I woke up on Friday morning, in a bunk bed, in Norway. This was such an exciting thing for me that it made my belly fizzy again. I have mentioned in a previous blog that I really really like Norway, and waking up there made me giddy.
I very nearly had a nasty accident retrieving my phone; I had left it on charge on the desk overnight, and the distance from the desk to the top bunk was just slightly more than the distance from my neck to the tips of my fingers. I can imagine that the precarious scene of me dangling at full stretch down to get my phone was fractionally less entertaining than me getting up to the bunk in the first place. There was a very delicate balancing act between reaching far enough, and keeping enough weight on my arse end to stop me pitching head first onto the floor. You may have already come to appreciate what a graceful creature I am…
It turned out that I had managed to sleep solidly through until 6am. That is pretty much unheard of for me. The slightest noise, light, change in temperature, and I am awake. I like to think that it’s a primal thing, and I am really predator-aware… In no way linked to excessive consumption of alcohol. Nah-uh.
I think now would be an opportune moment to share with you what I could see from my window. The view is slightly obscured by trees surrounding the hostel car park, but nonetheless, it’s stunning.
I chilled out on the surprisingly comfortable single bunk for an hour or so, before scraping myself into some semblance of order and heading off to find breakfast. I have always found European breakfast to be just a little bit odd, and this was no exception. The beverages represented pretty standard fare, coffee and orange juice, but the food itself was what we would probably look at in the UK at least as lunch. Garlic sausage and potato salad for breakfast…? There was also some fish dish that looked like the result of a road traffic accident. I am sure it was perfectly nice, but I left it well alone.
I ended out settling on bread, cheese, ham, and coffee. Pretty much what I found myself living on the whole time I was there, if I am honest. I was just finishing off my first of many coffees when I happened to look out of the window
The hostel I was staying in was a way up in the hills with a breathtaking view over Bergen. My room was on completely the opposite side of the building, and I had not appreciated until that moment exactly what kind of views I had.
Needless to say, I scarfed my breakfast and ran off back to my room to get my camera, and then spent the next 20 minutes clambering about on rocks taking photos with an imbecilic grin on my face. I very nearly fell arse over tit down the side a couple of times; 1) Skate trainers are not renowned for their grip on damp rocky surfaces and 2) whenever I have my hair down, it encroaches on my peripheral vision and gets in my face, impeding my 3D perception as well. All in all, I am not the person you want in any place where gravity would bring me back in your direction.
Health & Safety issues aside, I was feeling exceptionally pleased with myself. There was something about the view and the surroundings that made me feel peaceful, and content, and to able breath a little deeper. I appreciate that the environment is probably a lot cleaner, and being both right by the sea and also up in the hills, the air quality is going to be different… but I think it is more than that. There is definitely something inside me that responds really positively to that kind of setting, where other people might really gravitate towards a bright sunny beach.
Where the hostel is in Montana, it is right in the middle of a residential area, so I marched off around the streets with my camera. The houses are really beautiful, with lots of bright colours, amazing tiled roofs, all of them really quite grand looking. I don’t know whether Montana is an affluent area, or whether that is just the way houses are built there. It might simply be the case that because there isn’t the same population pressure we experience in the UK, they have the freedom to take up more space and build on a grander scale.
I am a big fan of lines, angles and stairs and this place had it all. In fact, the only thing it was missing was some Escher-esque fucking with physics and I don’t think I would ever have left. Against the backdrop of the mountains and the swathes of fir trees, it was astounding to behold.
After I had been out long enough for residents to perhaps start getting suspicious and think about calling the Police, I headed back to the hostel to pick up some spare batteries for my camera and make sure my phones were topped up. The buses ran into town at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour, and I found myself with a little bit of time to kill. Conveniently while I was waiting, I found a can of beer leftover from the vending machine visit the night before, and decided that it would be rude to leave it there all day to get warm.
So, I finished my beer, gathered my stuff together and headed off into town. The previous day, I had pretty much hit Christies Gate and stayed there, because that was all I needed to see that night. On Friday, I headed directly over that road and into the town centre – or at least the bit with all of the shops.
The centre was clean, and bright, and busy without being clogged with people. The buildings themselves were all huge and impressively built. I got accosted by a few people asking for money, and I found that my usual “Sorry, I’m English!” didn’t get me out of it quite as easily here, because frankly everyone speaks better English than I do.
I pressed on down to the waterside and it just kept getting more and more beautiful.
Bryggen Street, Bergen, 9th May 2014
I did a loop down as far as I could see anything interesting. At one point I wandered around a bend and came face to face with the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, which in my non-nautical terms is a Fucking Big Boat. If boats are your thing, it’s worth looking into further, because I was mightily impressed.
After having wandered around for a while, being a proper tourist and smiling like I had something automated in my pants, I spotted the obligatory Irish bar, Scruffy Murphy’s, and decided that it would be rude not to drop in.
I was delighted to discover that they served Newcastle Brown Ale on tap (I have only ever seen it in bottles before). I was less delighted at the price, 96NOK (roughly £9.60, or close enough not to really be bothered about the difference). The previous night, I had been drinking smaller measures of stronger beer, so somehow the price comparison escaped me, until I was drinking a usual measure of a usual beer. Ouch. Looked like I’d be selling whatever I had left of my kidneys when I get home to pay for the bar bill.
On a side note, am I the only person who is confused by dual flush systems on toilets? I understand the principle; you have a lighter piss flush and a heavier dump flush, but I have never been in a toilet where there is a noticeable difference between the two, and I just assume that I’ve missed the point somewhere along the line…
By this point in the day, I was starting to get really excited about seeing TrollfesT that night at the Garage. They are an amazing band, with an amazing live show. I saw them at the end of April in London and had been looking forward to seeing them live again ever since. I will talk about TrollfesT in another blog, because they deserve more than a passing mention. They posted an update on Facebook, and where I would normally copy and paste into Google translate, because of the abject failure of the 3G signal, it just wasn’t working. I ended out apologetically approaching the locals at the bar and asking them for help to translate. I am truly fucking embarrassed to be English sometimes. Left to my own devices, I know enough Spanish, German and French to work my way around a lot of places, and enough common sense to figure everywhere else out, but the EASE with which every fucker else in the world can turn around and talk to me in MY language in THEIR country is humiliating.
Since I left the hostel that morning, I had been relying on 3G since I couldn’t find any open Wifi networks. By the time I had my third pint, both of my phones were virtually dead (Incidentally, the 3G coverage is what can best be described as Fucking Awful). Despite being in town, 10 minutes walk from where I needed to be, I had to take the bus back to the hostel to charge both batteries up – again. This did not stop being an issue for me the entire time I was travelling, and it has made me re-evaluate a) what I am looking for in a phone and b) what kind of gadgets I will be asking for next Christmas.
While I was back at the hostel, I took advantage of the opportunity to eat some more bread and cheese, because frankly once I hit the pub later, I wasn’t going to be leaving again.
I got the bus back into town, and by now I had done this route so many times that it was starting to become ingrained in my memory – which ended out being really lucky, but more of that in the next blog. I got back the to Garage, where the barstaff ended out being more pleasing than the previous evening, and I tucked back into the Brooklyn lager in a nice little darkened corner.
From the fliers, it looked like doors for the gig would be 8pm – which made me regret leaving my book at the hostel, since it was only 6pm when I got there. Nevertheless, the barstaff displayed their good taste, and helped pass the time by regaling me with such classics as Sir Psycho Sexy, One Armed Scissor and Fear of the Dark.
The TrollfesT gig was downstairs in what was virtually a cavern. I like drinking in caverns; my favourite beer-cavern to date is downstairs in the Pit & Pendulum in Nottingham, but this was pretty damn close. The gig was awesome, better than in Camden, but I was still slightly disappointed by the number of people there. I decided at that point that when I got home, I was going on a MISSION to spread the word. Myself and the other girl on the England street team, Harriet, had already agreed after the Camden gig that we were going to combine our powers to drive a greater TrollfesT following, but this convinced me that I had to do something special.
The Garage, Bergen, 9th May 2014
I got to hang out with the band afterwards, and finally managed to buy them all beer, which made me feel like I was able to give back a little bit for all of the joy their music has brought to my life. I learned how to open a bottle of beer using leverage and another implement, which I feel is an essential life skill and has made me a better a human being.
I then ended out crashing on a sofa somewhere and losing my Skyss bus card. Brilliant.