Second visit to both places for me on this trip, but much new things to do in both.
Sunday 30th July
Pleasant morning on the boat in that 'if-you-are-about-to-die-this-would-be-nice' kind of way.
How much coastline is too much? Even the most ardent supporters of the Hurtigruten cruise said they regretted doing the return journey as one direction was more than enough. Seeing the same things twice does not necessarily increase your appreciation.
Woo! Hoo! 2:30 pm we docked in Bergen, and I get to leave the shit, sorry typo, SHIP.
Spurned the waiting buses and walked with my backpack to the hostel in the center of town that I had stayed in before, and knew how perfect the location was.
Dropped my bags and....like any prisoner fresh on parole -
I found a dealer, hooker and a bar. In my case, since I wasn't technically an escapee, I did none of the above and just climbed a mountain, or two as it turned out.
The weather in Bergen today was magic, sunny and warm, and knowing how crap it CAN be in Bergen, I apppreciated it and made the most of it.
TIME TO WANDER.
I hiked from the fish market on the waterfront in the town centre to the top of Mt Floyen 320m. Wild rasperries picked along the way added a taste sensation like no other. (The lollies by the same name are no comparison.)
There were many locals out enjoying the lovely weather too, so the scenery was not just off the track.
Arriving at the top, I enjoyed an icecream and considered whether to walk back down or catch the funicular railway. I felt liberated and in light of my recent incarceration, sorry cruise, I did neither. Instead I hiked across a valley and another ridge before climbing to the top of Mount Rundermannen @ 568m.
The views of Bergen were amazing, but today was really hazy over Bergen, so it wasn't really photogenic, but that didn't matter.
I was aware that Nathan, who I will meet in Oslo tomorrow, is on a plane, figured I should hike for the both of us! Hey! I need the practice for Svalbard, but that will be another story!
The hike was steady, and the exercise needed. The weather had been good on leaving and all the way up and I was dressed only in hiking boots, shorts and a t-shirt, and a hat.
On arriving at the rock cairn summit of Mt Rundermannen, I surveyed the surroundings in a 360 degree sweep and it was then that I noticed the clear sky was no longer so and felt the first raindrop on my arm. Bugger! I had a rain jacket, but nothing else!
I picked up the pace on my descent and the rain stayed away. For the first hour, I had a local fellow keep me company and I learned a thing or two about Norway and their economy.
On reaching the funicluar, the rain hadn't arrived so I continued my journey back down to sea level on foot.
In the woods I saw a deer with big antlers.
I crept up to it carefully. I touched it.
It was made of bronze.
Five minutes short of arriving 'home' the heavens opened with a downpour. By now I could make it back under shop awnings.
Not counting stops, it took me 3 hours up and 1.5 hours to come back. What a fantastic afternoon/evening of hiking in Bergen.
Monday - travel day.
I had the perfect train time. 10:30 = not too early to get up, but I got to Oslo at 5:30. Perfect!. The train journey from Bergen to Oslo? Well, if you have paid attention in previous blogs, I did this journey the other direction. They dub this "The World's Most Beautiful train journey" and, for what it packs into a 7 hour journey it's hard to beat. Fiords, waterfalls that cascade right underneath you, and quintessential Norwegian rural scenery all in one day on a train. Fantastic!
In addition to there being less snow on the mountains since a montha ago, I noticed that the grain crops that were full headed but green, just s few weeks ago, are now a golden hue and ready to harvest.
I am meeting up with my friend Nathan from Perth who I will be joining me for the last few weeks of this adventure.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME!
On arriving in Oslo I knew to exit at National Theatre. How great to walk out of the station, look up to get my bearings and there was my hotel in all its glory. The Continental Hotel, Oslo's oldest, a 5 star treat. No more dorm beds for The Wandera, from now on in the trip, it's luxury.
(If you 'mix it up' there's pros and cons for everything. Right now I'm enjoying the pros of a luxury hotel.)
Nathan had arrived earlier in the arvo and was catching up on sleep after a long-haul flight from Oz. As we discovered, his tiredness was nothing that a couple of celebratory drinks couldn't fix.
We had a pasta dinner before stopping on the way back at an alfresco bar for a beer later in the evening. How cool to be treated to 'Beds are Burning' by Midnight Oil pumping through the sound system.
Tuesday - After a yummy hotel breakfast, we went exploring Oslo, and wandering, as I do. We began with a ferry trip across the harbour and from there it was a short walk through a very affluent suburb to the Viking Ship museum. They have 2 ships, excavated 100 years ago, but fully preserved, and one more that is almost decayed. Amazing to see how far the Vikings travelled during their heydey of 800-1050 AD. The Norwegians here now are descendants, so they don't have on-going land rights or other indigenous issues to deal with.
Catching the ferry back to the main wharf in front of the town hall, we then caught a tram to Vigeland Sculpture Park. It is full of bronze statues and sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.
Probably the best bit I thought, were the stone sculptures showing what appeared to be the cycle of life. People in all stages of life, amazingly carved. In the centre was a 20m high stone totem with more people than I could count all piled/climbing on top of each other carved into it.
The weather today is awesome. T-shirt and short weather! Apparently Oslo have had their warmest summer for 150 years! Today was one of those days. The park was full of like-minded people outdoors enjoying the weather. We walked from there along the street full of the designer shops back into the centre of the city, right to where we are staying. Street vendors are selling fresh raspberries, so of course we bought some. MMmm! Raspberries.
When in Oslo earlier in the month, while 'tramming', I'd discovered a great city view from a high point from the #19 tram. We went there and enjoyed the view, even better today as the sky was blue.
By now it was later in the day and we wandered, as I do, through an area called Grunnerlokka. It used to be 'working class' but has now been 'discovered' by yuppies and there are cafes and bars aplenty. We explored off the main strip and found another side to the pristine and presentable Oslo we had seen so far. We also found a cheap and tasty Asian restaurant and enjoyed a Thai curry, getting in the mood for Bangkok at the end of the trip.
Wandering the streets of central Oslo again, it was amazing to see how many people were out and about on a Tuesday evening. I have noticed though how little great weather they get, even in summer, so I can understand why they make the most of it. Having just come frmo Perth, with the world's best weather, Nathan couldn't understand my enthusiasm for this great weather. I think he will come around.
We walked the length of Karl Johans Gate, Oslos main street. Fantastic!
Wednesday - The museum of natural history was first. So many stuffed dead things! They even have a Tasmanian Tiger - Thylacine, so with museums around the world all wanting things for their collections, it is no wonder some species are now extinct! Their stuffed rhino was looking a bit worse for wear, hope they don't go off and shoot another one!
The geological museum next door was included, but again nothing was in English, so the appreciation was limited.
On returning outdoors the sky had gone from blue to grey. Thunder and a downpour followed. We caught a tram back to our hotel. By the time we'd eaten and headed out again, the weather was back to magic!
We walked the short distance to the pier and caught a ferry to the Fram Museum. This is a musuem houseing, surprise, surprise, the FRAM. She is a ship built in the 1890's that has a massive place in Arctic and Antarctic history. Both Nelson and Amundsen used her for their feats of exporation. We could go inside and to see the ship that various expeditions had spend years at a time in was amazing. It was of particular interest to Nathan and I as Svalbard is next on our itinerary, very close to the North Pole.
Wandering Oslo again, it was dinner time and we had another great meal. Not too silly tonight as we have to get up early tomorrow to fly to Longyearbien, Svalbard 78 degrees north and only 1388km from the North Pole. I expect it to be cold. Other observations will appear in my next blog.
.....and so, the Wandera wanders further northwards than he has ever been before.....