Alesund, slowing it all down. / by Kendra Archer

 Aksla lookout in Alesund, Norway

Aksla lookout in Alesund, Norway

We flew out from Paris Friday night and slept at our hotel at the Oslo airport. We tucked ourselves into our cozy bed and caught up with our family members over our phones while watching "Scream 2" on the local movie channel. I had never seen the movie before, just the "Scary Movie" mock up, and honestly I'd say they're pretty par for quality. Yikes. Lauren had a good laugh at all my squirming and jumping - I hate scary movies because I feel every ounce of tension and fear in my body. At least it was entertaining for her I guess! We woke up at 5:00 am to get ready and catch our flight out to Alesund for 7:30 am , the first couple of hours in the morning were mostly silence as we sort of dragged ourselves around the airport to our terminal. So tired. We waited at our gate and watched the most anxious family of 4 wait for the plane. I can't really explain the scene, just lots of mumbling and pacing back and forth, it was stressing me out to watch them so eventually I streamed "Would I lie to You" and " The best of David Mitchell's rants" on youtube over my phone - nothing better to put a smile on my face.

 The out of this world view from our Air BnB

The out of this world view from our Air BnB

As we got onto to our mostly empty flight we both got a bit of a second wind and reverted back to our normal selves - dirty jokes, Workaholics references and all of that, naturally we were the loudest and the only ones laughing on the flight at 7:30 am. Sorry! It was a short ride mostly in the darkness of the early morning as sunrise isn't until 10:00 am right now. Eventually as we neared the town it crested in the distance and both Lauren and myself changed seats so we could each have our own window in an empty isle. I made a huge mistake and took a window seat facing west, when I realized the plane wasn't going to turn at all it was too late to move again. I watched barely lit Fjords from above and a few fishing boats headed out into the Atlantic on the early morning. From the opposite side of the plane I watched sun rays poke through the window and looked over at Lauren who was snapping away photos on her iPhone of the sunrise. All I could think to myself was "I've made a huge mistake" in a Gob from Arrested Development voice. Shit.. well you win some, you lose some.  

Once we landed it really it hit us how small of a town it is. The airport is about a 20 minute drive from the city and initially we figured we'd just hop in a cab and save ourselves the hassle of trying to use transit. We stepped outside to an empty lot - no cabs to be found. So we boarded the airport shuttle and asked the bus driver for some directions who was really helpful, "get off at the first stop in Alesund then ask someone which way to walk, it should only be about 300 metres". The bus ride was incredible. We hugged the side of Fjords as the sunlight slowly started to peak more and more into the atmosphere. We dipped in and out of tunnels and I dipped in and out of a half conscious state. There are few things harder than staying awake in a warm moving car/bus for me, it's just too damn cozy. When we got to our stop the city was asleep, nothing was open and no one was walking around town. We found a tourist street map and tried to decipher where we were headed. Eventually a hilarious Irish girl working at the 7/11 gave us a better idea and told us 300 metres away was a total lie. She pointed us toward the bus station and told us how to get there. We opted yet again for the easier way and actually did find a cab and hopped into it. We dipped through gorgeous colourful streets as more sunlight appeared and made it to our Air BnB in no time. Nestled up against the mountain top with a southern view, the sight took our breath away. As we got ready to face the day in our new city we were in complete awe of our sights. Even as I sit now and write this I can lift my head up to see the darkness of night taking over this beautiful Fjord nestled city... at 4:00 pm. It is even more incredible for me as Norway was never on my radar. It seemed unattainable, too expensive or just too dreamlike to ever really happen, and yet here I am now.

Alesund is a very small town, of roughly 45,000 inhabitants, compared to my "hometown" of Victoria BC which I deem to be painfully small and is roughly 80,000. Wow. We've spent our time so far simply wandering and absorbing the sights. We chose to come here based off of the beautiful images we were seeing online and it hasn't disappointed. It's quite the stark contrast to madness that is Paris, but it is a much welcome change of pace. It feels to me now like the travel has begun. I was so at home in Paris, it was a really welcome and eye opening return. This however is completely new to me and more exciting. The town is sleepy and simple, most things have been closed and both car and foot traffic are practically non existent. We've been soaking in all the sights and I've been frothing at the mouth as I whip my camera out to snap more and more photos of snow capped mountains and empty streets. It's lovely, quiet, calm and most of all relaxing. I've felt all the stress and worries of work, life and this trip ooze out of me as I become more and more present in the moment that I'm in. I'm not in Vancouver slaving away at a job to get here, I'm not freaking out on the logistics or the timing, I'm just here enjoying it all finally. My shoulders aren't pained from my nervous contemplating but rather from the double packs of necessities and ridiculous amounts of camera equipment. A look I like to call the double baby bjorn.

As I relax more into the travels I'm hoping to bring some of this home with me. A note to myself to continue to be easier on myself - not everything is worth my mental energy, and though it's the method to my madness some taming of my analytical brain could be nice. The last few months leading up to this trip saw me pulled away from a lot of my favourite things as I focused more on work. When I get home I need to pull those back to me, I need to make mountains the priority they should be and readjust my life to one that is livable and not simply survivable. That being said all the insanity of the last little bit has been absolutely worth it in the long run, and this is truly the beginning of this incredible trip. We have another day and night of down time here in Alesund and then we are off to Scotland where I'll be reunited, and Lauren introduced, to a dear and old friend. There are so many more things, places, and people to look forward to and I am truly overjoyed. I know the return home to Vancouver will feel just as sweet, but until then I am elated to be an Norway and excited for the things to come.