Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 2-7

Click for photos from Lofthus and around.
Firstly, sorry for skipping from day 1 straight to day 7. I did want to write something down more regularly, before my new impressions faded, but each time I got to put them on paper, I was either too tired or too lazy (usually both). Despite a lack of more regular reports, you surely won't be disappointed.

Day 8 is what I feel as a turning point; the real start of my holiday, at least the kind of holiday I longed for and dreamed about for so long. The first week was of course amazing and with Gabriel, a colleague from London who joined me for a week, we experienced a wonderful holiday, saw stunning landscapes and enjoyed a very nice time, being able to share our impressions, discuss the day's events, etc.

The stretch from Bergen to Alesund
However, Gabriel only had a week to get from Bergen to Trondheim, which meant that our schedule was quite tight and as a result, we had to skip certain things and shuffle through others rather hastily. For instance, I really regret leaving the Flamsbana area without walking or cycling it to fully enjoy the stunning views (I must admit that the famous historic train ride was somewhat disappointing, since more than half of it was inside a tunnel), or cutting to half the time we had planned to spend around Geiranger. That's why I decided to change course in Alesund, a coastal city from where we were planning to get to Trondheim, again skipping a few things I had been looking forward to see. When it became clear that the Alesund-Trondheim would be a hasty and in my opinion not very enjoyable (and expensive) journey with stopovers in two cities I had no interest to see whatsoever, I took my decision to split and retrace my steps a bit. Gabriel would have left the following day in any case.

If I don't sleep I'm not happy yeeees?
Another reason why I was willing to split was the prospect of a good night's sleep. I am very sensitive to noises and even in situations when a horde of running wild elephants wouldn't wake me up, snoring would. From this you can probably infer what I'm about to say. Yes, Gabriel snores like a chainsaw orchestra (actually, it's not as bad as that, but I like the expression) and sharing a tent with him wasn't that easy. Paradoxically, it was even worse in a large hut, because he was too far to poke him in the ribs with my elbow. And indeed, on the night of splitting I slept like a baby.

The three travellers - Jiri, Gabriel and the Tent.

Don't think now that I didn't enjoy the first week. I enjoyed it a lot, even if the previous two paragraphs may give a different impression, but that's simply because complaining is my hobby. We saw really amazing things – mountains, several fjords, valleys, beautiful skies, rainbows, crystal clear waters, lakes, waterfalls... you name it. Whatever there was to see, we saw it.

Click for more photos of the Flamsbana, Balestrand and Mundal area.

Adrenaline story (starring my almost-lost camera)
Once we split in Alesund and Gabriel pushed further North, I went East to Andalsnes, with the intention to see the Trollstigen and the Trollveggen. And well worth it was, but let's not jump too much ahead. At the end of a rather dull day spent in a city I wasn't exactly thrilled by (though the panoramic view of Alesund and the surrounding mountains, islands and fjords is breathtaking), I had quite a bit of adrenaline. When I noticed that there's an electric plug inside the bus I was on, I changed seats and put my camera battery on charge. A few hours later I got off about 1km outside of town and it didn't take very long to find out that the camera was still on the bus. Not the charger with the battery, but the actual camera, which I had bought especially for this holiday and it already contained a week's worth of pictures. That wasn't a very pleasant moment – almost midnight, the bus company's number not reachable, the police not helpful, and my camera on a bus heading to Oslo. In an act of desperation I tried to run after the bus, with the heavy backpack and everything (suddenly 20kg felt like nothing). The following series of events proved to be utterly lucky – I stormed into a nearby gas station, grabbed the nearest guy who looked friendly and while shooting quick sentences "are you from here? Do you have a car? I need your help!" I jumped in his car, told him about the camera and that we must chase the bus. In my mind it was an action movie where a car gets in front of a big truck, starts breaking, beeping and flashing the lights, the driver thinking it's a hijacking and not slowing down...).
View of Alesund.
Another view of Alesund. Click for more.
 We drove 2km to the coach station, where the bus was still waiting, the driver probably on break. Adrenaline continued to rush to my brain, the driver was in the back and couldn't see nor hear me banging on the door, passengers were asleep and all my belongings still in the friendly guy's car and I didn't want to keep him waiting. Was the camera still on the bus or was it gone? At last I was inside the bus, kicking out a Chinese couple half-asleep on the seats where I originally sat, sweeping the seats with my eyes and seeing nothing. For a few seconds my heart sank, but then all of a sudden I saw it. I saw it right there in front of me, the black pouch mimicked on the black seats, but it was there! I couldn't believe my luck; since Alesund several people got on and off the bus along the route, sitting right on or next to the camera, and nobody took it! Someone must have wished me well that day (or night, more precisely).

Geiranger - the most scenic fjord in Norway.
Click for more pics.
With great relief I took the camera, got off the bus and... the guy who drove me there was gone. With my stuff still on board. Desperation started to creep in again, but then I saw him, waiting for me on the other side of the car park. My heartbeat slowed down again and everything was fine. I got to the campsite, built my tent and slept. Like a baby.

Ok, I think that's enough typing for one post. I'll continue next time.

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