Travel Memories: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Flam, Norway

I’m often the lucky recipient of travel flashbacks. For whatever reason, an image, a smell, a situation, or conversation will come to my mind from out of the blue. Sometimes it makes me chuckle (at inappropriate times), sometimes it makes me feel nostalgic, but mostly it makes me smile. In my opinion, this is another one of the many benefits of travel.

In the trip planning process, the first step is to think about where you want to go. Next you plan your itinerary. Then, when your journey is underway, you see cool things, meet interesting people, take pictures, and gather lots of memories along the way. A really great feature of your travel experience, though, is that once it’s over, it’s not over—not by a long shot. By taking that trip, you’ve invested in some seriously amazing memories that can be redeemed at any time. Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

Today, one such flashback zapped into my mind like magic. It made me feel nostalgic, smile, and chuckle, all at the same time (luckily, not at an inappropriate moment). I vividly remember this particular outing because it was full of elements that make up a great day: wonderful company, beautiful destination, and the spirit of exploration. The cruise ship we worked on was docked in Flåm for the day, so a group of ten of us crew members had devised a plan to make the most of our short stay in Norway. As soon as crew shore leave was granted, we were off. Bright and early we rented bicycles and excitedly boarded one of the Flaamsbana railroad cars, which would transport us to Myrdal, covering a distance of approximately twenty kilometers and an elevation gain of 864 meters in about forty-five minutes.

En route to Myrdal the train stops at Kjosfossen. The sole purpose of this stop is to give passengers an opportunity to disembark the train for a few minutes, allowing them to behold the magnificent Kjosfossen waterfall. Accordingly, our group got out of the train. We gazed up at the thunderous cascade, and off in the distance, a woman dressed in what we assumed was traditional Norwegian garb emerged on the cliffs above. Grand music accompanied her arrival and she began to sing a moving, operatic piece. The air was full of mist from the crashing falls. We were all in awe of the majestic scene when a member of our group (who had been zooming in on the woman with his telephoto lens) began to giggle. We never would have noticed from afar, but with the aid of a zoom lens and a digital display, we could clearly see that the woman performing on the cliff was in fact a man in a dress and wig, getting his groove on (not at all an unusual sight for any frequenter of a cruise ship crew bar).

That moment was a bit like comic relief during an intense movie scene. After the chuckle and wonderful sights of Kjosfossen, we were refreshed and ready to continue on our journey. We re-boarded the caboose and occupied ourselves with chatting and taking in the panoramic mountain views until our arrival in Myrdal. Once there, we stopped to refuel with a requisite cup of hot cocoa at the small station’s café and then continued on to our next destination: the ship. Yes, we were headed back down to the ship already, but not by train. We were taking the scenic route back, by bicycle.

I already knew how gorgeous the Norwegian Fjords are from sailing through them numerous times. I had already been in awe of the mountain landscapes during the train ride. But having experienced Norway’s scenic beauty via ship or train did not prepare me for how much more spectacular the views would be from my humble little rental bike.

With fresh breezes greeting us on our downward trek, we thoroughly delighted in the vista before us. Riding past valleys and peaks of lush green foliage, we happened upon waterfalls, an occasional lonely log cabin with characteristic grass-covered roof, and streams so clear they looked as if they were straight out of a bottled water advert. We came upon a beautiful herd of goats in a valley and had to stop to say hello. They were friendly, happy goats. We were curious about them and they were curious about us. I sat on a log in their midst and was taken with one playful goat in particular, whom I shall henceforth refer to as Billy. Billy showed no signs of fear. He came right up to me and nestled his head on my lap (how sweet!). I wasn’t sure if I should pet him or not, but I found this gesture of affection to be completely endearing and was therefore utterly smitten—until he started peeing—with his head in my lap. Perhaps I misinterpreted his gesture of kindness?

Oh, the many wonderful and varied experiences travel bestows! You, too, could sit on a remote log on a Norwegian mountainside and cuddle with a peeing goat named Billy! And then such images could revisit you at unexpected moments in the future as random travel memories, such as during a job interview, on a blind date, or at a church service. If that thought doesn’t get you packing for your next trip, I don’t know what will.


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Categories: Memories

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