Saturday, July 2, 2011

NO - Bergen

July 2                     Sunday                                 Norway                                Bergen                 

The sun is up!  A great day for glaciers and fjords!

I picked up a glacier tour at the museum, standing on the rooftop and using my camera to spy on it as it sat at the docks in town before driving over to the museum.  While the six other people in the group wandered about the museum, I returned to its café to get me some breakfast… except the same fare was on offer.  So since I’d asked the server yesterday whether I should do a hamburger or hotdog, I figured this time around I’d go for the option not yet chosen: hotdog.

From the get-go I could tell it was not this girl’s morning.  It was a different girl than yesterday evening, though that girl was also there working the entry’s desk instead of the café.  But with the café girl this time around: first she set her coffee in front of the cash register.  So when the till snapped open: over went the coffee.  Then she gave me the hotdog and I immediately realized it was ice cold… she forgot to flip on the water heater when she arrived.  About 10 minutes later I received a freshly brewed hot dog … still cold.  Oh well.  Ketchup & mustard cover that up nicely.

The white pants girl from the previous evening inquired which I liked better: her burger or her coworker’s hot dog.  Here was a moment I could’ve been suave and offered a classy answer that clearly praised her cheeseburger in some manner, but at this time of morning I do not have such capabilities (nor do I often have them even at the best of times).  I just answered her burger & said the hotdog was cold in the too matter-of-factly engineering manner so stereotypical of my profession.  Doh.  I did get to thinking, though… she really  reminded me of someone; I just couldn’t think of who.  Something about her face & personality seemed so incredibly familiar.

The six people in my glacier tour included an older American couple from Staten Island, a 30-something couple from Mumbai, a 30-something Asian woman from Australia, and one other older dude I didn’t get a chance to talk to.  Oh: the dude from Staten Island totally had a handlebar mustache.

We visited two glaciers: Supphellebreen then Bøyabreen.  In the history of what I’ve seen in the Alps, Iceland, or Greenland: these were downers.  Neither was too endearing… I mean, I love glaciers & these were nice, but the glacier itself was high up and didn’t show much to the layperson at ground level.  As the glaciers advanced, gravity caused them to tumble down the cliffs into a large pile at the bottom… not really a glacier in the same sense, anymore, and not quite the impact I get from visiting glaciers more befitting the stereotypical look.

I returned and made my way to the bus stop on the other side of the museum, making myself comfy and soaking up some rays as I waited for my bus south toward Begen.  I got to thinking… transportation in Scandinavia has really not been to European standards: it’s inefficient, slow, expensive, and serves only limited destinations.  Norway, in particular, really hits those marks.  Passenger rail is only marginally better than the USA.  While the bus system is better than the USA, it’s still missing some pretty major direct connections… but on the plus side: they do a stellar job at coordinating bus transfers.  I’ve rarely had to wait more than 10 minutes.  But through it all: it got me to wondering if Fjærland’s apparent lack of business wasn’t in some part to its lack of a rail connection… buses and ferries just tend to be a bit more hidden and confusing to the casual tourist not affiliated with a tour group.

The bus dropped me off in Habakken (which sounds a lot like, and may be etymologically related to, Hoboken in New Jersey).  My next bus took me directly to Bergen, immediately entering into the world’s longest road tunnel after departing Habakken.  Now the problem with riding through tunnels breaking the distance record is that the kitsch is fun for the first 30 seconds, but then you have many minutes of boredom.  With each subsequent tunnel: the clouds grew and grew, also sinking lower and lower… soon enough we had arrived in Bergen to a rather dreary day.  But on its suburban outskirts we did pass by one highlight: a construction site… not just any construction site; I was witness to a baby Ikea being born.  It was beautiful; the miracle of furniture.

Sick of eating burgers, hotdogs, and takeaway pizzas: I yearned for something different & something with flavor.  Indian to the rescue!  The samosas were quite tasty, the lassi OK, and the main course good… but I probably shouldn’t have ordered it hot.  While it was still plenty edible, it was at the point where the temperature of the spice detracted from its overall flavor & appreciation.

My hostel was a pretty large dormitory, but I ended up getting some great uninterrupted sleep despite the crowd.  Of 16 beds: two stayed empty, a 30-something Italian couple occupied another bunk pair, two English guys in another bunk (one of which was originally from Indiana but moved at a young age; both from Birmingham but without as bad an accent as Ozzy Osborne!), a 20-something American girl (I think the first American of my trip?), a 20-something Japanese guy (from Tokyo; in the bunk above me), a 30-something woman I didn’t get a chance to chat with, and some other folk I also missed.

1 comment:

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