Sunday, November 20, 2016

Aurora


So, it's been an interesting journey so far.  The central station in Stockholm is beautiful all decorated for Christmas.  The train ride from Stockholm to Narvik was long but what a ride...the wind howling outside in the vast stretches of tundra, the caribou in the snow, the beautiful little villages nestled into the snowy enclaves like something from a Christmas movie.  Just amazing.

It was tough initially.  I was overexhausted, and my plane had arrived late.  This caused considerable stress as I had to make it to city center and board within a half an hour, and that did not seem possible.  I shelled out the extra $35.00 for the high speed rail, and made it nearly to the minute.

After boarding, I was shown to a sleeper coach, with four other women in it.  I am usually shy of strangers, so this was another somewhat stressful thing, as I was assigned to a top bunk.  I considered sleeping out in the regular seating, so I would have easier access to a water closet rather than climbing over four other people, but the women departed suddenly after midnight to one of those barren, Arctic stops, and I was left on my own in blissful peace.

The next morning, we chugged along at top speed, winding our way from Sweden to the Norwegian border.  Some friendly German tourists, as well as couple from India, gave out advice as to where it was best to see the lights, but that would not divert me from our prescribed course.  The idea of being stranded on one of those lonely, frozen stations was terrifying.

So, we arrived in the town of Narvik in the early afternoon, and had several hours of sunlight.  The temperature was 6 degrees C above freezing, but reports said, "feels like -6".  It really didn't feel that bitterly cold, so we were able to walk around the city a little bit, but we didn't make it too far.  It wasn't the cold or wind, but the fact that the entire city was a sheet of ice!  Apparently, they had freezing rain before the train arrived, and the walking conditions were treacherous.  The idea of busting my ass in Narvik was not pleasant, and drove us into a Chinese restaurant, where we were able to enjoy a warm meal of Norwegian Chinese food, which is not altogether different from Chinese anywhere else.  A bowl of egg drop soup, that was somehow modified to include some chicken and corn in it (I know, sounds strange but was oddly good) and a steaming cup of green tea, and then back to the hotel to do a little catching up.

This area, actually all of Norway, is hideously expensive, and to make matters worse, there is a 25% tax on everything.  So, I will NOT be enjoying much of the food or anything else here, because I refuse to pay $75 for a small meal that doesn't even include some kind of alcoholic beverage, since I am a tea drinker.  Hell no.  It's just the principle of it.

So, that's it for now.  Waiting to see if Aurora shows up soon :-)

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