Morning: I took the MS Nordnorge from Trondheim to Bergen; I spent a not very satisfying day in Bergen being a tourist (not a traveler—and there is a big difference in my mind). Now it’s the morning of September 1st and the second phase of this trip begins. In about two hours I will take a taxi to the central bus station and a big fast comfortable bus to Stavanger where I stay for five days. Time to walk, get my planks up to three minutes, and approach writing again. Those are the main goals of phase two—which shall mostly exclude $45 lunches (with wine) which I only do every four or five days (remember I rarely eat or drink in the evening so it’s not as extravagant as it sounds on first read) but still… and probably it should include greens in my diet again. Not that Norway doesn’t have ample healthy veggies and salads all over the place—it’s just that they also have the most absolutely perfectly delicious bread and butter. And what would any normal human being do given those choices….
The best thing is of course that in each of the next three weeks/three locations I have family and friends so pleasurable time definitely outweighs any moments spent on planks and vegetables.
Now I’ll haul my stuff downstairs and meet the taxi…very expensive in Norway. I think most of the money I’ve saved by using airbnbs for longer stays is going into the taxi budget. Of course bus service everywhere is excellent but with what seems like hundreds of pounds of souvenirs…I call a taxi…because I’m old and frail damn it.
Evening: Now happily in Stavanger. My cousin Arne picked me up at the bus station, we stopped at a grocers, and he brought me to my next airbnb. Which I will admit was just a bit of a shock. Now exactly what I expected in the Old Town of Stavanger, in a 170 year old house for $40 a night in expensive Norway was…I’ve forgotten. It looked so sweet and was so economical that what could go wrong. Well actually nothing has. But the first view, after my luxurious little pad in Trondheim did give both Arne and me pause. It’s a studio, with the couch already folded out into a bed, an old exercise machine in one corner, and a basic pasteboard table in the middle. Small kitchen, decent bathroom. And old, old, old (except for the stairmaster!)—door frames, stucco walls and giant chimney, tilted warped floors.
A couple of hours have passed since that moment of introduction…and I’m fine. ‘You get what you pay for’, right? I’m really getting way more than I paid for, at the edge of the historic, walkable and charming Old Town, right on the waterfront, and an ancient dwelling…all for a bargain price. I’m having coffee, bread and olive oil, and blueberries for dinner, and unpacking/repacking the suitcase with all of the Christmasgift/souvenirs. Making a list, checking it twice to see who hasn’t made it into the suitcase yet. Your souvenir will have to weigh less than an ounce…sorry about that…probably even rules out refrigerator magnets.
The bus ride from Bergen to Stavanger was uneventful—couple of ferry crossings as the road runs along the coast…and even more of Norway’s always scenic green and blue vistas. What Norway needs are a few places that resemble the Four Corners area or Oklahoma so you remember to appreciate the never-ending ‘beautiful.’
Here are just a few photos and comments about Bergen. Then I’m done with it…just like Luxembourg…no need to go back. Bergen really is spectacular looking. You’ve all seen the photos of the colorful houses/workshops of the Hanseatic merchants of old lining the wharf. I went on a tour of the building owned by the Hanseatic Museum and it’s all an interesting piece of Baltic history. Other than that and the bacon-wrapped dates I had for lunch the day…mildly sucked. Bergen is wall-to-wall tourists. It’s like Santa Fe in the summer—They’re places with history and charm galore but so suffocated with shop after shop of crap and people intent on buying it that the reason people came in the first place is lost in the shuffle of money and memorabilia. And yeah, I’m guilty, I bought some stuff… If I ever did return it would be on the darkest coldest day of the year, with me the only visitor in sight.