My first experience on a Norwegian train was this weekend. Our car is on its last leg, so we can’t drive as far as Tønsberg or Larvik where the family is. Jens is excellent at figuring out the timetables, whereas I just sort of look blankly at your screen. If it weren’t so expensive (500-700NOK for both of us to go from Kongsberg), we would probably do the train every time.

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As it stands, we walked to the station on Saturday afternoon in the bright cold, with Jens giving me landmarks here and there so that I wouldn’t get lost in the future. The walk was only twenty minutes, and all downhill, which left me thinking that the walk home would almost certainly be entirely uphill. We live at an elevation above the rest of the town, so the ups and downs of hills are to be expected. And also, there’s the whole situation that we live in Norway.

The people in Norway are no different than they are in America when it comes to sitting with a stranger — they’d all rather not. Thus, finding two seats together proved impossible, and we ended up next to the train staff lounge in between two cars at an oddly placed table: a three-seater, occupied by an elderly Norwegian gentleman who, as it turned out, happened to be a fellow member of the housing development in which we live. He was hesitant enough to share his table, Jens squeezing in next to him as we relocated his absurdly large pack to the floor. However, Jens makes friends with anyone quickly enough, and I spent most of the first leg of our ride in quiet contemplation of the two gentlemen talking shop in Norwegian. They tried to include me, but once I ran out of Norwegian, I was happy enough to listen to the rhythms of their musical language.

When we changed trains in Drammen, we got the opportunity to sit in the station for ten or so minutes, during which time I observed a one-legged and portly man creep in circles around the seating area in his motorized wheelchair. I counted three or four rounds, then let it go, and moved on to two old men and their crutches having some ancient conversation, or the middle eastern couple dressed in traditional garb, and what I could only assume was their immigration lawyer in his synthetic pinstriped suit. There was another pair as well — two little finches landing repeatedly at our feet and pecking at impossibly tiny hotdog bun crumbs that may or may not have been any degree of birdie sustenance.

Ten minutes and one hotdog later, we were stuffed into folding seats between two couples, one of which was eating some tremendously stinky lunch meat and bread, the other of which had wheeled suitcases that tried to make a futile rolling escape during an especially steep turn. Little amusements on a fairly short journey.

As I write this, we are on the train ride home. I’m not looking especially forward to the cold walk uphill, in the snow (for real), but I’ll have a warm hand around mine and the best heart walking next to me.

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