I’m still recovering from jet lag.
I’m also reliving many experiences from my trip to the Norwegian fjords and the city of Newcastle, England. Some thoughts:
- Newcastle residents speak a dialect called Geordie, a reminder that travel in Britain used to be a formidable undertaking, and towns and cities were much more isolated than they are now. Result: Wide variations in how English was spoken.
Nowadays travel in the British Isles is quick and easy – my sister’s train ride from Edinburgh to Newcastle took only 90 minutes.
- To my ears, the way some Britons say fjords sounds a lot like fields, creating a lot of hilarity on this trip until I finally figured out what was going on. (Some of the conversations probably resembled Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”)
- The Norwegian language is so similar to Danish and Swedish that speakers can understand one another much of the time. That family of languages is the father of English, and I spotted similarities every time I looked at a sign.
- Norwegians’ fluency with English is astounding (and embarrassing to American monoglots like me).
- My sister and I were the only Americans on our cruise. I tried hard to be a good ambassador for the US (not easy for a transplanted New Yorker like me who never quite mastered the art of slowing down).
- Passengers who saw me on the dance floor asked me where I did my training. (Answer: Florida.) Ballroom dancing developed into an art form in England, which still hosts the world’s most prestigious competition every year in Blackpool. I was proud to say that we American dancers can cut a rug too.
- My sister and I hiked up a mountain to view the Briksdal glacier in Norway. Signs on the path showed the outer boundaries of the glacier in the 1800s, in 1920, and in 1940. The glacier has receded so much that hikers no longer get close to it. Europeans don’t quibble about climate change: They see the effects all around them.
- We visited Edvard Grieg’s home near Bergen and – as part of our visit – were treated to a 30-minute live concert by the resident concert pianist. Could other museums and historical sites follow their example?