Bergen - like Victoria, but with more Vikings

Trip Start Jul 04, 2006
Trip End Jan 15, 2007

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

OK, so here I am again playing catch-up. I'm currently sitting in an easyInternetCafe in London, writing about our time in Bergen. Before I get launched into that, here's a bit of a rant...

If you're an Internet Cafe providing the service of Internet access, make sure you have the latest programs loaded on your machines (the free programs at least). I have tried to check my e-mail using the new Yahoo service, but the computers here are using the old Microsoft Internet Explor/der software so I can't. I've spent about 10 minutes trying to get through to this site to do my updates, but it keeps crashing these machines I had to move to a new one) And to top it off, I can't access the pictures from my camera at these terminals so can't do the uploads. That, coupled with the fact that I've been carrying my pack through crowded trains and tube stations has left me in a FOUL mood.

OK - now I feel better.

Now - back to Bergen.

Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of just over 240,000 and is visibly growing. Nowhere have I seen so many baby strollers and pregnant women. Scary really.

The city itself really reminded me of Victoria, BC, that is, if Victoria had been founded by Vikings rather than the English. Otherwise basically the same. Artsy, laid back, beautiful and very touristy.

Originally we were hoping to crash with another Vancouver contact in Bergen, but unfortunately that fell through (seemed he got called to work - we don't have that problem anymore...). As we needed a place to stay, we were on the search for a hostel. We found one, though were somewhat hesitant about it. The hostel apparently had a lock-out period between 11am-5pm so when we entered I think we had just woken up one of the volunteers there so he seemed pretty out of it (not like East Hastings out of it, just somewhat confused as to what was going on). The staff member confusion (yeah...we have, like...linens...), coupled with the bible verses on fluorescent paper hanging from the walls, was a bit, well, disconcerting. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with religion (especially being a Douk myself), I'm just not incredibly comfortable with bible quotes on fluorescent paper hanging in hostels - it gets my guard up.

Anyway, we dropped off our stuff and began exploring the city. Major sites included the Fish Market - which was located in a gorgeous area right along the seawall in the heart of downtown. Though inevitably, as fish markets do, it smelled a great deal of fish (I hate fish). We didn't hang out there too long.

As I have written in past e-mails, Norway is stupidly expensive. As such we found a wonderfully cheap activity in Bergen - sleeping in the park. The price, and the fact that there had been some slight carousing during the going away celebration in Finse, made this a highly enjoyable endeavor.

When we returned to the hostel, we were all pleasantly surprised. The staff was extremely helpful, they had free laundry (very big plus for us as our clothes were about to start climbing glaciers on their own), free coffee (which otherwise costs you about $5), and get this - FREE WAFFLES on Thursdays. It being Wednesday, we decided to stay another night to take full advantage of the waffles (hate fish, love waffles).

The following day we played tourist. Took a ride up a mountain on the Furnicular (sp.?) - like a gondola, but on rails - and got some excellent views of the city. Did some more sleeping in grassy areas, and managed to find what I think is Norway's only vegetarian restaurant. How vegetarian was it? When we came in Bjork was playing.

One $20(!!) veggie-burger meal later we did a bit more exploring and headed back to the hostel. Don't get me wrong, the $20 veggie-burger was incredible (especially the homemade garlic sauce (I love garlic); and this was probably one of the cheapest meals one can purchase in Norway. Love the country, hate the prices!

Anyway, that evening we had waffles at the hostel (love waffles) and played some poker with 2 Brits we met up with. No cash was actually played for (probably would have been frowned upon by the folks listening to Christian rock in the lobby...) though I still cleaned up. I rule.

The next morning was our last in Norway, so we got up early and caught the bus for Haugesund. Just to note for those of you who are looking to be catching cheap Ryan air flights into Norway - Haugesund is NOT close to Bergen, and not particularly cheap to get to. My bad.

The bus trip took about 3.5 hours, and was quite picturesque (as you'll see in the pictures) (see the pun there) (picturesque and picture) (get it?)... Highlight was the short ferry ride, which was very similar to those taken on the BC ferries. From maneuvering through islands to the little cabins built up on said islands, if you put the two landscapes side by side you'd be hard-pressed to see the difference.

Then we got the airport. Then we left Norway.

Final thoughts on Norway:
- fantastic scenery
- As is very hilly - houses built on hillsides one on top of another - makes for great views I'm sure
- Aquavit - Norwegian whisky - very tasty
- Norwegians - very friendly; like Canadians but better looking
- Norwegians - some have names that sound dirty and make English people laugh (see Finse blog entry)
- Have excellent jokes


3 Norwegians were climbing a glacier and one fell into a crevasse.
The 2 remaining decided that the best bet would be to go and get help - so they called down,

"We're going to get help".

Response from guy in the crevasse: "I'll wait here"

The 2 then thought that as they may be a while, they'd send down some supplies.

"We're dropping you some whisky."

"I've got ice!"

Well, it's really funny when told by a Norwegian and after a few of the aforementioned whiskies...

Anyway, off the UK!
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