At the end of November my colleague Erik had the brilliant idea to invite some colleagues to his mountain cabin in Geilo (Norway) for a few days in January. I did not hesitate to say yes, and 2 months later, on 22 January, 5 of us were ready to go. As luck would have it, I had caught a cold two days before leaving, but I did not let the prospect of being ill in temperatures of -15°C daunt me. My travelling companions were Erik, our Norwegian host, Carlos, a Venezuelan with a bizarre affection for cold weather and snow, Giuseppe an Italian who could not possibly be mistaken for anything else, and Olga, a beautiful Russian born in Latvia but grown up in Germany.
The flight to Oslo was quite uneventful. I read a book while next to me Olga was teaching Giuseppe how to read Russian. The arrival was also relatively smooth, except for the small moment when we confused Norwegian kroner for Euros and thought we had to pay a 1000 Euro deposit for the rental car. Luckily Norway is not that expensive. The real price was around 100 Euros.
We had landed at 17h but it had long since grown dark, and as we left the airport we had a three and a half hour drive ahead of us to the cabin. The drive was a stream of snow laden trees rushing past, their white shapes lit up by our headlights, pictured clearly against the darkness of the winter sky. Slowly, as we drove further the last of the tarmac disappeared under a dense layer of snow and faint shadows of mountains began appearing against the darkness of the sky. We lost our way a few times, and towards the end of the journey we were all tired. But we still had one final wrong turn before we reached our destination. We drove up a hill thinking this was the entrance road to the cabin, but ended up in the yard of a farm-house, while outside in the darkness a dozen or more dogs were howling and barking wildly. At this point Erik called his mother to ask for directions and she told us to drive back down and take to the left. We drove down and thought we spotted a road on our left, so we turned back and into the road. Perhaps there was a road there, but in any case it was currently impassable because of snow, and the result was that the car got stuck. Finally we all got out into the icy winter night to push the car. That was the first in a series of authentic Norwegian experiences. After getting the car back on the road and receiving additional directions we finally found our way, but by that time it was almost midnight.
The arrival at the cabin was a relief and a delight. After a long stressful day it was heaven to sit in front of the fireplace sipping a delicious port wine, knowing that outside the snow was piled high, just waiting for us. I went to bed quite soon after arriving while the others continued later into the night.