In a time during which I should be focused on my seminar for the fall, I am instead getting myself mired even deeper on the best way to spend fall break. If you have read my last post you’ll see that I am wrestling between a trip to Slovakia/Croatia and one to Italy. I have just added a third possibility. Scandinavia.
It all began a few weeks ago, when to my delight Grethe Boe, an excellent alum (excuse me, Beth, ANOTHER excellent alum) who lives in Oslo got in touch with me after many years. We are trying to decide upon when to see each other, and where. Should Grethe come to London, should Jack journey to Norway? Jack of course has been longing to go to Norway for decades, so he has been researching inexpensive ways of doing it. It’s a bit tricky as Grethe is a busy woman. She has some time in early September, and I have been trying to squeeze a trip into what is for me a busy time and probably an important time to be in London (it’s the beginning of a semester, after all), rather than galavanting through gorgeous (gorges?) fjords while pondering the plays of Ibsen and glorying in the music of Grieg.
If I head to Norway I’d like to visit Bergen as well as Oslo, and I would like a good look at the countryside. There is a one-day trip called Norway in a Nutshell that Rick Steves and other travel guides recommend, but it’s a 22 hour trip from Oslo, exhausting even for me, and I suspect that while I could see Bergen I would JUST see it, and be pushed forward quickly towards the next destination. So, hard as I try to work out a four or five day trip I’m wondering if I shouldn’t take more time, and add Stockholm (another excellent alum, Maria Sylwan, lives there) and/or Copenhagen – no alums there, but it’s, well, “wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, friendly old girl of a town…”
I had actually planned a trip through Scandinavia for spring of 2006, during my last sabbatical, but my mother was in the late stages of pancreatic cancer, and it was fairly clear to me that I should be at her side. After all, Scandinavia could wait. And it was going to wait until the end of my current sabbatic leave, in the form of a glorious month-long journey north, culminating at the solstice in some beautiful place or other in the far north, for a glimpse of the midnight sun. Then I began adding up the costs of such a trip. Even for a frugal traveller like myself, the most budget friendly version of the trip was beyond the budget of Dottore Gianni. I also discovered that in order to get retirement checks coming in on time, to get medicare started etc, I really needed to be back in the U.S. by mid-May. So much for my grand northern tour.
But I might be able to make a version of it work over fall break. The flights are so ridiculously inexpensive that I could fly to one of the three focal points (Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen) and then fly between them. I can fly from Gatwick to Oslo in mid-October for £12.99 on Ryanair! But would attempting that in 10-12 days also be pushing it?
What shall the good doctor do? Shall he search for his roots? Return to bella Italia? Or head towards Scandinavia? Or will he muck it up even further by coming up with yet another plan for fall break? Stay tuned, and you may just find out!