|Cross Country skiing in Geilo Norway|
|TS Leda – the vomiting Venus|
Suddenly, the decks stopped jumping around and we found ourselves in calm waters. In fact, the ship had moved into the long fjord that runs from the sea up to the beautiful old city of Bergen, which sits at the head of the fjord. Bergen is Norway’s second largest city. Until 1830, when it was overtaken by Oslo – the capital, it was the largest. There is a railway line in the shape of an inverted “U”, which heads north from Bergen, eventually curves around and which finally heads south to finish up in Oslo, another sea level city. In its route of 320 miles, the railway line travels through hilly terrain. On its route, midway between Bergen and Oslo, lies the little town of Geilo. Therefore this was the train that we took on the third and last leg of our journey to Geilo, which is situated north of 60 degrees latitude. When one considers that the Arctic Circle is at 66 degrees latitude, this means that Geilo is pretty far to the north and this is where the midnight sun comes into it. It follows that, if parts of Norway enjoy the sun at midnight in the middle of summer, then they must in return endure a good deal of darkness in the middle of winter. So there we were in Geilo in early January with daylight available to us only from 10am to 3pm. Finally, we understood the logic behind the pricing of this vacation. The whole area was only about 2000 to 3000 feet about sea level, which is hardly mountainous. We learned that skiing was created by the Norwegians simply as a form of transportation cross country. They were not in the business of making dramatic descents of high mountains at top speed for the fun of it. That was not why they invented skiing. Ski is a Norwegian word and for literally thousands of years Norwegians had used cross country skiing, not for sport, but as a way of allowing isolated snowbound communities to stay in touch. It was the British in the 19th century, with their passion for inventing sports, who moved skiing from Norway to an entirely different environment in the Alps from where it has developed to become a major Olympic sport.
|Skiing in Austrian Tirol|
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on March 22, 2010.