A Cold Dip on a Saturday Night


I’d already seen the midnight sun in Sweden, it was such a beautiful sight as the sky throughout the night, was an orangey yellow. I wondered at the time which was night and which was day and asked Bjorn, the Swedish boy I was staying with who replied, ‘You decide’.

Heading south through Norway, the nights were still light and I wondered if there would be any more spectacular sights to be seen. I thought back to Lillehammer in the north of Norway where I’d visited a living museum of farmhouses throughout the ages. Unfortunately my guide was new and consequently some of my fellow tourists, knew more about farming than the tour guide. Although what I enjoyed, was my first ever sight of dragonflies. They flitted across the many ponds and the sound of their wings was similar to a child’s aeroplane, driven by an elastic band.

I was trying to get to Oslo and by some quirk of fate found myself on a secondary road, travelling down the west of Norway. This is by far the most beautiful route to travel, as it traverses many fjords. The problem is the road surface, which is not very good, because ice and snow wear out the roads in winter, and in summer they are constantly under repair.

The reason I was on this minor road was because I was hitch hiking.  Now the beauty of hitch hiking is eventually, you will arrive at your destination, but until you do, you are like a yacht without a rudder. Which means the route taken will not necessarily be as direct as you’d like it to be, but because of that, you manage to see some fascinating sights, which otherwise would evade you.

I was idly ambling along the road and hadn’t had a lift for a while, but when I heard a car, I would stick up my thumb. This may sound ludicrous to you, but for me, there was no hurry and what’s more, I didn’t even have a watch. After all for me, time didn’t matter. I used to rise when I felt like it, which was very early in the day and go to bed when I felt tired.

A short distance ahead of me, I could see a spot where several cars had parked. Out of curiosity, and the thought that perhaps somebody would give me a lift, I sauntered over to see what the attraction was.

I was overwhelmed at what I saw. In front of me was an incredible waterfall, now it may not have had the magnificence of Victoria Falls, or the majesty of Angel Falls, but what I saw, was a truly awe inspiring sight.

For as you may, or may not know, this particular waterfall, which a sign said was the Varingfoss Waterfall, is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Norway. In front of me I could see not one, but two waterfalls. There was a large one which had a rainbow over it, and into it ran a second waterfall, which also had a rainbow over it, and then where the two falls met, was a third rainbow.

I could not believe how fortunate I’d been in seeing this particular sight, and how lucky I’d been in capturing it under perfect light. The sky was a deep blue, although it was now late in the evening, how late I had no idea. Contrary to what people had told me, I had hardly seen a drop of rain since I’d set foot in Norway. I would add here that the postcards do not do the waterfalls any justice, plus I’ve since met people who’ve visited the Varingfoss Waterfall, and it has been raining.

How long I’d been staring, mesmerised by the beauty of nature and the crashing of this waterfall, I could not say. Eventually I went on my way and wandered down the mountain road, where at the bottom was a hotel and nothing else apart from a landing stage for boats. Behind me was a small plot of land which was set aside for camping. I wandered onto the grassy area, removed my small backpack, unlashed my tent and erected it. Went inside unhooked my pack, rummaged through it and found my swimming trunks, which I rapidly changed into and grabbed my swimming goggles.

I wandered over to the landing stage and looked up at the mountainous grey terrain, which was splattered with greenery on its tapering sides and looked down to the crystal clear, azure blue water, of what I later discovered was, Eidfjord. It looked very deep and I was uncertain of how to enter the water, as I can’t dive. I stood on the landing jetty and pondered about how to enter the water. There were steps leading down and I made my decision.

Clutching my goggles I jumped into the water. It was as if I’d jumped into liquid ice, you see, I’d forgotten, or else I was brain dead, because the water that fed into this fjord came from melting glaciers. Once I was over the initial shock I put on my goggles and started to swim out to a buoy, which didn’t seem to be too far away.

Whether or not I reached the buoy now eludes me. For as I swam breaststroke out to the buoy, I noticed in the distance heading towards me in the fjord, was a huge ocean liner. I swam like the clappers and beat the liner to the landing stage.  I felt cold and clambered up the steps. The whole length of my skinny body (well it was then) was covered in goose bumps. I reached my tent, dried myself with my towel and lay on the grass shivering and using the midnight sun to dry myself.

When a man arrived from the hotel to collect my camping fee, I inquired about the time, and was told, “It is nine o’clock”.

I just lay there on the grass shivering, and yes, by the time I went to sleep, I had warmed up. I have since had some excellent Saturday nights, but none of them can compare with that particular one.