Chasing Star Wars, Shackleton, And Extreme Exploration In Norway

Trips like these always start off innocuously enough. A simple email promising unmatched adventure. The itinerary includes lots of blended malt scotch, imbibed on the same Norwegian glacier where Irvin Kershner filmed the opening of The Empire Strikes Back. There’s also a chance to hang with legendary explorers and environmentalists Tim Jarvis and Baz Gray. The duo will even be teaching you how to survive in the Arctic. The whole thing seems to have been perfectly tailored to fit your tastes in travel.

You write back in all caps: OH, HELLS YES. Then you start to get pumped.

See, I consider myself a bit of an adventurer. In my early 20s, there wasn’t a trip that I wouldn’t take. Cross Afghanistan during wartime? Duh. Climb a mountain to a coltan mine in Eastern Congo? Sign me up. Sail across an ocean in a 54-foot sloop? Naturally. So when Shackleton Whisky came calling with the chance to learn arctic exploration skills in the spot where some of the greatest explorers cut their teeth — Finse, Norway — I was hyped. I was ready. I was, as I told my editor, “the perfect person for this trip.”

In retrospect maybe I should have thought about it a bit more.

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The trip started with a mellow day spent exploring Oslo, Norway. I love beer and food, so I used my time to dig into the local scene. My take is that Oslo is an odd duck of a European city. It’s fairly compact and walkable. There’s WiFi literally everywhere. You can pay with credit cards for everything — even public toilets. There’s a surprising amount of antique guitar stores, which was a lovely surprise. It’s safe, clean, and convenient.

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