After I finished a year as an exchange student in a small town in Alberta, my parents flew over from Germany and took me on a roadtrip through Canada’s west. One of the last stops of our journey was Vancouver Island and from the moment I set foot off the ferry, I was mesmerized. We stayed in a small village called Ucuelet right on the Pacific coast and the wild beauty of the sea made me want to move there one day and pursue my dream of becoming a writer.
I was never really serious about it. Just a couple of days shy of turning seventeen, my mind was full with hopes for the future, one dream crazier than the other, and moving to the Pacific Rim National Park was just another wish that I had in my heart. But nonetheless I would often tell people jokingly about my plans to retire early one day and buy a house in Vancouver Island.
Over the years, it has always been the places that are somewhat remote that have fascinated me the most. From Jotunheimen National Park in Norway to the lonely plains of Iceland and the ruthless shores of Cornwall, it is the places that are a bit farther away from civilization and big clusters of human settlements that have held my heart the most. I enjoy the liveliness and the energy that come with being in some of the world’s largest cities, but in the end it is nature that I crave and that makes me feel alive.
Right after I moved to Norway, S and me went on a little day trip to the Øygarden archipelago. Bergen lies on the coast, but not directly by the sea: There are two island groups just off the coast of Bergen that shield the city and its harbor from the harsh winds and waves of the sea and while they’re very easy to reach – all the islands are interconnected with bridges – they are very different from the mainland.
We didn't really know what to visit and to see and so we just hopped on a bus and went as far as possible until we found ourselves in a tiny village on the very last tip of the very last island of the most outer archipelago. With one small convenience store, a few boats rocking on the water in the harbor and a couple of houses strewn along the streets, it certainly didn't seem like the centre of the universe, but a lot like the most peaceful place in the province.
During the couple of hours that we spent on Øygarden, we hardly met another person. I assume that some people only live out there on the weekends and work in the city during the week and while I have that secret dream of one day living somewhere remote, I doubt I could permanently live that isolated either. I love nature and I like spending my evenings at home reading and watching Netflix, but at the same time, something does have to be said for the convenience of being able to go to the next shopping centre in less than fifteen minutes.
After walking through the village for a bit, we found a sign to a hiking path along the coast. It had rained in the days before turning the path muddy and slippery and at times, it felt like walking through a swamp. If the village had been a bit isolated, this area was positively deserted - it was a wonderful state of loneliness.
We sat on the rocks at the coast for a bit, just enjoying the silence and feeling the wind blowing through our hair. I love the mountains, but there is just something about the sea that makes the world seem especially small. Maybe that's what I love the most about remote places and great encounters with nature: That they make me see just how irrelevant and trivial my everyday problems are.
We had to catch the bus back to Bergen eventually, but it was a wonderful trip over the islands.
Which remote place would you love to visit one day?