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Nancy greets one of the famous Norwegian Trolls.
When I was quite small, I was sickly and spent a lot of time in bed reading (or listening to someone read to me). One of my most favorite stories was The Three Billy Goats Gruff and how they outwitted a frighteningly menacing troll who lived nearby. You don't know about trolls? Well, alongside the fjords, they are a most interesting part of the Norwegian culture. Trolls can't see well; they turn to stone if the sun shines on them- and they hate happiness! An interesting bunch of characters!
Weather is interesting in Norway- more for the fact that it rains somewhat constantly more than anything else.
Nancy and I laugh when we say it, but we joke that wherever we are in the world, from North Pole to South, the sun always seems to shine on us. Perhaps that is why we are never bothered by trolls. Anyway, it just seems to be another way G_D blesses and watches out for us, because as every traveler knows, rain on your vacation is not what you want. I mean, who wants to spend all that money and energy to get someplace- then not be able to see it because it’s raining?
We were up one of the fiords in Norway, another country in possession of some of the loveliest geography on earth. Valleys and vistas of near unparalleled beauty that all but literally take your breath away. There is a glorious train ride into the Flåm Valley that should not be missed by anyone in this part of the world.
While waiting in the train station in Myrdal, we struck up a conversation with a young couple, backpacking through Europe with their 2 year old child. They were telling us about the price they paid for touring through this glorious country: Rain. Rain, and more rain.
Someone nearby overheard the conversation, and remarked the country gets 70 or 80 inches of rainfall each year, and that it usually rains or snows 260 days, give or take, of the 365. “We can believe it, the young mother replied.. “We’ve been here 17 days now, and it rained every day for the first two weeks, but thank Goodness, it let up day before yesterday”.
Nancy and I looked at one another and smiled. We had arrived in Norway the day it stopped raining...
Traveling up the fjords offers breathtaking views at every turn, whether you are on a ship or the train, and you never know what to expect. Aside from the scenery, one of the feature attractions in this country are its famed wooden churches, known as Stave Churches. The oldest of these, the Urnes Stave Church, was built nearly 900 years ago. It is remarkable not just because it is still standing, but it is an example of excruciatingly lovely craftsmanship. Here is an example:
These churches are built with an internal framework of upright posts- called "staves", hence the name. You would expect these posts to have rotted away centuries ago but the secret is they do not touch the ground, so are spared the moisture that would have destroyed them.