Bergen

30 July 2012

Oh my heavens, my feet hurt. Forgive me for slipping into Bridget-esque lists, but I’m too shattered for full sentences.

Eaten so far (NB: port days are not renowned for their nutritional purity): one choc. muffin (v. small!). One four-bar kitkat. One hamburger. 2 slimline tonics. Walked: 50 trillion miles. Feet hurty level: 11. Aches and pains carried forward from yesterday: multitudinous.

Got up at 8.30am. Tried to find food. Surprisingly tricky for a cruise ship. The chocolate muffin was the sum total of my success and it was a very sad, small one that hadn’t risen properly. Waited on the quayside for our excursion bus. Everyone else had disabled reservations for the front seats except mum. Typical. Made a bit of a fuss and got her a decent seat in the end. Had a lovely guide and a very careful driver, which, even though seatbelts are compulsory in Norway on buses (which is nice), was reassuring nonetheless. They took us first to the Funicular which goes 400m up one of the seven mountains around Bergen (unlike other cities Bergen is not built ON the seven hills, but BETWEEN them, which is MUCH more sensible). Our tickets as a group were pre-booked, so we queue-jumped the not insubstantial line of waiting people (halfway down the road) and up we went. It’s only a four minute journey, which mean it moves surprisingly fast, sedate it most certainly ain’t, but the view at the top is impressive.

Took some photos of mum with a troll (I definitely do not recall the one on the end of my pencil at school having such a phallus-shaped nose as the ones here), helped some other people take photos, ate something which turned out to be the Norwegian for KitKat and then back down again for the rest of the bus tour. Our guide was excellent – he speaks 9 languages – and his volume was set at a suitable level for everyone to hear but for me to get a nap at the same time. Passed the concert hall, described as “acoustically perfect”, but, by ‘eck, it’s ugly, and although they tell you it’s supposed to look like a piano, you’d have to imbibe an awful lot of hallucinogens to make that come anywhere close to reality (whatever reality you end up in).

When we got back to the ship, we split up and I took the free shuttle bus (see, they’re learning!) into town (from the container port where we are parked – okay, maybe they’re not learning) into town. Wandered around, talking photos of old buildings, historical statues and some very odd public art. The sun was warm, the sky was blue (it was about 20 degrees in the shade, very reasonable) and it was all very pleasant. Browsed several shops without success – the prices range from twenty quid for a top to a couple of hundred quid for the identical top in another shop. Ludicrous. But generally speaking, things were not nearly as expensive as I was expecting from what I had heard. Twenty quid (or 200kr) seems to be a default setting for pricing here. I found a wonderful stationery shop, and a small tin box I would have liked, but I wasn’t going to pay a tenner for it, let alone the twenty they were asking. Wandered through the fish market, which is an oddly smelly and unpleasant thing to have as your number one tourist attraction, and visited the old town, with its higgledy piggledy old wooden buildings.

There were several cruise ships in town, so there was a wide variety of languages and manners on show. I nearly got run over by a coach whose signs were written in South Korean! It is a very clean, tidy town, but the taggers still get through. There is even some chewing gum on the pavements, but nothing to compare with the black muck on Britain’s streets. If this is the second largest city (and former capital), I’m looking forward to the others – they’ll be tiny! My friend that collects silly/rude signs is going to have his hands full when I get back from here. Virtually everything in Norwegian either looks rude, sounds rude or is rude. It’s all quite entertaining. Am enjoying Norway so far. It’s like Alaska but with better weather and better public transportation.

They’re very prompt on cruise ships. Rehearsal in the theatre started at 4pm prompt. Two minutes chat and prep and the floor started to vibrate at 4.02 exactly. Very impressive.

Fell asleep at this point! Woke just in time for dinner. It seems that not everyone had such a lovely day in Bergen. Sandra and Tony took a different tour to us, which they found very disappointing. I felt bad about what a good time I had. I ordered steak, as did Dad. It came with four giant chips, instead of lots of little ones. I bit into one but had to spit it out as it was completely raw in the middle! Dad’s were raw too, so the waiter got us some “proper” chips. Ironically, the steak itself was quite nice. Travelled through a fjord while we ate. We travel through fjords every evening while we eat. The views are spectacular, but difficult to describe. Conifer forests and mountain peaks (not very snowy, well, it is July) stretch in every direction and every so often, there is a tiny cluster of houses near the waterline. How these communities would survive if Hurtigruten ever stopped their ferry service, I cannot imagine. They are only accessible by sea.

After dinner, we went to the show. Yvonne insisted we sat in the front row. The show was called Reel to Reel and consisted of songs from films. While we were waiting for it to start, they had a PowerPoint presentation of facts about films, such as the actors from Four Weddings and a Funeral having to use their own suits. Unfortunately, said slide show contained FOUR spelling and punctuation errors, despite being only a dozen or so slides long. Lack of attention to detail – like I said. (is this Quibble #5?) During the show, the screens were used to show a pre-prepared film to support the on stage action. It was very distracting and 150% unnecessary. Although the bit where some crew re-enacted scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean was quite entertaining. Yvonne found it hilarious that I muddled up Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but to be fair, it was a Dick van Dyke song, so it wasn’t THAT stupid!

Then we went to watch the ballroom dancers until they went away and the disco started. We danced til about 3, I think. Tomorrow is a tender port, and although Dan the Ents Officer says it might not be, so best to turn in, just in case.

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