Trains are a good way to travel in Scandinavia. Not only do they run on time, but also the cost is reasonable. The government subsidizes them so that fewer automobiles will be needed.
The train ride from Trondheim to Oppdal is about 70 miles and is uphill all the way. The climb continues over the Dovre Mountains and past Dombas. Then there is a steady descent through Gudbrandsdal all the way to Oslo.
Our visit to Oppdal was an unexpected delight. Johanna Korsnes, a cousin to my father, and her husband, Fredrik, were retired sheep ranchers living on their farm near Driva, about 10 miles south of Oppdal. Two taxis met us at the depot for our ride to the farm.
Since taxis in Norway are not limousines, we could not take our luggage along. We were advised to stack everything in the corner, “No one will touch them.” Though there was no choice, I was more than a little skeptical.
We were served a full Norwegian dinner of which roast lamb was the main course. It was a delicacy. I inquired if they had butchered a lamb of their flock.
“Oh no,” was the reply. We bought it at the meat market in Oppdal.”
“But why,” I asked, “do you do that when you raise sheep?” The answer was simple: “We can buy our fresh meat at the market for less than we are paid for live lambs.”
They explained: “It is because the government takes money earned from petroleum and subsidizes the farmers. Otherwise, all the farmers would want to move to Stavanger and work for the oil company.” With only about 3 percent of its land agriculturally productive, Norway can’t afford to lose its farmers.
We talked about their socialism with its free medical care, free university education and liberal benefits to the retired and handicapped. I asked, “Do you think it would work in America?”
“No,” was the answer, “because your country is too divided. In Norway we are all one nationality, speak the same language and are all loyal to the king.” Besides they said, “in America people would take advantage of the system.”
We talked about America too. Some of the family had lived in the States for a while. In the entire world I cannot imagine that America has friends more loyal than in Scandinavia.
Even though the politicians may voice disagreements with our foreign policies at times, the people know that their freedom is dependent on a strong USA. They are well informed on news from the New World.
Soon it was time to return to Oppdal and board the train for Oslo. The taxis were on schedule to pick us up for the midnight departure (though it wasn’t dark). Not a thing was missing or had been touched. It was a short stop, only eight hours and the taxi fares cost $45, but it was well worth it.
Meeting long separated relatives, the delicious lamb roast, the view of the mountains and a briefing on the Norwegian economy has not been forgotten.
Next Week: “At the Prestus in Orkdal’