Posts Tagged ‘Bergen’

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Miles: Påskeferie (Easter travels)

April 30, 2011

Påske (Easter) is quite the event in Norway. Tradition demands that you either read a crime novel or watch episodes of Crime TV every night. (They show them on the national public TV channel.) Stores close from Thursday through Monday. Bus routes shift. And, of course, you travel.

So I did.

My friend Aisha and I spent the week in West Norway. It was incredible and really nothing that I’d expected. Our first few days were spent in Bergen, staying with Ayla and Will (Aisha’s friends). I lucked out, because Will grew up in Duluth, and because he’s both fluent in Norwegian and Midwest, he was a great resource when conversation got too intense for me to follow. Bergen is a beautiful city and I would definitely consider spending more time there on my next Norwegian adventure. (If I say it definitively, that means it’ll totally come true, right???) Bergen highlight: climbing up to Fløyen and staring down into the city center and off at the mountains and water.

Our next stop was Nedstrand, a tiny town right in a fjord, to stay with Hans Olav and his family. He and Aisha went to folkeskole together and I’ve been on a skiing adventure with him before. His family was incredibly nice, and cooked amazing food. It felt great to just relax in a home and be taken care of. Here was were I was introduced to the påskekrim — we spent our evenings watching British crime TV with Norwegian subtitles.

After Nedstrand, our trip became a little more strange. Our next destination was Stavanger, but mostly so we could climb Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock). Because of Easter and the weird transportation schedules, we had no real way to get to and from the rock in one day, so we booked a night at the cabin near the rock. Climbing up and staring right down into a fjord was amazing, and I definitely am discovering/nurturing/indulging my new(ish) found love of nature and hiking. Most of the trail was essentially a scramble up a series of stones — challenge and oh so rewarding at the top. After our hike we got a fairly fancy dinner at the cabin restaurant and then promptly fell asleep.

We were not supposed to spend a night in Stavanger. We were also not supposed to miss our bus the next morning. …Oops. When we learned that the next bus wasn’t until the next day (in that moment, I hated påske) we got a room at a hotel and spent the day exploring Stavanger. Stavanger high and lowlight: The oil museum. We didn’t go in, but we did explore the Geo Playground — a playground made entirely of recycled oil drilling equipment. It was a great idea, and a cool concept for recycling, but I felt funny about the oil industry very purposefully maintaining such a positive relationship with the community. It almost seemed too intentional. Oil and Norway is way more complex than I understand yet.

So after our accidental night in the nicest hotel I’ll be staying in for a while, we took a 9 hour bus back to Oslo. All in all, it was a damn good påske week.

Things I have learned:

NORWAY REALLY WAS MEANT FOR SMALLER CITIES. Bergen and Stavanger just kept making me think Wow, that’s so Norwegian!  in a way that Oslo doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love Oslo to death, but I think Norway really really does thrive in smaller cities. Norwegians like their space. Sometimes they seem to prefer having mountains for neighbors. It’s fascinating to live in the biggest city in this country and know that it would be considered a small/medium city by US standards. It’s also fascinating to feel drawn towards the smaller cities in Norway. Maybe I’m just having the pastoral dreams of an urban-raised kid, but maybe the beauty of Norway really is hidden in the small towns along the coasts.

STUDYING ABROAD WILL INEVITABLY MAKE YOU ASK YOURSELF BIG SCARY QUESTIONS WITH NO ANSWERS. My friend Ben and I sat on my porch eating a delicious vegetable feast and drinking beer and talking about life. We both, during our semester abroad, have found ourselves questioning our lives in big monumental ways. The way he describes it “I think I’ve thought through everything from birth to now this semester”. I wonder about things. I suddenly feel so open to do anything, so anxious to be everywhere. My world just got a lot bigger, and that’s so exciting and so terrifying. Sometimes I have to remind myself to just get a kaffe and a bolle and enjoy the ride.

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Trystan: Stavanger, friends, beauty

June 17, 2010

After a few short days of hanging out with my parents in Bergen, it was time for one last road trip. Bags were packed, food was made, cars were collected, and everyone put on their Fun Caps™.

Stavanger’s a decent drive from Bergen, something like 4–5 hours, including ferries. The ferries, by the way, are killer. For our whole trip, with two cars, we spent almost as much on ferries as we did on cars (kr 1.800). It’s a nice drive, though, and the ferries actually break up what little monotony there is. Driving in Norway is like aiming a freight train up a bee’s ass: it’s hard to get a straight shot, and all it takes is one wrong move for game over.

test 019 We got to see the city of Stavanger for a couple hours when the sun was going down. Although we barely glimpsed the surface, the main shopping area was very cool, cute, and clever.

Maybe an hour out of the city we pulled off onto a little side-road-of-a-side-road. After some initial consternation, we agreed on it and found a soft camping spot, where grass covered the rocks so thickly it was like walking on hay. There we were – camping on the beach with a fire, food and drink, and the best company one could ask for. The place was beautiful, too. Watching the sun set—and then start rising just a few hours later—over a mountainous lake with wine and friends is superb.

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DSC_6662We packed it up early, and got back on the road to Kjerag. The drive there is beautiful, as it is everywhere. At the end it gets very hairy—hard hairpins constantly,  and only one lane wide the whole way (you have to pull over and/or back up if you want to let someone pass!). We also saw a bunch of goats just chillin’ in the road, which was fun.

We knew Kjerag would be a tough climb. We knew that. But I didn’t realize just how exhausting it’d really be. The views, at every single point, were beyond breathtaking. Even little things, like drinking right from a stream, are so cool

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DSC_0065There was still a lot of snow up on top of Kjerag. It’s strange to think that it was the middle of June, and here we were trudging through snow – again. But, finally we made it! It was tiresome and overwhelming(ly beautiful), but we made it! At the top of Kjerag is Kjeragbolten—the Kjerag boulder. It’s wedged between two sheer rock edges of a huge rift, and has been for who-knows-how-long. That means that directly beneath is an 984-meter plummet into the fjord (that’s 2/3 of a mile!). For those of you who know me, I’m not a huge fan of heights. Furthermore, I’m a clutz. Majorly. So, you say, a wise, clumsy person afraid of heights would not venture out on a round boulder with no footholds dangling 1000m above the sea. Fortunately, I am no sage. Mother, stop reading. Everyone else, behold:

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Neža  and Sam got out there too, which was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to stand up on it, unlike Florian, who apparently has bigger cajones than the boulder itself. Mike couldn’t bring himself to do it, but he tried his damn best – impressive nonetheless.

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We rested on top and meandered our way back. Tired is an understatement. Five hours of hiking on only 4–5 hours of sleep really takes its toll. But back into the car we clambered, heading towards test 102Preikestolen, looking for our next camping place. We got, um, lost. And by lost I mean, we all realized more simultaneously that nothing looked familiar, and it turns out we were +/- 3 hours out of the way.

We made it back up towards Preikestolen, and found what can only be described as the most unbelievably perfect camping spot… ever. On the beach, in an inlet, surrounded by trees and water, with the sun setting over the sea. Not a soul in sight.

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camp2 day

The sun was well up by the time we went to bed, but after a few hours of sleep, we were ready to tackle Preikestolen. Preikestolen is completely unimaginable. From the side it’s beautiful, and from on top it’s terrifying and stunning. We had much better weather for Preikestolen, and the colors of the fjord were really something to take it. Photos just can’t do it justice. But it can help give a perspective of the sheer size of this monstrosity.

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Trystan: Time

May 12, 2010

As I write this, I have 14 hours of exams staring me down. (First off, isn’t that insane!? 14 hours of exams for 3 classes – jeez!). I’ve been studying Norwegian for a good portion of the day, and need to continue. I really hope to take more classes when I get home. I know it’s not “practical,” but I really like the language—this coming from someone who sucks at learning them. That’s not to say I’ve had the same experience as some others studying abroad. I didn’t stay with a host family, nor did I even live with Norwegians. Though I can read and speak at a basic level, conversations with proper Norwegians are still firmly out of my grasp. The speaking is one thing; the dialect is another beast entirely. Conversations I instinctively know I should know are incoherent to me. Bit frustrating, but ah well.

I’ve started planning out my summer travels. Leaving is definitely going to be very bittersweet. I’m scared as hell, but I can’t wait to be “out there” travelling around for 2 months. I’m going to miss Norway, a lot. I’m absolutely going to miss everyone in Fantoft more than I can even put in words. These people have become part of my life in ways that I will not and cannot forget. I don’t want to get too sentimental just yet. We’ve still got a whole month left! Finals, shminals: there’s plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. And I’m going to see most of them in their hometowns / areas this summer. But already I’m starting to feel it. It’s going to be a long, difficult process—one which I’ve never had to deal with before and will most likely not experience again. This kind of long-distance, long-term, conceivably permanent separation? It’s staggering to think about. But it’s also incredibly humbling and gratifying. How was I lucky enough to run into all these people, at these particular times in our lives? It seems to good to be true. I’m starting to get that strange dream sensation that I had when I first came here. Is this real? Am I really in Norway right now? Can this actually be my life?

Funny how that comes full circle. Maybe it’s an automatic reaction to loss or change, I don’t know.

At any rate, this is the best dream I’ve ever had. Please don’t pinch me just yet.

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Trystan: Påskeuken (part 2)

April 27, 2010

Trondheim was an interesting city. As the third largest in Norway, I somehow expected it to be similar to Bergen. I’m slowly learning that Bergen is a pretty unique exception. To be honest, at first I didn’t care so much for Trondheim. It’s kinda flat, mountains barely noticeable off in the distance, similar size and feel to many medium sized cities. So, basically: Anytown, USA.

I rather took to it after a while, however. It’s quaint but modern, open and still together. I also got to see a bit of NTNU (the other school I was considering). I love Bergen, don’t get me wrong, but that campus is spectacular. UiB is like the Al Qaeda of universities—it’s hidden in and around the neighborhood, you’re just never quite sure where it actually is. I much prefer a proper campus, I think.

Chris took us to his hangout at Samfundet, a student organization sort of above and within the University. It was really cool, I just wish I could’ve seen it when it was busier.

We didn’t do as much in Trondheim. But it’s a great city to just walk around in, and explore. Plus, when you’re there with friends, it doesn’t matter much what you actually do. We did, however, see the Northern Lights! Granted my tripod-less point and shoot didn’t capture it the best, but you can see them still.

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Wookie, Selena, and Kasia resting on a bench at the harbor

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Neat lady feeding the pigeons and gulls

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Rowers on the river

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Harbor view

As always, more on Flickr!


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Trystan: Påskeuken (Easterweek/Spring Break)

April 19, 2010

I’m really sick of the obnoxious, clunky way that WordPress makes me deal with photos. From now on I think I’m going to just link to my Flickr page. If it’s too annoying, I can switch back. But seriously. For a fairly modern website, their photo manipulation is awful. FLICKR: Here

I didn’t go anywhere tropical or with a beach. I didn’t spend a solid week drunk. Norwegian spring breaks are very different than ours back home. Typically Norwegians spent their Easter “up north” (I feel right at home, coming from MN/WI!) in their cabins, relaxing and skiing. The main point is to get close to Nature.

I left for Tynset, a little town with 5,000 people. The train ride from Bergen to Oslo is considered one of the most beautiful rides in the world, and it was certainly something to behold. At one point I saw snow-covered desolation (think Planet Hoth—they actually filmed it here) and mountains for miles.

After arriving in Tynset 13 hours later, sleep was incredibly welcoming. The next day Kasia and I went to visit her aunt. They (unexpectedly) lent us their cross-country skis! So we drove half an hour to a valley of sorts. It was kind of foggy and snowing when we arrived, but the random minutes of sunshine in the middle of the forest, surrounded by fog and snow, provided some of the most surreal beauty I’ve ever seen. It was like a dream, honestly.

Thursday we went downhill skiing. Well, let me clarify. The rest of our group went downhill skiing. I essentially paid 750 Swedish kroner ($105) for an hour of skiing and 14 stitches. Yours truly managed to make it down only THREE runs before injuring myself. I fell (for quite possibly the 10th time—these slopes were wicked) and slammed my ski into my right leg. It hurt, but I didn’t think anything of it. By the time I got down I could feel some weird wetness on my leg. Apparently I was bleeding a bit, but I didn’t think it could be so bad since my leg wasn’t hurting.

I went into the bathroom to wipe it up and contin–OH MY GOD MY LEG IS WIDE OPEN WHAT THE HELL OH THAT’S A LOT OF BLOOD I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD. Turns out the ski sliced into me pretty good, but my body auto-numbed it (thanks, Nature!) so I didn’t think I was hurt. I slowly walked out to Kasia and mumbled something to the effect of, “Someone, look at this, go find, not good, blood, this is really bad, damnit I suck at skiing, emergency…” 14 stitches later the doc apologetically said I would have to pay something—to the tune of 150 SEK (about $14). I almost laughed.

“Seriously?” I said.

He responded, “Yeah, since you’re not a Swedish citizen, you’ll have to pay, sorry. I just need your name, birthday, and city of birth.”

“So… an hour of your time (a plastic surgeon), 3 subdermal stitches, 11 surface ones… and all I need is 150 SEK and my birthday? Do you want my insurance card or anything”

“HAHA, no. This isn’t America, don’t worry. Remember, no exercise, etc…”

I love Scandinavia.

Unfortunately I didn’t follow his advice of “No walking! Just keep your leg up and rest.” I was on vacation! And I’m young and invincible, damnit! So the next day I went horseback riding.

I got a feisty guy who hardly listened to me. (Just look at him in the Flickr pictures. He looks like a little hellion, doesn’t he?). I got him partially under control and we walked and trotted around near the barn and down into the little resort area. We met Chris—son of the owner and Kasia’s friend from way back when—and made plans to hang out later in the evening.

We met him and two of his friends around 10. We all went to our apartment and started forspill. (Literal translation: foreplay; actual translation: pre-party. Weird, I know.) The Tynset bar—the only one, in fact—was packed with villagers. Some of them had all their gear on and had obviously just walked in from a day full of skiing. Loud, local Norwegian music, dancing, and drinking ensued. We walked to Chris’s for nattspill (night play, after-party) afterward. Unfortunately, we had to be up at 10 for the three hour drive to Trondheim.

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Trystan: Scandinavian music

March 21, 2010

Something’s afoot here. I’m sure you’ve experienced it before—the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenonbut it doesn’t make it any less surprising when it happens.

I listen to a lot of music. I’m almost always listening, in fact. What I’m generally not aware of is where the artist is from. Some folks can hear the name of a band and BAM, “Oh yeah, they’re from Michigan” or what-have-you. I’m not that guy.

But there’s a handful of bands that I’ve been listening to lately that have suddenly, to me at least, been from Scandinavia. I knew José González was, but that’s about it. I also recently found out The Knife (José covered “Heartbeats”) is also from Sweden—and, in another coincidence—that the lead singer (Karin Dreijer Andersson) is the singer of Fever Ray. I’d just started listening to Fever Ray a month or so ago, and this circle of logical doom blew my mind.

Before I came to Norway, I heard Sondre Lerche on 89.3 The Current and really, really liked him. Turns out he’s from Bergen! Kings of Convenience are also from Bergen. Here’s another: Did you know Röyksopp (I imagine most people will recognize one of these two) is from Tromsø?

A week or two ago I started listening to The Tallest Man On Earth. I’ve been digging him quite a bit, so I did some good ol’ fashioned googlin’ (do you still capitalize that, or has it drifted into common slang by now?). He’s from Sweden! Annie is another artist I came across randomly a few weeks ago. SHE’S FROM BERGEN, TOO. By now I’m starting to get a little aggravated that this is so common, so I end up on Wikipedia (let’s face it, most internet browsing ends up with you stuck for hours digging through Wikipedia). I found this: Bergen Wave. There’s a whole term for this!

I’m not making this up. I didn’t specifically trawl the internet for Scandinavian / Norwegian music. There are a handful of sites that I randomly download music from. The internet is a big place. What are the odds of running across this many Scandinavian artists so recently? At any rate, I’ve realized that Bergen is a huge music scene—I really need to start getting to more shows. I knew it was pretty happenin’ before (I mean, they’ve already had, what, 3 music festivals?), but now it’s getting crazy.

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Trystan: and it’s good

March 8, 2010

So, school is definitely starting to catch up with me. My math class is exactly what profs back at the U said Norwegian math classes would be – stupidly difficult. So much theory / proofs I can barely grab onto what it means. Political Econ is really interesting, though I’m still nervous for the final. Norwegian is fun, actually. I really enjoy it. I’m not a huge fan of the teacher – she’s very unstructured still, and I learn quite a bit more on my own. The problem is conversation – I’m not quick enough to think on my feet. I should speak with Kasia and Darrio (both majored in Norwegian language) and other people learning it here, but that doesn’t happen often enough.

In other news, on Friday there was a Bad Taste Party at Klubb Fantoft. Everyone’s outfits were horrible and fantastic. Here I’m apparently trying to look as creepy as possible. Yes, those are mutton chops and that is a mustache. My hair was also excessively curly. Fun fact: I owned those pants before this party.

Seriously, I didn’t mean to look like a child molester and/or ’70s pornstar, it just kinda happened. Other people’s outfits were equally as awesome :D

Also of note: I just found a few new Cloud Cult songs (on the reissue of Aurora Borealis / They Live On the Sun). “And It’s Good” is really just awesomely awesome. Cannot wait for the new album this summer!

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