Being lost and confused anywhere is frustrating, although I must say that being lost and confused in Europe most people speak English which is decidedly less complicated than other places. When in doubt, I have learned, ask. Then ask again. Even if I have to go back to the same information desk and ask them the same question again because I’m still confused. So far so good. After a loooong day flying, hanging out at the airport, then more flying I finally made it to Norway. I planned to rent a car and stay the next three nights in Rjukan.
I was armed with some google maps, and the step by step directions, just in case the gps didn’t work. And it didn’t. Well it kind of did. It got me to Rjukan, but not to the hotel. I got in around midnight, and was so looking forward to a shower and a bed after 35+ hours traveling. The whole town was shut down, although a guy at the gas station told me the hotel was about 10 minutes farther up the windy road out of town. Another guy there confirmed, – yes 15-2o mins and you will see it. So I drove, and drove, and looked for it. I drove for 30 minutes and decided I must have missed it, and I should get back and ask another hotel closer to town to confirm where it was. Coming back down I stopped at a few which, to my dismay were all closed for then night. I began to realize I would not make it to my hotel that night and would just have to pay to stay that night in another place. But there was no other place to be found. Every single hotel I could see in town was closed, and ringing on the doorbell of a few confirmed I would not have a place to stay that night. While sleeping in my car was something I was not opposed to when I was 20, it was not something I wanted for this trip, and I was dirty, tired, and angry at myself for not being able to make it to my destination after everything else had gone so smoothly. I laid there in my car, unable to sleep even though I had barely slept for the past day and a half. I also couldn’t figure out how to put my car in reverse. I accidentally parked right up against a stone wall, after doing so well that day avoiding driving into situations that would require reversing, which I realized I couldn’t figure out within minutes of setting off. What the hell. It can’t be that hard! turns out that many European cars have a ring around the gear shift that you have to pull up on in order to put it in reverse. I know this now, but this is then. So I needed to bide my time until morning to ask someone for directions, and to also help me learn how to use my car. I had bad thoughts of someone coming to kill me while sleeping in my car, and people wondering why I didn’t just drive off. Oh, she didn’t know how to reverse. That’s why she died. It was three in the morning and I was tired of thinking, of sitting, of waiting. At 7am I went to the hostel, but they were still closed. I checked the internet signal again that hadn’t worked all night and it felt a surge of excitement as I was able to get the km count to my hotel. All out of options, and ready to leave I let my car slide downhill to rest against the wall so it wouldn’t damage it if I couldn’t succeed, then put it in neutral and pushed it up the parking lot far enough for me to be able to drive forward and away! That’s right. I pushed my car uphill. And of course, when I got to my hotel it was not even one km from when I turned around. How does it always happen like that. Oh well. Hot shower, nap, nice hike in the Hardangervidda – hasn’t been a bad day.