If you are following me on Facebook and Twitter, then you know I’m currently in Norway on a Hurtigruten cruise headed to the Arctic Circle. If the internet wasn’t so slow, I would post photos but I at least wanted to briefly share my experiences of this incredible country so far. I landed in Bergen 36 hours after the horrible tragedy in Oslo. The pilot on my Lufthansa flight set the tone when he said he’d just come from Norway and it’s a very depressed country but he hopes our visit will bring some happiness to the people. As you can imagine, all the papers and most of the TV stations (including CNN) have nonstop coverage of this tragedy and there’s at least one makeshift memorial in each town I’ve visited.
In Bergen there was a massive gathering with flowers, candles, flags and notes. To see people – young and old – come together and mourn is really moving. In the city of Molde, my girlfriend Natalie and I visited a statue alongside the main church where there were hundreds of fresh cut roses and notes. It was raining, so only a few were out including a distraught Norwegian man who came up to Natalie first and hugged and kissed her on the cheek. I thought it was one of her long lost friends until he did the same to me. He had tears in his eyes when he said, “I’m sorry – this is a very tough time to be traveling in Norway.” It really is a difficult time for everyone but just like 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing, these senseless acts bring out the best in a place and its people. Norway is no different.
Yesterday, our tour guide said that all Norwegians are in a state of shock. He said that Norway is normally a very safe and peaceful place and they never thought anything like this would ever happen here – especially by one of their own people. On Monday, the entire country (including crew and passengers on all the Hurtigruten ships) observed a moment of silence at noon – there wasn’t a peep made on the boat. I urge you — if you haven’t already — to please say a prayer for Norway and its people. They need all the love (and hugs) they can get even if it’s by travelers passing through.