Published: August 24th 2007July 21st 2007
This is me trying to create a nice photograph. Actually there is no creating required, I just had to open and close the shutter.
I actually slept pretty good on the boat once I tried to sleep, but it was time to get up again after only about 4 hours. The announcement came over the intercom that we would be landing soon.
There was not much going on in Kristiansand at 6:30 A.M. this morning. I went to the train station and checked the train schedule. I discussed the schedule with another person and that person said that I was not looking at Sunday I was looking at a weekday. The next train was at 11:46. Because I missed that boat in Denmark yesterday I am losing almost a whole day. I have done well in keeping to the schedule thus far, but now is when I really need to keep to the schedule as my rail pass expires on July 31 and I have already added Stavanger to my schedule, which only allows one slack day. I must leave Stavanger as originally scheduled.
Essentially nothing was open so I decided to try to find a cup of coffee and of course do a little typing. I think it is good for me to continue typing as that keeps instilled good work
regiment. It would be easy to get lazy with regards to working on this trip. The bad thing however I have typed so much it is going to take a long time to read all this some day. It will be cool though as I can relive the trip and I am typing virtually every detail as I suspect 95% of this trip I would end up forgetting.
I asked at the boat station where I could get a cup of coffee and internet access. They said the internet access is not available at this hour in the morning, but I could go for a cup of coffee at the Clarion nearby. I walked into the Clarion and asked if I could get a cup of coffee and I ask them about internet access. They said just use the hotel's computer and not worry about using the wifi on my phone. That sounded good to me as she said there is no charge. I spent about 45 minutes on the computer then went for coffee and some people watching time. I noticed that every person working here is blond. What is up with this blond thing in Scandinavian countries.
Uno with the Norwegians
The cold war may be over with the Russians but there are still lots of battles between Americans and Europeans. For example here you see a competitive game of Uno being played on a train in Norway. The Norwegians won.
I have a new game I am playing it is called count the blondes. There were about 8 people working there and everyone blond. Like they say in Field of Dreams, "Is this heaven? No this is Scandinavia" I was typing away and was making progress. It felt good to be getting caught up on the blog.
The first cup of coffee was 20 khrones or a little less than $5.00. I assumed that refills were included and I had two refills. I normally do not drink coffee, but it was tasting quite good. I thanked the blondes for everything they had done for me and I headed back to the train station.
About 30 minutes earlier I sat down and talked to a local who is an accountant. We talked about a lot of different things, but no revelations were made during the conversation. When the train arrived I sat down in a very nice location with a good view out the window. A family of 5 sat down next to me with the kids ranging from 4 to 8 I guess. They were very cute kids and a little wound up. Their father was a teacher
Tall Drink of Water
Now that is a Water Fall! Look at the crazy person dancing at the bottom of the Fall.
and he often excited the kids, but it did not take much. We talked a lot and eventaully they invited me to a game of Uno. I could not pass that up so I played. The game lasted for a long time and once we got close to their stop we had to accelerate the game and quit drawing cards and just kept playing cards when we could. One of the girls won and the other girl was mad because of something that took place during the game that was not per the rules. She was not really mad but just a little mad.
Oh the Norway country side is phenomenal. This is better than anything I had seen on the trip. Even though I was going through this beautiful country side I enjoyed playing with the kids and their dad even more. I am not sure what that means. Maybe people are more important to me than anything nature can provide. I think it is good to think that way.
Based on what I have seen so far I could live here. I had my picture taken with all the Uno players, which included the Dad, two
Almost in Norway
A view from the boat I took from Denmark to Norway.
girls and little boy. They had taken pictures theirself of me during the game. I asked for their permission and they said it was fine to take their picture.
I learned a lot of interesting things on this train ride. In Norway all land is public land in that you can hike, camp and hunt anywhere. Of course you should ask permission first, but as long as you are not damaging any crops they may have, you are free to use the land. The land is for everyone. There are about 5 million people in Norway and it is about the land area of Japan, which has like 1 billion people. The dad said he takes a group of school kids on cross country skiing trips every year. He appeared to be in very good shape.
When they got off the train I wasn't really paying attention to where they had gone and then I saw them out of the corner of my eye and their whole family was waving at me. That caught me off guard and I hurried up and waved back. I felt bad for not waving right away, but I think I waved back
There goes my Hat
Since he won the Uno game I had to give him my hat. Definitely a high stakes game. Fortunately he gave me the hat back before getting off.
in time for them to see me wave. That made me feel good.
I continued on my way to Stavanger marveling at the scenery. Several people in Copenhagen said I had to go to Stavanger if I wanted to see some great nature. I was really looking forward to Stavanger. I finally made it into Stavanger around 3:30 and my first impression was this place is very nice. Just outside the train station there is a big pond with a big fountain. I walked towards the tourist information building as noted by the railroad station attendant.
At the tourist information center everyone was very helpful. I ran several scenarios around trying to figure out ways to get in some great hikes in essentially one day. I chose to just hike to the pulpit rock after considering several options. If I was feeling good the hike could be extended. I then ask about lodging. The cost of the hostels were 240 kroners or roughly $50 and the cheap bed and breakfast was 270 kroners are roughly $54. We called the cheaper bed and breakfast, but they were full and finally decided to go to the nearby hostel.
The Night Boat
This is the boat I took from Hirtsal, Denmark to Kristiansand, Norway
left the tourist information center glad that I had a plan, but disappointed by the cost. The cost to get to the Pulpit Rock was going to be 200 kroners are $40. I guess that really is not that bad considering that will include two boat and two bus rides.
I walked to the hostel and the sleeping area was above the bar. This was a university bar, but school was out so their were only a couple people in the bar. I learned that the cheapest beer in town is here as the City government subsidizes the beer sales so that the kids will have a good time and enjoy the college in town. They also subsidize the bands that come there to play. I guess there must be a lot of competition for the students in Norway.
After filling out the paperwork I went upstairs to pick a bed. This was nothing like I expected. Their was about 30 beds in one big room. The mattresses were only like 2 inches thick. I layed on the bed and told the lady this is not comfortable at all. I told her because of that and because that
My Sleeping Quarters
To save money I slept on this bench in a restaurant on the boat. I tied everything to me so if anyone tried to take anything they were going to have to take an extra 210 pounds as well which might be difficult to carry.
the bar below would be open until midnight I was going to have to go somewhere else. She said that is fine and it was no big deal. I ask her if she had financial interest in me staying there and she said no she just works there. That made me feel better.
I started walking to the other hostel in town not knowing if they even had availability. I thought well if nothing else I would return to this hostel. It was about a 35 minute walk to get to the hostel. Right beside the hostel was a camping area, which I am not sure if they are affiliated or not. After walking around the hostel area several times I finally found the area to check in. A lady that told me where it was said she too had a hard time finding it as well.
The lady working at the desk said she did not know if they had any availability and spent some time looking through the book. She said I do not know if I am supposed to do this, but I will give you one of the rooms with 3 beds and you
What kind of milk is this?
The perils of traveling to foreign countries. I bought what I thought was milk, but it came out of the cartons in lumps. It is some kind of cultured milk that is supposed to have good bacteria in it. Well it better have somethin good in it the way it taste.
would be the only one in the room at this point, but more people may come. I paid the money which was only 204 kroners with the Hostelling International card I had. Well at least the photo copy as the actual card should still be in Cortona, Italy. That was nice, the price now was down to $41 dollars. That seemed much better than the $50 I expected to have to pay. I put my stuff in the room and went back to ask the lady where a nearby store was. I walked there and got some cereal, eggs, milk (at least I thought it was milk) and chocalate. I was going to have eggs and cereal for supper. The total bill was like 149 kroners, which seemed like a million dollars. You have to do the conversion or you will feel like your are spending your life's savings.
I went to the kitchen and started boiling the six eggs that I had gotten. I poured about half the cereal in the bowl and then poured the milk. The milk came out in lumps. I thought what the hell is this and then identified it as yoghurt. How
Ferry Ride to Pulpit Rock
The tinted area is where passengers sit. It is a bigger area than it appears in this picture.
can it be yoghurt when it says melk (milk) on the side. It said something about having 3.8% fat and also mentions Kulture (meaning culture). I just thought this was a little fattier milk than normal (USA) whole milk. I found out later this was supposed to be some kind of milk that has good bacteria in it, the kind of bacteria that are supposedly good for your stomach. It might be good for your stomach but it sure the heck is not good for your taste buds. I crumbled the cereal up the best I could and then mixed the stuff together. I could eat it, but just barely. I was so looking forward to this meal and wham. Welcome to a foreign country with a different language. I ate the food the best I could and thoroughly enjoyed the eggs eating 3 of them, but not eating all 3 yolks which have lots of cholesterol.
I got things cleaned up and headed back to the hostel to use the internet. The lady saw me there and said we have some bad news. You can not stay in that room and we have no other rooms. I said
Me obstructing the view of a beautiful place.
well if that is the way it is then what can I do. I told her it was not her fault she tried to get me a room. I told her I will use the internet and then leave. I used the internet and after about 10 minutes she came back and said we are not making you leave, but you may have to change rooms. I said good, but if I have to change rooms I would like to know that sooner than later as I was going on about 3 hours of sleep and would be going to bed early.
After using the internet I went back to my room. I unpacked my bag and got ready to take a shower. I was just ready to get in the shower and guess who knocked on the door. It was the lady from the hostel again and she asked if she could come in. I said no as I was in the bathroom. She said I have to move to a different room through the door. I was beginning to lose my patience and was tempted to say forget this I am leaving, but instead said ok I
Romance is still alive
Seeing this older couple hiking hand in hand touched a spot in my heart. I think we all desire what these two appear to have. Good for them! Havng said these nice things about them, they probably actually go home and throw things at each other.
would be over in a little bit.
I got everything packed and went over after about 15 minutes. She gave me my new room which was in a room with 2 other guys. One 17 year old kid form Australia and some kid from Spain who I never met. The Spain kid was working there and I never saw him. The kid from Australia said he was traveling a year before he goes to University. It kind of made me feel a little jealous that he is travelling at such a young age. I wish I had, but then again the trip I am taking now would have never happened. Life is a series of decisions that impact and shape who you are. I should not think about the past so much. I should just go forward.
I went and took a shower and then went to type and to use the internet. The internet is free, but it is not exactly free if you can not use it as their was always a cue or line. I found the person working there and talk to her in private. I told her when you told me to move
This is the Scandinavian woman that every man fantasizes about. She is probably from some place like Moscow or South Africa.
to a different room I planned to leave this place and take my money back as there is no reason why I could not have stayed in that room. I then thought the only person that would be hurt if I left would be the lady that tried to help me in the beginning, but if I left her boss would know I left because she had made the original mistake of putting me in that room. I ask her how she felt coming over there to tell me that I had to leave?She said not too bad because I did not give her a hard time the first time. I told her, her boss was trying to make her feel bad and was making me sleep in a place where I would get less sleep. The boss could have let me stay where I was as now the room is going to be empty. She said well the room would have to be cleaned if I spent the night their. I told her a good boss would have let me stay there making things better for me and would have not made you tell me to move to another
This is the Scandinavian man that all women fantasize about. He is probably from some place like Batchtown. Ok if you are looking for commentary to give me a hard time about here it is.
room. I told her the only thing I can do so that your face is saved is to stay their tonight. I told her I planned to leave tommorrow because I did not feel like giving her boss my money. She thanked me for doing that. I was probably over reacting a little as I had only 3 or 4 hours of sleep. I waited around to use the internet until about 11:00 as I needed to use it to line up a couchsurding place in Bergen as it was really expensive paying for lodging in Norway. I finally went to bed around 12:00 after wanting to go to bed at 10 or earlier. Wow this was a long day. I was ready for it to be over. The Spanish guy was not in the room yet, but it was not going to matter as I could have slept on a bed of drug users spent needles. Can't say I have ever heard that phrase used. Maybe it will catch on.
I heard a good phrase today when I told the person I was beating around the bush. No reference to our current president, but I think a sentence
I hiked with this lady from Moscow and to think I was taught to hate the Russians as the Joan Baez (With God on Our Side)song goes. She is very nice.
that includes Bush and beating could be formulated in a manner that I would like. I wonder what the death tolls in Iraq are up to. I used to look at that everyday. But have not now in a long long time. I wonder if that even bothers Bush. But anyway, the Sweedish lady said they have a similar phrase which goes I am talking through flowers. I like that saying. I assume it means the same thing as Sugar coating something.
Anyway after a long night it was finally time to shut her down. Believe me I was ready to shut her down. I think I may have fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow. It had been a long day.
Well as expected I slept like a rock, but I was wanting to make sure I made it to the 8:00 ferry to Tau as I was wanting to get some hiking in as I have not done much hiking on this trip. I rolled out of bed around 6:30 I wanted to take my backpack with me, but leave my clothes there in bags. I was going to try and find another
Another beautiful picture ruined by my presence.
place to stay, but if I didn't I would be back here as she said she would hold the room for me. I also would have had to find storage somewhere as the tourist information said they would not. I got all my stuff together, which made a lot of noise for those others trying to sleep. That's hostel living.
They threw my stuff into the locked room with all the sheets. There was some mention that you had to get to the ferry early so I walked very fast as I needed to go to the toursit information place first, then to the ferry. I bought the two boat tickets and the two bus tickets and then was on my way to the ferry. I was really hurrying as I did not want to wait for the next ferry as I had heard it was like an hour later. The tourist information office said go to the next street and make a left then right motioning to the street near the office.
I walked to the ferry doing what I thought was right, but then realized this can't be right. I had no time to mess up
so I asked a guy for help. I took off quickely walking in the direction he indicated then he pulled up beside me and said to jump in and that he would take me there. I did so and I was there in about a minute. I thanked him as much as I could as I got out and walked briskly to the nearby ferry. I had about 10 minutes to spare.
On the ferry you just walk on and show your tickets once sailing or buy your ticket once sailing. It seemed a little weird to not pay first, but I guess this system works for them. The boat was very fast and the ride was scenic. There are lots of islands that you drive past. It reminded me of Lake Quetico in Canada. The ticket collection lady stopped by and I gave her my ticket.
The ferry ride lasted about 30 minutes and we were soon on the otherside and jumped on the waiting bus. They have this system down. I payed the bus driver and was on my way to the trail head. The trail head is at a very scenic hostel. The total bus
ride time was about 30 minutes like the boat. I walked down to the hostel and took a few picutres of this awesome lake just below it. The people at the hostel appeared older I suspect mainly people that are good planners stay here as it was booked when the tourist office called for me.
After a short time there, I headed to the trail and was on my way along with lots of other people of all shapes and sizes. It felt good to be hiking again. I was surprized that I felt like I was in pretty good shape.
I met a Russian lady from Moscow that I hiked with as she was by herself. She is from Moscow and I knew hiking with her was going to slow me down, but I thought having a friend in Moscow was much better than getting in a little more hiking. I hiked with her most of the time and talked about all kinds of things. I asked her about Putin and she said she does not talk politics. Wonder if that is a reflection on the communist system or just her personal decision. That is bad if
Fun with the Camera
I was in the mood to experiment with the camera and fortunately my Moscow friend was a willing subject. I think this pic turned out nice.
that is a reflection of the powerful closed government. People should be able to talk about their government. I liked Berlin's Reichstag building and the globe on top that indicates a transparent government. Germany has really turned things around since WW II and is thriving. It is quite impressive to me. Although Hitler killed 6,000,0000 people so I guess you would think the government to be a lot different now.
I took a few photos as we walked as did she. I helped her a little in a few locations where the path got a little dangerous. I really felt good and had my legs under me. I felt like my legs were really rested. We made it to the Pulpit Rock around 12:30 and hung out there for awhile. This rock exceeded my expectations. Norway exceeds my expectations for that matter. It is beautiful with all the water and rocks and trees and extreme elevations. I love this place. I am not too fond of heights and really had no desire to get close to the edge. My Moscow friend however kept wanting to get close to the edge. We took pictures for the other person. One time
Count the Blondes
Scandinavia is known for the Blondes. This is the beginning of a series of pics I have titled "count the blondes".
she said she wanted to sit on the edge. I told her I was not going to take her picture if she did. She could find someone else, but it would make me too nervous. Even typing this makes me nervous. Not sure again what that says about me. Am I not confident enough in myself to do that? Do I just have a fear of heights? Anyway after about a 1/2 hour at the rock I was ready to get off of it and climbed on the rocks above it. The rock I was now on sat out on the edge, but it was probably only about 50 feet above the other rock. That is a substantial distance and would have hurt me severly if I fell maybe even killed me, but that did not bother me much. I yelled down to my Moscow friend and told her I was going to take a picture of her. There was about 60 other people on the rock so even though it was not a cake walk to get there it was plenty doable for most people. I really liked the rock and wished it was a clearer day. There were
This pint of beer is $6.00. Why is it so cheap normally they run around $8 here? The City subsidizes the cost of the beer at this college bar to encourage kids to come here to college. Interesting tax dollars going to reduce the cost of beer. I hope that idea catches on in the states.
some periods of relatively clear skies allowing for some decent pictures, but not great pictures. My Moscow friend seemed to be glued to the rock as she did not want to leave it. I met a couple that had been to the rock 20 years ago and they said there are a lot more people here now than there were back then.
Finally we did leave there about 2:00 as we had to catch the bus. On the way down we stopped for a couple more photos. I tried to think of places to take pictures to see if I could create some good pictures. I found about 3 good pictures and my Moscow friend was willing to put up with me taking pictures of her. She did at one point say no more pictures. I knew she would have liked to say that through the flowers, but with her limited vocabulary it came out a little more straightforward I believe than desired. You have to know your audience and your speaker. When a person does not know a foreign language very well you give them a lot more latitude.
We made it down and jumped on the
Pulpit Rock - Top View
The Pulpit Rock from another angle. My feet are so big sometimes they just crop into the photo.
bus after about a 20 minute wait. Man did that hike feel good. After the ferry ride we went to the toursit office and I learned they were not able to get me a cheap bed and breakfast. Back to the same hostel for me and she went to her hotel the Best Western in town. I headed for the Folkem, the bar/hostel in town, as at $6.00 they have the cheapest beer in town because of the subsidy by the City. I talked to the bartender for awhile and learned that the internet there was free so I used that while drinking the beer. I had discussed Bruce Springsteen with the bartender and immediately recognized Thunder Road when he had played it.
I walked back to the hostel and checked in and went to the grocery store to get actual milk for the remaining cereal. I had a great day as the Pulpit Rock delivered and I met a lady from Moscow. She ask me to email her the pictures I took that day. I hope she emails me as I don't think I have her address.
Things went better in the hostel this night. I talked
Nearing the Edge
This is as close as I was getting to the edge. Look at the nut sitting on the edge above me. Supposedly know one has ever fell off this rock.
to a couple from Switzerland and the guy knew a lot about his GPS. I ask him what kind of work he does and he said he is an Engineer. I suspected maybe he was the way he talked. I enjoyed talking to them and spoke with some Norway kids for awhile. They were really nice kids as have been everyone I met in Norway. The one kid said they live out in the country and have a farm. When asked, he said yes they have a little woods on their property and said he was happy when some campers wanted to camp in that woods on their land. He said it is cool that the woods is being used. Property ownership appears to be a lot different in Norway than it is in the US.
Well it was lights out after a very good day. Tomorrow I take a boat ride to Bergen. I am looking forward to heading to Bergen. Stavanger was ok. Beautiful, but lodging it a little tough. I have a couchsurfing host in Bergen. That will be nice.
I got up around 7 after rolloing around in bed at 6:30 thinking I
should get going so I would not have to rush. By the time I got all my stuff together it was around 7:30. As I began the 40 minute walk I thought lets see I will be there a little after 8:00 and the boat leaves at 9:00 and the tourist office said you had to be there a little early. I thought man surely you do not have to be there an hour early. I am going to be really upset if that is the case. I walked a little faster. Before I knew it I was speed walking. I knew my way this time so there would be no delays trying to figure out where to go. It is kind of nice actually knowing where you are going for a change as generally on this trip I did not, which I suspect a lot, if not most people, would be really rattled by such a situation. That would be a nice thing about traveling with someone they could help you with some of the coordination duties, which I have done very little of on this trip. I have arrived to numerous towns not having an idea of where
I woiuld be laying my head that night. It is a little exciting and a little worriesome to do that. Though as the saying goes that I often quote everything always works out and the saying that I coined you are going to die so live for it, which Madrid girl did not like, but what did she like for that matter?
I frantically walked thinking I can not miss this boat as the couchsurfing person was waiting on me. I could feel my heart rate speed up and I was beginning to perspire. I am in relatively good shape I believe, but after speed walking for 20 minutes with the pack on I was beginning to warm up. At least it wasn't raining. I walked past the Folkem Bar/Hostel thinking about the cheap $6.00 a pint Hansa beer and the Bruce Sprinsteen songs played there the night before. I walked past the tourist center and down the street I knew led me to the harbor, which the day before I had missed. Man is it good to be in a town more than a day with regards to knowing how to get around. Finally I got to the
I shared my Sardines with this Norwegian kid. He said he had never had them. I often eat them when I am hiking as they are packed with protein and very packable. Very nice kid and I enjoyed talking to him.
ferry about 10 minutes after 8 and went into the building that sold boat tickets. I told the lady I needed a ticket on the Flagrutten Ferry to Bergen and I have a Eurail pass. She said to buy it on the boat and they start boarding at 8:30. I told her I thought there was a time period in advance of the boat departure to buy the ticket. She said no you can buy it anytime. I asked her if the boat might be full to which she responded no. I asked her if their was a place to store my bag as I wanted to walk around town for about 30 minutes as there were places in this town I had not yet seen. She said no and if you leave it out there someone will take it. I found that hard to believe as there was very little crime in this area. She said however if I wanted to set it behind the door to the office that would be fine, but left the disclaimer if I lose anything it is my own responsibility. I told her cool and left the bag there knowing it would be
Words of Wisdom - Don't ever promise someone a rose garden. This person must have and now probably is getting stuck by the thorns.
there when I got back.
I headed out and cut across the peninsula to the waterfront. There are lots of nice restaurants there along the waterfront. They had some kind of food festival going on in Stavanger beginning this Wednesday and they had white tents all over along the water front. I was thinking maybe one year I come over here and catch as many festivals as possible. I had not done a very good job hitting festivals during my travels.
I walked around the waterfront and up the hillside where the tourist office folks said I must see while in Stavanger. It was pretty cool in this area with the houses and the flowers around the houses, but nothing too special in my mind considering everything I have seen on this trip. I released the shutter bug a few times and kept moving. I walked back to the boat looking for a place to pick up some snacks for the trip. I walked past the Best Western where my Moscow friend was staying and walked in hoping she might be at breakfast but she wasn't. I then made a B-line to the harbor. I asked a lady
Jay's Boat in Stavanger
My friend Jay's boat in Stavanger. How many people does it take to crew this boat Jay?
where there might be a gorcery store and she pointed very near and I headed there got some supplies and jumped a board the ship with about 10 minutes to spare.
I sat in the front of a boat with a lady from Texas and a lady originally from Australia now living in Amsterdam. We talked for awhile and then I went towards the back of the boat to do some typing. The boat was very fast and the boat utilized Jet propulsion instead of a prop. It really sprayed water as a result. I went outside to take some pictures and check out the impressive spray. The ride was cool as there were islands mainly of rock with some vegetation all around the boat. There were signs marking the course. I wondered what they did in the fog. They probably have it all layed out by GPS for traveling during the fog. Norway continues to be an outstanding place of beauty.
The trip seemed to go quickely and the shutter bug was called into action on a couple of occasions not so much for the beauty, but more so to document the trip.
As we came
Man you see a lot of different types of boats in Norway.
into the harbor at Bergen we went under a couple amazing bridges. I took one really good picture with the jet propulsion shooting a mist about 30 metres behind the boat and the bridge in the background. Other than that picture, I do not think I have any other keepers. Maybe on a house on a rock that might make the blog depending on how many other nice pictures are taken in Norway. Norway is a beautiful place and I suspect I will have lots of nice nature shots.
The harbor was beautiful, but not as nice as Victoria harbor in British Columbia in my opinion. As I got off the boat I saw a guy who looked like Svein and sure enough it was. He had another guy with him who was from the Czech Republic whose name I think is Cata. He wore a baseball cap. We went to his car where Mary sat. Mary is Svein's wife of 50 years. Svein drove us through a parking garage just to show us the parking garage under ground. Svein said a few years back people complained about not having parking then they built this with seven floors of
Boat Fun - Pic 2
Another boat type.
parking levels and no one complains anymore. Svein's English is pretty good and Cata's is really good as he is an English teacher in Prague and does some kind of volunteer work as well. Svein drove us up a hill and kept joking how the roads are two lane roads even though there is no way two cars could get past each other in a lot of the areas. Mary suffers from Dementia and speaks only in Norwegian, which she had learned in her childhood. Svein said she use to speak very good English. I do not know Svein very well, but he seems like a very good and wise man. Svein had made a lot of money in the auto parts business and is now spending it on people. He spends money on complete strangers like me, even though I plan to give him money for food and such.
After releasing the shutter bug a few times from the lookout where we were, we got back in the car and towards Svein's. Svein was telling us things about Bergen as we drove a long and Cata would comment as well. Cata is a very talkative man who has
My friend Jay who can not get his motor to run on his sailboat (that's a discussion for another day) says the bulb out in front of the boat is a sonar pod.
traveled all over the world. He travels by hitchhiking most of the time. He does not work full time teaching English and I get the impression he does not have a lot of money. I suspect he could make more money but he is able to get by by traveling cheap. I always thought that was fine to do, but I know I have worked hard my whole life and I am not going to financially support someone like that who as lots of earning potential but chooses not to work much. I would help someone like my Argentinian friends who work as hard as they can, but just live somewhere where they do not make a lot of money. Granted in the Czech I suspect they do not make that much, but Cata is not even working 40 hours a week for pay, but is working more than that if you consider the volunteer time. We stopped at a German grocery store called Lidol. I did not know this was a German store but Cata told me it was, which I was grateful for, but I wondered if he was deprived of talking as a child and is making
Try skiing behind this boat.
up for it now. Maybe it was because I wasn't getting to talk as much was my real issue as I talk a lot as well.
After picking up the groceries we headed to Svein's house. Svein lives on an Island. They have a concrete bridge built wide enough for one car. There is 3 houses built on this small island and Svein built a swimming pool which he swims in every day. He has it heated and he plans to swim out there even in the winter time.
He showed me my room, which contained a computer with internet access. The monitor was really old, but I am not sure of the age of the computer itself. He had wifi as well and a scanner. He was into electronics. Svein has lots of iron in the fires. He reminds me of Doc Baalman as he seems to always be busy doing this that or the other thing and he is not afraid to tear into anything. There was one time during my stay that the computer was not working and he got his lap top and plugged the computer in my room into his laptop and said
Why is Norway Rich?
They have lots of oil and gas.
my monitor is not any good. I could not get the monitor to turn on. He was pulling cords out from behind the desk and plugging things in seemigly not worried about the ramifications of what he might be doing.
Cata and I went for a canoe ride using Svein's canoe. We could only find one paddle so we also used an oar. I didn't realize how weak my shoulders were, which was evident when trying to paddle. We went through the canal that Svein said he had done one time with his small john boat with Mary on the bow which he indicated was a feat. He indicated he had the boat going very fast throught his small canal. As we went through the canal Cata asked the ladies doing some weeding in the garden if they needed some help. Yep I found someone that talks more than I do. Cata never would let things go either, which I tend to do myself in a lot of phases of my life actually. Cata was obviously pretty disoriented on the lake and got turned around easily. I told him that Svein's pool is right next to the water over
The boat I took from Stavager to Bergen did not have a prop. It was a jet boat. They said these boat types are more stable in high seas when a conventional prop may come out of the water. All I know, it produces a riteous spray!
there. He said it wasn't close to the water. He would not let it go and I finally told him when we get in we will walk down and check. I also pointed out that the dock you see there is close to the pool and he didn't think it was. I normally have a good sense of direction and told him I thought it was, but was a little unsure about the location of the dock in respect to the pool and said lets just check it out when we get in just to stop the speculative arguing. Even when we canoed he wanted me to call out when I would switch sides so he could switch sides at the same time. Maybe some of his wanting to be in control all the time was because of his teaching background and being used to being in control of the class. I guess I too wanted to have a say in the matter so to be fair I was probably not much different than him in wanting to call the shots. Neither one was very good at talking to the flowers, as my Swedish friend would say when we had
This is a top notch city! I love this place.
something to say. Maybe we were too alike to get along.
Once we got back to the house Cata and I went and talked to the lady at the pool with the kids who was Svein's daughter-in-law. She was very interesting to talk to and Cata never missed a beat asking questions and commenting. I think he ask more questions than a two-year old, which I thought was a nice quality at first, but after awhile all his questions and commentary got old.
A few minutes later Svein brought out some pork chops and french fries. Man I was hungry too. Svein offered me a beer as well and I can't remember the last time I passed one of those up so I decided to keep my streak going and accepted. The food really hit the spot. It was a very nice night at Svein's.
I went and took a shower a little later and Cata used the computer in my room. He said he had to make sure a sale went through for the volunteer organization that he belongs to. They bought a bunch of domain names and then sell them to people who want to
Bergen Pic 2
With the Norwegian flag flying proud.
buy them. He said they have already made their money back. Cata is a very intelligent man.
Svein had volunteered the van to me to take out on the islands west of Bergen to see the musuem. Cata was supposed to leave the next day, but decided to stay another day. He talked about hitch hiking and said on cloudy days you do not have much luck hitchiking but he said the longest he had ever waited before someone picked him up was 10 minutes. He said you do not want to wear hats as you are less likely to get picked up doing so. He said it is all about psychology. I found it hard to believe that that is the longest he had ever waited.
Cata asked Svein if he could stay another day and he was going to go with me to the islands and the musuem. I thought that was ok as I was a little unsure about driving around Bergen without really knowing the road signs.
We talked for a long time upstairs with Cata getting in as much voice time as Svein and I combined. Svein seemed to give Cata a
hard time, but Cata just gave it back. Not sure if Svein was trying to get him to talk less or what but Cata never got the hint as his talking did not slow down at all.
I talked to Svein for awhile about WWII as he was about 9 when it ended. He said he was so happy when the Americans and British forces made it to Norway. Man to hear someone say that gives me so much pride. Svein was emotional when he said that and I could see his eyes whelling up when he said that. I was hesitant to say anything more about it, but he seemed to indicate it was ok. We talked about that more and you could tell he was fond of the Americans. We talked a little about Iraq and he indicated that was a mistake. Man there is no doubt about it, Europe is united against Bush, but Svein noted the difference between Bush and the people. That was nice to hear someone that sees the big picture. At times I think Svein enjoys meeting people from all over the world to just see how they think and live. He
Bergen Pic 4
Did I tell you I liked this City?
said with Mary sick he can not travel and instead through couchsurfing the world comes to him. Through Sevin eyes the world is about the people not the objects and the nature. It is about the people. I learned a lot about the world from Svein. He indicated earlier in the day how Cata was so talkative. He said the Russian countries use to live in a closed society now look at them. I have a teacher from Prague here traveling Norway. He said that is good. I think Svein is optimistic about the future of the world as am I. It was getting late so we decided to hit the hay. Svein had indicated for me to do my laundry but Cata said it might be better for me to do them tomorrow as the wash machine and dryer are noisey and Mary and Svein would be sleeping right next door that made some sense to me and I thought that was very thoughtful of Cata to say such a thing. I at times am not very thoughtful of other people. I ended up using the computer until a little after 12 and called it a night. I enjoyed
Bergen - Pic 5
The most photpgraphed area of Bergen.
my time with Svein and Cata as well. They both have very unique outlooks on life.
I awoke about 6:30 and headed out to the pool. The air was a little cool and the water was a little cool as well. I got in and the water level was about up to my belly button. I was walking around trying to find the courage to go under. You know how that works. I then saw Svein coming out. He appeared surprized to see me in the pool. I think he liked the fact that I was there. He said Cata thinks the water is too cold as he was always talking about how cold it was in Bergen. Svein only swam for about 5 minutes and got back out. He unlike me went under water immediately. Someday I would like to have my own pool like this. Svein has a cover ordered that he will be putting on top of the pool hopefully before the winter. Svein went back in the house and I swam for about 25 minutes. Man I love to swim.
I went in the house and got my clothes changed and went up
Big Mac Index
As I traveled from city to city I compared prices utilizing what I called the Big Mac Index. In Bergen a Big Mac meal cost you about 15 dollars the most expensive I found in all of Europe. They make lots of money here so they can afford it, but the travelers have a hard time swallowing that. Rim Shot!
stairs where Svein insisted I eat some breakfast. I felt a little bad mooching off of Svein and I told him that I was going to wrastle (as they say in the southern US) if he did not take his money. I told him I am a lot more comfortable giving than receiving which may have been tooting my own horn I do not know, but he even more incessantly said he has the ability to give and I should just receive it. I said thank you. Cata and I headed out about about 10:30 and we were at each other again right off the bat. We did not have a good map and Svein kept saying Cata knows how to get everywhere we needed to go as he had been there before. Cata did not indicate any differently. We drove around looking for the train station as I needed to get my ticket for the train the next day. We finally found the station and I got the ticket, which was quite enjoyable actually talking too and kidding the people that worked there. All of the sudden I heard someone chime in and of course it was Cata standing
This was taken in a harbor on the islands northwest of Bergen.
right behind me. I thought he was going to stay and wait in the van, but he decided to come in and check things out, which didn't surprize me in hind sight, but surprized me at the time.
At one point when I went to pay for the ticket I swiped my card and as soon as I did this horn went off. I asked if that meant my card had no money on it any more. Everyone laughed and the lady working there said, no you win a 1,000,000 kroners. I was having fun talking to these folks, but knew unfortunately I had to go.
As I am typing this I am steaming on a cruise ship from Stockholm to Helsinki across the Baltic Sea. It is 10:10 and the sun is just starting to set. I am sitting at a table near a window with the sun over my left shoulder. I am on the port side of the boat . To my right there is about 100 kids dancing on the sunken stage. Parents are sitting around the stage. This cruise ship concept all seems quite amusing to me. There are over 2,000 people on
Everybody likes a free concert.
this boat. There are about 8 different restaurants. There is a tax free shop downstairs and people are really stocking up. I saw some kids buying 4 cases of beer. There is a musician for adults on one end of the boat. There is a sauna and whirl pools. At times you forget that this is a boat. There are slot machines and gambling on a another deck. I would get bored if I had to stay here a long period of time I think, although it is kind of fun shot period of time. It kind of reminds me of Vegas which is fun for me for a few days, but any longer than that I think I would get bored. Anyway back to Bergen.
I headed outside and wild man Cata was on one end of the Train Station with the van. Cata asked me if I could loan him some money as all he has is 10 pounds. I suggested we stop at a bank and get them exchanged. He said no, because he would have to pay more to the bank by making two separate transactions as he has more money at Svein's. He ask
Fun with the camera!
me if I would loan him some money for the day and he said he would pay me back in pounds. I told him I wanted the money in the local currency as that is the currency I would be giving him. I told him if I take his pounds I will be paying the same penalty you just said you do not want to pay. He said well we need to run back to Svein's as he would not have a chance to get the currency before I leave the next morning. This is a problem I have with people trying to get by dirt cheap. I do not have a problem with it as long as it does not affect me and it was directly affecting me. I work hard for my money. I admit I have had a lot given to me, because I have good parents, which I realize a lot of people do not have, but I have worked for my money. Maybe Cata should have worked a little more and saved a little more for this trip. I was not about to give him money. I have given some money to the Argentina women
Well Structured Woman
I have seen lots of statues on this trip. This one gets the top prize for being the most well put together woman.
on this trip. I do not say that for I want a pat on my back. I did that because I knew they were working their butts off and just live in a country where you do not make a lot of money. Sure people in the Czech Republic probably do not make a lot, but he said he is only working a few hours a day for pay and is working the rest of the day for a charity. Maybe if I understood the charity a little more I would sympathize a little more to his plight, but I wasn't. He could have worked more hours for pay. Anyway I was not going to give him money for free in this situation so we were headed back to Svein's.
As we headed back he did not have a clue, where we were at even though Svein kept saying Cata knew how to get around Bergen and Cata never said to the contrary. I was trying to give him directions the best I could with the two crappy maps I had. Neither one of the maps were meant for what we were using them for. We headed in one
Correct Photographic Stance
The Asian's know how to take a picture. This is textbook photographic positioning with the weight centered over the 4th lumbar vertebrae.
direction and then decided we would try another route. Cata wanted to go back into town and I wanted to skirt the outside of the City, but he was driving so we went back into Bergen proper. I told him where to go and we ran into some road construction and I made a couple bad directional calls. After some labor we made it out of Bergen and in the direction where we needed to go. I told him with all this extra driving trying to get back to Sveins you could have paid the bank fee in what we are spending in gas.
He kept asking me for the directions and the map sucked. I would tell him a turn a little later than he wanted and Cata would say I need directions in Real Time. He said this about 6 times. I was getting tired of it and I told him Real Time is the current time. It is not a time before the direction is needed. Real time is the current time. It doesn't have any correlation to a time before the turn. Real time can be before the turn, at the turn or even after
Mercedes for Taxis
Does that tell you anything?
the turn. I told him saying Real Time, doesn't even make sense. He quit saying that finally. I told him to lets just go to the musuem since we know where we are now and I will loan you some money. He said he would just try this transaction with Svein where Svein took his pounds and Svein gave him back krowns and paid me with the krowns. I told him that was fine. This was going to be a long day that was for sure.
We made it across a few bridges and through a few tunnels. I told him we needed to make a right, but I was not sure where, as the map does not indicate the road to take. Finally it seemed like we were heading south when we needed to head north. Cata saw a sign that said information. I would have had just turned right somewhere, but I guess it might not be a bad idea as we could get information on other things too. When we turned off he turned to the right and I told him he had to turn left per the sign. He turned around and we drove in
Count the Blondes
I understand it is a recessive gene that results in blond hair that is common in Norway. The sale of coloring for hair must be really low there.
the other direction, but never did find the place so we got back on the road and a little ways down the road we saw the sign we needed and turned there. I finally felt comfortable we were in the right place. I saw an oil platform and some rigging and tried to get a picture, but it didn't turn out to well so Cata turned in and drove through some homes in an effort to get a better location to take the picture. He implied I wanted to get a picture of this because I am from the US and we are the gas guzzling nation. At least that was my deciphering of what he was saying when you do not talk through the flowers. I may have over interpreted his comment and told him I want to take this picture, because this is why Norway is a rich country. There oil and gas industry. He parked and I tried to find a spot to get a shot. I looked at him and he was walking around, but I never saw him take a picture. I got a couple ok shots and got back in the van. I asked
Stop the Madness
Man I am posting a lot of pictures of Bergen!
him if he has a camera and he said no, it got the wet the other day and was not working. He ask if I would send him copies of the photo's I take. I told him sure, but at the time I was not in the mood to do such, but I knew I would. We got back on the road and then he said lets go see this church as there was a road sign. I told him this trip is going to take forever if we turn off like this everytime we see a sign like that. I went on to say if this is such a great church tourist would be coming here to see it. Cata said he hated people that travel from point A to B which is how I travel. We came to a harbor that looked kind of cool and I took a couple pictures. We then went to the church and it looked like it had been constructed maybe around 1980. Cata didn't even turn off the car to get out but just turned around in the church parking lot and drove out. Some folks in the parking lot looked at
What Pictures should be left out?
I have a hard time culling pictures. Should I have left this one out?
us weird. I guess they do not expect tourist here. Cata said I guess that sign must be for the locals. I sarcastically told him yes the locals probably can't find there own church. I told Cata I have not seen Bergen yet and we need to be back in Bergen at a reasonable time to night. He said yes he needed to see it too. I told him if we turn at every side road like this we are never going to get back to Bergen tonight.
We continued on and I held the camera out of the window and snap a few pictures as he drove. On one bridge the view was kind of nice so Cata just decides to stop the van and get out. This is a two lane road with no shoulder and he stops the van in the middle of the road. I didn't even get out. I took a couple pictures from inside the van. I told him this is stupid and a good way to cause an accident. After a couple minutes he got in and we were off again. We stopped a couple other times for scenery photos. These stretch
The couchsurfing guy I stayed with lived on this Island. Pretty cool!
of islands northwest of Bergen are very narrow and you can almost see the water on both sides, but yet Cata wanted to drive down these side roads I do not get it.
We finally made it to the end of the island, which is where Svein's restaurant use to be. We had both forgotten that and did not drive around looking for it. I went and got some food. Cata did not get anything. I offered him some of my food, but he didn't want anything.
We headed back and neither one of us had seen the musuem, but the lady in the shop gave us an idea of where it was at. We drove past where we thought it should be and decided to stop and ask. Cata decided now he wanted to get some food so I gave him some money. I went in and got directions and of course Cata took forever to get his food I am sure he was looking for a great deal. He came out with two packages of hot dogs and something to drink. I told him I thought the hot dogs should be refrigerated he said he
The Pool on the Island
This is where I swam each morning on the Island as did my host.
thought they would be fine and pointed out that they are vacuum packed. I said ok whatever, it was his food. Earlier in the day Cata had forgotten to turn his headlights on and said that is a 400 kroner fine if you get caught by the police. He once forgot to turn them on after one of his numerous stops on this trip, so he now said he was just going to leave the headlights on all the time. So at all stops he now left the headlights on. I told him that is all fine and good until we have to pay 2,000 kroners to have this van towed, when it doesn't start because the battery is dead.
We finally found the musuem and only had a little time before it closed. There were only about 7 other cars in the parking lot and he tries to shimmy in between two other cars. I told him people get mad at me, but I usually park away from all the other cars. He got in position and then said because of the way this car is parked I better move to another location. I went ahead and jumped
Just another Norway Pic.
Just open the shutter and you have a great pic in Norway.
out while he reparked where I indicated to park when we first pulled in away from he other cars. It added about 30 feet to his walk to the musuem.
We went in and watched 3 of the five movies about the oil and gas industry in this area and the place was closed. It was not all that interesting but was ok. Seeing the nature in this area however was pretty cool so I did feel like it was a worthwhile trip. As we walked out to the van I ask him if he turned the headlights off this time and he said he had hoped so, but wasn't sure. As we got to the van you could see that the lights were indeed still on and were much weaker than they had been. I thought ok who around here might be able to jump us and kept my cool about the situation. He got in and turned the engine over a few times, but the van did not start. He said well the battery sounds strong enough to start and then he starterd fiddling with something else as the lights remained on and we still did not
have the engine started. I told him to get this engine started before the battery got even weaker. Cata let the engine crank a few more times and it did start thank God.
We left again and Cata wanted to head down another remote road so we did. I told him if you think your going to find this secret place that no other tourist has found I think you are going to be dissappointed. I told him this is not unchartered area. We drove a little ways and came to a T in the road. He decided to turn around and head back and I actually think he started to come around to my way of thinking. Just a little. I just have been on this kind of trip before where we do not make it back on time and do not get to see Bergen. In my mind seeing Bergen was much more important than looking for the Holy Grail down a dirt road that no one else has ever found.
Anyway we headed back and made pretty good time, but neither one of us knew exactly where his house was. I had Sviens address and
Water is a Falling!
I thought there were lots of Falls in the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. There are a lot more in Norway.
found a street that was similarly spelled so I suggessted we head in that direction even though according to Svein Cata knew how to get back to his house. His sense of direction however was not very good as evidenced by our canoe journey the day before. I told Cata we needed to at least put in as much gas as we had used. We found a station and decided to ask directions at a gas station and I told Cata to try and find a level place so we could just add gas until the gage got back to where it was when we started. He told me how often the gas gages are in the middle of tank so an average is taken. Doesn't this guy ever just shut up and do something. This is common sense stuff, which I do not thing he has any. We had stopped earlier at a gas station that was closed and knew the gas cap was on the driver side. As we pulled in I mentioned that the gas cap was on his side and ask if he was going to back into this spot so the gas cap was close
The shutter on my camera accidentally opened and this was the result.
to the pumps. He said usually the hoses are long enough that the hose can be stretched around the back of the vehicle. I almost threw up. You have got to be kidding me. Where does he come up with this crap. I just got out and went into the store. I looked out and there is Cata trying to stretch the hose around the backside of the van, van lights still on of course, and of course the hose was not long enough. He got in and turned the van around so it would work. I told the attendant that guy out there is driving me crazy. Look he never turns the lights off on the van because he is afraid he will forget to turn them on again and he tells me the hoses are long enough to stretch around the back side of the van, he never shuts up, he parks the van on bridges to take pictures, and he drives down remote roads thinking is he going to find something extraordinary that no one else has found. She laughed and I apologized telling her I just needed to vent. I got directions from the lady and
This is the Sognefjord. The biggest in Norway.
it was a good thing as I would have went the wrong way. Cato put in about 100 kroners and he said it did not really look like anything was added. I told him I thought you would put in 100 kroners for each of us not 50 kroners each. He put more gas in. When he got in the lady was confused by the amount and I told her he had shut the pump off and turned it back on therefore there are the two amounts. All that I had told her about Cato made more since.
With the gas station attendant's directions, we had found the place or should I say I found the place. I guess Cata did drive so I should give him credit for that even though I probably wasn't giving him directions in real time. We made it there a little after 5 and the free concert that Svein suggessted we try to attend began at 6. It was a good thing we had not screwed around anymore with Cata's Big Adventures.
Svein said he had called the musuem and was going to pay for our admission, but when he called the
attendant said they had not seen us. It was a nice gesture. I am not sure why or how the person there missed us. Svein kindly took us into town and dropped us off and was going to pick us up around 10. Svein has gone above and beyond the calling of couchsurfing duty.
Cata and I walked to the concert and it was a really young crowd and the singer reminded me of Britney Spears. Not exactly Bruce Springsteen. I wanted to get some picutres and Cata wanted me too as well as he wants my pictures. We walked to the riverfront and to the castle and took some pictures.
We walked back to the fish markets and I told Cata that I was going to get something to eat. He said he was not going to eat anything as he has those hot dogs back at Svein's and was going to walk around as I ate. After looking at the prices again after Cata had left I decided to not eat there either as it was going to be $20 for the fish and fries. Not worth it so I went and bought a cheaper hot
dog at a grocery store. I went and walked to the concert and it was just wrapping up. I met Cata at the meeting point a little ways from the concert and told him the concert was over and I was going to walk to the church on the hill as I had not seen it. Of course Cata did not think the concert was over as he could see a few people still there, so he was going to walk back there and he said maybe he would walk to the church too if the concert was indeed over. I walked to the church and was not impressed by the church. On my way back down the hill I ran into Cata. I told him the church was not that exciting. There were a lot of people in a bar nearby watching a soccer game, which is such an intense thing in Europe. I would have liked to watch some of that, but the beers are so expensive that I decided against it. Cata ask the local if there are any nice walks and she suggessted we walk in the direction of the train station. Cata and I walked
back towards the train station and I suggessted we try to walk to a high point for a picture of the City. I saw a roof parking lot. We got there, but the view wasn't all that great.
I do not remember what brought this up, but I had told Cata something about walking 3 miles and he ask something about how long that takes. I knew I better have the time right as he was going to argue with the number so I said just a second let me think about it. I told him it takes me about 40 to 45 minutes to walk that distance. He immediately questioned the time with which I had done it. I told him I knew you were going to argue that number that is why I hesitated to even say it. I told him that is a mile every 15 minutes and I can walk that. I told him in Carlyle I use to walk that distance several times a week and I could do it in 40 minutes if I was walking fast and not stopping to train my dog a lot. He still didn't believe it. I was
sick of Cata by now and was just ready to get the heck out of there. He wanted to walk in a direction away from the main area of town. I told him I was going to walk back towards the main area of town. I guess he was still looking for the Holy Grail. Not sure.
I walked to another part of town adjacent to the main area and was really pleased to find some statues around that I had not seen. From there I walked down to the main area and there were two guys playing acoustic music that sounded pretty good. I sat there and listened to the music for about 40 minutes. It was great to listen and not have someone in my ear saying something or arguing or doing something stupid.
I walked back to the train station and Cata was not yet there. I was a couple minutes early no Cata and no Sevin. Cata showed and ask what time it was. He did not have a watch which didn't surprise. He said he ask someone 20 minutes earlier. Svein showed up and took us home.
Cata fixed his hot dogs
Ever see a snow plow that looked like this?
and I used the computer. Cata offered me a hot dog, which I took one. I talked to Svein about WWII stuff and he teared up a little when he said he remembered when the Americans and British troops arrived in Norway signifying the end of the war. It was nice to hear someone say this during this age of USA bashing. I realize however more than ever that not everyone is going to always like you especially if your a leading power which the US currently is. American's actually got Norway's oil and gas industry up and going.
It had been a long day and I was ready to shut it down. Cata was talking to Svein about trading pounds for kroners. I went to bed. What a long day. He owed me 175 kroners or roughly $35.
We had stayed up the night before very late, but I really like to swim and I had not gotten many chances to do that so I took advantage of it. I got out there about 6:40 and surprisingly Svein was already up swimming when I got there. I realized he was in his birthday suit. I
Folsom Prison Blues
I hear the train a coming just around the bend, I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when, for I am stuck in Folsom Prison (or something like that).
gently turned my head acting like I had not noticed. Svein slid out of the pool and put on his robe. Not sure if he ever realized I knew he was naked. I jumped in and swam for about 15 minutes. It was easier to get aclimated to the water today than it was the day before.
I went in and got changed and ready to go. Svein was going to run me to the train station at 7:30. I went up and had some breakfast with Svein. I had offered him money again, but he says he does not need money, that is what he has. He does this to meet people from all over the world and commented that with Mary's dementia they can not travel like they use to and now the world comes to him. He said look at me now I have a teacher from Prague here that will not stop talking and an American. He mentioned he thinks Cata talks a lot because of the Czech Republic being suppressed all these years. Svein seemed optimistic about the future of the world.
It was about time to go so I went down stairs
I heard this rail line near Flam has the steepest graded rails without gears in the world.
to finish packing. Svein said Cata wanted to say bye before I left. I think Cata is an ok guy even though he was getting on my nerves pretty much anytime I was around him. Maybe we are too alike (I don't think so), maybe I have been travelling too long by myself (I don't think so), maybe Cata and I are just not very compatible (most likely). I know his incessant talking really did get on my nerves. Cata talked to Svein about the money and I do not think Svein liked the idea so I just said I will take the pounds. I had to pay Cata some money back in kroners as he did not have the exact amount in pounds. I believe he figured in some money for the exchange penalty not sure. I roughly did the calculation in my head and the amount of pounds he gave me was close to what he owed me. The whole deal was more principle than anything as I could find places to exchange money, but he just assumed I would take his money in pounds and give him my money in kroners and I had to go through
Hollering for Effect
This guy ask some people to take a picture of him and right before they took the picture he yelled. The photograhper was so startled that he lowered the camera and didn't take the picture. Then everyone in the area started laughing hysterically.
the hassle of changing the money and him making me take the penalty. He was obviously traveling very tight to the belt which I think is fine but don't bring the people around you into it which he was doing. As I said before he was the type I believe could make money easy enough he just chose not to but yet wants all the benefits of working without working. Anyway we exchanged email addresses as he wants the pictures I took. I plan to give them to him just not sure when.
Svein took me to the train station. As I type this it is 4:00 in the morning and there are some goofy people running around this boat. One lady flagged me down and did not want to quit talking. Another guy keeps running around howling like a wolf. He stopped and said something to me for which I had no idea what he said. Anyway it is a little weird. It is raining outside and the noise that sounds like the boat is trying to get out of some shallow water doesn't appear to be doing it as much, which the lady explained to me as
being the stabilizers. She said last night was a little rough because there was a lot of wind.
I thanked Svein. I had some time and went to the nearby supermarket and got some milk and pastries while I waited. The train came at 8:40 on time and I was off to Voss. The trip went pretty quickely and before I knew it we were in Voss getting on a bus. A nice lady from Switzerland sat by me and we talked for a long time. She was a pharmacist and we talked about all kinds of things. We got out at one point and took a picture of a valley at this restaurant. I am sure the restaurant and gift shop makes a lot of money off us toursit on a stop like this.
We piled on the bus agan after about 20 minutes heading to the boat. We got on the boat in a town I forget the name of, but I remember Rick Steve stating there is nothing to see in the town. I talked to the lady from Switzerland quite of bit on the boat as well. I felt a little weird talking to
her as her husband and kids were with her as well, but she said she needs her space and it all seemed ok. She checked on her kids who in their teens I believe and spoke with her husband. It was quite impressive actually that there relationship was that good that they fully trusted each other. A couple women that I dated for a significant period of time would have been jealous if I were doing what that lady was. I think they just had a good relationship.
The nature in Norway is just phenomenal. We were on the Sognefjord the longest fjord in Norway. It was a absolutely beautiful sight. I just cannot explain the beauty. I can say there are these mountains on both sides of the water, but that just does not do it justice. There were homes occasionally along the mountain sides which seemed like they would be extremely isolated. I think most community's had roads to and from their town, but it was not evident where when looking at the town from the boat. I suspect some probably boated at times or maybe ice skated during Norway's cold long Winters. That is the main
Frogner Park Pic 3
I love how they do not try and hide the effects of aging on the human body in these statues.
downside that I see with regards to living in Norway. It would be a long Winter.
After about 90 minutes the boat ride came to an end and we were in Flam. I said goodbye to the lady from Switzerland and got off the boat. I decided to hike awhile and find a place to eat lunch, which consisted of sardines. I hiked over this small ridge to the adjacent town and sat by a stream to eat the sardines. It was neat as there was a waterfall coming from the mountain. There are lots of waterfalls in Norway. More and bigger than what you see in Oregon, which I thought had a lot of falls. This tour was good at accommodating everyones desire to take pictures as they would stop the bus or the boat or the train even when leaving Flam to take pictures. It was quite interesting seeing how much the tour accommodated the tourist. They seemed to be going above and beyond the call of duty. On the train out of Flam at this amazing waterfall, the best I have ever seen, there was a lady who appeared to be a Native Norwegian doing a
Frogner Park Pic 4
The inspiration for signaling a succuessful field goal attempt.
native dance on the hill side to this loud music coming from somewhere on the hill side. There were actually two women dancing as one would appear and then disappear and another would appear in another location. It seemed a little goofy to me as it was such a show, but I guess it was kind of cool to see.
After the hike and pacing around Flam for awhile I stumbled into the lady from Switzerland again and I told her about the trail I had taken. She indicated she was looking to do some hiking as well.
Finally the time arrived for our departure. I think they try to keep you there as long as possible to spend money. I was ready to leave. I noticed I was a little impatient with the people around me. I think this trip is starting to wear on me a little or maybe it was the Cata influence. Whatever it was I know I am not the extremely patient person that started the trip.
As the people started loading onto the train they separated the groups, from the individuals. I am not sure how or why they did it.
Frogner Park Pic 5
Kids remember, I brought you into this world and I can take you out.
I was looking for injustices but not sure if there were any. The train was pretty crowded, but not horrible. I sat with a couple young ladys, but then a seat by itself opened up and I grabbed it.
As the train came, pulled away from Flam, and proceeded up through the valley I learned I was not on the ideal side of the train. The better views were on the oppossite side of the train. I was not going to get any great pictures from where I was at, but I decided to just enjoy it from where I was at. I often wonder if I am getting a little carried away with the picture taking and not just experiencing the scene. There were some amazing waterfalls coming out of these mountains. More amazing than the ones I saw in Oregon, which were very nice. These are the best I have seen.
After significant time we came to the waterfall I previously described with the ladys dancing. It was an amazing fall. The dancers were ok too and added to the experience but yet it seemed to take away from it all at the same time. It
Frogner Park Pic 6
A graduate of the Michael Jackson School of Parenting.
just seemed a little hoaxy to me. Everyone was allowed to get off the train for photos. The viewing platform was close enough to the falls that water mist encompassed everyone. I am sure there were some splotchy lenses, when the train pulled away from the platform. This is a very phenomenal train as it was installed on very steep mountain sides. In some areas there was a roof constructed over the tracks I assume to protect the train from falling rocks.
After a few minutes we were at the train station to catch the night train. We had about a 30 minute wait before catching the night train. Many people grabbed a bite to eat as did I.
The seats were assigned which is the method I prefer, as it seems the most fair. I was sitting by a couple I estimate to be in there early 70's. Their English was not too good, but not horrible either. I talked to them a little while, but it was quite laborious so I didn't talk long. I typed for awhile while drinking coffe, which is something I do not do often. The guy I was sitting by was
Oslo's Frogner Park from Afar
This is one of the most interesting parks in all of Europe.
always moving around and he had a bad leg which he showed to me. He had a big brace on it or prosthetic. Not sure what it was, but whatever it was it did not look good. It did not seem to slow him down however. I enjoyed talking to him and he often teased me. It seemed like the other people on the train however did not have a lot to say.
The scenery in this area is beautiful and like none other that I have seen. It was very rocky and snow covered and the trip was very slow. Everytime I was about ready to snap a photo we would make it to a tunnel and everything would go black outside. The gentlemen seemed to get a kick out of this and laughed everytime. I laughed too actually.
I talked to the man and his wife about WWII. They said they were around 7 or 8 when the war ended. They said they can remember the war and said it was some crazy times in this area. When I think of WWII I do not even think of the Scandinavian countries being involved. I would be
These rails go right through this pool of water. Seemed of interest to me.
willing to bet that their were more American lives lost fighting a war on another countries soil than were lost by all the native Scandinavians combined, but I do not know. The way I understood some of the Scandinavian Countries pretty much let Hitler do what he wanted to. I guess they could not adequately resist so they didn't try. I know the older generation in europe really thanks the USA for what they had done. The younger generations like those in the USA have no idea what WWII was about.
I made it into Oslo a little after 10 and got my directions to the couchsurfer out. I had to make it to Maria's place a friend of Guxi, the lady I stayed with in Copenhagen. It was really nice for Guxi to set me up with her. I got off at the subway stop and walked left over the bridge. The directions then said to go straight. It was very confusing and I went in the direction I thought was right. Before long I had walked to the next subway stop. This could not be right as then she would have said get off at that subway stop. I walked back and walked up one street I thought might be right, but it obviously wasn't. I walked back to the subway stop and tried going in the other direction. I asked a bus driver and he didn't know. Finally I just said I will walk in that direction another guess, and make the second right as noted in the directions. Fortunately this time I came across a couple landmarks namely a school, a path and a tall building. I felt good at last I think I had found it and it was almost midnight so it was time to be finding lodging. I rang the bell and someone on the other end ask if I was Dave. I said I was and she let me in. In hindsight she should probably have ask me to state my name, but Oslo is a pretty safe town so there probably was not concern over the person being a criminal. She said the area is very safe and I had no reason to doubt her although the path to her place was very dark, which was a little worrisome.
Maria has a Spanish roomate and a German roomate. The Spanish roomate was still up and we had a shot of a Vanilla liquor. It was very good and I enjoyed it. We watched a little tv and talked for awhile. Maria plays frisbee with her boyfriend and they travel all over for matches. I felt a little awkward as Maria ask me how I knew Guxi and I did not know much. She seemed a little surprised as I knew so little about her. Her roomate too acted a little surprised that I was staying with some people I knew very little about and vice versa. I had been doing this kind of thing for so long I thought nothing of it.
Around 1:30 I decided to call it a night. I did take a shower before going to bed as Maria kind of indicated it would be fine even though her roomates were all in bed and the shower was close to their rooms.
Another long day and it was nice to be laying my head on a pillow in a person's house that was not inhabitated by 30 or more kids like is the norm for hostel living.
Good night from Oslo. Am I really in Oslo, Norway?
I got up around 8 and headed for the computer. Maria was not yet up but her roomate soon was. I told him Maria was not yet up. There work schedule seemed a little laxed as they all worked for the same company and was how they got to live where they live.
Maria got up shortly afterwards and we had a quick breakast. Her roomate was anxious to get to work as he appeared to be late, but then it started pouring down rain. It has been raining a lot, which I was told is unusal but the rain does not last long.
Maria got going and I spent until 1:00 in the afternoon trying to figure out my flights I had a great deal from Munich to New York, but then the site said those prices were no longer available. I was really mad about that. I wondered if the cheap prices I had found when I was in Copenhagen would not had been available too. I had worked a long time to find that price and then found out I could not get it. I finally bought the bullet and went for the more expensive flights as I really had no other option. I was between a rock and a hard place. I got my flight from Munich to Dublin and then the next day from Dublin to St. Louis. It will be nice to be home. I didn't really want to spend a night in Dublin airport but I really had no option or I would have to fork out more jack. It was now a little after 1 and needed to get going.
I left Maria's feeling like it probably seemed to her that I was just looking for a place to stay but in actuality I really want to get to know the people living there as well. A place to stay is not what couchsurfing is about. It is about a place to stay, but also about meeting people from all over the world. I walked back to the street that I had walked the night before, but made a right turn towards the main park in Oslo for tourist.
It took about 15 minutes to walk to the park and it indeed is quite impressive. On the end of the park I entered which is not the main entrance there is a globe mounted on top of a pedestal that is quite nice. Everytime I see long straight distances between monuments I think of Paris. The Arc De Triumph area in Paris is like that and back in the day everyone tried to be like France.
At this globed monument there was an Asian tourist by himself which is a rarity as they typically travel in packs. The Asian tourist asked some other tourist to take his picture, while he was in front of the Globe. Right before they snapped the photo the Asian tourist all of the sudden raised both arms to the heavens and yells. Everyone in the area was caught off the guard especially the person taking the picture as he had lowered the camera from his eye in surprise. The Asian had to then hold the pose longer for the photo to be taken. I, like everyone was extremely surprised by the yell. Why was the yell necessary as sounds do not show up on pictures well. Was that necessary to create the necessary facial expression? It sure made for an interesting event.
At the next monument, the main monument, there is a spire like monumnet with people intertwined together. To me it meant the human race is on this planet together and the intertwining is coming more closely and tightly bound. European's like to keep there identity as being a lot different from the US, but I see them becoming more and more like US. I recently heard a Swedish woman say that they are becoming more and more like the US. You do not hear many Europeans admit such a thing, but I have thought that for awhile now. The Scandinavian countries are closest to being like the US, but the more southern countries I believe will follow suit. I do not personally like it as I like diversity, but it will happen sooner than a person believes. What use to take 100's of years now only takes decades. The pace at which the world turns is expontential and continually speeds up. I say the sooner you travel to Europe the better as it will not be the same Europe 10 years from now. We long for their past as they change, unfortunately to be more like the US.
Around this spire like statue is several smaller statues with people in a lot of different positions. The folks in the statues are naked and their forms are as they are in real life. The old men women's face have wrinkles and breast sag. We in society try to change the human form to resemble a more youthful form rather than protraying it accurately. I personally think as previously stated, we in the US really have an unhealthy view of nakedness. We make a big deal out of nudity. Anything you make a big deal out of becomes just that a big deal. Last night in Helsinki I talked to the couple I was couchsurfing with and they said they go to the Sauna nude with their family in there early years of life. When they become teenagers they quit doing that with there parents at least the women no longer do it with their fathers, but continue to go to sauna with their moms. The culture is quite interesting. I would be interested to know where the highest percentage of nude magazines are sold and the highest percentage of people watch porn? We were watching a show on public televsion about this lady who passed away from a drug overdose or murder, they were not sure, but she has the Guinness world record for the biggest breast. They continually showed her naked throughout the piece. I watched the show with the couple like it was no big deal. Just another show with the nudity being no big deal. It was also interesting to notice how in the Scandinavian countries hunting appears to be quite common.
There were about 30 of these statues around the main spire like statue. It was a popular location to take pictures. I then walked the distance to the main entrance, which was about a 1/4 mile walk. At a bridge there were more naked statues. One statue showed a picture of a man holding a baby with outstretched arms. I called this statue the Michael Jackson statue.
I left the park and then headed to the train station on a bus. At the train station I got some food as I waited in line to get my ticket to Stockholm. I was really excited to get to Stockholm. It seemed the people I spoke with really talked up Stockholm much more so than Oslo. I told the attendant that I needed a ticket for the night train this night to Stockholm. She shook her head and I knew the response already, it was full. I asked her rhetorically if they couldn't add a couple cars to the train? I then said ok, I need a ticket for the next day to Stockholm. She said that train is full too. At this point I was like you have got to be kidding me. I can not wait until Sunday to get to Stockholm so I said how about the train that leaves in 20 minutes. She said there is room on that train. I told her I have no choice I have to get on that train. I had to pay her like 4.00 kroners which is like $1.00 and ran to the internet place to email my couchsurfing host in hopes of finding a place for the night. I told the worker I need a computer now and got one and looked up their phone numbers and sent them quick emails. I then had to pay the attendant 29 kroners or around $6 which gets you 90 minutes, but I used it for 5 minutes. I told him that is quite expensive and he just shrugged his shoulder and said that is the minimum. That kind of upset me as he could have given it to me free or at a reduced rate. He had an opportunity to do something nice for me and he didn't. I know there are other factors that I did not know about that may have made it not possible but still it upsets me. I ran to the train and when on the train looked at my watch and realized I still had about 10 minutes before the train left so I took my handbag, but left my backpack to run and grab some supplies for the trip. I then ran back and still had about 4 minutes before the train left. I could not believe what just happened. I rethought everything and the dates and realized I had done the right thing. I could not afford to spend two more days or maybe even more in Oslo as that would use up all my Stockholm time, which is the place I really looked forward to seeing more so than Oslo.
I just heard the whistle blow indicating the doors were about to shut and the train take off. I am going to miss these trains. Over the course of the last 3 months they have been a very common place in my life. I will be sad when they are gone. I know in the states I will be using trains much more often now having experienced these trains at least I h. I keep thinking it will be glad to go home for a couple weeks, but then again realize some things I will sure miss. A person really needs to experience this trip on their own. I could do a very good job I believe explaining it in words, but it would take much, much more time as I am moving way too fast. I would have to stop about every other day to type for a day to adequately explain every detail. There is just not enough time to explain things in detail. I move too fast for that.
I talked to a young lady of about 19 who had been in Oslo looking for work. I told her I thought it was easy to find work in Oslo and she thought the same thing, but did not find anything. She had stayed with her boyfriend and his mom so lodging was cheap. She allowed me to use her phone so once we got in Sweden I text messaged the couchsurfing host, but neither one of the two potential host had text back.
Sweden is beautiful as well. Unlike the mountains of Norway, Sweden is pretty flat with lots of lakes kind of reminding me of northern Minnesota. Sweden is beautiful. Lots of pine trees and lakes and green grass. All I can say regarding the nature in Norway and Sweden is wow. Good stuff!
Sweden is a lot flatter than Norway, but is beautiful just the same. Whereas Norway has all the mountains Sweden is relatively flat but beautiful nonetheless with all the lakes surrounded by pine trees. Sweden appears a lot less harsh of a country to live than Norway.
I talked to a guy from Oslo that was on his way to Stockholm for a few days. He appeared to be grading a paper, but he said no it is a paper he had written. He was in somekind of renewable energy field. He was drinking wine which seemed a little funny to me as he read and critiqued the paper. We talked for a long time. He said he was meeting some friends in Stockholm. I thought he might try to help me find a place to stay or maybe offer a place to stay but he never did. I was not talking to him for that reason, but just thought he might. When the train finally arrived in Stockholm he showed me where to go which was very nice.
I walked out of the station looking for internet amazed to see 7-11 stores. Actually they are all over Stockholm. They have internet access as well, but at a price of 6 Krowns like in Oslo for 90 minutes. I did not want to pay that much as I only needed to check my email. I walked into a motel and ask them where there might be hostels and they said the only one they knew of is full. I asked about using wifi and she gave me a free password so I could use the wifi on my phone to check emails. This was a very nice gesture. Unfortunately, the one couchsurfer said she was out of town until the next day and the other one had not responded. I asked again where that hostel was as I was going to walk to it and see if they knew where another hostel might be. It was now 11:00 and I had no idea where I would lay my head. For some reason I was not worried. I knew I would figure something out. I also considered taking a bus to the airport and sleeping there, but learned that the airport was a long ways from Stockholm. The only thing I had come up with is staying at a 7-11 all night. That obviously was a worst case-scenario type thing.
I walked about a 1/4 mile to the hostel and they gave me a list of hostels and a phone to use. They told me everyone they had called tonight was full and were not optimistic I would find anything. The people working there were very nice. I called 4 of the 6 hostels before finding one that had a vacancy. There were also another 8 or so that were for sure full already. This hostel was called the red boat and was actually a boat. I thought that sounded pretty cool and I looked forward to the experience. The cost for these Swedish hostels however were like the Norwegian ones in cost. 240 kroners a night which is like $50. All the hostels were like this not just the ones on boats. The lady working there said how stupid can I be. We just got a vacancy and have a room. I ask her to show me the room and it was ok and actually cheaper than the hostel I was going to, but I decided to go to the boat. The lady had said the boat hostel is typically quite quiet and I really wanted some sleep.
The people said I should take a taxi or it can be walked, but it is a long ways. It is cool in hostels as they are always more positive and say things are walkable that in a hotel would probably say it is too far to walk.
I started walking and saw there were lots of drunks out on this Friday night. I saw a guy peeing by the side of the road and a woman doing the same thing near a car. I sure hoped these drunks were not going to the boat. I still think Europeans would be better off having more toilets. They have all these social programs, but when it comes to the toilets, you are on your own. That is why there are so many subways that smell like pee and other places as well. I never sit my backpack down anywhere near a wall as there is a good chance not so long ago someone had pissed there. It is probably is not as bad as I describe here, but it is a problem.
I had walked about 40 minutes and finally made it to the red boat hostel. I went in and was impressed by how it looked inside. I gave them my name and money and they gave me a room. The place I stayed was actually on the adjacent boat. I walked around the exterior of the boat and down into my cabin. As you might expect everything was very narrow as was the cabin itself where four beds were found. Two of the four beds had occupants at this time which was around 12:45. Behind the beds next to the entrance were 4 compartments for luggage, which was great and allowed for great organization of luggage. At the end of the room there were portals to see out over the water. I really liked this hostel. I went upstairs to brush my teeth and then came back downstairs and hit the bed. The water outside the portal window was about 6 feet below the window and you could hear the water lap against the side of the boat. I fell fast asleep even though I had drank 3 cups of coffee on the train there. I actually noticed my hands shaking a little after the 3 cup although not once did I ever feel nervous. Good night from the waters of Stockholm, Sweden. Am I really in Stockholm? I thought that place only existed on a map. I thought about how cool this trip is and wondered what life will be like for me, when I return to the real world. I only wondered about it however, never worrying. I fell fast asleep with a smile on my face and the sound of gently lapping waves in my ears.