Wednesday, 2 January 2013

nye bergen

After arriving in Bergen on the train from Oslo,  our couchsurfing host was waiting at the station for us with a huge friendly smile. It was so nice to be picked up and greeted by someone who recognises you instead of wandering around  aimlessly searching for someone you’ve never met, like some sort of awkward blind date meet up. 

We walked 20 minutes through the town of Bergen to a cute loft apartment across the road from an old church. Our hosts were a couple; a Norwegian girl who was a landscape architect and a Polish guy who was a kindergarten teacher. They were so warm and welcoming and had couch surfed themselves so they really knew how to make it a nice experience for all. We totally didn't expect a comfy mattresses, fresh coffee every morning, our own key to come and go as we pleased and home cooked meals . It was like we were welcome guests at an old friends house! 

Mai and I had hoped to do a Fjord tour from Bergen, but Norway was just so expensive plus everything was closed over New Year. We seem to be experts at planning! Albeit, we managed to see quite a bit without spending much money. Bergen  (like the rest of Norway) is absolutely stunning, surrounded by several mountains with cute cottages on steep streets and little boats in the harbour. Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway and is the centre for shipping and fishing industries. The area is warmed by the Gulf Stream so the temperature was actually quite mild and it wasn’t snowing (finally!). Everyone is super friendly and even though it rains a lot (precipitation average is  2,250 mm/year!), many people are fitness mad and you’ll almost certainly pass someone with the latest tights and fluro runners.

NYE worked out well because we had a little party with about ten people in this tiny flat. We spent the afternoon chatting about traveling while cooking duck and preparing fresh dips and breads!  The party officially started when the Polish vodka came out and others started to show.  We met some really interesting people; one girl was living up in Svalbard (home of the polar bears) doing her masters in music culture, another had just returned from worldly travels with her professional poker playing ex-boyfriend and one of the guys was in the Norwegian army. 

We were all involved in such interesting conversations that we only just made it to the local park in time for the NYE countdown. We took a heap of photos and enjoyed the fireworks display, they are legal in Bergen so people were lighting them in the street! Crazy!?  At the end of the night we went back to the apartment to drink more, and some of us Snus (tobacco in a teabag like thing you put under our lip on your gum). Since that was my first try and I don’t smoke I had a pretty big head spin and suddenly felt nauseous and found myself dozing on the couch afterwards! Haha 

We slept until about midday the next day (a good six hours sleep again). In a town that rains pretty much all year round the visibility was surprisingly clear outside. I dragged Mai up the famous fitness freak 800-step stair climb called Stoltzekleiven! Unfortunately for her, I don’t really know what it’s like to be scared of heights, ‘You’ll be ‘right’, I kept reassuring her. Haha.

Bergen was such a nice break; a great little city, NYE party and couchsurfing experience! :)

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