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Diary of a travel writer: In awe of this secret and beautiful land

Now that's something to clear the head. A zip-wire climb and ride in Geilo, Norway, and a walk through Hallingskarvet National Park. Instead of hiking boots, I am wearing Keen sandals, and shorts that make the Norwegians wonder about my resistance to the mountain air, but it works.

Friday

A great chat about the politics of Norwegian Tourism with the manager from the Dr Holms Hotel. The Fjords people rule Norwegian tourism with the same abandon as the Shannon people ran Irish tourism for a long time.

Saturday

You wonder what a railway journey does to earn a title such as "officially recognised as one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world". Ten minutes into the Oslo-Bergen railway ride and we have a flavour of what is involved. Lakes leap in and out of view on alternate left and right intervals. White-water streamlets snake down from the hilltops. Last time I traversed this way it was snow-bound, and, disrobed, it's just as beautiful. Just before a long tunnel there it is, the snow from a glacier on the horizon, turning blue in the warmth of the valley, like a Huldra, a temptress of the mountains and waterfalls. That is it with Norway -- it fits that imagined perfect landscape almost perfectly. They even hire a 'Huldra' (rough translation: Secret Beautiful Lady) to try to tempt young men off the train, a local beauty earning a few kroner for the summer.

Sunday

Bergen is a knockout, with its picture-pastel wooden houses. Take the train, the Floibanen, to the top of Mount Floyen above Bergen and you have passed in a couple of minutes to another planet. Mona, our guide from the Walk Like a Norwegian tourist firm, brings us on a quick loop.

Monday

A day in Bergen city with Guy from Project Travel, the Dublin firm that sells 'Norway in a nutshell tours'. People love the place, and it is not any pricier than home if you stay out of the bar. The bill for a round of three-and-a-half beers comes to €40.

Tuesday

Flight SK2875 is a little late. Unusually, I have checked a bag in and even if I make the turnaround in Copenhagen, my bag might not. But we made it in good time. The MD80s that SAS loves rolled back over the clouds to sunny Dublin, the tent is pitched in the garden, the girls awaiting a sunny day to take it down. Holidays at home indeed.

Wednesday

A Princess cruise ship awaits me in Venice. Six nights on the eastern Med will finish in Istanbul. I'll be sharing a ship with that overfed American at the front of the buffet queue. Can't wait.


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