A traveler's paradise.
As for Norwegian roads, they are among the finest in the world. The majority of them are flanked with telegraph-poles; for not only are these routes magnificent specimens of man's triumph over nature, but the lightning also is controlled here, and, swift as light, thought wings its way upon a metal wire through this inland waste, - a marvel always wonderful and ever new. Nature has given to these scenes the trees and rocks which yield to nothing but the wintry blasts. Man has suspended here a thread of steel, which thrills responsive to the thoughts of thousands, transmitting through the gloomiest gorges the messages of love, hope, exultation, or despair. Hence one can never feel completely isolated here. That little wire enables him at any point to vanquish space, and by placing, as it were, a finger on the pulse of life, to feel the heart-beats of the world.
In 1888, two American gentlemen were traveling in Norway, one of whom grew depressed at his apparent isolation from humanity. His comrade, to astonish and console him, telegraphed from one of the post-houses where they had stopped for dinner, to the American consul at Christiania. The message which he sent was this:
A Norwegian Highway.
"Who was the Democratic nominee for President yesterday in Chicago?"
Before the meal was finished, the answer had arrived:
Some of the roads on which we traveled here are cut directly through the mountains. We found such tunnels quite agreeable, since they furnished the only genuine darkness to be found. So far as light is concerned, one may drive through Norway in the summer just as well by night as by day. Early and late indeed are words which in this region grow meaningless. I could not keep a diary in Norway, so difficult was it to tell when yesterday ended and to-day began. At first this seemed a great economy of time. We felt that we were getting some advantage over Mother Nature. "Why not drive on another twenty miles?" we asked; "we can enjoy the scenery just as well; or, "Why not write a few letters now? It is still light.
In fact, why go to bed at all?"
But after a time this everlasting daylight grew a trifle wearisome. It thoroughly demoralized both our brains and our stomachs, from the unheard of hours it occasioned for eating and sleeping. Steamers will start in Norway at five o'clock in the morning, or even at midnight. I once sat down to a table d'hote dinner at half-past nine, and on another occasion ate a lunch in broad daylight at two o'clock in the morning. Moreover, even when we went to bed the sun's rays stole between our eyelids, and dispelled that darkness which induces slum-ber. For, strangely enough, there are rarely any blinds or shutters to Norwegian windows. Only a thin, white curtain screened us usually from the glare of day. After a while, therefore, I could sympathize with an American lady, whom I heard exclaim, "O, I would give anything for a good, pitch-dark night twenty-four hours long!"
A Land Of Perpetual Sunlight.
One characteristic of these roads made on my mind a profound impression, namely, the boulders that have been split off from overhanging peaks by frost and avalanche. This is a feature of Norwegian scenery that I have never seen equaled in the world. Sometimes we drove through such debris for half an hour. Nor is there the least exaggeration in the statement that these boulders are in many instances as large as a house; yet, when compared with the gigantic cliffs from which they came, even such monsters seemed like pebbles. Some of these cliffs were frightful in appearance. Again and again, when we had passed beneath some precipice, one third of whose mass seemed only waiting for a thunder-peal to bring it down, my friend and I would draw a long, deep breath, and exchange glances of congratulation when we had escaped its terrors.