Munch museum, Ina told me she was actually an art historian specializing in Munch. I responded that I’d just has dinner with another Munch expert, to which she immediate asked, “Pat?” Now that is a very small world!