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During my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.

Thursday, 20 September 2001
Ålesund --> Lillehammer (N)

About my trip from Ålesund to Lillehammer, a sportive winter city, centered in the south of Norway, where I stay with Hårvard Bjørgsum. And where I reflect on messages in the mailbox and on the messageboard as I wrote my opinion yesterday. Shouldn't I have done that?
First of all I must say that I am amazed with what my words mean to some people.

Yesterday I wrote about how it occured to me how CNN has changed from the main headline news transmitter to an ordinary propaganda machine for the United States. I even added: this is my opinion.

Oh - my - God - did I insult many citizens of the United States with that. Even because I wrote that Americans probably won’t even notice this propagandizing of their media.

My mailbox piled out again with emails from (only) Americans who used over 24 different words to take me down in any way and the best negative response was the one in my messageboard, by a person who calls himself Cowboy. And because the board will just live on and on, I am happy to quote him here:

“Why do you watch CNN then, you free-loading little wimp. If it wasn't for the USA and Great Britain, you'd be German. You are just so jealous that all the attention has been taking away from the free-loading adventures of the bald-headed little Ramon. What? Are these tragedies ruining your pitiful claim to fame? As you disgrace the loving people that host you by telling to the world that their house or hotel is clean or dirty. You live in such a fairy tale world, wimp, wake up, before you get another bloody nose or worse!!! There is one thing that you said that is true. Americans are proud and VERY powerful. Don't worry, I will never visit your web site again, because people like you sicken me.”

These kind of messages don’t bother me at all, they just tell me enough about the people and where they come from, what they stand for and how low their intelligence is.

(And the word fame he mentions, is always invented by others, I don’t carry that flag with me. I just do my thing.)

Fortunately the messageboard also allows people to respond to heroic Cowboy:

“thank god there are fewer americans like 'Cowboy' or we would be allready in a 3rd World War. Because of is way of thinking is that why the world is now with this problem. His great CNN fake images.”

And I don’t want to withold quoting an supportive email about my opinion, from an American woman:

“All news produced in the US is slanted very far in the US favor. For a few days after the WTC event, I kept asking folks on my lists to pass on any news from outside the country. Everyone pointed me to CNN, NBC, all of the US news channels. Americans, in general, don't realize that the news on TV outside of the US is very different from the news we get inside."

"We still have no idea what the Europeans are really thinking, unless we know some and they send us emails. For five days, by watching the news, you would have thought we were the only people on the planet, besides bin Laden!

“One of my favorite things to do when I spend time visiting friends in Paris and Europe is to watch the news so I can get a well rounded perspective.”

It is good that there are more people on this globe just don’t believe everything that is broadcast on commercial powered media.

It is just a pity that some people also believe Everything and don’t look further than their own lawn and don’t understand the difference between a personal opinion and an absolute statement.

Thank you all, for the letters!

After breakfast with Cecile this morning I gathered my belongings together again and got ready to be on the community bus that would take me from the Ellingsøy island back to the Ålesund town centre.

Taco already had to go to work at 6 o’clock in the morning. Yesterday night I already thanked him for inviting me over and letting me stay for two night. “No problem at all, you could even stay longer if you want.”

Cecile brought me to the bus stop down the road and I thanked her too for the hospitality as I got on the bus – which she paid for me.

My next transport, the bus back to Åndalsnes, would leave one hour later, so I had a nice stroll through the centre. I don’t think I would forget this place that easy.

Everybody in Norway has been complaining about the bad weather they had this summer, but too me it seems that the sun is always shining bright. Maybe my mind doesn’t really tell me what my eyes really see...

The bus to Åndalsnes was totally arranged by the NSB train company. It the common opinion here that it is very hard to hitchhike. I have only hitchhiked from Stavanger to Bergen as they was no train connecting this route with islands and ferries (and I use the train because I have this great Scanrail Pass sponsored in Norway! Wooha!).

The bus driver looked at me and wanted to know where I was going in order to give a price for the ticket. Here I said the secret password, given by the NSB, and the driver sighed and let me find a seat for free.

Please tell me I get spoiled right now, I even use secret passwords!

From Ålesund to Åndalsnes it was two hour bus drive, of course along the green mountains again, today all with the tops in clouds as the weather was changing for autumn temperatures.

Just close to Åndalsnes the bus drove through a tunnel and I was just reading a book so I didn’t have any light anymore.

With my finger on the right line in the book I waited until the end of the tunnel came near.

It took almost twenty minutes to drive through that tunnel. I was amazed. If you are a claustofobic person, you would have passed out halfway already – even I thought that the bus had driven into an endless tunnel.

Once out of the tunnel I had to look back to see where we had just driven through, but with my mouth open that my chin was almost touching the pavement outside of the bus I couldn’t believe the length of that - thing.

In Åndalsnes I got a letter from a lady working for the NSB, together with my seat reservation tickets. The letter welcomed me to the Rauma train tracks and hoped I would enjoy the journey and the beautiful scenery.

Just minutes later I found out I had a seat in the first cabin of the train, driving First Class.

It’s always fun to see the faces of good looking and formal dressed business men and women who look up when a 24-years-old enters the First Class cabin, drops down his packpack, hangs up a jacket and sits down on the luxurous chair. Then plays around with all the different positions of it, takes some pictures through the window and then relaxes and reads a brochure of the train company.

“The development of this train concept has aimed to create a standard for different distance journeys. To make sure we that we deliver to our costumoers the product they require, we have researched all our major markets for this type of journeys. This train has been developed to make everyday life easier for our regular customers.”

And believe me, after reading the complete brochure, those businessmen and women were still watching. Maybe they waited until I got back to my Economy Class seat again. Or maybe a First Class seat is so expensive that they can’t believe that a 24-year-old is sitting with them. I don’t know – I don’t know anything about money anymore...

The railway between Åndalsnes and Dombås, the first big city south, was opened in 1924 and connects the coastal districts with the inland rail network. I had heard in last Tuesdays documentary about this train track that it is a great example of the engineering skills of these times.

The train passed the Trollveggen mountain again and the train drove through an area where the mountains get higher and wilder, with the waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides.

Once through the 440-metres long Kylling Tunnel the train drove over the famous Kylling Bridge and the conductor had invited me in the driving cabin so I had an excellent view from the front of the train.

The Kylling Bridge is a 77-metres stone bridge with a 42 mid-span and a height of 60 metres above a gushing river.

This bridge is one of the highlights on Rauma-line and is considered as one of the finest and one of most famous structures, a highlight of Norwegian engineering.

On the other side of the valley I could see the Vermafoss waterfall with its 380 metre fall.

Then the train enters a 1,340 metres long tunnel, turns 180 degrees inside the mountain (!), and comes out again in the opposite direction, higher up than the tracks we were a few minutes ago.

This and all the tracks on the other side of the valley were created this way so the train could make a bigger difference in altitude within only 32 kilometres.

I sat back and ejoyed the magnificent panoramas that was given me. I just can’t compare this with any place else I know of...

Somewhere between Dombås and Lillehammer I had a free meal in the dining cabin on the train and after this I had a good nap as it got pretty dark outside.

I arrived in Lillehammer around 8.45pm and noticed my new host, Hårvard Bjørgsum, waiting for me.

In his car, driving to his home in Fåberg, he told me about Lillehammer.

The Lillehammer mountains are among northern Europe's best cross-country skiing resorts and situated about 850 metres above sea level and 15-20 kilometre from town centre.

You might remember the city Lillehammer. In 1994 this place was world wide shown on television for over 16 days as 67 countries competed in the Winter Olympic Games (see the video).

I have been to Barcelona before in my life, so I remembered how the Olympic village, which was built there, also became a exhibition for modern architecture.

I also know that some Olympic villages, especially built for over 3,000 athletes and all the people working at the Games, sometime just end up empty – as an undefined embarrasment to the city.

The interesting story about the Olympic City built just outside Lillehammer is, that it isn’t there any more. Most of the wooden buildings have been moved and are now student accomodations in the north of Norway, but some buildings even moved to some Swedisch suburbs or even ended up in some Third World Countries.

The only thing left now is a peaceful green spot.

Do you remember this? Perhaps the most compelling moment of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games came at the Opening Ceremony when IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, of Spain, asked all attendees and viewers worldwide to observe a moment of remembrance for the Olympic city of Sarajevo and pleaded for a cessation of fighting in the war-torn former Yugoslavia.

The IOC undertook several actions to secure the participation of all the athletes of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, still in conflict, and to ensure that the Olympic Truce was respected and served the cause of dialogue and reconciliation. As it happened.

Hårvard Bjørgsum lives in an apartment which reminded me of those fancy holiday cabins as seen on televisions. Hårvard says he just has too much things and souvenirs from his own travels, but I personally like those full rooms. Like there is always something new to pay attention to. What about the 4 rifles from different world wars, dating back from 1875, on one wall. Or the bear skin on the other wall, historical books and different world maps on the shelves. I always like these little personal museums.

During a small lasagna meal Hårvard and I talked about my trip through Norway and he wanted to know how I think about Norway after these last four weeks here.

I am still in the phase of process, until I have settled down somewhere, it will always be difficult to say something about a certain country.

But I can compare it with Ireland for example, where almost everybody goes out drinking and socializing in pubs. While in Norway it mostly happens inside the houses.

Families gather together on the dining table eatings sandwiches or toasts at night.

In The Netherlands people would also go to a pub or just hang around on the couch, with in one hand the remote control and the other hand in a bag of chips.

Later this night we watched a documentary on Norwegian television, about the first 24 hours of the WTC crash of last week. Most images I had seen over and over before and again no new facts were given.

This program had only been made to show the emotional side of the disaster. Cameras zooming in on shocked and emotional people, unashamed filming every tear running down. Sometime television is made so simple that it just becomes a wallpaper in your house, don’t you think?

Maybe Cowboy should just change his wallpaper? Too bad he isn’t visiting this web site anymore. He might learn from others opinions.

Time to lay down on the stretcher in the livingroom. Tomorrow I get to see Lillehammer in daylight!

Good night Lillehammer!


Take a look at the Lillehammer webcam

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