Fast Travel is not exactly the opposite of Slow Travel. Among the 10 principles mentioned in Slow Travel Europe (March 2009), “A Manifesto for Slow Travel”, there is only one principle against which i would propose a different approach:
2. Travel slow. Avoid planes if at all possible, and instead enjoy ferries, local buses and slow trains. Speed destroys the connection with landscape. Slow travel restores it.
Not that i’m opposed to this principle, but i would suggest: Travel fast. Take a plane if necessary to cover long distances. Plan to take ferries, local buses and slow trains if these are what you worked out as highlights of your trip. There’s too much landscape for you to be able to cover on any given trip anyway. Fast travel helps you make the best out of the time you have on your trip. In fact, if you do it right, you get more time to perform what’s advocated in Slow Travel (principles 4 through 8).
I found it a little amusing that someone got rather excited about his 7 days itinerary in Norway when what he ends up seeing is just a little more than 2 cities in a vast country. Just for comparisons (ok i admit i’m being a little smug here), here are maps showing places he covered versus what i did, also in 7 days.
On hindsight, i do have some regrets too. If i had another additional 3 or 4 days, i would have been able to add parts of Finland into my itinerary. Oh well.. this was the result of booking the return flight ticket before having even the slightest idea of an itinerary. And time was not on my side for taking advantage of Qatar Airway’s S$436 promotional flight to Oslo as they did run out quickly and i was more than thankful to have secured it.
So, Fast Travel in Norway.. this is a bit of a dichotomy, since the speed limit is mostly 80km/h. First things first, you must rent a car to see Norway. Most people would fall into the trap of taking the “Norway in a Nutshell“ package and thinking they have seen Norway. Hardly the case, as a Norwegian puts it in a forum posting, it’s “like going to two cities in your own country – travelling with stops one way for seeing an attraction or 2″. “Norway in a Nutshell” is overhyped, as with most tourist attractions (as an aside, on the cruise section that’s supposed to be a highlight of the Nutshell trip, i saw tourists who slept through it. There’s probably no better way to waste money than doing that!). A car lets you go places, cheaply, where it will cost you a bomb if you were on a packaged tour instead. You can stop the car anytime, anywhere, to do the Slow Travel things you ought to be doing. It lets you stay outside of town so you can save money. It saves you money by allowing you to cover more places than you could if you relied on public transport. And money you need to save in Norway, since everything is bloody expensive.
Another example – between Trondheim and Tromso in Norway, which are more than 1000 km apart, the driving time is over 15 hours. A budget flight takes under 2 hours and costs less than a days’ worth of car rental and petrol. The choice is obvious. You probably won’t see any landscape that’s worth driving that many hours anyway.
For the rest of Europe or for that matter, the rest of the world, i would suggest Fast Travel too. Choose your connections wisely. Make the best out of the limited time and money you have.