Jules (the optimist), Gabriel (the six-month old baby) and Verne (the introvert that hates chaos) get into a car… It could be the start of a bad joke, but it wasn’t. Our first road trip with Gabriel stretched from Oslo to Trondheim, 500 km (300 miles) of amazing landscapes, never-ending winding roads and breath-taking beauty. Plus nap times, feeding frenzies, and diaper changes. And the occasional tantrum (from both Gabriel and Verne).
This is the second part of Gabriel’s maiden voyage, you can read the first part here.
But before we fasten our seat belts, let me first time-travel back to the nineties, when I was a 10-year old with a passion for English (and perhaps a small crush on the English teacher). I had penfriends from all over the world, but my favourite was Astrid from Norway.
We used to exchange teenager clichés, stickers and photos. She would often send me amazing pictures of snowy landscapes and beautiful sunsets by the lake.
Like many Norwegians, her family had a small cottage up in the cold mountains, which sounded magical! Living in Ponte de Sor, right in the middle of one of the warmest and driest regions in Portugal, I had never even seen snow before.
My mind would wander through imaginary pine forests, leaving behind footsteps in the pristine snow. I would row a boat through cold waters and into an orange and pink sunset, and then warm up with a hot chocolate and a fire place. I’ve been wanting to travel to Norway since then. When this opportunity came up, my inner 10-year old jumped with joy!
Now, truth be told, a 6-month old baby was never part of my inner 10-year old wanderings. Some grown-up planning would be required to make things work.
We strategically scheduled driving hours around Gabriel’s nap times. These were long and plenty, but so was our route. Driving through the Rondane National Park, halfway between Oslo and Trondheim, was a lengthy but unforgettable journey. The tepid weather from Oslo grew colder and colder, and soon we were travelling through snow filled mountains.
Sometimes Gabriel would grow impatient from sitting in the car for too long, starting a bawl that pierced through the serene Norwegian landscapes. Fortunately, there was no shortage of spectacular places to stop and admire the view while waiting for Gabriel to calm down.
Sometimes it was Verne that grew impatient from the noise and the chaos of feeding and changing diapers in the back seat of a car. Fortunately there was also no shortage of memorable places for him to run away with the camera.
Progressively the mountains gave way to the countryside. It was already May, but the full effects of Spring were not yet visible. Blocks of snow clung stubbornly to river shoulders, next to crystalline rushing waters. Patches of green grass grew here and there, but the fields were still mostly ocre.
It took us a few days to reach Trondheim, but when we finally got there I had my eyes filled with wonder. Everything felt raw and unspoiled, exactly like I had imagined as a little girl. As for the baby and the introvert, they not only survived the trip, but also enjoyed (almost) every bit of it.
Travelling with a baby is undeniably more challenging than when it was just the two of us backpacking around the world, but it also adds a new perspective to our trips. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child takes us back to the innocence and curiosity of our childhood, and gives us another shot at questioning the world.
See you in Trondheim!