It was 1983 and we were a couple of young greenhorns; inexperienced and largely unexposed to the wide and wonderful world. But Fuzzy and I were doing something to change that. We had set off to travel across Europe as railway hobos. Armed with a rail pass and a backpack each, we set off for the adventure of a lifetime.
Although we are great friends, we are quite different in temperament and in our preferences. I like the countryside; Fuzzy prefers cities. I like folk culture; Fuzzy likes high culture. I dream of visiting Scandinavia; Fuzzy’s dream is the ruins of Ancient Greece. I am a slob; he is always the immaculate gentleman. You get the picture. Despite our differences, we complemented each other in many ways. Furthermore, it was always fun hanging with Fuzzy cause amusing misadventures seem to just happen to him naturally.
Humoring me, Fuzzy agreed to the long trip to Norway and so we found ourselves arriving at a youth hostel outside Bergen one wet and cold autumn day. The day long journey to Bergen from Oslo was a beautiful experience and the scenery exceeded my wildest expectations. However, our journey started the night before as we traveled overnight from Copenhagen to Oslo and that was a nightmarish journey.
The railway cab had no heating and it felt as if the night time temperature plummeted to near freezing. We took out every piece of warm clothing we had and wore it. We ended up wearing so many layers that we could only waddle about while looking like Tweedledee and Tweedledum and even then we were shivering.
So when, we arrived at the hostel the next evening, we were happy but tired, hungry and cold. Our priority was a warm shower and some warm food. We went into our room and found that we shared it with three other single travelers. In many of these hostels, there were no lockers or other means of securing our belongings. While we would like to trust everyone, it was only prudent to take some precautions as we had money and cameras in our backpacks. So invariably, we made sure that one of us would always stay with our belongings.
It was thus decided that I would first go to the kitchen and cook our evening meal of instant noodles fortified by a couple of sausages while Fuzzy waited in our room and read up on the hostel facilities and plan for our activities in Bergen. I returned with two steaming plates of welcome goodness which did much to improve our disposition.
During dinner, Fuzzy told me that the hostel was actually a ski resort that doubled as a hostel in the off season. He had read that amongst its facilities was a sauna room which we could use for free. This was of great interest to us as neither of us have ever even come close to a sauna before and it seemed like a place of wonder. We too wanted to be initiated in to the rites of steam. Plus we reckoned that it would be a balm to our aching and cold bones.
This time, I offered to let Fuzzy to go first while I caught up with reading about Bergen for our adventures the next day. Fuzzy was all smiles and practically shivering with excitement as he gathered his bathing gear and head off for the sauna and then the showers.
After he left, I actually spent a lot of time talking about cameras and photography with a German backpacker that was sharing the room with us. We talked for almost an hour before he left to seek liquid libations in town. I looked at my watch and wondered where Fuzzy was. I imagined with envy, Fuzzy enjoying his sauna experience so much that he had forgotten all about me.
At long length, he reappeared. I scooped up my bathing gear while excitedly asking for his report on the experience. He looked rather disappointed as he gave me directions to the place. He told me that I would eventually reach a pine door with the sign “Sauna” on it. “Going in through the door, you will find a very large room with a wooden bench running right round the room.” he said.
“I sat there for more than half an hour but I have to say, that it was rather disappointing.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, it was warmer than outside but it wasn’t really that warm.” Fuzzy replied.
I was puzzled by Fuzzy’s experience and it took out a lot of wind from the sails of my enthusiasm. Still, I made my way to the room following Fuzzy’s detailed directions. I found the marked pine door and entered into that large room. It was as Fuzzy said. It was warm but not really spectacularly warm. One was beginning to wonder why people made such a fuss about a sauna. As I sat there, barely breaking into a sweat, I was beginning to think that the whole sauna experience thing was extremely over-rated.
I must have been there for about ten minutes when I walked around the room hoping to find some thermostat control and raise the temperature further but I could find no switch other than those for the lights. But then I noticed that the source of heat for the room was some steam escaping from a smaller pine door in one corner of the room. I went to the door and opened it.
That was when I discovered that Fuzzy had spent half an hour sitting in the changing room just outside the real and much smaller sauna room which lay behind the second pine door! The legendary Fuzzy had done it again.