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…
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.