We follow our friend Anders up a hill that overlooks the southern coast of Norway for a “good view,” as he suggested. As if we needed another one — everywhere you look in this country is an are-you-fucking-kidding-me-vista. I’m beginning to think it’s so expensive here because there’s a dangerous surplus of gorgeousness…but I’m no economist. Regardless, we shadow our host and take it all in. To our left, neon-green pastures framed by ancient stone-fencing. To our right, small cabins with roofs sprouting lush grass — homes in need of haircuts. The air smells like the sea made love with the rain.

Anders cuts through the serenity and says, “This is the view I take a girl to if I’m trying to get laid. I mean…not at the top of the hill…but, usually they’re keen later. Like when we get home.”

“Yeah, we get it, Anders.” 

Anders doesn’t stop talking. This was also a very Anders-thing to say. He is brutally honest, a real character. We actually met Anders (for a total of two hours) a few months ago at a random bar in Bali. Probably, in a drunken “You guys should tooootally come to Norway this year!”…we totally did. Never offer us to visit your home if you don’t mean it: We will ALWAYS call your bluff. 

But Anders meant it; he’s just that type of human. And after a week-long road trip through the country with a couple friends from home — exploring lonely fjords, gawking at colossal waterfalls with rainbows shooting out their butts, and hiking the devilish Trolltunga trek — here we are. Following Anders to the viewpoint where commonly closes the deal.

A few more things about Anders. Like most Scandinavians, his English is incredible and he uses American idioms better than most Americans. He thinks out loud a lot and says random, amazing things like, “I’ve always wanted to try corndogs. They don’t have those in Norway, but I think I’d love them.” He’s obsessed with the San Francisco 49ers (even though American football isn’t a thing in Norway) and even has NFL Game Pass so he doesn’t miss the action. He has more than one story about getting roofied, then going into a psychotic coma and nearly getting deported from the US. As if one roofie-story wasn’t enough.

But indeed, the view is stunning. And if Rachel wasn’t already my wife and it wasn’t already in the bag, I think I’d put my money on getting laid later, too. 

Surely rivaling this country’s epic panoramas are its people, though. Like Anders. Or like the old woman we rented an AirBnB from a week ago who immediately invited us to a party on the upper level of her barn. She fed the (then) four of us and kept the homemade cider running and, for lack of better words, treated us like family — without even knowing us. Or like Ander’s friend from the other night that would NOT let us pay for one drink while out on the town in Stavanger. Or like Ander’s roommate Sindre, who took a day off from work to hike Preikestolen with us, who actually went with us every step of the way to make sure we got there. The list goes on, but in short, Norway — the place and its people — are extremely impressive.

We breathe in the crisp, North Sea air and Anders takes a look at his watch and says it’s time to head back. “I gotta drop you guys off at my house before I pick up my girlfriend flying in from Oslo. I wanna make sure there’s enough time to swing by here after the airport,” he says, with a devilish grin. “You know, so I can show her the view and—”

“Yeah, we get it, Anders.”