Norway Out

 Norway Out

By Kevin Boyle

Kaldt som faen!  That’s your Norwegian lesson of the day. It means cold as fudge, more or less.

I’m teaching myself this tricky language because I might be here for a while.

I usually try to escape the dark and cold and snowy northeast whenever I get the chance. Last year, I hopped on a bike and headed cross country. Not so fast this time, honey.  My darling wife pulled a reverse snowbird on me and booked a cruise to the arctic circle. Norway, baby. January, deep January.

The title of the trip, advertised by Viking, is “In Search of the Northern Lights.” The sly caveat being “in search.” Oh, we’ll search but that’s no guarantee. The only guarantee is you go outside without seven layers of long johns, you’ll be an ice sculpture in ten minutes. I don’t know if that’s true, it’s a dry cold, isn’t it?

We sailed from Bergen, Norway to ice station Alta, arriving in the pitch-black at 3 p.m. Sunlight ended two hours ago. But that’s ok – we’re here for the darkness. And the lights that come with it.

You don’t know if you’re gonna see the Northern Lights from the ship, so you hop in some guy’s van and he drives off — I was gonna say to the middle of nowhere, but there can’t be a middle here. Everywhere here is the end of the earth.

We drive, get out, look up. Nothing. Rinse and repeat. We do this for five hours. Then the guide says what every Rockaway surfing coach says about the waves, you shoulda been here last week.

The next day, we’ve got time to kill before another Northern Lights safari. And by now, I figure, in for a dime, in for a dollar. I’m embracing this arctic thing. I’m gonna go check out a remote igloo hotel. That’s igloo as in igloo. Each year they make an entire hotel out of ice and snow and run it until the spring thaw.

And sure enough, the place is amazing. Carved ice sculptures adorn a place full of nooks and crannies and at least twenty rooms with mattress-sized blocks of ice that only the crazy would call beds. They’ve got a bar and even a little chapel carved into the ice. I’m not so into the chapel but the bar gets me thinking. I take a shot of some blue ice vodka thing and now I’m half a Viking. I start thinking maybe I’ll give this a shot. Stay the night. They supply sleeping bags and pelts to soften the ice blocks.

But I soon realize there’s a problem.

The igloo is probably just a hundred feet from the main hotel and that, ladies and gentlemen, is where you go to take a middle-of-the-night pee or three.

It was a deal breaker. I mean, if I couldn’t make it to the main hotel and I couldn’t hold it in, I’d be afraid of melting the place. And because I’m 12 years old, I probably would have peed my initials in to one of the snow walls as I weakened the foundation. And I was afraid of the headlines. New Yorker Causes Meltdown. Rude New Yorker Pees and Pisses Everyone Off.

In search of the Northern Lights is one thing, in search of a midnight commode is another.

So, it was back to the ship. Where we remain stuck now because lousy weather has made sailing too dangerous. And there’s snow and clouds and no Northern Lights. Hva faen?

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