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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Norway - 3 June, 2004

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Bergen (Bratland Camping) N6021.172' E00526.130' 67 meters .
Bergen . . . .
Bergen (Hurtigruten pier) N6023.117' E00518.949' 22 meters 36 km
Finish Aboard the MS Narvik (Hurtigruten northbound from Bergen to Kirkenes - Day 1) . . 0 meters .

Total (BMW 330CiC)

5,486 km

Total (other):

1,870 km

Total:

7,356 km

 

Weather: In the morning clear, sunny and warm (15-20).  In the afternoon progressively cloudy, with full cloud cover in the evening.  Cool.

 

 

We spend the first part of the morning getting ready and re-packing our bags.  This evening we will be boarding the coastal express (Hurtigruten) boat MS Narvik that will take us from Bergen to the far north, getting off at the last stop in Kirkenes.  We will load our car on board, but we do not want to take all our stuff with us into the cabin, so we arrange things so we will only need to take the minimal amount.

 

This, along with breakfast, takes some time and we leave the campsite at 1000.  We are on the outskirts of Bergen, and it takes us only a short time to drive into the city.  Along the way, we pass through an automatic toll booth - no person to pay nor even a lane where you could throw in coins for the Kroner 15 toll.  We do not know how to pay the toll, so what to do.

 

The first job is to find a place to park.  There are limited places on the street, so we have to park in one of the multi-level parking garages which charge a fortune for a day of parking.  Then it is on to the information office to get some maps and to see if they can tell us how to pay the toll.  We get the maps and limited information on paying the toll - all they can say is to try at a Hydro-Texaco gas station.  We will look for the one they mention just before we drive to the boat.

 

It is now time for lunch.  We decide to check out the stalls on the pier selling seafood.  What an operation - the numerous stalls are groaning under the weight of the wide variety of seafood loaded onto them.  It is all fresh and some is even ready to eat.  Jacqui decides to get her prawn sandwiches, whereas Lars decides to go for a large sausage, sold nearby.  We then take a seat on the edge of the pier and enjoy or lunch while looking over the old buildings of Bergen.

 

And now it is time to explore on foot this old Hanseatic town, curved around the bay that forms the harbor and fenced in by the mountains that shot up from right behind the town.  We decide to not spend much time indoors on this beautiful day, but to just wander the lanes and alleys as they come upon us.

 

We pass by the famous Bryggen - the old warehouses on the quay - that have been so well preserved.  They date back to 1702, when they replaced the old warehouses burnt down on this spot.  At times we wondered how this old, crooked buildings can still be standing.  They lean over at strange angles, buckle this way and that way.  And yet, they still stand.  As we wander through them, we notice that the veneer of age has just made them even more beautiful.  Each one is unique in its own way, in particular the way it defies gravity.

 

We make our way to Hakon's Hall - a medieval building that was built in 1261.  We walk around the courtyard and look up at the tower.  We also take advantage of the clean (and free) bathrooms located there.

 

From here we retrace our steps, once again passing by the Bryggen.  We take the time to wander into a few more of the shops and into the back alleys that pass between and under some of the buildings.  There are even more old wooden buildings hidden behind.

 

We wander through the streets and after some time we come upon the cathedral.  We decide to check out the interior and are rewarded by an organ concert that is underway.  We take a seat in the pews and spend sometime listening to the music.  It is now getting late in the afternoon and we need to spend some time in an internet cafe.  We have some emails to check and some work to be done.  Lars may have to fly back to Singapore and KL for some meetings.  We shall see.

 

After the internet session, we decide to get some soft ice and drink and sit down on the pier and just relax and enjoy the city spread around us.  Tall sailboats are in the foreground, with their masts jutting up into the sky.  Just behind are the buildings that surround the circular bay, with the large mountains rising steeply up behind them.

 

But soon it is time for us to head on.  We need to get some groceries, fill up the gas tank in the car and make our way to the boat.  We take the long way around the other side of the pier to the supermarket, make our purchases and then load up the car.  Now the search for the petrol stations.  Despite directions, it was not as easy as it seemed to find them.  The map was poorly done for the area we went through.  It should also be recalled that we were also in search of the gas station where we could pay the toll from this morning.  Guess what, in the process of trying to find this petrol station, we went to far and ended up going through another automatic toll booth.  Then to get back to where we started from, we had to pass through the booth again.  Finally, to top it off, we just could not find the petrol station they insisted was there.  Well, we gave up trying to pay the toll - if they are going to make it that difficult and provide no information on how to pay, then it is their problem.  It is not like we did not try to pay it.  We finally find another petrol station, a self service one, which did not accept our credit card as we have no PIN for it (in Norway, they use PINs rather than signature).  So we used up some of our "precious" cash to fill up the car with petrol.

 

Now on our way to the Hurtigruten (or coastal express).  We have no problem finding our way to the general area, but are frustrated by the lack of signs directing us to the exact pier.  It certainly has not been set up for tourists.  Also, the pier is quite a disappointment - for a voyage described as the "World's Most Beautiful Voyage", it is not a very impressive start.  Not that we are expecting them to have a fancy terminal, but it looks almost like a junk yard.  I have seen freight piers that are much more impressive.

 

Anyway, we get there a bit before 6 PM for an 8 PM departure.  There is really no information telling us what to do or where to go (maybe they are more used to large groups with leaders who take care of everything), so it takes some time to find the right place to check in.  We get our cabin and are told to wait until the cars are boarded.  We get contradictory information on what time that will be.  So, in the meantime, we carry our stuff on board and get ready to load the car on the boat.  Then it is time to sit back and wait.

 

Finally at 7:15 PM, they begin the loading of the car.  As we are going all the way to Kirkenes and ours is a small car, we are selected to go first.  We have to drive up a ramp into the side of the ship onto an elevator that seems to be just large enough for our car.  With a jolt, the lift drops us down to the level of the cargo deck.  We drive into the boat and then undertake a three point turn so that we can reverse our car into the far, back corner.  And then it is off to enjoy our 6 day trip to the very top of Norway and Europe.

 

We will describe the boat and the journey in more detail in tomorrow's entry.  Before we depart we take some time to organise our stuff in our small, but comfortable two bunk cabin.  We have limited how much we have brought on board, so it is not too difficult to sort out and find places for all our stuff.  Then it is time to head up to the buffet dinner that they are serving.  It is a large and decent spread that should cater to most tastes.  A bit of everything.  The best meals were the buffets - better then the set meals where we did not have a choice.

 

We head up to the deck of the boat for the departure.  But we are delayed and just hang out waiting for something.  A tender boat that has been used to paint the side of the boat is idling nearby, waiting for the ship to pull out so she can be pulled aboard.  Finally, a taxi pulls up to the pier and couple frantically gather up their stuff, pay the driver and rush onto the boat.  We leave Bergen at twenty minutes past the hour, pulling up the tender when the hull pulls away from the pier.  We are now underway, but unfortunately the clouds have rolled in and covered the sky.

 

We wander around the ship for a while to get ourselves acclimatized and find out where everything is.  Then we retire early to our cabin for the night.

 

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