Thursday, October 25, 2007

Leaving Narvick, Bergen, Oslo, and Amsterdam

After spending the night in Narvik I was off to Olso, in southern Norway. I left at 7am in the morning, and took a 6 hour bus to Bodo, which had so many stops I could not have covered more than 100 miles. My next leg was a 7 hour train from Bodo to Trondheim. I arrived at Trondheim at 4 pm and had 5 hours until my train left at 9pm for Olso which would arrive the next morning. With the time that I had I decided to do a hike up the mountain right outside of Trondheim. It was not a spectacular mountain, but it was covered with moss, curvacious boulders and shrubs. After about an hour and a half hike to the top I headed back down to town and bought diner and then headed to the train station. Because I was too cheap to get the sleeper train car my night was spent in an uncomfortable recliner with an inflatable pillow that would not hold any air.

After arriving to Oslo I went to UseIt, a youth travel agency. I was hoping they would find me a hostel with a social environment, but instead I ended up at a 60 year old man's apartment which he shared with his friendly dog. The lady at UseIt told me the hostels were full, but I think she may have wanted to just make fewer phone calls. After getting settled I went to get dinner at a local deli and see what the city had to offer. It turns out that it offered more than I wanted, since after about 10 pm the black prostitutes start looking for men to seduce. It took me off gaurd for a while since I was in the city center, but it seemed like it was a common occurence in this city so I just accepted it as daily life in Oslo. The following day I decided to visit two attractions the Vikingshiphuset and the Vigelandsparken. The Viking Ship Museum consists mainly of 3 oak ships that were found in Oslo in the 20th century that had been use viking king's tombs. I am not sure but I think the ships weren't ever used except for a burial vessel. I then headed to a the Vigelandsparken where Gustav Vigeland made almost a hundred sculptures. The one that stood out the most was a 50 feet tall grainite column with bodies flowing around it. A girl I met suggested the meaning was the importance of compassion, but I thought there was more to it than that I am not sure what though.

That evening instead of staying at the apartment again I decided to take the night train to Bergen. Once again I was on an uncomfortable recliner with an inflatable pillow that does not hold any air. I got into Bergen at about 7am and headed to the hostel. Since it was so early I could not get my room, but I ended up sneaking in and making breakfast. Later in the day I checked in and then decided to do a hike that a guy at the local fishing shop told me would be good. To begin the hike I took a bus to the edge of town to where a gondala carries people to the top of a mountain called Ulrich. The hike followed the ridge line from Ulrich to Mount Floyen. Walking along the ridge line you could see the entire city and the surrounding mountains. Thought it was beautiful I had a hard time having a great time because there was so much wind that froze my ears and the terrain was so rough that I couldn't walk very fast. After a few hours I made it to Floyen and then started my decent back to Bergen. In the even I just made a simple dinner and hung out with some other hostelers. One of the guys was from Chicago and we ended up playing Rummy for about 3 hours.

The next day I didn't do too much because I was so tired from the hike the day before. I slept in and then walked around the city and went to the Torget, fish market. It was quite interesting visiting the fish market. I was just looking at what they sold and one of the men offered me some salmon which was great. I kept looking and asked what this dark piece of meat was and he told me it was dried whale, he sliced off a piece for me. It tasted a lot like beef jerky except a lot more salty. I then asked what else do Norwegians eat and he showed me a dried eel, so then he cut off a piece of that and handed to me. Both the whale and the eel turned out to be especially good, though very different from American cuisine.

In the evening I hung out with the people I had met the night before. They were from all over the US a guy from Chicago, Wisconsin, Washington, and a Girl from Oregon. I even ran into the Prashanth, who I traveled with to the Artic Circle, but wasn't very excited to hang out with him because he turned out to be really weird up in the Artic Circle. After haning out with the other Americans for a little while of talking and getting each other's backround we went to a pub that was modeled after Americas 50s. Everywhere it had the bright orange plastic house items with the black and white checkered linolium floors and Elvis Presley playing in the background. I liked that place because it had the cheapest beer in town for about $12 a pint, but mostly because they had free popcorn.

The next day was full of scenic travel. From Bergen I took the train to Voss and then took a bus to Guadavan. Guadavan is the location of one of the tips of the fjords. I boarded a ferry that cruised through the fjords. It was like the Rocky Mountains had been droped into the ocean and only the top 800 yards stuck out of the water. On the cruise I must have seen about 25 waterfalls, which never seized to be spectacular. After about one and a half hours of being in the cold I headed to the inside of the boat to get warm. Soon we were at Flam, which is a city right along the fjords that has a train to the main railroad. After an hour in Flam I got on the train. This train ride is one of the most famous and steepest in Europe. It took us along a ridge line that over looked the valley that was filled with barns from the mountain farmers. At one point the train stopped near a massive waterfall, so that we could get out and take pictures. The train arrived at Myrdal, where I was going to take a train to Oslo, but could not go because Oslo had no hostels vacancies. I decided to go back to Bergen for the night and possibly try to get on a night train to Oslo.

It turned out that there were no trains that ran to Bergen at night since it was a Saturday, so I ended up just staying in Bergen for 3 nights. It was annoying since Norway is just as expensive as London if not more. It actually didn't turn out to be back, since I got to hang out with the fun guy Chicago and drink some beer.

The next day Chicago guy and I headed to Oslo. On the train we met two men one was from Seattle and the other from Alaska. They were involved with fish conservation and one of the guys was visiting Norway to buy I think millions of dollars of fishing sonar equipment. It was great to meet the guy from Alaska, since I had just finished the book Alaska by James Michner. We spent a lot of time discussing Alaskan history, the Iditorod, and the fishing and hunting there.

At Oslo Chicago guy and I headed to the hostel on the out skirts of the town that was very nice and relaxing. Again Chicago guy and I got some beer and played some cards and then headed to our rooms. In the morning I began my journey to Amsterdam. I had to get on the train to Copenhagen and had a lay over there until the train from Copenhagen to Amsterdam left. The train to Amsterdam was a night train, so I got a 6 person couchette. I probably should have gotten the 4 person one, since the couchette is about the size of a handicapped bathroom stall. To get away from the crowd I found an empty cabin, but was soon kicked out by the train conductor. I eventually made it to a free section of the train where there were no people, so I just relaxed and read.

I arrived in Amsterdam at about 9 am. I had a long walk to my hostel, Stay Okay, because I had only a crappy map. When I finally got there I found out that there were three Stay Okay hostels and that mine was actually a 30 minute walk away. I finally got to the hostel and found it to be very nice except for the 200 seventeen and 18 year olds staying there. The first day I didn't do too much except walk around. In the city square I found a group of brake dancers performing, that were very good. I didn't stay very long because I didn't want them to finish and then ask me for money.

The next day I did the free walking tour that a local company puts on. There were a lot of people my age there. I met a girl from Australia, another from California, and a guy from Alaska. The tour was 3 hours long and took us through the churchs, the Red Light District, and showed us the narrowest house in Amsterdam, which was only about 2 meters wide. No matter where we walked about every 5 building we would get a strong smell of weed, it thought the stuff smelled like crap. It was interesting that there was a church right next to the Red Light district. Most of the people thought it was strange because you had a church on one side of the street and prostitutes in windows on the other side of the street. The tour guide explained that it made perfect sence to put the two right next to each other because the men could go to the prostitute, sleep with her, and then afterwards go to the church and buy a free coupon to sin. So it turned out that this worked best for the church and the prostitutes. Half way through the tour we took a lunch break and I sat with the two girls and guy that I had met. I knowtice that the girl from Australia had a ring on that had the Christian fish on it. I asked her about it she told me she was a Christian and that she does YWAM in Australia. I thought this was interesting because Luke Kincaid and one of my friends, Russel Glass, from Auburn did YWAM in Australia. After the tour the group I ate lunch with went to the Heineken museum. It took us through the brewery process, and then to a room where we got to send video emails. I send a few one to mom and dad and then another to Sam Brown. They were the only email addresses that I knew. After the museum I went to dinner with Christina, the girl from California. We got some pizza and then a little while later the Australian girl met up with us.

We headed over the Alaskan guys hostel, so that we could meet up and then head to the Red Light District. It was quite interesting at the hostel, since it was a combination of a Coffee Shop and Hostel. At first you would not think that is an intersting combination, but in Amsterdam a Coffee Shop means a place to buy weed. So inside the hostel it reeked of marajuana, they had cheap beer and there was fun people there so it was no problem. We walked over to the Red Light District and knew we were there when we passed the windows filled with dildos, leather masks, strap ons, and lingerae. We kept moving and it was surpizing how much the Alaskan guy knew about it. It was as if he had read a entire book on it. He explained the process of hiring a hooker, the cost, and then went on explaining the coffee shops. After the stroll we went to a bar to get a few beers and some food. I then walked the girls back to their hotels and then headed back to my place.

The next day the girls from the previous day proved that they were not typical tourists in Amsterdam, since they invited me to see the bible museum. I wasn't planning on doing this, but it turned out to be fun and informational. It was great to see how I was provided with christian community in a location that was so anti-christian. After the bible museum we headed to the Van Gogh museum. I really had never appreciated art before this museum, but really was intrigued by his work. It all had a strong sence of emotion that came along with it. That evening I went back to the hostel and then chilled out and listened to some music.

No comments: