Last week was Trinity’s reading week, five days without class that leave students free to catch up on assignments and prepare for exams. Naturally, I planned to stay in Dublin, saving money and enjoying some leisurely schoolwork.
And then I discovered the Ryanair website.
A few days and 65 euro later, I was off to Norway, visiting a friend who lives in Harestua. She put me up in her guest room, cooked me Norwegian food (think meat, potatoes and lingonberries) and laughed at me for gawping at what apparently are only small hills. One day we went up to Lillehammer, where we ate kebabs, saw a massive downhill ski race for five-year-olds, and went to Hunderfossen Familiepark, a place I’m not sure I can adequately describe. It’s an outdoor amusement park, big and sprawling enough to feel like a small town, with slippery paths in the snow (I fell down twice) and impressive braziers every few meters. There is a castle with a ride that takes you through tableaus of traditional Norwegian fairytales, with dolls that I found terrifying and plots that my friend had trouble explaining (“So the king put the princess on top of a glass mountain… And then there was a three-headed troll, but he tricked it into eating rocks… And that’s an old witch who got her nose stuck in a tree, I’m not really sure why but she was there for a hundred years. Everyone knows that”). A kindergartner in line for the ride proudly showed off her English: “One, two, three. Banana.” There is also a forest where trolls jump out at you, a series of antique cars in outdoor display cases, and a snow sculpture of a polar bear.
On my last afternoon, we drove to Oslo to eat Thai food and see the famous sculptures in Frogner Park, but overall I found the smaller towns more captivating than the city. As smug as I am about dodging the polar vortex, it was nice to be back in winter wonderland for a few days.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Bea Gantzer, and I am a junior English major at Washington University in St. Louis. I'm a distance runner, baker, and Minnesotan. This will be my first time out of the United States, and I look forward to experiencing a new culture, soaking up Dublin's rich history, and getting little-kid excited over seeing buildings older than the U.S. itself.</span></p>