// Overseas travel blog
// Overseas travel blog
Larvik: a little town on Norway’s southern coast.
It is not pronounced in the way a native English speaker would assume, with the emphasis on the Lar, but rather with the emphasis on the second syllable, -vik, which is delivered with an upwards inflection, almost like a vocal tick.
My great-great-grandfather, Hans Anton Hansen, was born in 1870 in this little coastal town. He belonged to the Sandar (Sandeherred) parish.
A Norwegian sailor, Hans and his young bride (my great-great-grandmother) were responsible for bringing my great-grandfather, Thomas Henry Hansen a.k.a. ‘Pop’ into the world on the 11th of October, 1903.
I have fond memories of visiting Pop in Rockhampton as a kid, and also of him coming to stay at my parent’s house in Burleigh when I was young. In Rocky, my brother and I would get ourselves into trouble stealing trinkets from in the dried-up fish-tank in the neighbour’s backyard, or would try to behave ourselves a little and scout for mangoes fallen from the tree out the back.
When Pop came to stay at Burleigh, my brother and I would sneak up behind him and touch his silvery-white, slicked back hair ever so gently as he was drifting off to sleep in the chair, ducking and weaving out of eyesight so as not to be caught if our touch was too firm and we had startled him out of sleep. Pop is also essentially responsible for introducing me to my chocolate addiction as a toddler, when he would take me on pram rides to the corner shop and cheekily buy me Golden Roughs when mum wasn’t around.
While I’m no reveler in the tedious pastime of family-ancestry, I thought it would be a crime to visit the Norway without taking a look around the hometown of my ancestors. Plus, it’s sort of a kick knowing that some of my genes can be traced back to Norwegian sailors. With these things in mind, I decided to leave the hipsters back in Oslo and jump on a 2 hour train to the southern tip of Norway to see what Larvik was all about.
The train ride was comfortable and modern, with high-speed Wi-Fi the entire way, and a charming old conductor intermittently stopping in to check on passengers’ tickets. As the tracks were being repaired at Larvik, the last leg of the journey involved a ten-minute bus ride from Sandefjord. I hauled my luggage off the train, and passed in to the bus driver, who stowed it away in the undercarriage.
‘Takk,’ I said, in my best Norwegian accent.
He offered something in reply which was unintelligible; nevertheless he seemed friendly enough, so I jumped on the bus.
Once the ten minutes was up, we pulled into a little carpark located adjacent to the train station, and conveniently across from my hotel. I jumped out, retrieved the luggage, and wandered across to check in.
Once in my room, I noticed I’d been given one of the few rooms opening out onto a balcony. While it wasn’t looking out over the ocean, it was on the quieter side of the hotel away from the traffic of the main station. I opened the doors and stepped out, staring straight at a huge building wall decked out in colourful street art.
“Borders?” it proclaimed, “I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.” A spray-painted portrait of a proud-looking elderly gentlemen staring into the distance accompanied the quote. It was perfect.