From a young age, I always knew I had an incurable infatuation with travelling. The idea of roaming far off lands across the world’s seven seas, which are only heard about in adventure tales, is something that I have been chasing since I was old enough to hop on a plane by myself.
So here I was, aged 19, sitting in the small communal kitchen of a student housing complex in downtown Stockholm, Sweden, surrounded by complete strangers from all corners of the world, who would eventually become my closest friends. I had just embarked on a semester abroad and should have been in my own dorm studying, but instead, I was with them discussing plans to travel around Europe. One girl from Belgium suggested that we take the bus across the border to Norway, somewhere I hadn’t planned to travel to. “It’s only 30 Euros!” she proclaimed, and that was good enough for us. We all purchased a ticket and at 6:00 am the following morning, embarked on the bus journey that would change my life forever.
Before this, I had visited some incredible places, all experiences which I cherish very dearly. And honestly, I had not expected much from this spontaneous trip to Norway, other than to see the northern lights and perhaps some polar bears. When we hopped off the bus in Oslo, my first thought was that, although it was beautiful, it looked very similar to Stockholm due to the Scandinavian influence present in the architecture of the buildings and layout of the city. After venturing around and tasting some local cuisine (reindeer meat) we decided to rent a car. With a few days to kill and with a lonely planet guide to Norway accompanying us, we began venturing west to the Fjords and quaint seaside town of Bergen.
To those who have spent a lot of time travelling, perhaps you also have that one place. The one place which you would go back to in a heartbeat. The one place that when someone asks where your favourite place you have visited is, you immediately and excitedly proclaim it. Perhaps you remember the moment you fell in love with that place, whether it be because of the scenery, people, culture, food or another reason.
For me, that moment was exiting out of a long tunnel which carved through the base of a mountain. As we exited the tunnel that separated us from sleepy suburban Oslo, we were met by a view which can only be described as astonishing. Imagine cascading waterfalls from mighty glaciers streaming down the lush mountainside and into crystal clear water. My first thought was, is this what heaven looks like? As perhaps I miraculously ended up in heaven all of a sudden. But no, it was indeed a real place which you can visit, and amazingly it was right in front of my eyes! All of us in the car exclaimed “wow!” as we continued along the windy roads which snaked up the mountainside.
From there on, I spent the next five days continually staring out the window, not distracted by a phone, not laughing with friends, just soaking up the view of the most beautiful place I have ever seen to this day. Norway continued to surprise me on that journey, with every turn displaying a beautiful glacier or turquoise coloured water, and every pit stop being greeted with a warm smile and friendly hospitality. I kept falling deeper and deeper in love with Norway.
Eventually, all good things must come to an end. After five magnificent days spent roaming Norway’s rugged mountainside, it was time for us to head back to Sweden and continue our study. But to this day my love for Norway has not died and it remains my most favourite place on earth, for one day I will return.