Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kayaking Around the Bøkfjorden in Norway

Norway was sort of an accident. I figured, since I was already in Murmansk, why not hop the van (a VW van) to get over the border for a few days. I never expected or imagined to have dude-this-is-tops experiences cresting every day. Biking around the fjords and kayaking around the fjords... kayaking? Whaaaa?

This is not something I would've even imagined for myself. See, Norway is crazyspensive to a traveler like me who can generally get by on a few bucks a day, sometimes less. They want your dollars and they want them bad (or perhaps it's just that the U.S. dollar isn't worth so much any more). So, normally for someone like me to go kayaking, it would cost a fortune to go on some sort of tour.

But, well, sometimes things happen that you weren't expecting or that you didn't even ask for.

Couchsurfing host Marian was one rad lady --- she's a member of her local kayaking club. On Wednesday, we donned our warm-ish clothes (wool rules) and set out for the the Bøkfjorden that is just a four minute walk from her house.

Dag with our kayak. 
the boathouse
When we got there, I was introduced to Dag. I would definitely consider Dag to be a rockstar. He's a father, husband, and took good care of the American who decided  join their club for the day. He asked if I wanted my own kayak or to share one. I opted to share one - I was expecting my period any day (come on travelling body, bleed!) and was in the gentle-time of the month, where I treat my body with lots of tea and carrots. I also figured it could save them having to wait for my undeveloped kayaking muscles to kick in.

I was handed a dandy full-body suit of light blue. It had black rubber socks attached to the bottom and a tiny, tiny little hole on the top for your neck out of rubber (the hole was around the size of two fists together). All this was so, in the water, if you fell in you wouldn't get wet 'cept your hands and head. To get into such a suit, you had to manoeuvre yourself into yet another tiny little hole which was created by a zipper across the chest. Just Google "kayak suit" for a better idea.

As we prepped to hop into the water, I noticed a common trend on the gear. The paddles, the water pump, the something else... they were all from Washington state. Boo-yah! Way to get a corner on the Norwegian Kayaking market, Washington. The Kayak boasted the name, "Alaska." Cascadia reigns.

In the boat, it was all unreal, like a dream... yes, that word serene would, once again, be appropriate here. Little, "wow's" and "whoa's" kept exploding from my front of the kayak as we passed by a waterfall, cave, and slipped up the fjord. I am kayaking in a Norwegian fjord, world! This is cool, man.

On the way back, we stopped for a snack. Marion had brought nuts to share.

From there, it was smooth paddling back. I was grateful to be sharing with Dag. As he told me, "Paddle when you want and don't paddle when you don't want to." The crew even spoke quite a bit of English together, for my sake. I understand bits of Norwegian (certainly more than Russian, drat it), but not enough to just take it in. There were four Norwegian men, Marion (who is German), and I, the American.

I slept oh-so well that night... even though the sun didn't really ever go down.

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