Jordan Brock

Boy George, Manly Men and Fjords

Sitting in a cafe in the train station at Narvik, Norway and onto the radio pops Boy George singing “Do you really want to hurt me?”. Well, given the type of manly man that walks and works around Narvik I would hazard a guess that if Boy George turned up he would know the answer to that question within about 2 minutes. A tough looking town.

Primarily a port for the iron ore trains from the interior of Scandinavia, there’s not a lot to Narvik. Except for the Fjord of course. Stupendous views of mountains crashing down to the sea. The cold, cold sea. And wind as well. Damn cold wind. The weather was quite grey today, but despite that it’s pretty specatular.

The best thing about Narvik is probably the train ride there (and by extension the train ride out is pretty damn good as well). Plunging cliffs, massive snow drifts, people zipping around on snow mobiles, reindeer tracks (a lack of reindeer though), and the occasional half frozen river.

The swedes have a reputation for being fairly a no nonsense, slightly plain people. Judging from their Saturday night television, there’s probably nothing wrong with that reputation. First up last night was a game show with two teams, each sitting at a piano, where it appeared that all they had to do to win was to sing a bunch of songs. To some fat bald guy who was hosting the show. Then after that was one of the more interesting television shows I have ever seen. Bingo. That’s right, Bingo. Approximately 2 hours of people playing bingo in a television studio. With an audience watching (but not playing!). Granted, the prize money (from what I could work out) was about $200,000 so I suppose there’s nothing wrong with playing bingo. But do they really have to televise it?

Interspersing the Bingo frivolity was a lot of ads for satellite TV, spruiking the benefits of 24 hour channels, continuous sports and what looked to be rather racy movies about pool cleaners and window washers. I suppose that they were working on the principle that anyone desparate enought to watch two hours of Bingo on a Saturday night is the right kind of person to make a snap decision about satellite TV (says he who A: has satellite TV and B: was watching Bingo on a Saturday night.)

Not that there is much else to do in Kiruna on a Saturday night. We couldn’t find any pubs while we were walking around, and any restaurant is likely to charge you a figure set to remedy a foreign trade defecit for a small bowl of pasta, so watching other people play bingo isn’t such a bad way to spend the night.

We’re off to the ice hotel tomorrow. Husky rides, late night snow mobile rides to look at the Northern Lights, beds made of ice, vodka served in glasses made of ice and of course a wedding in a church made of ice. Hopefully, I’ll have something to write about.

Oh yeah, I finally saw an ugly swede. I think that she must act as a sinkhole for all the ugliness in the country. It looks like the police gave her a Rodney King style beating with a branch from the ugly tree. Poor woman.