A Nordic Farewell

And so, after 78 days of travel I am saying goodbye to Scandinavia. Lots of miles driven (not by me), lots of cobblestones walked (ALL by me) and lots of water - outside of a few days in northern Norway, I've been skirting the shore, connecting the ports. My friend Jim is back home and hiking in Colorado soon and I?m heading to Mongolia next.

Even booking the flight to Mongolia was exotic enough to get my credit card cancelled due to expected fraud (since replaced)?what, doesn't everyone sit in northern Norway, booking a flight from Helsinki Finland, to Mongolia, via Russian Aeroflot airlines?

Scandinavia was something to see, but get a sponsor it's not cheap

What Rhymes with Scandinavia?

Scandinavian + Ramble = Scramble - Here are My Scrambled Thoughts

Of Iceland

Ring Road or not Ring Road, there was a lot of gravel

Lava in all shapes and sizes, like baking brownies overflowing the pan

But lavender, like a purple highlighter marking the landscape in between those brownies

Sheep in all bleating-sizes;

hiking hills so steep,

cutting paths thru the pastures,

or running on the street.

Geothermal "hotspots";

more like human crock-pots;

respites for weary bones

Was he reading a roadmap or having a stroke?

Icelandic hotdogs are a thing

Fjords of all shapes and sizes;

Like a ragged shirt-tail to Icelands east and west

Clattering sheeps hooves;

black houses with grass roofs;

they keep all the rams hidden

There was a shop called "I don?t speak Icelandic" in Reykjavik

After beating England in soccer, an English pundit quipped that there were more volcanoes in Iceland than registered football professionals and he was right

Though it felt like cartographers revenge, we even found "Arctic Stonehenge" it only took three hours of looking

They like Bruce Springstee. a lot

Iceland was a niceland - try the snuder

Of Faroes

The 18 islands of Faroes appear to be natural stepping stones needed to complete a proper "hopscotch" between Scotland and Iceland; a Rorschach test pattern laid out in greens and blue

Connecting the roads, thru the labyrinth of available tunnels and ferries is an adventurers dream since the distances are miniscule compared to Iceland. You may think you could walk it all, but rent a car.

But the needs of the Faroes are met. Tourism, thy name is July and August. Early morning coffee starts at 11am; and not on Sunday, nothing on Sunday. Faroese don't eat pretzels.

Faroes have fjords very narrow;

but fishing abounds, warmer than Iceland,

not really mountains, but mounds

Birds with feathers flock here;

terns and gulls, and puffins aplenty;

they make great pictures and are, quite frankly, tasty

Sheep litter road shoulders,

hopping thru fields, asleep on boulders;

having the coolest cornopean horns

Small enclaves hugging the shores, like flotsam on the rocks;

painted the colors of the Danish flag,

Faroes draw their existence from the sea, it was clear to me

or maybe from selling woolen socks

The lush green all around, like Tolkien's "Hobbit-town",

the rolling shires lead off to infinity

the police department operates from 2 to 4

If Iceland was niceland, the Faroes are more like Brigadoon

Of Norway

The bryggian of Bergen was more like a heavenly harbor, despite the rain

Norway has good drainage, and needs it

Above the arctic circle is an entirely different ballgame, the sparseness we saw in remote Iceland is replaced by thriving enclaves of Nordic Norwegians, totally comfortable in their isolation.

There are reindeer a plenty, available in "patty" or "link" at almost every gas station around

There are native "Sammi" selling their craft and culture to the motorists passing by?.along with their own "patty" and "link" options.

When you ask for "Norwegian Brown" you?ll get cheese

In the "waffle wars", the Norwegian trumps the Belgian every time

Judging by what we see on the road, Norwegians exist on hotdogs, ice cream and waffles

The terrain of arctic Norway mirrors that of Iceland; if you swap the lava for trees, and the lavender is the same?Icelandic churches are more iconic, but Norwegian ice cream is better

Of Denmark

Trust me on this, rent a bicycle

That sun you see is just a pre-raincloud formation. But Denmark dries out quicker than Norway

Beer is cheap, Carlesburg is almost free

Copenhagen is a bit like the Wisconsin Dells, almost $20 to open any door

There is Papereet literally a food island which is a must, as is Christiana, but just exhale

Of Salads, Subway - Sweden

Again, rent a bicycle

The "old" section of town is the island of Gamla Stan and it's comprised 100% of tourists

When in Gamla Stan, speak Italian?it's easier to blend in

When the sun shines, "townies" launch themselves at open green spaces, turning into human solar collectors..

Swedes wear a lot of black

There's a real pirate ship dating to 1630 called the "Vasa" SO worth the price of admission

There is artwork in the subway stations here. Probably about 10 worth seeing?the others just have colors. Don?t buy a multi-day pass?just a single ticket and you?re good.

Of Finland

Bikes are expensive, take the tram or bus

Reindeer are only on the menu in Helsinki

Finns wear more black than Swedes

Finns are Friendly and speak great English

So like any good shuttle launch, it takes a powerful booster to break the atmosphere. My friend "REI Jim" was that booster. He did an amazing job driving every mile while I took frequent naps and would wake up with a "where are we? question". We saw some stuff together and had a lot of laughs. My legs and gear got a good shake out too, so while the booster gets to return to normalcy in America, I get to carry on..

Time to meet my Mongol?