Thursday, 5 June 2008

Woo-hoo! Back at the Skansen Pensjonat!

I'm in the cafe at the Bergen library, free internet access! It's the big building close to the train station and shopping center, and the staff smile briefly at you and log you in, allowing you an hour at one of the eight PC's as long as you turn your mobile phone off.

Do you remember the emotional high you felt when you last got to to somewhere you'd been looking forward to after months of planning and checklists? I feel that same way now, I was quite choked up for a minute or two when Jannicke welcomed me back to the beautiful Skansen Pensjonat at 11:40 last night after I'd finally disembarked from the Newcastle-Bergen ferry and raced down Bryggen to Vetrlidsallmenningen with my fully loaded bike (wobble wobble).

The crossing turned out to be fine - flat as a mill pond, and increasingly hot and sunny as we got nearer to the Norwegian coast. I spent some time talking to Dutch couple I met yesterday who are riding from Bergen up the coast for three weeks on a Vittorio tandem they've had built. We spent an hour together sheltering from the rain under the small bike shelter at the Newcastle ferry terminal, which is the only concession to cyclists (we were smartly escorted back out of the terminal building when we tried to get out of the rain for a hotdog and a cup of coffee on arrival).

The contrast between Newcastle and Bergen couldn't be more pronounced - I spent nearly the whole day in heavy rain under leaden skies riding down the NCN 72 along the Tyne from the National car rental office at the Tyne Bridge to the ferry terminal. The worst part was struggling with the heavily loaded bike and the steep escalator down to the drain-like foot tunnel under the river, which involved several ferrying trips with bags and the bike and the ever-present worry that some part of the gear would be missing when I got back to the pile I'd left at the top. The lift on the Jesmond side was out of order, the lift on the other side was working but left me a little apprehensive since it's a small graffiti-covered steel box at the bottom of a deep shaft - I could see myself being trapped in it half an hour before the ferry sailed off to Norway.

Astonishingly, here in Bergen it is 28 degrees, they've had a month of sunshine (unbroken record dating back to 1951!) - so my carefully prepared wardrobe of wet weather gear and woolies is completely inappropriate, and still damp from the Newcastle soaking. I'm now down to shorts and my one clean shirt.

I've got a day to look around before catching another ferry tonight to Molde so I've left the bike at the Pensjonat with my 30 kilos of luggage. Annike got me off to a good start - she promised me last night that she'd feign ignorance of English today, so that I have to say everything in Norwegian, so my resolve is strengthening!

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