Over the past 24 (ish) hours I have traveled from Orlando, Florida, to Bergen, Norway. It has been an fascinating and exquisitely exhausting experience. During the flight I sat next to woman from Boulder, Colorado, and I felt like the universe was on my side ~ then Norwegian Airlines kindly informed me that they’d lost my baggage somewhere between Orlando and Oslo, and I almost missed my connection to Bergen while trying to file a claim. This is the balance of traveling ~ it’s a lesson in living in the moment.
When I landed in Bergen I quickly found Anna, who was waiting by baggage claim. We finished filing my claim for my lost trekking bag and asked the woman helping us where we should sleep ~ we had planned to camp but my tent was somewhere in the world other than Bergen, so we needed advice. She didn’t really know, so we asked the service desk. They didn’t really know but they told us how to get to the city center, so we bought our tickets for the train and made our way to the station.
At the station, we met Oystein, a man who was eager to help us figure out where the heck we were supposed to go. As we chatted, we described our situation. He invited us to come to his home, even calling his parents to ask if we could stay with them. Although this sounded like a wonderful option, we were set on exploring the city on our own a bit, and weren’t sure about possible parallels with the movie Taken. So we declined but thanked him profusely, and got his email in case we decided to go visit and meet his many sheep he described.
We got off at the last stop and began to walk around the city. The first thing that struck me was the openness of the sky, with clouds arching high and bright toward the horizon. We were in a narrow valley with mountains rising around us. There were so many flowers, their smell spilling into the paths and roadways.
We really wanted coffee ~ well I wanted coffee and we needed wifi to figure out where we would sleep ~ so we searched for a cafe. We couldn’t find a typical coffeeshop so after a while we walked into an eclectic-looking bar. There we met a young woman who exuded positive energy ~ after ordering coffees and asking for the wifi password (which we struggled with for a while until we realized the password wasn’t correct and asked again), the woman invited us to sleep in her attic. Again, I was blown away by the genuine hospitality given to a complete stranger. She told us that, if we couldn’t find somewhere, we could return to the bar before 1 am (when she got off) and go with her to her home. We thanked her, and decided to try to find the one hostel in the city before taking her up on her offer.
It took us a while to find the hostel because Google Maps doesn’t work as well without wifi or data. Our little blue dot often went in the opposite direction that we were actually walking, and we finally gave up on it. It took us multiple walks around the same area to find the hostel, and when we did, we couldn’t find the main door. We were surprised when a man popped out of the side of the house and invited us in. We got the last 2 available beds, and settled down to figure out how I would get my trekking bag.
After an hour or so of chasing after my bag, we decided to go walk around. It was already 9 pm and quite bright outside still ~ we walked around a lovely park outside of our hostel and into the adjacent neighborhood. As the sky darkened very slowly we were drawn to a cave-like opening and the sounds of bass and electric guitar. “Should we do it?” We hesitantly walked toward the opening, and finally got the guts to walk inside the dark and grungy corridor. Candles lit the pathway. We found two young women sitting at a small table. They asked to see our IDs, which we handed over along with a small cover charge, and allowed us into the cave. It was an underground concert hall. We found ourselves amidst the cacophony of a rock concert, with lights shooting and darting piercingly throughout the room. Mostly men filled the space, and moved only slightly to the music. The sound was totally overwhelming. At first it hurt, the music drilling into my ears, and then I found myself being absorbed. Fog rose from a machine on the stage and slowly filled the room. It felt like the world was on fire.
A fire alarm blasted, somehow even louder than the music. Young men and women wearing yellow vests herded us out into the street. The fog machine had set off the fire alarm, one young woman told us. We laughed as we waited outside, and soon were ushered back inside. We spent another few songs, this time wordless, absorbed in the music, then left in response to stomachs unused to the time of day being one for sleep, not food.
We wandered the city ~ at 11 pm there was still plenty of light to navigate by ~ finally making our way home around midnight. There we sat in the hostel’s kitchen chatting with other residents until just a few minutes ago, when I began this blog post.
It has been a journey completely counter to my plans, of course, as it must always be.