Until the past couple of days, I hadn’t truly realized how much of this trip was contingent on nature cooperating. Overall, we’ve had outstanding luck. Admittedly, our photo tour of the northern lights was a blizzardy bust. But we got to see them the next night (if not take great photos), and for our trip to Lillehammer today, we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.
But as Beate and I consider running this Interim again in future, we keep running up against just how lucky we’ve been. In Stockholm, the temperatures were in the upper-20s and mid-30s. In Kiruna, it was the same. Sure, a snow-storm interfered with taking pictures of the aurora borealis, but for our cross-country skiing and stay at the ice hotel, it was colder inside the building than out. Our flight back to Stockholm was only delayed 20 minutes because of snow, and overall, our winter travels in Sweden were smooth-sailing.
Oslo has been rather cruddy, though. Yesterday was super-foggy and just kind of damp and bleak. We toured the Vigeland Sculpture park, and it wasn’t terrible to be outside, but it also wasn’t great. Similarly, our tour of the opera house was a bit stifled by the fog – as you really couldn’t see much of the theoretically stunning view outside. So we weren’t terribly optimistic about our trip 2+ hours north to go bobsledding in Lillehammer today.
Beate kept checking the weather, and predictions had the temperatures in the teens – the coldest we would encounter thus far. And for the first hour of the drive up, prospects looked pretty grim. But at some point, the skies cleared, and we were treated to some truly amazing views of the Norwegian countryside. (From the windows of our rapidly moving bus, which didn’t really yield good pictures. Sorry.)
The afternoon featured a trip to Maihaugen – an outdoor museum of actual Norwegian homes from a tremendous span of years. We got to walk through farm houses from the 1600s-1800s, as well as a typical Norwegian house from the 1950s. Our guide was excellent, and I think we were all struck by just how beautiful winter can be.
But things easily could have gone awry, and I’m very aware of that as we round the corner toward home. Tomorrow is our last day in Norway, and the forecast isn’t great. Yesterday made it clear to me how dramatically cruddy weather can affect the mood of the group, and I’m both grateful for how fortunate we’ve been and apprehensive of pushing that luck into a round two in future.
We’ll see. It’s been an incredible trip, and the students all seem pretty thrilled. (Except for some of the boys who are frustrated by the $10 beer in Norway… this place is seriously pricey! Though I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing that they’re running into financial impediments to late nights and drinking).