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Old 29th October 2013, 18:42   #91
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Default Re: Day 1 #3: Living Things

Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Its well past noon and its time to turn our attention to more pressing matters. "Us"
Finally after 4 days of wait, the next post is here. But wait, "Ye to shuru hote hi khatam ho gayi". Come on Tanveer, please post longer posts if you are going to post after a gap of so many days or like TV soap operas, post small, but every day.
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Old 30th October 2013, 08:06   #92
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

What a brilliant travelogue.

The best pictures I have ever seen till date.
All of them are wallpaper material.
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Old 30th October 2013, 09:31   #93
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Wink Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

A day after reading your travelogue, I came to know that one of my colleague (after quitting my current company) is joining in a Norwegian company and will be based in Oslo. Boy, did I envy him!!
But on the other side, if I ever plan a trip to Scandanavia, I will have someone who knows about Norway and can perhaps save me some money (hotel rent for a night or two!!). Afterall, what are friends for!!
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Old 30th October 2013, 10:08   #94
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Default Day 1 #4: Old and new

Opera house.
That is where we will go next. Inky pinky ponky works very well always. The Oslo Opera house is a tourist attraction, mostly due to the fact that you can walk to its roof.
Add to that the brilliant location on the Fjord, you have a cake with icing.
To go up the roof, you simply walk up a steep incline. There are stairs too, but walking up is more fun.
Signboards warn against cycling and skateboarding, however, when you have such a break bones magnet in the heart of the city, do you think people will listen? The Norwegians love to ignore any such signboards. So when its written. This is dangerous, they always love to do it.
Such lovely people.
Anyways, we did not have a cycle or skateboard, so we took the walk route upwards.
But before that I turned my eye to the setting sun. An old replica ship approaching the sculpture "She lies".
This sculpture actually can rotate with tides and winds.
Its supposed to be accumulation of ice. But modern art does not make sense anyways. If I interpret it, its a shipwreck.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01039_lrxl.jpg

But then to each one his own.
We will soon discover that art has a very different meaning in Norway. If you were a kid whose drawings we thrown out of the arts and crafts class, head to Norway to be a millionaire.
Take anything. Mold it into any shape. If you do not know how to mold... well simply throw it. The shape it takes is an artwork worth millions, voila!

Nevertheless, the opera house does not resemble any such thing, and is full of clean lines everywhere. There is no curve. Just sharp angles, perfect for that bone breaking fall from the skateboard.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3019_lrxl.jpg

Even inside, there are clean lines. Guess what is this
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3022_lrxl.jpg

A shot from inside
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3024_lrxl.jpg

The "Maze"
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3025_lrxl.jpg

Outside, there is a dance group trying to do yoga or something in slow motion
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3027_lrxl.jpg

WE roam about endlessly, simply doing nothing. Let me tell you, there is no feeling better than the feeling of doing nothing!
Now what?
Lets go back to hotel and eat. Butttt... you see when you come so far, how do you miss all the "major" attractions?

And one of the major attractions is "Akershus Castle".
The oldest monument of Oslo.
So off we go walking to the train station. ITs a stones throw from Opera house, and right outside we catch our tram

But before we go on the tram, interpret this
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3028_lrxl.jpg

Akershush castle is old. Very old. Very Very old. I mean not Rajasthan old, but then 1290 is pretty long ago. I mean, I wasn't even born then.
However more than its age, its its history which is more remarkable. This castle has never been conquered. Survived each and every seige laid on it. Every single one. Zilch defense penetration. Next time a network engineer tells you his firewall stops 99% of attacks, you can tell him "Look dude you suck. Men wearing only underwear have a better track record than you".

When faced with Germany, well they simply shut down the firewall. So technically, it was never penetrated!

In the modern age, artists have made this fortress the site of their bizarre creations. The same guys who got thrown out of arts class. They have given it a fancy name too. Its called Sculpture trail.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3034_lrxl.jpg

So, lets rock the trail, shall we?
This is the Elephant bird. It does not look like an Elephant or a bird at all
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3030_lrxl.jpg

A view of the indoors
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3033_lrxl.jpg

More indoors
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3036_lrxl.jpg

These are supposed to be two cats
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3037_lrxl.jpg

And that is an apple tree with apples out of reach
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3038_lrxl.jpg

This guy probably took too much of something.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3039_lrxl.jpg

As we roam about hunger began to hit, and then I spot a tree. Well a fruit tree. A big fruit tree very very heavy.
Now, unlike Switzerland, Norway is mostly free. There is no "tax" or fees on nature. So if you like a scenic place, put your camp there. If you see a fruit tree on public road, eat.

So here we had, a tree full of pears. A couple are within reach.
And we have a bite each.

At that moment, I dunno what hit. Never in my life I have ever tasted such pears. Two is not enough. So its time to hang and swing. Rain falls in torrents, as the over-ripe fruits fall all around us.
For the next 15 minutes we are like kids in a candy store. Norway has decided, we won't stay hungary.
After eating almost a kg each, we pack many more into our bag.

We are well fed now, and hotel going can be postponed.

So we watch the sunset, and the life around. Today is our last day in Oslo. Tomorrow, the trip will start!
At one part of the castle this dude is doing march past all alone.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3040_lrxl.jpg

We walk outside, to ruins of something. History buffs can google it
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3044_lrxl.jpg

Another palace, the royal one that is
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3045_lrxl.jpg

Looks same as the chap we see in Ladakh, doesn't it?
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01051_lrxl.jpg

Finally we reach the area around the station, and try our hand at bone breaking sports in front of the exhibition of world food and hunger
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3046_lrxl.jpg

No pics. When you are busy trying to break something, you do not click. For the curious, there were two poles with a thick strap tied, and you had to walk on the strap from one end to other.
And the best part is, before us, there were only kids there, and soon we have a line of adults waiting to try.
Thankfully, no bone breaking, though a couple of falls meant we scoot.

Slowly the night fell, and we continued doing nothing. Just staring at the ocean. Oslo may not have the vastness of vienna, the grandness of Budapest, or the songs of Salzburg, but it had the free spirit, and fresh air... and the tastiest pears in the world.

Little did we know, this wasn't going to be the first time Norway will take care of hunger!

We trudged back to our hotel, and prepared to sleep, not before a not so heavy dinner though. I do not recall, but I figure we almost finished our paronthas, with some kept for the next morning.

Good night Oslo, tomorrow, we discover Norway.


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Old 30th October 2013, 17:49   #95
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Default Day 2 #1: Send me on my way

We have a Target. 8am. 8am we will be at the Airport for our car rental.
However, its a target, and targets are to be missed. Even Olympic shooters miss their targets.
No big deal.
And no worry either. 8am,9am or 10am? Time is just a number relative. It may be 10am, but its still 9am in GMT, and the mightiest nation in the world is still sleeping, and the most technical is about to sleep.
So yes, its just a number.
But nevertheless, its time to make haste.
We finish the last of the Paronthas, with cheese and breadspread, and proceed to repack our luggage.
The big suitcases have more capacity than the airline weight limit, and we proceed to load them up fully, as they have wheels. That would leave us with lightweight backpacks.
Our hotel is paid, and we step out, on a cool monday morning. A lot of other people have stepped out too. I turns out they go to a funny place called "workplace"..
This time we skip the tram. You see the tram station is 300mts further than the bus station. Who wants to do cross country trekking with luggage.

The bus comes, and with our daily passes we trudge on. Low floor or not, its no joke to carry a 25kg luggage up the bus.

The journey to the train station is quick, and before we take the logical step of the Airport train, there are more pressing matters to attend.
Or pressing matter - Singular.

You see, I have a nice phone, and so does my wife. But we lack a local sim. Our first trip was without a local sim because we weren't going to call anybody much, and most of our travels were through many countries.
Here things were different.

We were mostly confined to Norway, and since this place is quite quite remote as compared to southern EU, its always a good idea to have a phone. Secondly, when we go aurora chasing, its always good to have a working internet connection. I know the bit about wardriving etc., but guess what, that works best in densely populated areas, and when you are aurora chasing, you are on a dark lonely icy road in the middle of nowhere.

So we needed a local sim. The shops were open. Many lament about the fact that shops close at 6:30pm, but then, they open at 7am or latest by 8am.

The guy at the counter is friendly. I am looking for mycall.no, but after knowing my other destination, Nord Norge, he feels I would be better off with "Chess.no" as they have better coverage in remote areas.
The deal is simple
100NOK for sim, 50NOK credit included. Internet is some 2NOK/10MB. If I touch 20NOK per day, its capped at 20NOK.
So I can use 200MB or 200GB in a day, all for 20NOK.

The next question is that of Sim. As expected, he does not have a "micro sim". Before I can take out the sim cutter(Yes, I packed in a sim cutter, am I intelligent or what?), he takes out his own, and cuts the sim for me.

Within minutes we are live. Alpha tango Charlie.. I hear you loud and clear.

Time for the same slow train, which takes 10 minutes more to the airport and costs 1/3 of the superfast.

Oslo Airport is not too big, unlike some other EU airports, so getting to the car rental area is not a big workout.

I had rented through my airline(norwegian), and the lowest price had been on EUROPCAR. In rental preferences I had given "Diesel Compact Car with snow tires".

Before I proceed further about car rental in Europe, you have to understand, that car rental size classification for America and Europe is very different.

For example, something like a Tata Safari would be a compact in USA, and a full size would be as big as a Shatabi express.

In Europe, you get small things like Fiat 500/Micra in economy segment, then Compact is your bigger hatches like Polo, Intermediate can be a small sedan or an even bigger hatch like a Golf. Some slightly wannabe exotics also come in this segment.
Then you have midsize - Full size - Estate - SUV. Most of your Octavia type cars can often come under full size.

From a financial standpoint, it makes good sense to book "Economy", however, there is the risk of getting stuck with a very small thing. Like a Smart. And trust me, with two big airport suitcases, you don't want that.

So I had booked compact. If we get a polo folded seats will easily get in our suitcases.

The rental counter guy is cheerful, and adjacent to him is an Indian(A Gujrati Bhai nonetheless!). But since our bro is busy with another customer we go him.

So I give him my papers etc., and ask him about our preferred choice.

"We know your preference since you are going to mountains, but we are out of diesel cars with snow tires. So diesel without snow tires, or petrol with snow tires".

Now this is a problem. We plan to drive in the mountains. If the weather turns, we will be dead without snow tires. But petrol is more expensive, and mileage is far lower.
15NOK/liter for petrol and 13.5/L for diesel

At this point, there is the next logical thing. What about a segment higher than compact? Can we get a free upgrade. I promise to buy extra insurance.

And that brings me to insurance.
In the EU, cars come with loss damage waiver, which has about 90,000 INR minimum deductible. It does not even covers tires and stuff. So you have to buy two extra insurance
1. LDW reduction, which reduced deductible to some 25000 INR
2, Peace of mind - Which covers tires and windshield - Must have because, thats the part you would likely damage most.

The sales agent gets a commission when insurance is unclaimed, so if you buy insurance, you usually get a free upgrade. However, this guy only offers to give "good price".

At that moment, I activate the logical and mathematical center of my brain. It woks like this
Extra cost of car = X. Extra cost of if we take Petrol = Y. If Y ~ X then we take upgrade, else we drive petrol.

So as he clicks and clacks on the keyboard, he figures out we will get a VW Golf. So off he goes, gets the keys.. and then goes back. No snow tires here to.

Then he starts click clack again. And then what he says next injects the "heart vs mind" virus into my perfectly logical and mathematical brain.

We can give you a mini cooper Diesel.

With a great effort, and nerves of steel and what not, I prevent myself from launching into the air and jumping over the counter to grab the keys and ask in a very hopeful and "I hope I am not sounding too eager and I am not grinning" kind of voice : How much extra.

800NOK for 7 days.
Thats 8800INR for the car.

Calculations start happening, but the virus ensures I forget about 25% VAT. So lets see, including the slightly higher cost of insurance, its 12000 INR extra.

2000kms, 20kmpl - 100 liters
Petrol will be 130 liters so I save approx 7000 INR in fuel which means... for 5000 INR more, we are going to be in a mini cooper.
For the curious, including the VAT it turned out to be 10000-11000 more.

So the mathematical part is completely shutdown, and its time for the formalities. But there is a tiny thread of logic, which is still refusing to die

"Will our suitcases fit?"
"Aah yes, no problem. Its not the smallest kind of mini cooper you see".

Not the smallest kind? Now what is it? Clubman. But the keyless not key says cooper. Anyway, we will cross that bridge when we reach it. For now, its time to climb 4 floors.

We were going West! The journey had begun!
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Old 31st October 2013, 14:08   #96
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Default Day 2 #2: Go West

The rental car parking space is on the 4th floor of a parking lot. This means, very obviously, that this is a multi level Parking lot.
We walk through some dim corridors to the lift, and just a few minutes from the rental desk we are at our destination.

Normally, in the ocean of Rental car parking, locating your car can be quite taxing. There are rows and rows of identical cars standing. If you have ever rented in the USofA, you would know.

However, here the number of cars is not so much. Rental fleets are not as vast as those found in places like SFO/SJC

But even if it was full of large fleets, missing the mini cooper is almost impossible.

So right behind the big Skoda, the mini is trying to hide.
I have seen the mini in person before, it fleeting by on Delhi roads, and of course in pictures, and now she will be our steed for the next 7 days.

So as we approach our white one, I can't help but remembering one incident.
It was the festive season, and there was a lot of rush at some shopping mall. There was a little girl, who was constantly pointing to some doll or other toy and whining.

At first the mother tried to calm her, pull her out etc., but when nothing worked. "Whack" one slap.

The girl's face then started doing a transformation. The ends of her lips started going down. More down, then more down and then even more down, and after what seemed like eternity she started crying.

Now imaging her face milliseconds before she actually starts crying. The mini looks exactly like that.
"Boo hoo hoo, somebody took my lollypop, I am about to cry"

Or maybe in this case. "Boo hooo hoo, there are so many suitcases with these two idiots".

My wife however is delighted with the looks. What can I say. She even finds the Beetle good looking.
On seconds thoughts, its not a bad looking car, just one that is about to cry.

Speaking of suitcases, as the rest of the mini came into view, I realized that its a mini cooper.

"Not the smallest mini" the Mr. Smile had said. Is there a Micro Mini cooper too around?

What next. I press a button on the not key key and open the boot, or hatch. And guess what, my worst fears are confirmed. This cannot even fit cabbin baggage, let alone the Airport special suitcase with 20kg of food and 20kg of clothes, and of course with a tripod somewhere in the mix.

Well every problem has a solution, and the solution here meant we needed to take out the parcel tray and drop the seats. With some pushing and heaving and grunting, the mini cooper is now maruta.

Time for the drivers seat.

Whenever you get a rental car in your hand, esp a car you have never driven before, remember, its good to spend 10-15 minutes knowing the car. Its like the ice breaker. You get to know her, and she gets to know you. And then you party like mad.

The drivers seat is extremely low. Very very low. After pushing a button here and a button there, the seat is taken care of.

Then comes the matter of storage spaces. The glovebox is small, and ditto for the door pockets. Does it come with 1L bottle holder? Ha Ha, kidding?

On the plus side, the car is extremely comfortable. Its like a well padded sardine can. The lumbar support is the best ever, seats are heated with 3 settings, the radio has bluetooth and blah blah. It can even play music stored on your phone. But I did not know this part. I am glad I did not, because I discovered P4 Norge, probably the best FM radio station in the world. I mean they can play 80s rock all day long!

With all the static stuff taken care off, its time to figure out the controls. Its a stick shift. Six gears. Which means there is going to be some ring to pull up(A la toyota), or you push down the gearshift(A La Polo). But there isn't any. Nada.

I try various stuff, but I cannot figure out how to engage reverse. Darn.
Out comes the owners manual.
As I flip pages, I glance at the power. 80KW or 110PS, not too bad, but....

On our "Sonata Europa" trip we got a 90bhp Citreon C3 Picasso. It turned out to be 90 american donkies wearing french clothes, with a spanish name and looking like a swiss cow.

So horses or donkeys? That is next, first we learn how to go reverse.
Finally, I somehow find the page in the norwegian manual, and there, in very fluid Norwegian, its explained how to engage reverse. Very nice. Only a small problem here. None of us understand Norwegian.

So out comes the smartphone, and we discover, there is no airport WIFI signal in parking lot for google translate to work.
So now we are at the crossroads, and this major decision of our life gives us three ways.
Walk with owners manual to the main lounge and read and come back
Waste some precious mobile internet currency and do everything sitting here.
Or forget Google, and find someone.

The best solution is always one which does not use smartphones or Google or the clouds.
So off I go to the Europcar window, where nobody is sitting.
However, there are couple of guys chatting up at the Hertz window, and I present my dilemma.

"No ring to go up, no push down? What car is it?" Mini cooper
Aah BMW, says one of them. you have to engage second, and then kind of do an S to go to reverse.

So engage second to go reverse.
I am feeling like lightning mcqueen(Go left to go right, remember?)

So back to the car, its time of reckoning.
Engage second, keep going then feel where the shift goes. Aha S

With reverse gear solved, there is the next problem to solve. Where to go. This time I am using OSM exclusively for navigation. The route from here to the west is short and sweet, however, I have added waypoints in the app(OSMAND) to take me north first, and then make a sharp left, cross some mountains, and land up at our destination of the day, the Sogn Fjord.

Due to open sky, thankfully, there is no dilemma of whether to go left or right out of the underground parking lot.I turn on the headlights, and thankfully, I can keep them turned on, because as soon as you turn off the engine, the lights go off. Its compulsory in Nordic countries to always have headlights on. There are three justifications for this. One is the standard line that it makes it easier to spot other vehicles. This is even debated in some circles. The second justification has to do with the high latitude. Unlike down south, twilight lasts for hours here. So between sunset and darkness there is often a span of 3 hours or more. The further up north you get the longer the twilight gets. And therefore, there is a good chance that somebody will not turn on their headlights. Its like the frog in the slowly boiling water. The third is the countless tunnels, many of them unlit. Imagine you are about the exit a tunnel, blinded by the harsh sunlight, and you do not spot the one entering.

Then there are the other settings, auto start stop is on(fuel saving you see),
and so is traction control and all driver aids. I am no racing driver, so I
will trust the computer with the controls!.

Unlike Austria, the airport is pretty outskirtish, and very very soon we are the highway.

Now its time, to find out whats under the hood.
Being a six gear car, I expect to engage 6th at 1500rpm or so. But, not this baby. she wants me to upshift at 1200. And then she pulls. Pulls like an electric train. There is no such thing called turbo lag. Its not in her vocabulary. Any gear, and rpm, she pulls, These are not horses. These are the very horses of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, and I just cannot wait to floor the pedal, and listen to the muted rumble of hellfire burning within.

But speeding tickets are pretty hellish in Nordic countries, and I stick to 80 on the speedo. I am sure you have red about the Finnish guy called Jussi, who got handed over a $200,000 fine for driving 25mph over the limit. Norwegian speeding fines are not 200,000$ but still pretty steep, running into 10s of thousands of our bimar currency.

Well, in Norway, there are two ways get a speeding ticket.
1. I am too dumb to drive way
Norway has speed cameras, and by law they are require to tell you if there is a camera much before the camera actually comes. So unless you are totally dumb to see that big honking camera ahead sign, you get ticket.
2. I got owned way
Sometimes, there are cops standing with radar guns. Not too common, because being a nation of very few people, there are very few cops. But still there are some. For example, in our entire 500km+ hour journey today, I saw one.

80 on the speed is around 76 on the GPS. And soon my electric train torque mini cooper has become an electric train. There are cars behind me, and there is no way I can pull over on this narrow highway.

Time for another fact about European roads. Expressways are often 2 laned undivided roads, esp in Norway. Sometimes they are curvy mountain roads. But no matter what they are speed limit is 80, unless indicated by speed limit sign to be 90.

Here there are signs too, 80.
So I accelerate to 80 on the speedo.

Still I am a train. Infact there is a SUV about 2 inches from the rear bumper. "Get out of my way, or I will make your almost crying face cry".

I accelerate further, and thankfully, the unbroken line becomes dotted.
And whoosh whoosh whoosh cars overtake me.

I am loving these people. Unlike the Swiss, who drive to 99.99% of precision of speed limit, just like their watches, for Norway speed limit is an indication of the speed you are supposed to have.

So in this 80 zone, traffic is doing 85-90, and I happily follow. Its always good to be at the end of the train.

Soon we are joined by an 18 wheeler big rig behind us, and since now everyone is in the happy zone, the space between cars increases to the recommended 3 second thingy.

Its been only 30 minutes, but I am already familiar with the road system. Yipee, this is going to be one fun road trip!
But very soon I will realize. Norway is, at the same time, one of the easiest, and one the toughest country to drive in the world!
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Old 31st October 2013, 20:06   #97
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Absolutely brilliant travelogue! Lucid writing, witty description, in-depth insights, all combine to make this a masterpiece in travel writing. I just feel like being there in Norway as I progress reading this. The photographs are, of course, as everyone is saying, simply awesome. Thanks dude, for sharing your joys with us. Just one thing that I would like to know little more is “the people”. A country is ultimately not its mountains, rocks, snows, colorful skies, or nature in general, but its people, according to me. If you don’t mind can we have little more about Norway, about its pretty women, about its dashing men and about its youth, as you had seen them from much closer than most of us would ever see. It need not be your interactions with them, just about them, from a distance, as you had observed them while passing through their beautiful country. And little more photos of the local populace, if you have – maybe in the marketplaces, in the airport, or in the malls. If you don’t mind, please…

Last edited by tsk1979 : 31st October 2013 at 21:50.
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Old 31st October 2013, 21:52   #98
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Originally Posted by debmum View Post
Absolutely brilliant travelogue! Lucid writing, witty description, in-depth insights, all combine to make this a masterpiece in travel writing. I just feel like being there in Norway as I progress reading this. The photographs are, of course, as everyone is saying, simply awesome. Thanks dude, for sharing your joys with us. Just one thing that I would like to know little more is “the people”. A country is ultimately not its mountains, rocks, snows, colorful skies, or nature in general, but its people, according to me. If you don’t mind can we have little more about Norway, about its pretty women, about its dashing men and about its youth, as you had seen them from much closer than most of us would ever see. It need not be your interactions with them, just about them, from a distance, as you had observed them while passing through their beautiful country. And little more photos of the local populace, if you have – maybe in the marketplaces, in the airport, or in the malls. If you don’t mind, please…
Thanks for liking the tlog
I had little interaction with people in Oslo. However, as we progress, I will add more stuff about our interaction with the locals. We did have a lot of interaction once we got out of the city.
As for pictures, sorry, I took none. Scandanavians value privacy very very much, and so I did not go into the portrait shooter mode
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Old 31st October 2013, 23:48   #99
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Default Re: Day 2 #2: Go West

Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
So engage second to go reverse.
I am feeling like lightning mcqueen(Go left to go right, remember?)
ROFL, i want to see this dialogue in a movie...
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Old 1st November 2013, 05:39   #100
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Absolutely brilliant travelogue!!!! I envy you for visiting so much places.
I would have to say you are master at planning/executing/photographing and narrating your trips. Eagerly waiting for more.
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Old 1st November 2013, 15:46   #101
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

I have spent the last 3 years of my life in the taiga (Scandinavia) and northern russia and I can't even begin to describe it like this let alone boast of such snaps. You, sir, have a very special gift. Brilliant thread, takes me down memory lane. Hats off!!
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Old 1st November 2013, 16:20   #102
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Default Day 2 #3: Up

Over 200ms. Yes, that is how much I drove before making a single pit stop. By now you are expecting pictures from these 200kms. Well, I must apologize, the camera was in the bag sandwiched in our "lorry".

As for the roads. They were awesome. But as anybody would tell you, at many places there were road works going on. Its a common practice here to inspect and repair roads before the snows make it an arduous task.

Nevertheless, the road was wide, and the traffic thin, which meant brist pace. Even with the 80kmph speed limit, its no big deal to average 70-75 over such sections.

And then, the Fagernes area, we left the "E". E stands for European highway, and usually means a nice wide road.

So the nice wide road was now replaced with a nice narrow road, which started rising gradually, and curving not so gradually.

Speed limit is still 80, but its a tad uncomfortable doing 80 with a train forming behind you.

As for the mini, she did not have any trouble coping with either the curves of the declines. Any gear, and rpm and she would pull. Damn, it would have been amazing to drive this on the stelvio instead of that franco american donkey.

Nevertheless, its time for a break. The primary reason for a break is to fill up oneself with something called food, which in our case were two sandwiches made of made in India bread with 40% whole wheat floor, and some white colored breadspread which had a lot of ingredients I am sure.

So where to stop. How about a nice wonderful crystal clear lake?
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3047_lrxl.jpg

Out of the heated comfort of the warm seats, we realized that it was quite cold. About 7 degree C or so. This is winter chill for us, esp in the afternoon.

However, the day was bright, the sky blue, and the water..
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3048_lrxl.jpg

The mini was still about to cry "Boo hooo hoo mommy gave the 3 a bigger engine"
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3050_lrxl.jpg

Right in front of our eyes, slowly the winds died. Norway had decided to show us her beauty
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3052_lrxl.jpg

Autumn is here, and the Taiga still fights
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3053_lrxl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01062_lrxl.jpg

We sat here for maybe 20 minutes more than necessary. We were here, on our way to the lovely fjord Norway, and barely hours into the journey, we were totally enchanted.

There are many scenic places in the world, where you have some scenic viewpoint, some scenic location, some scenic lake, some scenic waterfall, or some scenic mountain.

But in Norway, if you start looking for those, you won't cover even a single destination in a day, because, here the whole road is scenic. Every turn, every km, every mountain... has something to show you.

And as I drove, upwards, and towards our last "civilization town" for todays journey, I kept on wondering, can this get any better? And guess what it did.

With each passing km, the landscape changed, and kept on changing.
As we approached the last town before the mountain region begins, it was decided to tank up.

Now filling fuel is a pretty mundane task, however, it was there on the back of my mind.
First and foremost, a full tank now will mean no worrying about how much is the reserve capacity of the tank etc.,
Secondly, I was really really curious about how much does she drink
And last but not the least, there was a matter of "groceries" and a 100NOK coffee cup.

If you are wondering, why would we be looking for 1000rs coffee, well here is the deal. Coffee, even cheap one, in Norway costs 20-25NOK which means some 220-270 INR. However, you can spend 1000NOK and get something called the breakfast coffee cup. This is like the never ending coffee cup and you can fill up at any STATOIL pump anywhere in Norway. Neat?

But our search proved futile. It appears that the cup is valid for one year, and new stock comes in November, so 2013 supply was already exhausted, so we will not find it at any STATOIL pump for now?

So what next? Fill up fuel.

In USA, if you want to full fuel with cash, you have to go to the counter, hand over cash equivalent to something greater than your estimated need, and then fill fuel and return the change.

As I try to do the same, the cheerful guy at the counter informs me that pumps are always on, so I just fill and come back.

There are few other people at the pump, and unlike USA where everybody has an ear to ear grin for greeting everybody on the street here people are more errr normal. But in my case, some of them are openly staring. I mean not "I want to lynch you brownie" kind of way, but in a very curious way. Like you went to the zoo and saw a monkey with 6 limbs.

We would get that a lot in Rural Norway, and I realize why. We are total aliens here. These remote villages live in their own world, and exposure is very very limited.
But that does not mean they are hostile or unhelpful. As I try to figure out the instructions in Norwegian, a guy of his on accord comes, and gets me started.

So its time to fill fuel, and we will be going to the brim. The rental cars are always rented full, though its always slightly less than full, and the first tankful gives you an indicative mileage.

Over a period you get to know.

And guess what this is one fuel fill full of anticipation. How much will this about to cry thingie give me. Will she make me cry with her?

The fuel meter runs fast, and much faster than that runs the cost display. Its like those cartoon movies where they guy hits a jackpot and the meters go berserk and mountains of cash rain. Here it was more of a drain than rain, but still, tanks had to be fulled.

13.5 NOK/liter. That is a whopping 150 INR/liter. And its not because Norway imports crude. Norway is very rich in gas and petroleum resources. However, fuel is highly taxed. Slightly lower taxes for diesel, and even higher for petrol. Strict emission regulations mean that even around trucks you can hardly smell soot.

Job done, I park the car on the side, and we start working the calculations.

There are cars which gulp fuel. Gulp Gulp Gulp, and don't even burp.
Then there are the normals. Drink some go some drink some go some.
Then you have the anorexics "I am watching my figure honey, only 1 liter for me"

We own the 1st and 3rd type, and have owned the second type too.
However today I discover a new type.

She is not human. She is that yogi who has transcended space and time, and now only needs to sniff fuel.
Sniff sniff -- Go 100kms Sniff sniff Go 100kmpl

26KMPL. Yes 26. Over a long distance drive of almost 300kms, she has done 26kmpl. The Bavarian horses are not only on steroids, they are actually magical like unicorns.
So it is confirmed, the mini has 110 unicorn power. No horses for this lady. No wonder she is about the cry. Unicorns with their pointy things.

Before I get carried away, lets go to groceries.

You see, this is a very very bad time to buy groceries. Research done by eminent scientists of the world has shown, that when I am happy, I tend to overspend. Thankfully, my better half accompanies me into the "coop" supermarket, and refuses to part with the money bag thingies.

So as she decides what we will not buy, I decide to scout for some drinking water, since our water bottle is empty.

I go outside, and see 3 kids and their mother washing their faces, filling some white cans, and also cleaning their skoda from a very sorry looking tap. I ask them, pointing to my bottle, where do i fill, and she explains to me broken English, well fill from here. We have also filled these cans for our mountaineering trip.

I knew tap water in Norway was clean, but I guess every tap is clean. Later I get to know, taps which do not have clean water are actually marked with signs about "do not drink".

Water done, I go inside, and find my wife staring at eggs. There are a lot of eggs, and they stare back. I also stare at them, and I realize the dilemma
18 eggs for 40NOK, 20 eggs for 38NOK.

Now, what the dilemma. The dilemma is that there is no egg in the 20 for 38 shelf. No amount of staring and even reciting pagan conjuring rituals can materialize eggs on that shelf. I guess I did not pack a wand or something.

So with the not so cheap eggs, 18 of them we head back to our about to cry mini. She looks at me in a very hateful and sinister way. "Booo hooo hooo, this moron is driving me in 6th gear. I wanna rev too"

And as we go up the narrow road, on top of Oppland.. I decide to oblige!
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Old 1st November 2013, 16:26   #103
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Terrific snaps and write-up to go along with it! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Watching the aurora remains on my bucket list - hope I get to witness the beauty of it one day. Thanks for the writeup!
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Old 1st November 2013, 16:36   #104
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

The lake looks like crystal clear glass. What a beauty! This is getting better and better.
My client is Nordic. In case I am lucky and they send me overseas, you TL will be my bible .

Last edited by Dodge_Viper : 1st November 2013 at 16:38.
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Old 2nd November 2013, 11:23   #105
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Tanveer, something I know about Norwegians..They either have a boat or a house in the mountains..some have both.
This one guy from Bergen area took me in his boat to his usual spot where he does Crab Fishing. He spends 2 days on the sea. sometimes 3. He gets the best of all - a house in the mountains overlooking the sea and a garage at the bottom of that hill to park his fishing boat and his speed boat.
Another guy has a home in the hills..its actually a Camper he took and just left it there. Him and I trekked to his mountain home once and spent some time there. Absolute bliss I tell you.
Norwegians, for that matter of fact Scandinavians, care a lot about nature and feel an emotional connect with it.
However, there is another growing trend - Norwegians are buying homes in Indonesia & Thailand to spend the winter in. They take off for 3 months at a stretch.

I have been lucky to be in Norway on all the rare few sunny days. It's usually Windy and rainy for the most part.

your pix are just stunning. When you finish this thread, I will post some of mine from Norway..if you don't mind i.e.

Last edited by 14000rpm : 2nd November 2013 at 11:31.
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