I don’t know if it’s just bad luck or the higher powers punishing me, but I tend to find myself with the most unfortunate neighbours when I travel. The overnight train ride out to the west coast city of Bergen was no different. Instead of the “so overweight, the airline should have sold me two seats but didn’t so I’ll just take up half of your seat” character, or the “mysterious body odours from every orifice” character, I got the “exceptionally intoxicated within the last 12 hours” character. He reeked of stale booze and for my listening pleasure, he brought out his drumsticks and proceeded to rat, tat and tap a variety of musical masterpieces on his leg. Did I mention this was an overnight train? As the “musician” had finally emptied his flask and started to pass out around 3am, karma heard my pleas for justice. I’m not sure what this guy was dreaming about but all of a sudden his body violently jerked so extremely, it sent him a**-over-tea kettle into aisle. It was terribly entertaining and gratifying.
The city of Bergen is nestled between mountains and peninsulas that protect it from the ocean. Oil, textiles and fish being their main industries, I decided to take advantage of the third. The fish market at the harbour houses what I will officially claim to be the best fish ‘n chips I have ever tasted. At a measly 150KON ($25CAN), which is considered standard rate for food in Norway, if not a bargain, I was fully satisfied. The rest of the day I spent walking along the wooden fishing neighbourhood of Bryggen (a UNESCO world heritage site) and climbing to the top of the military fort to take a late afternoon nap on the grassy rooftop.
There’s something about sunsets. My favourite are the ones used to be seen from the beaches of Grand Bend, Ontario. Maybe because I spent many summers there as an adolescent or maybe because it reminds me fondly of my mother and my grandmother, but I can vividly remember some magnificent summer (and autumn) sunsets. I go out of my way to catch a sunset. This night in particular I sat on the rooftop of my hostel in Bergen and patiently watched the sun fall behind the rolling hills that divide the town from the ocean. A town that was bustling with thousands of people not 4 hours ago, is now still. The tranquility of the moment never ceases to rock me to my core. No yoga class can compare to the level of gratitude that is felt during this period of calm. Mushy I know, but there it is.
The next day I woke up fairly early and went for a long run around the harbour, through the Maritime research centre, around the city centre and back to my hostel. A short cruise through the fjords (huge mountains that drop straight into a narrow waterway with settlements only accessible by boat) and I was back on the train headed to Oslo again. Luckily this train ride was uneventful but picturesque.