Wednesday, July 6, 2005


Alesund is where I nearly got stranded in the outer reaches of the Norwegian fiord country. The town of Alesund only took an hour to explore, and there was a bus stop with a schedule that clearly indicated I could take a public bus out to the end of a distant penisula and easily get back in time to catch the ship.

I trusted this schedule because Norwegians generally seem to be almost as punctual and organized as Germans are. Riding the public bus has always been a great way to have a "local" experience so I was psyched for this little adventure. And the scenery was stunning, as usual.

The bus driver seemed to know all of his passengers by name and I began to realize after a while that he was actually dropping people off at their houses and was not exactly sticking to the route or the schedule. He got to the final destination pretty late, and at some point I figured out, in spite of his lack of English, that he was planning to be finished for the day and had not intended to take the scheduled trip back to Alesund.

I had to do some serious explaining and showing him the schedule and begging before he agreed to take me back. So I was sort of freaking out about whether I'd make it back in time, but at the same time I was trying to play it cool so he wouldn't think I was being pushy or obnoxious. I needed to have him want to help me.

Fortunately getting back took half as long because he drove straight there. So it all worked out fine, but it would have been really bad news if he had refused to come back. I tried to give him a nice tip but he wouldn't accept it.
So that was my exciting little side trip! After all of that I still kind of enjoy the experience of not being able to speak the language of whatever country I'm in - it definitely keeps things interesting and it's fun (for me at least) trying to communicate with people by pointing at things and using facial expressions and only recognizing tiny bits of the language.

However, if I were anywhere for longer than a few days, I would definitely make an effort to learn at least a few useful phrases. So far I guess I've been lucky that this hasn't gotten me into more trouble. But if I had a more cautious attitude, I wouldn't be having nearly as much fun. So it's worth it.

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