Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 1

Bergen the rainiest place in Europe?
Not on the 1st July 2010.
The diary from my great journey to Scandinavia starts with notes written at the Bergen hostel, on my first night in Norway, away from London. Not really exciting stuff, but I had to start somewhere.

Beginnings are never easy
The night before departure I didn't fall asleep till 1am and kept waking up. Off to the airport at 5.50am with twenty kilos of luggage on the back. Wtf, how the hell am I gonna be able to carry this much stuff around for two months if I can barely make it to the tube station?! It must be overweight, there's no other explanation. They're going to charge me at the airport, I need to get rid of something. Canned fish has to go, it's the only expendable and heavy thing. At the airport, I discovered a sad truth – the bag wasn't overweight at all, it's just my muscles that don't work so much anymore... Let's see if Scandinavia can get me back into shape.

Stressful trip to the airport through London public transport, queue at the check-in, security, lack of sleep... all kinds of crap that didn't make the beginning of my travels very pleasant, but hey, after a short flight I'm in Norway! No more London for two months, yeah!
Click on the picture for full Picasa photoalbum.
First impression of Norway? It's bloody expensive. I knew it already, of course, but still, once you actually get to pay eight pounds for a big mac and two pounds for a small bottle of water, it's a painful realisation. 8 quid for a frakin' big mac mate!

I went to see the Bergen Leprosy museum.
Click for more photos.
Nervous? Yes! Excited? Double yes!
Anyway, let's not start with the negative stuff. This holiday isn't about moaning, but about enjoying. After the stressful but totally ordinary ordeal to get to the airport, the short flight and the stroll from the airport to Bergen, I'm here. I'm in Norway, can't bloody believe it! What took my breath away was the nature. Already a stunning view of the fjords from the plane (I've never seen anything like that), it looks even better from ground level. Wherever you look, there are trees, mountains and the sea. I haven't seen so much green for months.

Streets of Bergen.

Although Bergen's nice, it's just another city and I wasn't exactly thrilled by it. After dropping the awful burden (my rucksack) at the hostel, it wasn't hard to choose what to do. So, despite being spoiled for choice where to go and what to see in the centre, I didn't hesitate in tackling the steep hike up Mount Floyen (or whatever it's called, I'm rubbish with Norwegian names), where you're offered a stunning view of the town and the surrounding fjords and mountains.

Find the troll.
Green paradise
During the climb, all the comfy city lifestyle, office based work, beer and videogames backfired and my lungs felt like shooting out of my chest and ending their miserable existence on the dirt road. Actually, that's not correct. My lifestyle had absolutely nothing to do with that, and the blame goes on Norwegian air. There's oxygen in it! How can a pair of lungs used to fine London dust, car exhausts and air full of germs on the tube cope with oxygen? However, it was still nice to smell pine trees, grass and fresh breeze from the sea, all together, instead of the above mentioned affinities of a big city.

Bergen rainiest place in Europe? Nonsense
Even though I almost spat my lungs out on the dirt, the walk was very rewarding. Bergen looks very nice from the top and once you leave the crowded viewpoint parade, there are plenty of forest walks to take. Considering that I caught the hottest day of the year and a crystal clear sky with no trace of clouds whatsoever, it was really enjoyable. If I didn't have my stuff back at the hostel, I would have probably just kept walking, as the hiking trails seemed never ending. I started walking back at some point because I didn't want to get lost in the woods after dark, but looking backwards, that was a very silly concern. It didn't get dark till 23:00 and after a few hours, it was broad daylight again. That's Scandinavian summer.

Kebab eater... clearly a Londoner
During the first hour in Bergen, I had met Czech people twice, pleasantly surprised that not everyone goes to Croatia and someone actually chooses a less casual holiday destination. When I walked back to town, genuinely starving, I had to pass a few options, such as the amazingly overpriced Big Mac for 80 kroner (9€/£8) and as a good Londoner I ended up in a kebab shop (or rather "the" kebab shop, the only one around). Prices were reasonable there and why not go for something I know well? A psychologist would probably say that my psyche kept me within the comfort zone. I say it was just because kebab shops make good food, often give XXL portions but don't charge XXL prices.

Utne Hotel.
Anyway, it was a long and beautiful day. First time in Norway, away from London in a long time and for a long time. What could I want more? And that's all for now, time to sleep. I wonder if anybody is actually reading this anyway, haha.

Look into the fjord...

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