I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Putting the 'fun' into 'funicular'

A nondescript flight ensued. Crap tea accompanied a passable ham and cheese croissant plus some juice orange in name and colour, but not in taste and presumably not in composition either. We all had our own entertainment - Loz's daughter was alternately excited by the outdoors and the iPad, Loz kindle fiddled, and I got angry at pinball. Why is my best game always the one as I'm coming in to land? Bah.

It was a pretty bumpy descent. Winds had already closed the cable car up Ulriken-ken-ken and we felt why. I don't mind a bit of turbulence but it turns out Loz really isn't a fan. Aww.

On the ground, I scoped out how easy a back-to-back turn at BGO is and discovered it would be trivially easy, almost easier than at Jersey, which kinda makes me annoyed I didn't book one of the double open jaw Norway-USA/USA-Germany flights I was tracking for a while the other week. Bah.

BA have their own gates here, presumably thanks to our awkward refusal to participate in Schengen. So there are passport checks right there, and we went through after a few minutes while Loz got some BA ground staff to retrieve his daughter's lost cardigan from the plane.

Through the terminal and out, we went to the car hire desk and picked up some paperwork which allowed us to go to a different car hire desk underneath a hotel a few hundred yards away. 1150 and we're in a car. None of us really know what we're doing. Loz hasn't driven on the right for a while and I'm navigating while we are ... distracted by some input from the back seat. There is only one moment where we almost crash as we head into Bergen proper.

The city centre is a bit confusing with regards where to park but we eventually find a huis near where we think we want to be, and get out for a day of doing stuff. By now it's about 1230, and raining, though not too badly. Unknown to us, we stroll right past the tourist information place and immediately spot the Floibanen entrance. This is a funicular railway from the city centre up top of one of Bergen's 7 mountains, our back up plan given the Ulriken fail.

After discussing currency strategy we settle on using Loz's commission free credit card, only to discover while attempting to pay for tickets that he's actually forgotten the bloody PIN. So I pay instead, and we get on a crowded carriage ready for our trip up to 320m above sea level. Ears have barely recovered from the flight and they get another workout, but 10 minutes later we are looking out over Bergen's awesome vistas.

Photos are taken and I get jealous of the people running. It's a stunning place to be, even given the cold and grey weather. After Loz attempts to explain to his nipper what he'd like to do, he gets an excellent "yes but it's not always about what you want, dad" response. We go into the restaurant, where sweet goods are purchased and (grudgingly) eaten. Pretty much as soon as we go inside, the heavens open in a big way. It is torrential out there and our timing is excellent because, being so windy, the rain disappears when we set foot back outside after finishing up.

A couple more photos of fjord glimpses and we find the children's playground complete with troll at the entrance. I want a photo of course, but there are 3 women taking photos of themselves in various poses. In fact they seem intent on each having a solo pic taken with it, then every combination of 2 of them, and aren't willing to pause their choreography for anyone until they spend 5 minutes agonising over the photos they did take... at which point a few people jumped in front of me. But finally I got my shot. It is unimpressive.

Our young cohort had spent all the time blissfully unaware of my misanthropy, instead amusing herself on the swings. But the weather was turning again, with a bit of rain and some bitter winds, so we set off back down the mountain.

Half way down, we stopped. After a couple of minutes an announcement was made in Norwegian, which someone prompted her to repeat in English. Turns out the train was broken, she couldn't fix it, and she had to wait for a technician to come fix it. We weren't next to any platforms (there are intermediate stops), but she was still willing to let people out if they were up to stepping across the gap and clambering along a slippery thin wall on a 20% incline in the passing freezing windy rain.

Surprisingly to me at least, plenty of people were willing to take that offer. It's a 20 minute walk back down from where we are stuck, and I see Loz and child leave their carriage. What? Turns out it's an emergency loo break, after which they just about persuade the grumpy driver to open the fence gate and let them back into my carriage.

I'm loving this and so is Loz. Disaster is not disaster and besides, I'm good at submitting to the unchangeable. An excuse to just do nothing for a while is great, and anyway I just like unforeseen things happening in my normally ruthlessly well planned travels.

8.5 year olds do not feel the same. This one very much wanted to get out and walk, down a very steep mountain in what is now fully apocalyptic rain, rather than be bored sitting in a train which ain't moving. Honestly the weather is so so shocking so Loz and I hold firm, until about 20 minutes in we are on the verge of relenting when, without announcement or ceremony, the train starts up and before we know it were back at ground level.

Someone is thirsty and has been promised a drink. More than one person, in fact. The rain falling at higher altitudes has the cheek to continue failing down to the bottom - we are getting soaked, and my decision to wear no waterproof coat, leaky footwear, and my least waterproof trousers is not paying off. Seeking out good liquids, we wander past McDonald's and a hybrid Indian/Spanish restaurant before my pub radar is called upon, and I lead is towards a sign I had the briefest glimpse of a few steps back.

What a cracking pub. Had a local beer which, I believe, was £8 for 500ml. Yowser. This kid noted the speed with which my drink disappeared: "you must really like beer!". I assured the precocious (and completely right) scamp that all liquids disappear at a similar rate, actually.

While there, I hunted things to do in Bergen that aren't boats or mountains. Turns out there are loads of museums including a Leprosy Museum - which I would have LOVED to go to - but basically everywhere is shut, either for the day or the year (indeed, until May). The only one which does not say it's shut is a school museum just up the road.

Just up the very very very very wet road, that is. We get totally soaked, again, walking past an excellently stereotypical poster for a black metal gig in Bergen. Heh. The museum is easy to find but we virtually have to break in through the gates to get to the door, which is shut because the museum is shut because. I presume, it's winter. I know it's off season, but, c'mon.

Back towards the water and a stop in McDonald's. I don't eat, but am told it's £8 for a cheeseburger, the smallest size of which they sell is a double, and that despite tens of happy meal balloons they don't do happy meals. Out of the window I discern that rain has stopped, so we can go do some more tourism.

The old town in Bergen is a UNESCO world heritage site, and thus largely made of wood. We enter the complex via the nearest corridor (beyond yet another shut museum) and seem to spook a peculiarly scantily dressed woman, who hurries off ahead of us. A few pics of wooden buildings are taken and the other two enter a fishing supplies shop, which is apparently an interesting experience. "Shitfisk" maybe?

We keep walking alongside the port until running out of Bergen, so head back. The rain comes back and with it a sudden desire for the loo. Not by yours truly, you understand. When do schools start teaching the value of the tactical piss anyway? As father and daughter nip into Starbucks I wait outside, and now the rain really starts. I still haven't succumbed to putting my coat on, but now have to resort to double bagging my head with beanie and hood. It is thoroughly unpleasant and I am having a fucking ball, as I have been all day and in fact as we all have, age related pico-tantrums notwithstanding.

We wander back round the port and see that the tourist information board is, in fact, closed. Of course it is. There's seemingly fuck all left for us to do, and I certainly cannot conjure up any suggestions. If I was on my own I'd probably have just gone back to the pub, or maybe tried either Scruffy Murphy's or the horrific English pub called "Three Lions" we'd spotted earlier. But I'm not alone, there's a driver and a child and hours to kill.

Proving my worth, I navigate us back to the car park with 100% confidence despite no map, and via streets we had neither driven nor walked before. I do like my sense of direction, and now so do Loz and his kid. We decide to drive towards the airport and then look for interesting stuff en route or nearby.

There's fuck all. The entire internet says all the interesting things near Bergen airport are in Bergen. So we drive straight past the airport and wing it. My phone says there's some kind of town on a peninsular nearby, but Loz's satnav app doesn't believe the place exists. Nonetheless we head down dark gravel tracks through unlit forests with bears and horses and stuff and end up in this tiny enclave of fjordfront houses and are impressed, bemused, and wondering just how Norse-Deliverance it might be around here. 

We bother the horses once more as we return to the airport via a petrol station where finally something is cheap: petrol. Then our finances take a massive beating as we retreat, 3 hours before our flight, to the bar in the hotel above our car hire return and pay ELEVEN BASTARD QUID A PINT for Norse lager. Time to go back to the glory of £4,24 a pint at home, methinks,

1 comment:

auswomble said...

snap! https://www.flickr.com/photos/auswomble/38369810