Tag Archives: the garage

Traversing Bergen, au pied – 10th May 2014 (Day 3/4)

So, it’s Saturday morning, I’m suddenly awake, and really confused as to why. Then I remember. Oh yeah, I’m on a sofa, which I need to get off of, and I have had way less sleep than is required to function as a normal human being.

I managed to drag myself into the vertical plane, and sincerely hoped my hair was going to behave itself, because I was having no influence on it – partly due to the lack of a mirror and partly due to the lack of giving a fuck.

I have to confess that I was absolutely blown away by Bergen in the morning. It is a beautiful place at the best of times, but with the sun striking off of the rising mist, I was gobsmacked.


I managed to get my hands on a coffee from the train station, which is still very much a morning essential; I have cut my caffeine intake by 90% in the last 6 months, but I am still very much aware that I need it to kick start my day, and I am also still really not prepared to take the chance of a migraine if I don’t drink any at all. Beer, I can go days without if absolutely necessary, but coffee is quite simply a Must Have.

I headed off towards the bus station, and it was at this point that I realised I couldn’t find my Skyss bus card. The really annoying thing about that was that I had put it in a little plastic holder along with my Oyster card (London tube travel card) and also my London-Midland Railcard (30% off rail fares between where I live and London). I stood for a little while patting down all of my pockets, in the same vaguely hopeful sense in which I keep looking at the same lottery scratch card multiple times after I have established that I haven’t won anything – perhaps I missed it 1st time…and 2nd time…

There was nothing for it; I simply didn’t have the bus ticket, and I was just going to have to deal with it. I was however left in a bit of a quandary. If I wanted to buy a new travel card, I would need to get into the customer services bit at the bus station and that didn’t open until 9am, which was over an hour away. If I wanted to have a highly embarrassing conversation with a bus driver about trying to buy a ticket at that time in the morning, then I would still have to sit and wait because the next bus was another 30 minutes away anyway.

The only viable option I could see was to walk back to the hostel, which was straightforward enough if I followed the bus route.

[As it turned out, the Skyss bus pass, my Oyster card, and my Rail Card were all still safely in their holder, but in a tiny little middle pocket on the left leg of my combat shorts – I had obviously thought that I needed to tuck them all away safely the night before so that they didn’t get lost in the middle of jumping around like an idiot. So safely in fact, I didn’t find them until I went to put my shorts in the wash the day after I got home *sigh*]

The walk back to the hostel was in fact really refreshing. The air was clear and sharp, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, and the mist lying about made everything look almost ethereal at times.



I also got the opportunity to take photos of a load of things that I had seen over the last couple of days, but because I had been going past way too fast on the bus, I hadn’t had a good chance to capture. This is one of my favourites;


I eventually made it back to the hostel for about 9am, which is frankly not unreasonable, and left me plenty of time to grab some breakfast. I am not going to revisit the breakfast, because it was precisely the same as what was there the day before, with nothing exciting to make it in any way remarkable.

I shuffled back to my room, divested myself of my clothes and crawled into bed. I was so tired, but I have a major problem with sleeping. If I could have crashed immediately, I probably could have been up and at ’em in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, I lay awake, looking at the ceiling, wondered how the fuck some of the stains got up there but then deciding not to consider too closely. I was aware that I was wasting daylight but I was too knackered to do anything about it.

I eventually decided around 2pm that there really was no way I was going to sleep, and I should just get up, get on it again and fight through. I showered, dressed…and proceeded to walk back into town. I had decided by this point that I wasn’t spending any more money on bus fare, it was my own fault I’d lost my pass, I knew where I was going, it wasn’t that far, blah blah blah, happy days.

I thought that I would get a little bit clever on the way in, and see if I could find a quicker way. I have a reasonably reliable internal GPRS system, which only seems to be foiled when I am inside shopping centres (I managed to get lost in a Debenhams store in the Milton Keynes shopping centre about a year ago. It was terrifying.) I took a little bit of a punt and took a slightly different route towards town, going around a lake instead of through an industrial section.

The lake itself was really pretty, boats moored here and there, a couple of railway tracks running down one side… and an inordinate number of people jogging about. Either jogging about, or cycling in one-piece Lycra bodysuits and streamlined helmets.  I began to wonder what exactly I had wandered into, but I managed to get out of the way before the sweat and endorphins started to upset me too much.

I ended out roughly where I expected to be, fairly close to the bus station. Buoyed by my success, I again decided to take a different route through the town itself. There was a whole section where the buildings looked really Meditteranean, and I am sure there is some interesting history to be told there. As I meandered through the backstreets of Bergen, I made a few minor adjustments according to what felt familiar and correct…and ended out right back at the front door of the Garage bar, approaching from the opposite side of town.

I am either instinctively drawn to beer-vending establishments, or I had taken in a lot more subconsciously over the previous couple of days than I had thought. Whichever was correct, I took it as a positive endorsement of writing off the rest of the day and getting back on the Brooklyn again.

I had originally made plans the previous evening that I was going to visit the Ulriksbanen on Saturday, since it had been highly recommended, but I had abandoned that idea due the time of day. I’d also missed out on seeing the castle, but I took both these things firmly as an excuse to come back again in the future.

I had noticed there was a guy somehow linked to the bar who looked like Socrates from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and I spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to get a photo of him. He was quick on his toes and didn’t sit down very much, but I did eventually manage to snap this.


It was around this point in proceedings that I remembered seeing a message on the Garage’s facebook page the previous day, inviting everyone to come down and watch the Eurovision Song contest. Now, being from the UK, I am automatically slightly dismissive and condescending about Eurovision, mixed in with a teensy little bit uncomfortable and embarrassed. It’s like being a pubescent teenager at a wedding disco; a bit uncomfortable watching your Mum grooving away in a circle with the rest of your elderly female relatives, at the same time faintly envious of everyone enjoying themselves dancing to Diana Ross, but way too self-conscious to get up and join them, until they finally play “Jump Around” 5 minutes before all the lights get switched on.

I was completely under-prepared for the sheer enthusiasm rippling through the pub as the Eurovision coverage started. I couldn’t quite believe how excited everyone was, and it wasn’t until later in the evening that someone explained that Carl Espen who was representing Norway was actually from Bergen.


As with anything that involves any minor element of competition and being able to root for an underdog, I found myself getting caught up in Eurovision fever. I really quite liked the Icelandic song, and of course was blown away by Conchita – I don’t care what anyone else says, I totally would; pretty dress AND a beard?? Winner! And frankly, anyone who pisses off Russia is a friend of mine.

On the few occasions that I have watched Eurovision in the past, I have ended out developing a vested interest in a couple of countries – normally not the UK (last year, it was a bit of Hungary but mostly Greece, with a cracking tune called Alcohol Is Free that I still really like…) – and then I end out getting overly stroppy about the political voting that goes on, and finish the evening in a disappointed huff.

As the competition unfolded and I was making my judgements and drawing my affiliations for the evening, an extremely attractive young man bought me a drink over and drew my attention away from the cheese-fest. It is really not very often that people I don’t know actually come over to talk to me. At least, not people who aren’t crazy…or trying to talk me into joining a group who play Indian Dhol drums…or convince me to come and smoke weed with them because I’m reading a book… Especially not people who are fit and come bearing beer. In response to this unusual and delightful situation, I decided in my infinite wisdom that what I really needed to do was get some pizza and go home. Fucking idiot.

One thing I learned on the way back to the hostel is that Bergen gets really quite dark at night…

It's a fountain. Honest.

It’s a fountain. Honest.

I ended out missing a turning and going the wrong way, resulting in an hour’s detour through a housing estate and some rather pleasant hospital grounds – or they would have been pleasant under different circumstances. I couldn’t check where I was because the fucking 3G disappeared AGAIN. To say I was not amused would be somewhat of an understatement.

I did however remember there was some kind of mast on the mountain behind Montana. I managed to pick it out by the big red light they conveniently stuck on the top of of it, and used it to orientate myself and get back to the hostel without any further incident.

…in retrospect, I probably should have gotten a taxi.

Exploring Bergen – 9th May 2014 (Day 2/4)

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

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.

ImageAfter 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.

ImageI was delighted to discover that they served Newcastle Brown Ale on tap (I have only ever seen it in bottles before). ImageI 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

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.

En Route to Bergen – 8th May 2014 (Day 1/4)

After the nightmare experience I had travelling to Montpelier, I wasn’t taking any chances with time, and the running out of it. I was flying from Gatwick, and I had found that there was a train that ran directly from Bedford, all the way to the airport – happy days. My flight was at 10:50am, so I made sure that I bought a ticket for the train that would get me there two hours before departure, leaving the train station at 6:54am. Bedford itself is only 20 minutes away, but I was still refusing to take any chances. I really don’t like lots of standing around, but it is way better than the alternative.

I set my alarm for 5:30am, but being me, I was of course awake at 4am. My sister had kindly offered to drive me over, and we left just before 6am. Half an hour and lots of excited squeaks later, I was at the train station, buying the largest black coffee I could find. I have developed a certain travel paranoia, at least on the leg out of the UK, and spent the next 20 minutes or so with a constant watch on the information board in case of delay/cancellation/apocalypse.

Nothing went wrong, the train arrived at the platform ten minutes early and I got myself comfortable in the corner. Image

Not long after I got on, the train started filling up with grey, unhappy looking people brandishing laptops and Blackberries. It then clicked that this train was going through the middle of London, so I was going to be jammed shoulder to shoulder with the general public on their way to various office cubicles. I counted myself lucky that at least most of them were likely to have bothered washing that morning.

Normally on public transport in the UK, you are pretty much guaranteed that no-one is going to make deliberate eye contact or try to interact with you in any way, in case you try to steal their wallet. However, that morning, two gents on either side of the walkway started a loud and merry conversation between them. Not only was this shocking and unusual, but also incredibly irritating. It wasn’t even 7am and these two were gabbing away like they were friendly human beings. The nerve.

Thankfully I’d had the foresight to pack my headphones. I spent the next 90 minutes grinning like an idiot listening to Trollfest – Brakebein (cracking album – check it out; https://play.spotify.com/album/7IfCzUaJipeWPXlrdwJTp6 )

It greatly amused me to be enjoying myself so thoroughly while everyone else was commuting to work. Schadenfreude; a German word that sums up a large part of what it is to be British. Except I realised after two rotations through the album that what I was in fact doing, was caning my phone battery in the early stages of travel, with no guarantee that I would be able to charge it before I actually got to the hostel in Bergen. By that stage though, the source of the earlier irritation had left the train, so there was no pressing urgency to have an aural distraction.

I arrived at Gatwick Airport, straight into the South terminal, and immediately headed for departures, no messing. I only ever travel with hand luggage – it’s a point of personal pride – so once I was through the doors with two hours before departure, there was nothing left to do except get some breakfast…


I got a text from the airline – http://www.norwegian.com/en/ who are ace, by the way – to say hi, and tell me what departure gate I needed. I will repeat, they really are ace – if Easyjet did the same thing, half the trouble I had on my last international flight wouldn’t have happened *shakes fist*.  I wandered through the departure lounge and into my gate, taking full advantage of all the available power points on the way to try and squeeze some more life into my phone. When I got to my seat on the plane, not only was I by the window, but I had a spare seat next to me, and there was free Wifi. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to be any more impressed with a flying experience, they started playing Pingu cartoons on the overhead video screens ❤


I topped up with some Carlsberg and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The flight itself was an hour and 50 minutes – as someone who has flown to Australia, European air travel barely even registers.

As the plane started approaching Bergen, I had my face pressed right up against the glass, trying to take in as much of the Norwegian coastline passing underneath me as I could. It was already so gorgeous, it was making my belly fizzy.

The plane landed without incident, and then it was straight out, right into the awaiting Flybuss and off to Bergen. Not the slightest hint of any of the issues I had experienced in France, for which I was infinitely grateful. I did very shortly run into a problem which is a deeply personal issue for me, but which most people probably wouldn’t give two shits about.

3G. Oh my god the 3G, or lack of it. I had actually planned ahead and got myself a Norwegian pay-as-you-go SIM card in my spare phone, so I could keep tight control over how much I was spending. I have had absolutely horrific bills on my contract phone after travelling abroad in the past, and wasn’t prepared to do that again. Could I find a 3G signal?? Could I, bollocks.

So, sat in the middle of Bergen – which is astoundingly beautiful – slowly losing my rag with my phone/s. There was a complete absence of 3G signal, so I knew that it was due to a setting somewhere but without an internet connection to search for how to fix it, I was stuck. Eventually I just utterly lost my temper and went for a walk.


As it happened, I started to recognise street names from having looked at the map before I flew out. I was able to negotiate my way to the pub where Trollfest would be playing the next day, Garage on Christies Gate. Luckily, Bergen is incredibly easy to navigate.

I walked back to the bus station, and picked up my Skyss bus travel card, and then hopped onto the bus to Montana where I was staying in the hostel. Again, extremely straightforward to find my way around; I recognised the street names and within 2 minutes I was checking in.

The hostel was basic but clean, had free Wifi and I got to stay in MOTHERFUCKING BUNKBEDS. I love bunk beds. They appeal directly to the part of my head that is and always will be 8 years old.

I spent the next hour charging both phones, and learning a lot about Access Point Name (APN) settings on mobile phones, and with a considerable amount of guesswork, effort, swearing and eventual delight, I got both phones hooked up to 3G networks.

I was ready to face the world; phones charged and ready to deliver unto me the Internet, wallet full of cash, travel card in my pocket, and a firm idea of where the pub was. The simple things in life make me feel happy and alive.

The Garage in Bergen ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Garage-Bergen/122901644434721?fref=ts ) is quite simply home from home.


It’s dark and pleasant, plays good music and serves good beer. The bar staff are friendly, forgiving of my inability to speak Norwegian, and quite easy on the eye. I also discovered Brooklyn lager, which is amazing.


I sat and drank Brooklyn happily for about 4 hours, taking advantage of the again free Wifi and good atmosphere. I decided about 8pm that I was tired and should probably go home before I got too drunk to be able to leave with any sort of dignity.

I stopped in at a supermarket on the way back to the hostel to pick up some bread, cheese and what my limited Norwegian told me was chicken slices. I also picked up some beer, but was advised when I got to the checkout that they couldn’t serve alcohol after 8pm. For real. I was later informed by hostel staff that it’s 6pm on a Saturday. My brain is still struggling to cope with that as an idea.

Balance was restored to the universe though by having a vending machine with beer in at the hostel.

I retired to my room with my bread and cheese and beer, and started charging my phones again. I was really beginning to understand the toll that was being taken on the smartphone batteries. I was incredibly glad that I had bought two phones with me, if only for the fact that one did not have enough power to last for a couple of hours.

Then came perhaps the funniest and most ridiculous moment of the trip. Trying to get into the bunk bed. The ladder (which looked at first glances like a solid part of the bed’s construction) was tucked away down the side of a desk. “Pfah!” I thought, “I don’t need a LADDER to get up there!”.

So there’s me, in the pitch dark, half drunk, butt naked, trying to climb over an adult sized wooden fronted top bunk. I was going to boost myself up using my arms, but couldn’t remember how much headroom I had and didn’t feel much like braining myself. I ended out standing the bottom bunk, throwing my leg over the edge of the top bunk and doing some kind of combat roll into bed. I laughed my arse off at how much of a twat I was… and then proceeded to tell everyone else on Facebook too.