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Chapter seven. “It’s like the universe has left me”. Nur-Trøndelag.

June 20, 2013

My trip is not about taking as much as possible from outside and saving it inside. This is about taking as a gift everyone and everything around on my way.

I am an obscenely lucky person. Everything that happened to me from Trondheim and further is an authentic road story with vivid characters, real drive and romance.
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So next day Turkel made time to drive me downtown. First we went to take a look over the entire city from a restaurant in a tower. I usually get bored moving without my bike, I miss the drive and music in my ears. Besides, two days of active communication in a raw is a little bit too much. I need some breaks. But Turkel tried really hard to be a good host for me and I am very grateful to him for that.
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The weather here is typical for Norway, changes every 15 minutes. The sky is overcast, the sun is blinding, light drizzle cools the skin, a refuge from the northern Trondheim stuffiness. Bikes are everywhere.

We buy a couple of postcards and stamps, then I sign the postcards back home as we sit at the favorite Turkel’s café by the water. It’s a shame that the postcards here in Trondheim do not reflect such a fantastic variety of Norwegian scenes. Especially those devoted directly to the city. I’d say they have a lot in common with the Soviet postcard design, those ugly things with golden monograms.
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– Let’s go here – says Turkel and points to a shopping center.
I’d rather not, I say.
– Come on, come on, I’ll show you something.

Turns out, there are little houses under the roof, a whole street inside the main building. Yet it is even more interesting outside: a market with knitted souvenirs for tourists, llamas, boats, clouds. I like to just stare around moving in random direction.
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We take a break for lunch at home, Turkel can’t believe I can consume so much food. After a little chillout in the sun I decide to go for a ride again, this time alone with my player – my favorite way to discover a city.

The feel wild, I even buy a pack of Marlboro to treat myself. It’s so nice to ride without luggage, I feel so easy and swift. The sky is overcast with thunderclouds, but I do not care, I’m flying about some piers and sing along the player.
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Something has changed since I came here. I have tried to describe this feeling before – “trust to the space.” Lightness. Quiet confidence. The feeling of the road. The absence of fear. And so much energy inside I can not stay still. Can’t help dancing about. I want to dance even when I’m riding a bike. “Suddenly, something good starts to happen with my heart”, sang Boris Grebenshikov. I feel like with one movement, one gesture, I could change the whole reality.

My exalted, Zen face. This pic was taken by an exchange student. He cadged a smoke, we started talking. As a result, I have these cheerful pictures. They even show the tan acquired on Preikestolen and my favorite sloppy sweater. The student tried to talk me into going to some castles, lakes and beaches. But it felt so good alone, I had to refuse the company.
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I spent the evening with Turkel’s family, stuffed myself again, the girls showed me their girly rooms with posters of a young singer, tremendously popular in Norway. Then I had a shower and went to sleep earlier than anyone else. I planned to set off further north in the morning.

I was more than prepared to go. They gave me some compact food and useful instructions on the nearest route. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone. Anyway, the luggage was loaded, and I raced off to north, thrilled with joy. So many things ahead of me, some of them I could not even imagine.

About 20 kilometers later I gave up and got into a bicycle tunnel to change into shorts and a vest – it was heating. I had to get to a place called Stjordal, where I planned to take the train to Steinkjer. According to Turkel, the road on that route leg was not worth seeing. I met another cyclists on the road. He asked the way to Trondheim, I showed it to him on my map, then we wished each other a loveliest journey and split up for good.
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Out of bad luck, all the ticket-vending machines at the train station of Stjordal took either credit cards or coins. The credit card was out of money since the day before, and I had no coins at all. Thank God, a kind woman expecting the same train, bought me a ticket with her credit card and took my paper bills. As tradition demanded, I spent almost all the time in the train asleep, or, to be exact, dozing to the music. The scenery outside the window was boring indeed.

It was drizzling in Steinkjer, so I changed again in the station closet. Taxi drivers at the station pointed me a ramp to E6 highway, I strayed for a while on some unclear intersections, looking for a byroad to avoid another tunnel. Somewhere along the way one of the taxi drivers caught me up and offered a ride through the tunnel. By the way, he was the first Norwegian who knew I was Russian immediately. He asked if I lived somewhere in Europe, assuming that my English was too good (ha-ha, Norwegians often complimented my English, even though it is obviously poor in comparison with their conversational skills). After the taxi I drove for a little while, then stopped to eat. The roads here are starred with islets for travelers. They have tables, toilets and trash cans. Many RVs park here or even spend the night.
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I ate a strange canned fish with bread, a couple of pills for my knee pain and drank a bottle of beer given by Turkel. I was in festive mood and wanted to keep going all night long. And I did.

I stopped sometimes to recover breath, get some water in a mountain stream and sit on the pavement off the road, listening to the hum of distant waterfalls and quiet. During one of such halts I got an idea to write “NARVIK” with a black marker on the ground pad (on the top of the luggage). This was the largest locality on the E6 highway on the way to Tromsø. Just in case anyone wanted give me a ride. Of course, this never worked, but it was fun.
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Another 80 km later, I could not drive so cheerfully any more, but the distance to Tromsø, according to the map and the road signs, did not seem to reduce. I wanted to make it a hundred, but I still remembered the experience of looking for accommodation in the wilderness. I had promised that I would never ever drive in the dark (although it’s not fair to call this northern dusk darkness). So I decided to roost by the side of the road at the next islet with benches. Especially since I met the inhabitants of an RV, asking if they were going to stay for the night. Despite all the harmlessness of the surrounding scenery, I was afraid to sleep in a tent away from people. The elderly Norwegian family, staying overnight next to me (they were heading to Lofoten), had a funny dog with a Russian named Sasha. As I put up the tent, it was running around like a peg-top.

It took me two times to manage to put up the tent, first time I mixed everything up. So, finally I arranged a roof over my head, put on a sweatshirt and woolen socks, made dinner, a Norwegian doshirak with pasta flavouring. Then I fell asleep imagining a fabulous escape from bears attacking me in my tent and other heroic adventures.
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I woke up earlier than a couple in the RV, around 7 am, as it was unbearably hot. I got out of the tent and undressed again, left only shorts and a vest. “Why the hell it is so hot at seven in the morning,” – I clamoured. So, I made some tea and collected the luggage. Then I looked at the map and thought: you are still so far, Tromsø.

I ride in the heat for about three hours, occasionally pulling back on the pavement, putting the bike so that the Narvik sign could be seen on the pad, waving away the pesky flies. I crawl onto particularly steep hills and rush from them, so that the wind whistles in my ears louder than the music. It’s hot, my face and hands burn for the twentieth time, I run out of water and don’t see any rivers or waterfalls.

Then I come to a place resembling civilization, it’s called Grong.
“What the hell is Grong?» – I think turning to the Tourist information hoping to charge my phone and the laptop. By the way, the laptop served as a backup power for my iPhone in case of emergency. So, I order a glass of cola with ice (30 krones) and wait in the shade on the front porch, casually lounging on a chair. In the meantime, I get a text from Osokina-san from Vladivostok, I am glad that I am not forgotten on my small homeland, and I feel much better.
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Quite soon I got fed up hanging out in Grong, so I stocked up on water and food and headed off along the E6. It got mountainous. It was heating like hell, trucks were whistling past me, damned flies were so annoying – I started to get angry. I stopped to catch some breath, enjoy the scenery and take a picture of a pastoral landscape with sheep. I recklessly leaned over the fence and received an electric shock at once. Furious, I threw crackers at the bleating sheep.
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“That’s it, – I think. – I’m full of this.” I scraped the strength, grabbed the bike and went up the last few meters on foot, to reach the summit with another islet inhabited by little RV families consuming copious victuals at the tables and looking back at me. I threw the bike on the evenly cut lawn, drank half a bottle of water in one gulp, lay down and lit up a cigarette. I felt the growing anger. A pleasant anger, I’d say. At the heat, trucks, Norwegian sheep, quite vigorous tourists on their vehicles, fences with high voltage, lack of water.

I’d been playing this game all the time. Something like finding unexpected exits on the platform of unbiased thinking. For example, when I got angry, I could take a calm and detached view at what was happening. I used this anger only to mobilize resources, then exhale and relax. Spontaneous relaxing when things go awry is amazingly effective. All of a sudden, everything works out magically. The more you relax and then spontaneously relax, the better it go off.

So what did I do? I rolled down the hill at a speed of 50 km per hour, parked at a bus stop, unfolded a map, stood up next to the bike and pulled the thumb into the hitch-hike position. I had hardly found my current location on the map when a grubby little car pulled over and I saw the most charming Norwegian guy I had met there so far. He was going my way, but he doubted his tiny car could accommodate my bike. I said he underestimated what his road louse was capable of and cheerfully began to disassemble the bike.

– Now – I say – you know exactly that your car can easily contain an entire cyclist and her bike.

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With Einar we rush to the north, chitchatting, eating ice cream and drinking coffee from his thermos. Turns out he is moving to another town, where he was offered a job at a hospital. I talk about how I received an electric shock, he tells me about those traktor-eggs, we chat about movies, listen to the radio and admire the highway altogether – he drove it for the first time as well. We chill in a mountain river or just stop to take a couple of shots.

Somewhere around the middle of the way we pass some strange wooden gates saying that we are now, finally, officially in the north. North! Thrilled to pieces, we discuss how everything around has changed in a wink.
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We come to Mosha, where Einar meets a friend. They invite me to hang out with them, to have some drinks and walk downtown, but I have to pass. I could barely afford to get to Tromsø on my own. So, Einar drops me somewhere in the outskirts. It’s time to say goodbye.

It was a freezing and foggy night in Mosha. With my bike still disassembled, all the warm clothes put on and an arm outstretched I waited at a bus stop. Not worrying a bit – sooner or later, an hour or two, someone will stop anyway. I only wished I’d had some cigarettes and something hot to drink. The huge and unassailable mountains were surrounding me. I got a text from Russian host from Narvik saying he was waiting for me the next day, which made me want to be there faster even more. To get some rest and take a shower.
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It was cold and boring, so I danced around. I met a Lithuanian – he had seen me before somewhere on the road, he and his girlfriend were hitch-hiking to North Cape. I asked about cigarettes, they had none, but we wished each other good luck. Two Norwegian girls, about 7-9 years old, revolved around me asking what I was doing and where I was going to. They laughed, showed me how to hitch-hike properly, ran hither and thither – to the gas station with Lithuanians, then to the supermarket. They asked me if I wanted coffee, I certainly did, and they brought me a cup of coffee from a vending machine. Then they started teaching me how to say thank you in Norwegian. For them, I was an entertainment.

Then two guys stopped. They were not going far, but they had cigarettes. Then the girls brought another cup of coffee. I got as happy as an elephant and started to laugh. An hour and a half later the Lithuanian guy brought two spliffs and the girls began to wavie my “Narvik” pad in front of the cars driving by. I felt like I was living in a comedy.

And then we heard a huge Scania truck slow down. Everyone froze. I approached the cab, smiling at a huge door opening at a height of several meters, revealing a shy face of a young Norwegian guy.

– Hello – I say, drawling – Where are you going?
– Tromsø – answers Robin and I feel like my heart beats faster.

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This post is also available in: Russian