Saturday, 11 August 2012


a Bodø local
In Bodø we stay with Eirik and Rita, who kindly host us for a couple of nights in their appartment.  The town is small and fairly modern - most of it was flattened in the war - and the effect of feeling like we've arrived in a huge metropolis soon wears off after we've cycled around a bit.  Eirik is from this part of Norway but his wife Rita grew up in Buenos Aires.  It is radically different here and Rita is forthright with her feelings on life here and as an immigrant in Norway.  One of her criticisms is the lack of culture.  It seems that the Norwegians love for The Great Outdoors has supplanted other aesthetic needs.  There's a joke that the Norwegians love being outside, whatever the weather.  As we are often told, there's no bad weather, only bad gear.  (This strikes us a trifle hard having had wet feet for a week and worrying about developing trenchfoot.)  But it certainly seems true about their hardiness.  We watched one day as a group of women got out of cars and have a picnic in the pouring rain.  We assumed they were mad.  Now we are convinced they were just Norwegian.

We asked Eirik about the long winters - but he seemed to accept them as normal and nothing special.  The tourist blurb for Bodø mentions that there are only four sunless winter days  - surprising as we're still in the Arctic circle here.  What does surprise us is the number of immigrants we see in the small towns - families from the horn of Africa mostly.  There are lots of Thai women who have married Norwegian men and live here, and we read that in the far north the government has settled a community of Sri Lankans (presumably Tamils).  Rita is critical of how immigrants are treated - one of the problems is language.  Norway has two official languages, the most common is Bøkmal, related to Danish.  However, as soon as you visit the northern provinces you come across a variety of dialects or pronunciations.  Immigrants have to learn the official language but are then placed by the government in the provinces where they have to learn another version of the language.   To us though, despite the climate, Norway doesn't seem such a bad place to live.  I consider a future as a bicycle mechanic, working in the summer, travelling in the winter.  If only I could master the repair of punctures.......

Eirik's a Watford fan.  As he grew up, Norwegian TV used to show English football and so there's a whole generation or two of Norwegians who support English teams that were successful in the seventies and eighties.  I wonder if anyone here remembers that Frank Worthington goal for Bolton Wanderers....

The next leg of our journey takes us down the scenic coastal road of Norway to Trondheim and we head south, well rested and dried out.

and another one - the biblical reference being a not uncommon response by some cyclists to the driving of Belgian campervan drivers.
The next leg of our journey takes us down the scenic coastal road of Norway to Trondheim and we head south, well rested and dried out.

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