Rick did us wrong in Oslo. Marius's was a disaster and the night before we felt like the american invaders. All his pricing is off by at least 30%. Needless to say we aren't happy. We have already booked another family in Bergen and now I am very scared. I slept last night but Jo didn't sleep a wink and the place stinked even for me. But there is some Jazz festival in Bergen and so none of the hotels were available, only this place had a room.
Our train trip to Bergen today is going to be a fjord excursion as well. We will take all day to get to Bergen and we will take a ferry ride through a fjord along the way. To do this we have to on the train by 7:42. Wish we could have slept in but I am tickled pink to get out of Marius' rat hole. We had assigned seats on our train, a first in Europe (and the US really). It was really nice. Our seats were against a wall so we couldn't lean back but it doesn't stop Jo from crashing as soon as the train leaves the station. We ate some of our stockpiled food for breakfast and enjoy the country side (at a hundred miles an hour). Buying food yesterday saved us easily 50%, Rick was right about that.
The train ride to Myrdal was fantastic. We watched the scenery change from green fields to snow banks. Like the US Rockies but in compact form. The snow had this beautiful glacier blue tint to it. In Myrdal we switched trains to get down the mountain to Flam. This slowly exposes the fjords to us beginning with ice cold waterfalls and lush moss green cliffs. In Flam a ferry waits for us. Before we board though the Norges make sure we have a good half hour to get some lunch (at an over priced Polse stand) and buy some trinkets. Very shrewd. The ferry takes us through the fjord to Godvagen. On the way we see the fjords at sea level. Like having the Rockies go right up to the ocean. Breathtaking. Makes me want to learn sailing just so I can go amongst the fjords finding my own special places of green, rock and ocean. We stop shortly in Aurland. It has been raining since the train stopped in Flam. Aurland is a quaint little town. I almost wish we could stop there for the night. It looks like a wonderful place to rest. Next time. I get out on the deck as often as I can stand it in the rain. Jo sits inside, naps and writes postcards to relatives and friends. A pleasant ride if a bit crowded, they really pack them in.
In Godvagen we catch a bus to Voss to get back on the train. It is raining a little harder and there is no shelter here so people are getting a little pushy. Jo was throwing the preg card and no one was listening. Civilization certainly crumbles fast. The ride up the mountain is not as good as the train down but it is still fantastic. The bus conveniently stops at a hotel long enough for people to stop and buy stuff. It is obviously a norge system. The view from the hotel is spectacular and I take this great picture of Jo in front of a large wooden carving. We made use of our time there.
In Voss we share a cinnamon roll & I try to call Nils Magnes again. I get a machine and leave a message. Hope it's hime, the machine's message is in norge so I have no idea really. Will try again later. The train to Bergen was uneventful which is fine. Raining Bergen when we arrive. Tried to get a hotel again. In fact we try several times but the festival is proving popular.
Instead of getting to our B&B first we decide to eat. Italian again. Not as good as last night but edible. We try to find our bus stop to get to the B&B. We have a lot of trouble and end up at the far docks. But it is a stop. No one in town really knew where the bus we needed stopped. That is a bad sign. The bus is then late. I swear a black cat crossed our path too. We are expecting the haunted mansion. Well the bus goes on for an eternity it seems. It easily takes about 15 minutes to get to our stop, way on the other side of town. Boy are we glad we ate first we would have never gotten back into town that night. The family running the place are nice, but the room is way up in the actic up a steep flight of stairs and the bathroom is back down that flight. Marginal so far. It is clean and quiet though. The major bonus is a dark shade which covers the one window. An absolute godsend in the way too bright evenings.
Woke up before Jo and got ready as quiet as possible. Then we both stumbled down stairs to breakfast. It turned out to be the best breakfast yet. Even better the Leos. It was simple, an egg, brown goat cheese, cereal, some bread and two tubes. One is mayo, the other is salmon paste. We are definitely in Norway now. I do not have the courage to try it. Maybe later, yeah right.
We take the eternally long ride back into town. Exchange some money and figure out a way to Fitjar. Boat seems the easiest way. I hope Jo can hack it. Maybe her wonder medicine the doctor gave her will come in handy. We wander through the fish market and into Bryggen. Talked to locals selling wares. As soon as any Norge figures out my name they start trying to teach me norwegian. None of it sticks except for maybe tak (thanks) or God Dag (good day). It is still fun to chat and have something in common and to get special treatment. Their dexterity with english and my lack of norwegian is pretty embarassing. Thank goodness everone does speak english though.
We are hell bent to get some more hotel reservations for the rest of our trip since Oslo was such a disaster and making reservations in Bergen has been difficult. Our B&B in Bergen is nice but too far out of town. So we start ringing up Stockhom. Still trying to reach Nils but get the machine. Something is fishy and it ain't the fish market. The prepaid phone card we bought in Oslo is lasting forever (+10 calling card of phoning). Only those into D&D will get that last reference. We get a booking that is in RS' book. Copenhagen on the other hand is still elusive. We called all the hotels in RS' book except for the Soldier Hotel that is up 5 flights of stairs. We finally give up and call them. They have a room (of course, who wants to climb 5 flights of stairs). We may try to get something when we get there.
We return to shopping in Bryggen and make it to the Hanseatic Museum where we meet the two nicests young museum workers ever. They had bad news for us though, the museum was closing in half an hour. You see, summer doesn't start until monday. They do direct us to the only open museum in town, the leprosy museum. Leprosy was a really big problem for norway in the 19th century. It isn't the only infectous disease to reach havoc on the country, there was a deadly flu epedemic in the early 1900s. It tells a lot about how the country has struggled a lot up until now.
The museum is chock full of disgusting pictures and descriptions of people with leprosy. A norwegian doctor by the name of Dr. Hansen actually discovered the bacteria that causes leprosy. To find out if it was infectious or not he used to regulary expose his staff to the bacteria, nice guy. We also learned that leprosy still rages in the 3rd world, Africa and Asia are particularly overwhelmed by it. Shows you how being poor is the number one factor in getting sick.
After the museum I try Nils again and find out that Dad had given me a wrong number, Doh! I decide to call Dad right away and wake his ass up to see what he has to say for himself. Turns out that Nils did finally get my emails and had been calling my parents to figure out how to get in touch with me. He had given Dad all new numbers and Dad relayed them to me. Told Dad we were having a good time and said our goodbyes and then starting rolling through the new numbers. Nobody was home, but at least I got some new info. Will try later when they should be off work.
Time to try out the Floiban funicular. It is a train that takes you to the top of the mountain behind Bergen. On the top is a national park that has a wonderful view of the city. RS gave this a two stars, we give it three. It is spectacular and we get fantastic weather so we can see for miles in every direction. If the sun is shining in Bergen then one has to take this trip. Since the mountain is a national park there are all sorts of hiking trails. We take the really easy trail and it takes us two hours, can you tell we are traveling a lot.
I tried Nils again & succeed! We make arrangements to see the island and check out family there. He is going to meet us at the docks of Fitjar saturday morning. Persistance pays off.
The cast is bugging Jo again so we need to recharge the perfume layer on it. Fortunately Bergen is perfume shopper friendly. We find another store inside one of the many shopping malls along the main drag. Now the cast is stinkin'. It is just pungent with the mix of several different cheap perfumes. I mean a skunk wouldn't get close to this thing. But for some reason Jo's remodulated senses think this is better then the alternative. Ahuh.
It is getting around dinner time and we decide to head to a vegetarian restaurant that Jo had found a flyer for in the TI. The weather is turning as we head toward it and we find out how far this place is from the center of town. It is a real hike. I am getting nervous that it might not be worth it. The restaurant is right next to the college in Bergen. The place turns out to be the best indian food I had ever had. It was fantastic. It has a rotating menu which today was this lentil stuff and a cauliflower dish. It was smokin', I highly recommend it. In fact I am really surprised RS doesn't mention it because it is cheap too. What a day so far. Bergen is quite a town and we should know because we have seen the whole thing today.
Exchanged some more money at the TI and ask if there is a better place to pick up our bus then on the outskirts of town. The person at the TI looked at us funny, and gave us a couple of places to try. This bus is turning into the bain of our existance in Bergen. We look in all the places that the lady gave us and all turn up bupkus. We walk all the way back to the main terminus along the route the box takes. Nothing. At the terminus there is a stop. Frankly I was getting worried. The good thing about picking it up at the terminus is that we get to see all the stops it makes in town. It makes two stops in town, two. Bergen is the LA of Norway, bad public transportation.
Since we are going to tour Stord on saturday and we saw most of Bergen yesterday, today is a day to slow down and rest. This is perfect because Jo is starting to feel the pregnancy. She is more tired now, all her senses are heightened and man smells make her nausious (yes, I make her sick too). There isn't much I can do, so resting today is going to be the best I can do.
Finished the Black Company book. It was good, not one of the best of the series but readable. I will probably ship it to Brent tomorrow. Jo slept for about 2 hours. I read. Finally got out of the house to go back into Bergen. We are done with that trip. It is so far. It is friday and the town seems more alive. The festival is more cranked up with entertainment all day. We are strolling through the fish market again and a craving hits Jo, shrimp cocktail. Not jus shrimp, but shrimp cocktail. There is probably tons of shrimp here in the market. Not a jar of cocktail sauce around. But the craving won't relent. The shrimp can go without the sauce. Jo starts asking the fish sales people and they are really nice but they just don't know what the heck she is talking about. I should have just bought ketchup and horseradish but it didn't hit me until later. We leave the fish market and try different grocery stores and convenience marts, nothing. we escalate the search to the shopping district, asking locals along the way, none have any idea what we were talking about. When we get shot down at the biggest super market in town we know that the craving will go without being quench. I buy a smoked salmon roll at the fish market, Jo changes technique and settles on a grilled seafood skewer that has shrimp on it (one shrimp). The salmon tasted bad, I don't dig salmon and it is the number one fish around here.
We take a break from shopping to make more reservations (or at least try). It is a lot of work to make the arrangements on the road. We have called a lot of places now and gotten shot down a lot. We need another night in Amsterdam still and have gotten shotdown over twenty times in Paris. Doing good.
Standing at the phone we start to notice weird people going by singing. We are right outside the Telenor building downtown and people start coming out of the building wearing clean suits painted pink and green with all sorts of crap glued with it. They have children wearing bright clown costumes. They are collecting outside the building drinking margaritas and putting together some sort of banner. Bizarre. They start doing 'Telenor' cheers making a huge amount of noise which is only slightly annoying to those still on the phone trying to speak french hotelize to Paris. Just when I was convinced that they were the purple shroud people moved to Norway another group of people dressed in the gear of the local ship builder, drinking beer and singing their own songs. We must have looked confused because a local starts explaining that all the big companies in town get together during the last couple of weeks of may, they parade down the main street of Bergen and then have Dragon Boat races in the harbor next to Bryggen. Around six the parade will start and soon after the races start. The winner must get a horned helmet and shield. We had some time to kill and we are getting frustrated with hotels so what the heck. We go find the parade forming in over by the park with the lake in it.
As far as I can tell the whole thing is a norwegian excuse to get drunk after work. In the US we just go get drunk, in Norway they get dressed up in silly costumes first and then row boats. Sounds perfectly normal. When the parade starts some of the rabble start throwing candy at the crowd. One group throws out small packs of deli meat. They sing songs and drink all the way down to the docks. We followed them down to Bryggen where they get into this slim day glow boats with dragon heads on the end. Not much like the viking boats we saw in Oslo but they will do. We watched only one heat. I am sure that they were going to do this for hours so one was enough. There was one team out there with all this spirit. Chanting and carrying on, they looked like winners. The very serious looking dock workers the next boat over whipped them so bad it hurt. When we see these races on ESPN we will know they are hurting for programming. Until then Bergen will closely guard their fun race. I enjoyed it even though I wasn't drinking. Wacky for sure.
Had dinner at a pizza joint called Pepe's. They are everywhere in Norway. The pizza was about at the Shakey's level but passable. I had a norwegian beer which tasted just liked Bud light. I have a sneaky suspicion it was Bud light. The Busch family reaches far and wide.
We successfully found our bus stop, now that we have it wired we are leaving. Good.