The following post is Part 2 of My Three Travel Secrets.
When you travel you often learn a lot about different cultures and different people. But I've realized that with all this traveling, I'm learning a lot more about myself. I've learned how I handle stressful situations and things that will happen beyond my control, such as canceled flights or lost reservations. I've also learned that I really, really prefer the path less traveled, outdoor expanses, and find the hustle and bustle of cities unpleasant.
If you too prefer something a bit more remote, then you will enjoy my second travel secret.
My second secret: Jotunheimen National Park in Norway (Home of the Giants)
The Jotunheimen, in Southern Norway, are home to the tallest peaks in the country. Filled with glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, and jagged mountains its a haven for rock climbers and mountain hikers. I would of course recommend going in the summer when Norway is blessed with sunshine most of the day and enough snow has melted that everything is green, flowing, and not bitter cold.
It's easy to stumble upon glaciers...
If visiting the national park, stay at Turtagrø -
The perfect place for an evening of rest after hiking, climbing, or cross-country skiing. The lounge downstairs is full of large couches, books, maps, and a fireplace. Dinner at the Turtagrø was an amazing spread of mountain trout, a thick meaty stew, and roasted root vegetables, all served community style with the other guests. Jotunheimen National Park is close to some of the western fjords in Norway. The Turtagrø has quite a history and is about 300km from Bergen, and 400km from Oslo.
And finally, my third travel secret: Assume everything will go wrong. Assume you will lose your passport. Assume you might need emergency surgery that will end up costing you $35,000. I haven't lost my passport yet (knocked on wood), but I did need emergency surgery in Switzerland. As a foreigner they estimated the cost of my surgery just before they wheeled me into the operating room and made me pay up front. So I charged it on my credit card. Thanking my lucky stars as all my hospital bills were reimbursed in full, because I listened to my mother and got travel MEDICAL insurance. Read the fine print too - just travel insurance probably won't cover medical expenses, and make sure you get comprehensive coverage if you are doing sporting activities.
A few other bits of advice: One: Learn how to drive stick shift. Automatic is a very American thing. Two: I fear motorcycles, but being familiar with motorbikes comes in handy in many cases, especially when visiting islands. Three: Bring earplugs for the plane and train - seems like I'm always sitting next to the screaming baby.