Gripping the railing, I clattered up the steps to the top deck. It had been only six hours since we boarded the overnight DFDS Seaways ferry at the harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark, yet at 10:30 pm, the sun was only beginning its descent. I turned around suddenly halfway up the flight of stairs, causing my brother to bump into me. I expected to see the sky, still a vibrant blue with tinges of pink and orange. Instead, however, something else caught my attention: a distinct, painfully bright rainbow. I grabbed my brother, shouted with delight, and leaped into a full-bound sprint up the stairs, my brother and parents behind me.
â–º Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
The unmanageable wind whipped my hair into my face nearly blinding me, commanding me to bow before it, one of the most humbling experiences I have faced. To my left, a colossal rainbow from one point on the horizon to the other hung above my head, and I stood limp for a few minutes, in utter awe. It was not that I had never seen a rainbow before. Yet, the size and the sheer audacity of such color was unparalleled, and no picture I took did it justice.
I did not believe that anything could outdo what I had just seen — I was wrong. To my right, streaks of every shade of orange, yellow, pink, blue, and red lit the sky, and a shining ball of fire touched the horizon. I remember thinking that no image I had seen, no description I had read could ever have prepared me for this moment. Surrounded by both a sea and sky of vast limitlessness, I forgot all about the wonders inside the ship that marked feats of modern man: a casino, restaurants, jacuzzi, and jazz club, to name a few.
We spent the following day entirely in Oslo, until 4:00 pm, when the ferry left back to Copenhagen, and the city’s wonders shocked me to no end. From Vigeland Sculpture Park (where describing the sculptures as “unique” is an understatement), to the Holmenkollen Olympic Ski Jump, to the city center’s Nobel Peace Prize Hall, the wealth of experiences that this small city offered me were undoubtedly beyond compare. Yet despite this, my mind continually returned to the previous night’s face-to-face encounter with nature. I realized how unique the aura of these northern European countries in the fresh smell that pervades the air, the clarity of the sky, the refreshing straightforwardness of everyday life and the constant reminder of what pure nature truly is.
There have been countless authors before me, better than me, who have written about the insignificance of man in the face of nature’s wonders. I won’t attempt to do the same. What I will say, however, is that no word, image, or video can ever do justice to experiencing a sunset, sunrise, or even a rainbow on the open sea, with the wind ready to pull your camera out of your hand, and the sounds of rolling waves filling your ears. Don’t let your experiences of the world be only through the lenses of others, especially not the beautiful northern Europe. I know people who have taken this very overnight cruise to Oslo eleven times, and only after experiencing it myself did I understand why. Wherever you go in the world, there will be opportunities to meet new people, witness new places, and experience new things. There are, however, very few places where you can have all the new, yet be reminded of those certain, undeniable, commonalities that bind humanity and the world we live in.
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