I'd been dreaming of traveling to North Europe for years, but I was daunted by the cost. This summer I felt the need to do something big, and thanks to it, I made it to my dreamland. The choice of traveling with a tour group didn't allow me to sketch wherever I went; however, we were given some freedom every day, which made it possible for me to leave some records in my sketchbook.
When taking a ferry across Sognefjord, the most spectacular and renowned fjord in Norway, everyone fought for a place on the upper deck to snap away. Longing for the indoor warmth, I stayed on the second deck to sketch whatever I saw as various landscape appeared in front of my eyes.
We were blessed with the opportunity to spend a night in the classical hotel Kviknes after we got onshore at Balestrand. The best thing about the hotel is a row of differently-designed lobbies facing the water and the mountains afar. My travel mates were busy swiping their smartphones while our Caucasian counterparts concentrated on reading or chatting over a glass of red wine. I did not dislike my fellow travelers, but I was relieved to blend in with Westerners as I stole one hour to sketch them.
Before I left, I over-functioned mentally and physically, so it was a heaven-sent gift for me to slow down my pace and do nothing.
The early morning was my favorite part of the day every day because I was able to explore North Europe in my own way. When I went out for a walk near the shore, I was all alone, surrounded by fresh air and vast quiet. I had only half an hour when doing this sketch. I was in a hurry, and I know it was a mess, but the image reminds me of the wonderful moment.
Today when I was about to go over the photos, I found that those of the first two days aren't there anymore. I do not feel especially heart-broken though. After all, I still have a lot, including the memories. This is a postcard on which I drew the view of Bergen harbor.
Besides Sognefjord, Geirangerfjord is also famous though it's not as grand as the former. However, the seagulls we had been looking forward to seeing the previous day miraculously appeared. In fact, they came in flocks. I focused on observing the Korean tourists sitting in front of me, who seemed to have a good time conversing. However, our tour guide Andy was so worried that we would miss the landscape that he came to remind each of us not to skip the waterfalls. Thus, I decided to put the Seven Sisters Waterfall in my sketch after taking a look.
在里耳哈默的早晨，去旅館旁邊的森林散步，回到飯店吃早餐，突然收音機傳來Ed Sheeran的Think out Loud，這是阿嬤過世那一天我一直聽的歌，所以忍不住想阿嬤也跟我來北歐旅行了吧，於是我留了個驚喜給下一位客人。
In the morning in Lillehammer, after taking a walk in the woods, I returned to the hotel for breakfast. Then Ed Sheeran's Think out Loud found its way into my ears from one far corner of the restaurant. That is the song I was listening to repeatedly on the day my granny passed way. I couldn't help doodling on a napkin and left it as a surprise for the next guest.
I thanked the tall waiter with red hair in Norwegian. His mouth broke into a shy smile while he replied, "Bare hyggelig," meaning "You're welcome." in Norwegian.
挪威山間的小路不好開，有一天希臘司機Kostas不斷得倒車、讓車，他也不時地得一個人開著車追逐搭遊輪的我們，說再見的那一天畫了一張卡片送給他，他說：You are so sweet!
It's a challenge to drive on the winding mountain roads in Norway. Sometimes coach bus drivers are confronted with other gigantic buses, so their skills are constantly tested. Our Greek driver also had to drive all by himself as we traveled by train or ferry. On the day we said goodbye, I gave him a hand-drawn card. He was so touched that he said to me, "You are so sweet!"
I felt lost when returning to Oslo. Compared with nature, there are mostly buildings and more buildings. On the windy morning, I was at a loss about what to sketch. Before eight o'clock, there weren't many people near the harbor. Basically, I saw runners, bicycle-riders, office workers in suits with an umbrella, and seagulls/pigeons.
We had our last lunch in Grand Hotel before leaving Oslo. It was a sandwich feast. Every sandwich is a combination of red/vermilion and green, a piece of toast with either salmon or shrimp or meat piled high together with veggies. The food was visually stimulating, but on a rainy day, it felt cold.
I hadn't sketched to my heart's content in airports for long. Yet, the passengers I encountered that day all possessed idiosyncratic fashion tastes. After I was done, the lady sitting next to me gave me a knowing smile, which is the low-key friendliness typical of North Europeans.
Arriving in Copenhagen, we were impressed by the industrial feel of the city, apart from the sunshine. The French window of our hotel room framed joggers and bicycle-riders on the move.
During the second part of our journey, we flew from one city to another. Facing the cityscape and crowds, I no longer knew what I could draw.
It has been a week since I returned. There are still many vivid memories in my head, some of which I make an effort to cling to while sometimes the moments just recreate themselves in my daily lives. I took with me a bag of HARIBO bought on the cruise sailing across the Baltic Sea as the prize for the kids to the herbarium this past Saturday. At the end of the workshop, all of us, children, mothers and staff, got carried away by the excitement of eating gummy bears. At that instant, I couldn't feel more North European ...