03.09.2016 - 07.09.2016
Bergen was a beautiful city - surrounded by hills, full of brightly coloured buildings and the buzz of the harbour. Bergen was also a moody city - pouring rain one minute, then all sunshine and innocence the next. When the sun came out, you'd swear the city didn't know HOW to rain, but then it showed you that it certainly did. I enjoyed playing 'Tourist or Local' in the rain, but when we went to Bryggen it was all too easy to spot the cruise ship passengers wandering through the heritage listed area.
Bergen offered statues, monuments and public art and fish markets (where one could also purchase whale, moose and reindeer sausages if one so desired).
We enjoyed our sandwiches in the shelter of an alleyway in Bryggen in relative peace, as all the cruise passengers had returned to the boat for lunch. From there we had a successful coffee and yellow cake and skollebolle and skillingsboller quest, and ended up at a bar called Henrik where we met the BEST barman ever in the history of bars. He was friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and funny. Unfortunately he only plans to come to Australia if his wife leaves him, and that didn't sound likely.
Next door was a whisky bar, where Simon and I ended up in a stalemate game of checkers and then Pat and Simon played the slowest game of chess that we have ever witnessed. We had a cheese and beer entree at Pingvinen ('The Penguin') before returning home for dinner.
The next day, Bergen turned it on. And I mean ON. Sunshine, sunshine and still more sunshine. Rain? What rain? We headed to Mount Floyen and got ourselves up to the top via the funicular with every other tourist and local looking to make the most of the splendid weather. Views for days... and goats. Ten goats lived up the mount tasked with the job of keeping the vegetation down. The views were breathtaking, and all the more spectacular because of the contrast with the cloudy weather the day before. We eventually dragged ourselves away and moved on to the next location - Sekse. Just when we thought we had seen the best possible views from a balcony, Sekse came along. Fjordtastic. And when the sun went down and the lights came on in the village across the water... wow.
Monday morning started at 5am, which is not usually when I like to start a Monday. I'm pleased to report that it was totally worth it though. We headed off and defied the broken parking ticket machine to start the climb to Trolltunga just before 7am and the first hour was brutal. Let's just say that the hills were not my friend. Things evened out briefly after that, but then the upward battle resumed and we progressed up and over the mountain with the sun gradually spreading its rays across the landscape. Thankfully, things got easier after the 4km mark and then it was just a matter of getting through the next 7km of mud and rocks with appropriate breaks for sugar and photos. And then, after 4 hours of incline (3 1/2 hours for Pat) we made it to Trolltunga. Huzzah! Ah the views... and ah the vertigo when standing out on the rock edge over the stunning blue water! Wonderfully scenic spot for a peanut butter sandwich, highly recommended.
The trek back down was pleasant to begin with, and we thoroughly enjoyed critiquing the footwear, photographic apparatus and handbags (!) of the walkers heading towards us. Mind you, we probably raised a few eyebrows by carrying a duty free shopping bag back down the mountain... what people may not have realised is that it was full of rubbish left behind by inconsiderate hikers. Belinda isn't in the waste management field for nothing.
There was the shirtless Aussie running up the hill, the ecstatic American extolling the virtues of nature, the Converse-clad girls with selfie sticks, the serious campers and the reluctant partners of keen hikers, but our favourite trekker was the Korean man who shared our enthusiasm for cold water from the waterfalls and seemed to be spreading joy and happiness to every walker he encountered. What a legend.
So, slowly but surely, with photo-faffing and unfit-faffing along the way we made it back down the mountain. All 11km back down the hill, through mud and streams and across wooden planks. I perfected the tree-pirouette and discovered that if you pull your foot out of the mud quickly enough you can get away with it. We made it - knees protesting and feet aching, but we made it! And while I was a little delirious and struggled to string together a coherent sentence, Belinda somehow mustered the energy to cook us all the most amazing celebratory dinner of chicken wrapped in brie and bacon with vegies. What a bloody legend.
The next morning, we magically all still had full use of our legs and headed for Stavanger, stopping for waterfall viewings along the way as required. The weather turned Bergen-esque and we had rain for the whole drive and even for the ferry trip. It didn't stop when we arrived in town, but it didn't stop us from finding a funky coffee shop or wandering the streets. Stavanger exuded coolness, even in the rain, and our Airbnb was located in an area full of BMWs, Mercs, Audis and even a Tesla or two. Belinda and I did the shopping while leaving the boys to work out the mystery of induction cooking, and then we tucked into DIY pizzas with Netflix. I would recommend 'Fireplace for your Home - Birchwood edition' but Pat only let us watch the first minute before finding something else. Spoilsport.
This morning we were pleased to see that the rain had disappeared, and we set out to the ferry that would take us in the direction of Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen as the Norwegians would say. This delightful 4km uphill walk was a chance to check that our legs still worked after Monday's big adventure, and of course, the chance for more views, and more tourists, and more inappropriate footwear. Special mention to the lady who was attempting the trek in knee high black leather boots. Well played, madam.
After Trolltunga, it literally felt like a walk in the park. We made it to the top in 1.5 hours and thought "is that it?" and then we saw the views and thought "oh yeah, that's it!"
Another scenic location, another peanut butter sandwich. We tried to capture the situation with our cameras, ably assisted by some exceptionally skilled photobombers. With that, we trundled back down the mountain, getting caught in peak hour pedestrian traffic on the way. We made it perfectly in time for the 3.20pm ferry back to Stavanger which landed us perfectly in time for peak hour car traffic. And perfectly in time for the rain to start again. Which was my cue to do the washing, have a totally unenvironmentally friendly rain-shower and generally recover from the week's adventures.