We grabbed a Norwegian breakfast before hopping onto the bus at 11:30 along with the entire crew, for a bus ride that we were told would be taking us “6 hours West”. I feel like mentioning that like yesterday, today was one of the coolest days of my life. While it certainly might get redundant, it’s no less true. Here we were, 12 new friends, getting on a bus, getting ready for this amazing adventure, already having a great time, but having no idea what was in store for us – no idea what sort of adventure awaits.
Naturally, all we can do in the group is try to predict where we’re going. We see signs and our initial guess is we’re headed to Bergen. It’s a big, well known city, and from a timing standpoint, 6 hours seems appropriate (remember none of us have ever been to Norway before so we’re a little clueless as to how long it takes to get around.) We stop at in Gol at Tollefsen Theodorsen Mathus and wow, what a meal – venison burger with a strawberry cream sauce.
At this point it’s great just to get to know everyone in the cast and crew. As a cast we’re all super appreciative of the opportunity that’s been presented to us. We’re 12 of about approximately 1,000 applicants (1 in 83.33 chance) hand selected to be gifted this opportunity. Kudos to the casting director for picking an amazing group. We commented that here we are… back in the land that our great (or great, great) grandparents left, seeking a better life, and were here being treated like royalty (a term I don’t use pejoratively, if a king were here, I can’t imagine better treatment.) It’s certainly better treatment than Ballard had for King Harald when he visited last year (see His Majesty’s – HM’s – “throne”). Truly, even if you were the richest man in the world, it couldn’t be better than this.
We jump back on the bus for more journey, which turns out to be absolutely gorgeous. There were some pretty unreal landscapes, mountains and fjords everywhere we went… and we kept on following those signs to Bergen. Suddently, as we approached the end of a large fjord, the bus pulled off the highway and into at hotel located and the very end of the fjord. We were in a town called Flåm (pronounced “flome”), an offshoot towards the end of the Sognefjord – the longest in all of Norway – over 100 miles long! We checked into the Fretheim Hotel, and had a few hours to explore.
I went on a walk with Derrick, Joni, and Lauren. We took lots of pictures of the fjord, boats, and each other. We joked that after 90 minutes, we had about 4 years’ worth of killer Facebook profile pics! Back to the hotel we had another killer meal – salmon with artichoke hearts, caviar cream sauce, carrot soup with ginger, and a desert consisting of fruit sorbet with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
Tomorrow we leave at 10:00. We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re packing for the cold. We’ll be spending the night at this next location, becoming coming back to this hotel then next night. Taking it all in, it was a bit of a “pinch me” moment. Her I was sitting in a giant room with huge glass windows looking out over a fjord, being told you have a big overnight adventure the next day, but not knowing what to expect.
After our group briefing, most of us made our way to the stave church themed bar down the road. Most folks opted for beer, I went with an aquavit, vodka, sprite, lime juice mixed drink, and yes, I know traditionally aquavit isn’t supposed to be used in mixed drinks but I really don’t care. While we were out I learned that Johnny went to Edina High School in Minnesota, and was great friends with Lauren Rice (elementary school classmate of mine in Ballard, super small world), and he even took her to their school’s Tolo sophomore year!
Right now I’m back in the hotel room which I’m sharing with Derrick, and we’ve been talking about what an amazing experience this already has been, and how truly fortunate we are. Can’t wait for what tomorrow holds!