The next morning, Trygve, Turid, Kristin, Sissel, and I drive to their beloved cabin in the “mountains” (when to me, this entire country is a mountain) which is somewhere in the wilderness between Bergen and Voss. I’m a little confused when I see the cabin across a river, but when we park on the other side, Turid explains to me that to get to the cabin we have to hop a guardrail, walk a little downhill and then cross a short bridge and some rocks to get there. Wearing my nicest jacket and a borrowed pair of Wellies, I actually laugh aloud when I think of a real estate agent in her heels 20 years back telling Turid and Trygve, “And here we have the romantic entranceway of… a river…”
Trygve, Sissel’s tall and quiet brother, is the stereotypical strong and silent type, only speaking when spoken to and taking on all his fatherly duties with a quiet confidence. He lights the wood stove as Turid, a teapot-looking woman with a permanent smile on her face puts some pastries on the table, called “shillings” (they look a lot like cinnamon rolls and only cost a shilling back in the day). Kristin gives us a little tour of the modest cabin, showing us how her parents have expanded the cabin over the last 20 years. She shows us all the bedrooms, in which Turid has handmade the quilts.
When Turid and Sissel go outside to sit on the deck and drink tea, Trygve, Kristin, and I go for a hike, which seems to be a favorite activity of this family. As Trygve marches forward, I chat with Kristin, who at first glance is stern and dignified and may intimidate me just because she is a teacher of English and German at a high school in Bergen. Her hair is usually pulled back and she speaks in a tight British accent, as she got her Masters in English in York, England. But within five minutes of talking to Kristin, she’ll tell you how she literally has an apartment stuffed with books she loves and how much she adores teaching, even if she’s living in a village in Thailand and waking up at 5:00 am everyday, as she did a few years ago when she taught English abroad.
In the first leg of the hike, we go through a gate and pass through an old farm, which wraps around one side of the lake that the cabin overlooks. A little hoard of sheep blocks our way, which someone has oddly locked on one part of the bridge, but they scatter as soon as we start to walk through. Going up the all-uphill first half of the hike reminds me a lot of Colorado with its rolling hills surrounded by mountaintops dotted with snow and ice. Waterfalls are all around us on the tops of some of the mountains. As pretty as it all is, it feels good to finally collapse in a heap by the wood stove before driving back to Bergen on the little wraparound roads.
That night, we walk next door to Trygve and Turid’s son, Andreas’, house, where he lives with his wife, Katrina, and their two blonde children, Sandra and Guru. We have a traditional Norwegian dinner of tacos and Spanish wine (well paired, as my teacher, Giancarlo, would say). I start to see how American/Norwegian/or anything else doesn’t really matter over a bottle of wine and well-deserved meal after a long day, because no matter what the continent, everyone can smile about the same things.