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Intro

Hello. My name is Isaac Shabtay, 32 years old from Ontario, Canada. I have set this blog up to document my journey following Mark Knopfler’s “Get Lucky” tour during the spring‐summer of 2010. This is in much the same way I did for Knopfler’s 2008 “Kill to Get Crimson” tour (see the “Links” section), except that this time, I will be following the entire tour—starting April 8 in Seattle, Washington, and ending July 31 in Gredos, Spain. Similarly to before, though, you are more than welcome to sit back, relax, read and comment. All comments, positive and negative, are welcome. You can also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed (see links at the right‐hand side of the screen), so new posts become available through your favorite RSS reader. Have fun, Isaac

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day Off in Bergen, Norway (June 15, 2010)

Writing: 5:42pm, while waiting for my elk medallion lunch at a restaurant named Bryggeloftet & Stuene, at the Bryggen area of Bergen’s city centre. Reviews of this popular tend to be very good; pricey, but it’s about time I try some elk.

Oh, what a good day it has been so far. A perfect place to spend a day off.

Woke‐up after an unusually good night sleep. Weird, how come I slept here better than I slept in 5‐star hotels. Whatever it is that has been hindering my sleep recently has to be something mental rather than physical; I suspect yesterday’s brilliant encounter with nature did the trick.

(Or maybe it was just a lucky night)

I got my ass out of bed at around 10:00am, looked through the window and saw a mixture of blue (sky), green (trees), red (roofs) and other colors (houses). That was more than enough of an adrenaline shot and I was determined to leave the hostel and go explore the area as soon as theoretically possible, considering the constraints imposed by Einstein’s theory of relativity. I knew that my speed would be limited to 300,000 kilometres per second unless I go quantum, so I tried to be as close as possible.

Quick shower, quick dressing up; if you heard a “woooooosh” sound around 10:20am this morning (Norway time), that must have been me bursting out of the hostel into the crisp mountain air of Montana, Bergen.

From the hostel, it’s a short declining path to the bus station. Waited for a few minutes for the bus to arrive; it didn’t, so I started thinking—heck, it’s a 4km path in a decline, why not walk it? The weather is perfect, the air is clean… what other excuse do I need to get some walking done?

So I walked; and that walk made my day. I had to dig my camera out of its pouch and found it hard to put it back as great views spoiled my eyes everywhere I was looking.

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The pictures above were taken about 8 or 9 steps away from the bus station, as I was walking down the path towards the city centre. A few more steps, and I saw two girls coming from a narrow strip off the main path. Of course, a curious guy like myself has to know everything so I let my explorative mind take charge.

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At the center of the image, you should see a few benches; beyond them, the darker shade of blue that you see is… well… the sea. A bench in sunny weather with water at the horizon? are you kidding me? all plans to go have breakfast at the city centre have been postponed until further notice. I approached… and saw this.

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If that is not a perfect location to sit down and work on a blog, then what is?!

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I know, I know. I need new shoes, or to wash these ones. Thanks, Norwegian Wood Festival. Thanks a lot. Now what am I supposed to wear along with my suit, jacket & tie for the Monte‐Carlo concerts?

After a while, I got up and continued on my way to the city centre; I was hungry, and decided to return to that bench at the evening.

Writing: June 16, while waiting to board my flight to Oslo, en route to Hamburg.

The walk from the benches all the way down to the city centre starts with a steep decline. The views are great—the water, which only minutes ago seemed so distant, appear closer and closer with every step you make. Half way down, I heard the sound of kids having fun; a kindergarten.

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Once the steep decline ends, you find yourself at a junction: you can either take the short path along the highway to the city centre, or you can walk a narrow pedestrian path (adjacent to a bicycle path) along the shore of the beautiful lake you see in the pictures above. I suppose you could guess which way I ended up taking.

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The last picture is my own work of art, demonstrating the latest and greatest technique at “self‐imaging for idiots”.

The walk along the lake (?) was pleasant. Though not too far from the main road, there still is some noise isolation going on courtesy of the terrain and the abundance of trees along the way. You could tell, by the pictures, how perfect the weather was. The temperature was at around 18°C… Perfect.

Took me about 10–15 minutes to walk that stretch by the water; it then ended, and the disturbing sight (well, it’s not really disturbing; however, comparing to the beauty I was experiencing a minute earlier, it was) of construction sites. Lots of construction going on in that area and the noise doesn’t quite fit with the surroundings. A short walk through the noise and I found myself in a shopping centre, adjacent to the main bus terminal.

Good time for breakfast at a bakery (I think its name was Bakery Brun but it sounds too easy), consumed very fast as I wanted to spend as much time as possible under the sun. Exiting the shopping centre, you find yourself at the foot of a huge pool, with a fountain in it. Google Maps claims that the place’s name is Byparken, but, again, this sounds too easy. Bergen’s public library is right nearby; lots of grass to sit on, and young students sitting on it. Benches surround that wonderful pool; I killed at least an hour and a half there.

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I decided to go sit at some cafe. Cafe Aura, located in a nice walkway right at the city centre, had good reviews so I decided to check it out. Go there; excellent for light meals and superb cappuccino. They also had a patio, but with that weather… no chance in getting a table. It was jam‐packed; inside, though, it was empty. I guess everybody wanted to spend time in the sun.

I stayed there for a long time, working on June 14’s blog post and uploading it. Yes, it takes time to write the nonsense that I do—I would estimate it in two hours or so per post, including choosing the pictures to attach which often takes time. I mentioned before that I am not editing anything; well, even if I wanted too, I wouldn’t have time for it. I’ll delegate the editing task to your own brains.

Right next—a visit to the city centre’s touristic area.

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Rammstein, a German band well‐known for their superb talent of playing garbage and selling it as “music”, had a concert in Bergen later that day so the pubs were jammed with people wearing black T‐shirts, each bearing its own attention‐hungry image / slogan / both. Other tourists also flocked the touristic areas by the hundreds… very busy day. Oh, I much prefer the peace and quiet up the hill in Montana; I decided to not spend too much time at the city centre—not before taking a few pictures while wandering around.

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The photos above, with the colourful buildings, are of an area in Bergen called Bryggen—a UNESCO world‐heritage site. Quite the picturesque area, so I took a few photos from all sorts of viewing angles, including from across the harbour.

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During the trip around the touristic area, I became hungry and decided to pay a visit to a restaurant that appeared to be quite popular and received very good reviews—Bryggeloftet & Stuene Restaurant, in Bryggen (one of those nicely‐painted houses). Interesting menu; expensive, but not too much considering that this is, after all, a touristic area ($) in Bergen ($$), in Norway ($$$). An elk medallion plus a few vegetables (by the way, elk meat goes very well with apricots. At first I thought WTF; but it actually does wonders) hit the spot quite well (and the wallet, too). Would I recommend it? Yes. Very good food—but don’t come starving expecting to get stuffed. The dishes are small, but big enough to bring one out of a state of hunger into the “comfort zone”.

I had read over the Internet that Bergen locals claim that Dolly Pimple’s, a local pizza chain, sells the best pizza in Bergen. Oh well, that deserved looking into, which I did. Rubbish. Don’t go there, it would give you an incorrect idea of the concept of “pizza”. Someone should write to them and tell them that pizza is a bit more than random dough covered with red sauce and cheese. It needs love.

It was about 6:00pm when I decided to start making my way back to the hostel. Same deal as in the morning—I considered the bus (well, walking to the hostel would mean walking some serious incline), but something, again, held me back and I decided to walk.

Once again, that decision proved to be a wise one; even wiser than the decision to walk in the morning. While walking the same route I took in the morning, past the wonderful lake, I suddenly noticed a gondola approaching a trapezoid‐like facility that was located about 20 metres away from me.

I looked at the sky: clear blue. I breathed the air: crisp. I looked at where the gondola came from: pretty high. Now, I’m no genius but still I couldn’t resist. It cost about $20 for a roundtrip ticket: About an hour and a half prior to closing, it was still bright daylight and traffic on the gondola was nonexistent. On my way up, I was by myself.

A gorgeous, peaceful 5 minute ride to the top. There’s a restaurant there, a small kiosk, and then you get out to the open air…

… And then you know that you have arrived at the right place. I took my camera out and I couldn’t stop taking pictures until my camera’s battery died (coincidentally, my BlackBerry’s battery died at around the same time, and also the laptop’s. I guess something wanted me to go back to the hostel already).

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Up above… a quiet seabird.

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Walking to the right of the rock I was standing on…

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A few people were at the area, none of them really wanted to make any kind of noise. The summit where I was, is a starting point for quite a few activities—mountain biking, hiking, jogging… you name it.

Close your eyes and try to imagine being there at the top, under the sun, with cold wind kissing your face anywhere you look. You hear nothing but the wind, and the air you breathe is fresh and pure—no smog, no dust or anything of the like. The experience of standing of those rocks was spectacular; no other activity could compare to this (actually, there is one… but unfortunately I don’t have my guitar with me).

Thanks, Norway, for being carved so perfectly.

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And to remember that entire fantastic experience… I guess this one is a keeper.

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I remember it was a hot summer day in mid‐August 2002. After having lived for more than 24 years in a shoebox, it was my first solo‐trip away from home. Destination—Canada, for a job interview and a trip, to decide whether that’s the country I would like to settle in, now that my tour of duty is done.

I remember asking the receptionist at the residences of University of Victoria at Toronto, where I was staying, what is it that I should do next? I have seen Toronto; I have seen Niagara Falls. And now what?

– “What is it that you want to see? cities? nature?”

Back then, I still didn’t know. My girlfriend at that time (and up to very shortly after) would tell you that if there was one thing that is most annoying about me is my utter unwillingness to go on trips. I had to be viciously convinced to get out of my home, my comfort zone; being in Toronto—a big city in which you can never really get lost—was already a huge undertaking for me.

So, I don’t really know why I answered the way I answered.

– “I think I’ll try some nature.”

She gave me the look that only people who are absolutely confident in what they’re about to say, would give you.

– “So you have to go to the west coast; fly to Vancouver and figure out the rest on your own.”

Eh, Vancouver. Until just a week before, I was under the impression that Toronto and Vancouver are within driving distance from each other. Then I realized that, well, they were; but it’s a five days drive.

I remember paying a visit to Travel CUTS in Toronto and buying a one‐way ticket to Vancouver. My flight was a day‐flight; and as the airplane flew over the Canadian Rockies, about an hour prior to landing, I remember looking through the windows and saying “no way that this is real”.

I remember arriving there, somehow finding my hotel in downtown Vancouver. A few days exploring this wonderful city, surrounded by mountains and water.

I remember one morning; the last reason I had to hurry back home has been dissolved into thin air and disappeared after a phone call that ended in me saying “no” and her saying “so goodbye”. I remember looking through the window and seeing a mountain range; that was when the change took place, and I decided to burst that bubble; it’s time to see nature.

To be continued (maybe),
Isaac

2 comments:

  1. Scotty Bel Air, CA USAJune 16, 2010 at 11:57 PM

    Isaac,
    Thank you so much for the great shots of Bergen
    on such a beautiful day. I have never had the pleasure myself, but it reminded me a lot of the Traverse City area of Michigan.
    As Donald Fagen would say, "Where did you get those shoes?". Dirty or clean, they will not get you into the casino in Monte Carlo. You better get some new wheels. BTW, DO NOT MISS
    the Napoleon Museum when you are in Monte Carlo! Done by Bonaparte!

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  2. Good you liked Bergen, much prettier than Oslo. Bergen Airport was one of the few that where affected by strike

    ReplyDelete