There’s nothing quite like the rush I feel when I know exactly what to write. I dash to my computer with a speed unlike any other, and this morning I got that priceless feeling. I haven’t gotten around to writing about this particular subject in the way that I’ve wanted to for so long, there’s too much say. I didn’t know how to put it into the right words, and yet this is just another proof which shows me the strength of my own sentiments. This is not a regular travel post where I share the places I went, and the things I ate, I don’t give recommendations on the top 10 best places to visit while in the cities I went to in this country, and I don’t really talk about the country from the perspective of a tourist. I never felt like a tourist there, or even a traveller. But rather, someone who had in ancient times lived there her whole life, and came back and was greeted by the land itself. This article isn’t about Norway, this article is for Norway.
Two years ago I had the greatest privilege in my life of visiting and spending a lot of time in this glorious country. It is to date, the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Some may disagree, some may argue that there are islands who surpass the beauty of those pristine fjords, that perhaps there are places with more to do and more to see, but not for me. See, Norway woke me up to a feeling I wasn’t sure could be possible to feel on command. It is something supernatural, otherworldly, something which captivates you beyond your own senses and lingers within you for the rest of your days. Norway is a mystery in itself. I spent time in Oslo, a lively and stunning capital city which feels more like a dream than it would ever a metropolis. Lined with forests and blue waters, mountains and hills surrounding highrise buildings and modern architecture, in Oslo I always got the feeling that I wasn’t quite sure where I was. I loved every minute of that feeling. I remember stopping at a cafe in Karl Johan’s (I believe the most popular street in Oslo) and being seated on a chair with a furry mantle, it was at that moment that I knew I was in a different place, a place I had been looking for, for all of my life. Ironically, I had visited Norway during its hottest summer in 50 years, and although I am not a lover of heat, this did not take away from the captivating effect this country had on me. Norway is a paradise of colour, emerald grass that smells like freedom, cold waters that raise every nerve in your being, and a sense of belonging with nature. Here, nature is not something you go see, it is something that embraces you daily. People here don’t love the outdoors, they are alive with it, they respect it and share it. The people of Norway are unlike any other, some say Norwegian’s (like many other Scandinavians) are shy, timid, and a bit antisocial. But I was welcomed by the friendliest of faces, conversations, and stories. I was embraced by Norway; in Norway, I was Norwegian, and I loved every minute of it.
There is a word in Norwegian: “koselig” it is not something which can be translated easily, but if I dare try, it basically means the art of coziness. It is a comforting, loving, sense of winter and warmth that gives you a feeling of home. Norwegians have koselig running through their veins. One of the greatest nights of my life was spent in a beautiful wooden home on the mountains of Bergen, all thanks to a friend who is now family. The house was like a fairytale, like living inside of a rich hazelnut or walnut which had magically turned into a home for its dwellers. Candles lit everything, and brought the foggy fjord and autumn stained mountains outside, to further life. The dinner itself was pure magic, pure koselig. The best food I’ve ever had in my life, berries and mushrooms from the rich land, natural butter which melted over the most decadent potatoes I’ve ever had. An atmosphere that I will dream about till the end of my days. I close my eyes sometimes seeking comfort, and think of this dinner. I think of the friendly people who welcomed me into their home, and shared with me their projects… even a beautiful bunad which the wonderful lady of the house was making for her daughter. A project that would take two years, and even now, I wonder if she has finished it. I think of the lovely grandmother who spoke to me in Norwegian and said : “spiser, spiser” which means “eat, eat!” I somehow managed to understand everything she said to me in Norwegian, and she understood me. It was a moment which changed me in some sort of way. I hiked to the top of a mountain called Ulriken on a whim, and saw the Northern lights from the very edge of another. There is so much I could say about all of these moments, and yet my mind vividly races back and forth and comes up with so little words to describe them.
One of the greatest ironies for me, was perhaps the fact that in Norway many do not believe in a higher power. But what they may never know, is that in Norway I grew to believe in God even more. I believe that in a way, in Norway God is like a brother or sister in a family, which you see everyday, and so often, that you’ve gotten used to seeing them and no longer remember they are there, and yet they are. Yet He is. I have this theory, this funny little theory which brings me joy to consider, and it is that somehow I believe that God lives in Norway. I feel as if I’ve seen him there, on every occasion I’ve had a time to open and close my eyes in this stunning country. That is where He lives, He is everywhere there, in every mysterious and foggy fjord you find by turning corners, and getting lost. In the faint Northern lights I saw which tricked my eyes in the summer time train ride to the Western coast. He is in the trees, those dark emerald trees and forests which surprise you with sounds of cascades and rivers at every turn. He lives on those imposing glaciers, and the sounds of rushing waterfalls. Norway made me feel small, so small and honoured to be embraced by a place so supernaturally beautiful that every doubt I ever had left my bones. Norway gave to me, this place simply gives.
One of the most heart warming things that happened to me in Norway, came in the form of the people. Those blessed Norwegians that unknowingly carry love and kindness in their genes like clockwork, and they bring it out in the best of moments. In my strange and mixed ethnicity I carry a proud 5% Scandinavian. It’s small perhaps, but I carry it with pride and joy, as if it were all of me. In Bergen I met a kind man who owned a beautiful jewelry shop. A quiet, introverted artist, who crafted unique and stunning jewelry unlike any I had seen. In our brief meeting we barely spoke more than a few words. But in his shop I was captivated by a necklace, a necklace with a viking ship pendant that I loved. I simply made a comment about the beauty of the necklace, and he thanked me. I stepped outside after a while, just to look at the view… because the whole country is a view, and as my friend and I are about to leave the shop she gives me a box. In the box was the necklace with the viking ship I loved. This wonderful man had given me this necklace with a message, he said now I was more Norwegian. In that moment, I felt something in my heart that till this day, I shall never forget. Even as I write this, tears begin to flood the corners of my eyes. I have always been someone without a place, without a real home, without even an origin. I have been questioned my entire life on where I come from, and where I am going to. But in that moment, I met someone who said: “you belong”. I found a country that said “you belong”. I know that no place is perfection, and that within Norway lies the errors and the mistakes of any other country, of any other group of people. But Norway is a special place, with people who have warmed my heart in a way that can only measure up in opposite to their most frigid Arctic winter.
Norway is not a place that challenges me, that makes me work for a sense of belonging, it isn’t a place where I have struggled or fought or any of this. Norway is a place that has brought me healing, and a sense of love unlike any other place. When I think of peace and kindness, I think of Norway. When I think of the warmest of people, I think of Norway. When I think of mystery, and awe, of magic and a world unlike my own… I think of Norway. Norway is my Narnia, and if I had to build a thousand wardrobes to go back again and again, I would find a way. Norway is every bit worth it, every bit missed and cried for, Norway is where the greatest part of my heart is, and will forever be.
Jeg elsker deg, Norge.