When The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler (aka our son Seth) invited us to Norway for a week as part of his frugal summer in Scandinavia, we were thrilled. Although we joined him the last two summers, first in Nicaragua and then in Croatia, we would never take another invitation for granted.
Our trip started when we met Seth in Oslo and left on an eight-hour bus trip to Fjaerland where we spent two nights at a campground at the end of Norway’s longest fjord. My book lay unread on my lap as we traveled through a countryside dotted with farming villages, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, deep green hills, and grazing sheep, all under a cloudless sky.
Our trip ended with two nights on a sturdy old cruise ship sailing along the western Norwegian coast. It was the season of the midnight sun, and at midnight we joked that we couldn’t tell if the sun was rising or setting. Peter and I had a cabin, but Seth slept in the lounge in true Frugal Traveler fashion.
In between, we visited Brønnøysund, Bergen, and Balestrand. We biked on the island of Vega, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the friendly locals invited us to share in a festival marking the summer solstice, and a young woman named Ina opened the eider duck museum just for us because we arrived there after it closed. People were kind to us everywhere, partly because they were charmed by Seth, but mostly because they were just nice.
There were many unforgettable moments. One, in Brønnøysund when we were killing time waiting for the ferry to visit Vega, we came upon a choral competition in the center of town. We sat on benches and listened to groups from all over the area singing their hearts out. We had no idea what was going on, but we loved it.
At the campground where we stayed for our first two nights, Peter and I went for a walk after dinner while Seth wrote. It was about 9:00 p.m. The sun was shining on two houses high in the mountain, one a deep red and the other a dark mustard color, typical of the region. We went back to get Seth because it was such a beautiful scene. The three of us walked together, taking pictures of the mountain and of each other, a family without a care in the world.
Over coffee on our last morning together, we looked at the hundreds of photos of our week that Seth had downloaded to his computer and tears flowed (mine).
The trip itself was a dream come true, but what really mattered was the chance to watch Seth work, to laugh at his jokes, to have him laugh at some of ours, and just to share a piece of his life.
At our age, we realize that our best days may be behind us, but as our trip with Seth suggests, there can be some very good ones to come.