15 December 2010

I still call Australia home . . .

There comes a moment in every journey where you start to feel - well let's admit it - a bit homesick. Mine came today. I expected today to be a bit of a challenge because of my travel arrangements: a two and a half hour train trip from Kiruna in far north Sweden to Narvik on the Norwegian coast. That was pretty straight forward and came with spectacular scenery, especially at the Norwegian end of the trip.

I then had to transfer to the bus station in Narvik for a four hour bus trip to a town called Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands - a string of islands in the north-west of the country - where I was booked into some gorgeous "character" accommodation fashioned out of old fishermen's cottages and similar historical buildings.

Here's what you don't get told in the glossy brochures and websites: firstly, people don't always give you good directions, especially when you take into account language differences. When told it was only "ten minutes to the bus station" in Narvik, I figured it would do me good to stretch my legs after a period of inactivity, and proceed to follow the tourism office's directions to "turn left" as I left the train station. After ten minutes, I check some landmarks against the map that I'd been given and realise that "turn left" actually means "turn right" - and head back in the correct direction. By this time, I've managed to confuse myself, and take another wrong turn (another 10-20 minutes gone), before I'm heading in the right direction. Eventually a kind young man asked me where I am going and guides me all the way to the bus stop - yep, hardly a station as we know them, but just an outdoor bus stop.

Secondly, the "cute, character" accommodation that looks fabulous on the website (and it may well be when I get to view it in daylight) is about as welcoming and sympathetic as the ice on the ground. Snow I can manage, ice is treacherous. Cute, character accommodation doesn't come with 24 hour reception. So checkin is done in the bar-restaurant area. Well, OK, that I can handle. But I realise that my room is in one of the cabins, scattered around the property and reached via said treacherous icy paths and roads. Not so good from my point of view, but having been told that it's straight out the door and two cabins over, I'm beginning to think I can cope.

I take my key and hoist my luggage - no offers of help are forthcoming - and head off to find my room. Well, I should have remembered point one: don't trust vague directions. I can't begin to find the room I've been allocated, I come close to slipping on the ice at least twice, and it's dark. So I head back to the bar/pub, walk in the door and promptly burst into tears.

The snotty (male) manager basically ignores me, but another guardian angel in the form of the young girl serving behind the bar comes to my help. She moves heaven and earth to get things under control: I'm settled on a sofa with a coffee and she offers to help me and my luggage to my room. When I explain why I'm nervous about the ice, she promptly finds a room much closer and then actually helps with my luggage.  Later she comes over with my breakfast supplies, then when I ask about the internet, goes back to the bar to retrieve a login code and password. What a sweetheart.

Unfortunately for the Anker Brygge, cute you may be, but you totally lost me with your careless attitude today. And made me remember just why I will always call Australia home!!

1 comment:

  1. You are on the home stretch now - can't wait to see the shots, hope the cold snap still means you are able to get home safe - speak to you on Christmas morning