Saturday, March 7, 2015

Yes, It's Cold and Church Etiquette

Usually, when we are planning a trip and have told people, they get very excited and ask whether we are going to visit particular sites, what we are planning on doing, whether we have been there before and similar matters.  When we told people we were going to Norway for a month starting in mid-February, almost everyone would look at us blankly and say, "Isn't it cold there that time of year?"

It got to the point where I felt like saying, "No, according to our tour guide we can expect nothing but swimsuits and Norwegian Mai Tais."

The fact is, we are more sweater people than swimsuit people, we don't do well in the heat, so this time of year suits us.

But it is cold.

Half of the trip is North of the Arctic Circle, so cold is to be expected.  The rest is "still in Norway".

We have had some beautiful days and nights here, in between the rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind and cold.

We have had two nights when the cold and clear came with the Northern Lights.  The first time we saw it, it was a couple of "little wispy traily things" to which you went "ooh" while thinking, "this is what we were anticipating?"  The second time was truly spectacular and it kept changing and growing.


It was exactly what we wanted to see!!!

The Hurtigruten had a number of "excursions" where all the elderly people would slowly teeter their way into the waiting buses, stand absent-mindedly near an open seat wondering what it was for and eventually ooze their winter-swaddled bodies in the general direction of the seat almost, but not quite, leaving room for you to pass.  Karen and I had a lot of fun rolling our eyes at each other, still having a couple of years before we are one of those folk.


We toured Trondheim, visited the cathedral and saw a beautiful view from one of the hills.  There was also a viking/troll museum (I get them mixed up, basically, angry guys with beards and funny hats) which was way too warm for anyone under the age of 90 wearing winter clothes.  We rushed through that place and exited with our cup of coffee.

At Tromso, we attended a midnight concert in a beautiful modern church.  It was a trio (one on piano/organ, one singer and one flute player, or flautist, which makes her sound like she had a problem with intestinal gas, which I don't think she did - though I was sitting back in the pews).

They were great and the acoustics in the cathedral were equally incredible.  Of course, it was a church, so when they got to the end of a song, we all sat reverently looking on wondering whether applauding was the polite or impolite thing to do.  The trio were of no help on this point.  There was no clear leader holding a baton, though even that drives me a bit crazy at concerts.  Depending on your "maestro" the baton may reach his side, but he hasn't officially reached the finish line and he brings it quickly back up.  If you jump the gun with a "happy clap" all the people in the audience who know the "maestro" and his ways glare at you as if you just intentionally ripped out an enormous fart (or, as a concert goer would say, "being a flautist").

The trio did not even introduce themselves, they just came out and started tooting and tinkling. There were no song introductions and no subtle hints like "hey folks, it's okay if you clap, or fart, whatever".  Since we were just going from silence to song to silence to song, the "church coughers" started up.  I don't know whether the initial coughers are just instigators who don't have to cough, but know that, once someone coughs, everyone starts getting tickles in their throat, or if the initial coughers actually need to cough.  I am very impressionable though.  Just writing this note makes me want to cough.

So the trio was moving merrily from tune to to tune, while the crowd sat there appreciatively coughing when finally someone actually clapped near the end of the fourth or fifth song.  It could have been accidental, someone clapping his hand over his mouth to avoid a cough, but it was enough to set us all loose with a "hell, if that guy can clap, I will too".

We were a very grateful bunch of clappers for the rest of the concert.  I still think the trio should rethink their approach and either start their concert with a short "it's okay to clap" speech or periodically hold up an "APPLAUSE" sign.  Either would work for me.

It was a wonderful concert.  After it was over, we bundled on our clothes and went out to the wind, ice and cold to stand around and wait as the folks ahead of us tried to locate the open bus door, navigate the stairs, teeter down the aisles and eventually fall into their designated seats.  Another night in Norway.

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