To climb a mountain

Trip Start May 14, 2010
Trip End Jun 02, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Norway  , Western Fjords,
Monday, May 31, 2010

Mt Floyen, as I mentioned is the most “popular” mountain surrounding Bergen, but as far as hiking and view goes, it’s good, but not as good as two of the others - Ulriken (631 meters) and Lovstakken (477 meters). Trystan has hiked Lovstakken several times, most recently with his Dad and brother, Gareth, when they visited in March, and he wanted us to do that with him - especially since the top provides you with a 360 view of the city. So, the plan was to take the bus to the end of town where he lives, see the Stave church in the daylight and the Royal summer home and then hike the mountain.

The Stave church is very cool, however it’s not the original. The original church was burned down In the early 90’s by some “black metal” groups and then was rebuilt several years later. We did pay to go inside and see it, which has just recently opened to the public…but in deciding whether we should go or not, Brian asked me (in front of the guy taking the money) “do you want to go inside?“ My response was “I don’t care” which is more just a non-committal American response, but I think he took it differently, because after we decided to go in, he asked why I said “I don’t care”…and then proceeded to talk about how this church was so much greater than St Peter’s Basilica or St Marks, etc. Like I said before, it’s not the original, so while it was neat to see, it just wasn’t the same. There are two items on the church as well the cross out front that is original, so they are many hundreds of years old, but everything else was rebuilt. Again, nice, but not the same.

The Royal summer home, Gamlehaugen, was really beautiful and very neat to see. I was also amazed that we could walk right on the grounds, right outside the house itself. Most likely the King was not in residence at the moment because there was no security around, but we do know he was there several days earlier since Kasia saw him in the parade. In any event, I was still amazed that anyone could walk right up and around the house. We spent a little time looking around and walking around the grounds (hilly of course!) and then it was time to hike the mountain. When we got to the base of the mountain, Brian balked and said “no way”. Long story short, after much discussion and back and forth, we ended up deciding to do the hike. Oh my, it was not easy. It took us over 2 hours to reach the summit, and at one point there is even a spot that you had to pull yourself up by a rope. It was definitely a workout, but it was also very worth it. The views from on top were incredible. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. We enjoyed a snack of banana and water up there just soaking in the view and then stretched out in the sun to just enjoy the surroundings…and I think each one of us dozed off at one point or another. Ah, fresh mountain air! And here’s something else I would not have believed…going down is harder/worse than going up. I know it seems strange, but it was true for all three of us. Remember how I said these Norwegians run up AND down these mountains? This was a difficult climb (for us) at best - and these folks were blowing right past us, up to the summit, and then passing us on the way back down - BEFORE we even made it to the top! What?!!? It was crazy! No wonder life expectancy is so high here! I give them so much credit, it’s not easy to hike let alone run. By the time we got down we were pretty shot. We had plans to take Trystan and Kasia out to dinner in town, so we agreed to meet at 8:30ish back at Bryggen.

Dinner was at Egon just down the road from our hotel, and it was delicious. Nothing in Bergen (or Norway for that matter) is cheap - it’s all incredibly expensive. You want to got out and have a couple of beers and listen to a live band? You had better have a minimum of $50.00 in your pocket (and that won't buy you much), no exaggeration. Draught beers start at around $10.00 each and go up from there. Same with wine. Mixed drinks are even more expensive. When we visited, the currency exchange was roughly 6.5 kronors to 1 dollar, and a beer was usually around 69 kronor, a coke was around 25 kronor (or more). We looked at one restaurant menu and a dish of fresh strawberries was 130 kronor - or over $20, and most of the main courses were 330 kronor more - WOW! Egon was not cheap, but a little more reasonably priced and the food was really good. Trystan had not been out to eat in a restaurant since he left home - he simply could not afford to do it, so it was nice for us to be able to treat him and Kasia to dinner and a few beers. Good company, good conversation - a great way to end a really great day!
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