Sunday broke over Bergen, and I was not having a lot of fun. It was the day that I was due to go home, and I really didn’t want to.
I was actually surprised by the strength of my feelings. I was perfectly familiar with that Sunday discomfort, the one when it’s too late in the evening to really do anything else, but too early to go to bed, and the gathering doom of an incoming Monday makes you want to run around and throw things. This was different. I could feel a pressure in my chest and throat, which meant I had either been violated by a Facehugger overnight, or I was experiencing some genuine grief at the prospect of leaving Bergen.
I had to face up to reality though, and unless I was going to start generating kidneys to sell on the black market at the same rate that sharks grow teeth, I was going to have to go home.
I dumped all of my rubbish in the vast array of recycling bins available (I needed more hands in order to give the appropriate number of thumbs up for the focus on recycling), gathered my stuff together and checked out. Since I still hadn’t realised where my Skyss bus card was, I again started on the walk back into town.
Bergen was really upping its game that day; the sun was pouring over the hills and mountains like honey, but the breeze was cool and crisp, and somehow added a sharpness to focus that was completely at odds with my late night and the previous day’s alcohol consumption.
Due to the fact that I was once again not shooting past everything on a bus, I was able to take in so much more and actually capture it. I followed the standard bus route in this time, and spotted something that I had previously missed, on the side of an apartment block. For those of you who have ever played Portal, you will really appreciate this;
I was absolutely delighted by this in particular, and I had a lot of fun on the rest of the walk trying to work out what the actual fuck it was trying to convey;
Everything was doing its best to be as beautiful and as inviting as it could be – including a massive graveyard. I had the sneaking suspicion that someone somewhere was genuinely trying to wind me up.
I sat down on a bench by the lake, with the warmth of the sun soaking into my bones and the beauty of the surroundings making me feel all fuzzy.
There isn’t really a way to adequately express in pictures how I felt about my upcoming departure, but this is as close as I could get;
I eventually headed back to the main street where the shops are – of course they were all closed, but since I don’t like shopping anyway, that was no hardship for me. I was suddenly really excited to find something that I had been keeping my eyes open for since I had arrived – a crow. The crows in Norway are ace, they look like they are all wearing little sleeveless jackets.
I then remembered that I had been given strict instructions by a friend at work that I needed to bring her back something troll related. I headed back towards Bryggen, and found the one and only shop that was open – the place selling abject tat to tourists.
There was a troll grotto, with this dude hanging out by the entrance;
I was very tempted – just to see her expression when I wandered into work with it – but in the end I settled on an excessively hairy fridge magnet, and I bought my sister a teddybear moose as well. I might as well have bought a “Yes, I’m a Tourist” t-shirt while I was at it.
The pressure in my throat wasn’t easing, if anything it was getting worse the closer I got to actually leaving. There was only one thing for it – time to employ the tried and tested copying strategy of Distracting Oneself With Alcohol.
As I was walking back towards the centre, a place that had big painted boards up – advertising that they were showing football – was just opening. I took this as a Sign and went in. As it happens, there were some people who managed to get in there before me – two Scots and two guys from Newcastle. I was delighted.
I sat for a while reading, whilst being regaled with Alice in Chains, Metallica and Korn. I couldn’t have been much happier…or much less keen to leave. Eventually, the barman put the TV on and I moved inside to watch the pre-match shows. Man City were playing West Ham (2-0, btw. If you care and don’t know by now, you deserve the spoiler) and everyone was really excited in the build up. I knew that Premiership football translated really well outside of the UK, and that Manchester United had a ridiculously big following across the world, but I had no real idea of the actual scope – it was precisely like watching Football Focus at home. Except with Norwegian accents. Which is horny.
They had dispatched Norwegian commentators to the UK to go and interview local fans, and I split my attention equally between watching English knobends bawling at the camera, reading about Ciaphas Cain, and trying to translate the tweets being flashed up on screen with a disappointing lack of success.
The barman agreed to let me plug my phone in to charge at a point under the bar while I was drinking, which tells me that they are awesome people who deserve more custom… shame I can’t remember the name of the place.
Eventually I had to abandon what had unfolded as a perfect Sunday afternoon, and head off to the bus station to catch the Flybuss to the airport. On the way to the station, I noticed that despite everything else being closed, they were still running buses up to the Ulriksbanen, so I could have gone after all. Tits.
While I was still at the hostel that morning, I had checked in for my flight, and had been about to go and beg the reception staff to borrow a printer, until I noticed that it seemed to suggest you could check in using your mobile phone… I had screen-printed the checking-in QR code to be on the safe side (not trusting the 3G signal one iota, based on previous experience) and when I got to the security checkpoint, I simply gave the nice man my phone, which he waved at a scanner, and I was straight through. Fucking brilliant.
I wasted no time in getting myself some pizza and another beer. The dreadful weight of leaving was beginning to dissipate, in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol I drank. I then remembered that I had also been set a challenge to find the most mind-numbingly boring postcard I could, so I went off on a hunt. Unfortunately, all of the postcards were of gorgeous scenery around Bergen, which blew that plan out of the water. I did however find a travel accessory that caused me to raise an eyebrow.
As had happened with the flight out to Bergen, I got a text from Norwegian airline to say hello, and to tell me which gate I was departing from. I then got another text to advise it had been changed. LOVING that airline. I am travelling to Denmark in two weeks, and Easyjet have a really hard act to follow.
I boarded the plane, and had TWO spare seats this time. Splendid. While I do enjoy the company of people sometimes, I am largely a misanthropist at heart. I racked up another couple of Carlsbergs and settled in for the flight home.
After the flight landed, I was straight back through Gatwick (I cannot advocate highly enough travelling with hand luggage only; you will not believe that you ever packed a suitcase once you have). The train that I had taken from Bedford to get to the airport in the first place wasn’t available, so I had to get the tube to Euston, and then the overground train back to Northampton. Straightforward enough, but what I hadn’t factored in was the queue to get a ticket. It had genuinely not occurred to me that it might be THAT busy on a Sunday night.
No matter, ticket was bought and I was on the final leg home. Due to the extra time delay buying in the ticket at Gatwick, I had just missed a train home…so clearly I had to go and kill some time in time in the bar at Euston. Clearly.
When I did eventually get on the train – as is usually the case during evening journeys back from London – there were no seats and I ended out sitting on the floor by the doors until we got to Leighton Buzzard. Some very drunk guy left his phone on the seat at Hemel Hempstead, so I did my Good-Citizen-Please-Remember-Me-Kharma-The-Next-Time-I-Am-THAT-Drunk piece and took it with me to hand in at the station.
Both of my phones were utterly dead 20 minutes outside of Northampton, but thankfully my sister had already agreed to pick me up hours beforehand, with a fair idea of when I was going to arrive. They are currently remodelling the train station at Northampton, which lead to a lot of head-scratching before I finally figured out where she had parked the car. Then, very quickly, I was home, slightly drunk, and despite really wishing I was somewhere else, intensely pleased to have access to my own bed again. There are some things that truly can always be relied on.