I once was in the city of Oslo, Norway, and was blown away by the sculptures of Gustav Vigeland in Frogner Park.  I’m not much into sculpture, but I spent three hours in this beautiful outdoor park and went back the next day for more.  From Oslo I wanted to see one of the famous Norwegian fiords and was advised to rent a car and drive north. I spent the next night in Lillehammer, long before it was to become famous as the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics, and then continued to drive further north.  Coming through a pass I saw what I was looking for – the stunning Geirangerfjord.  I would have been certain the totally blue water was a lake, except that there was an ocean liner cruising around the bend! I spent two nights in the small town of Geiranger where the summer sun set around midnight and began to rise again about 3:30 am. I was twice stopped on the street and asked directions. When I explained in feeble English that I was not Norwegian, the Dutch and Swedish tourists apologized in English for asking. This brought home the pathetic old saying that if you speak two languages you are bi-lingual, if you speak three languages you are tri-lingual and if you speak one language, you must be American.

I returned to Norway for a second visit in 2011. On this trip we did the twelve-hour train/boat/ bus/train ride from Oslo to Bergen. It was a terrific day and I would highly recommend it. We then spent several days hiking in the Sognefjord area. Two things stick in my mind from this trip:

1. Norway’s natural beauty is outstanding and comparable to Switzerland and New Zealand, two of my favorite places on the planet.

2. The cost of everything was absolutely beyond comprehension. Cab from airport to hotel in Oslo: $140; six pack of beer at the grocery store: $42; ¾ tank of gas: $140; four burgers and six beers at airport hotel: $350 (with free fries!). If you have a lot of money, go there. If not, go somewhere else.