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10 July 2005

wide awake for the burning

my fifth day in bergen and the weather had returned to rain, finally. it was nice to see bergen be bergen again. a very nice town, but relatively small. i'd enjoyed my stay there, but i was fully bergened out and ready to move on. my ship wasn't scheduled to depart until 2000, but i wanted to check in early in case there were any issues with my ticket. my credit card had already been charged and the two ships were operated by different companies; i wanted to make sure my card wasn't charged again. packed and checked out; milled around with ben, a physicist from hong kong studying in san francisco. slight rain and mist. ben was leaving tonight on a night train to oslo. down to the train station with him so he could store his luggage and then back later to buy his ticket. we ran into magnus and spent some time talking with him outside one of the many 7-11's in the city. said our goodbyes [thanks again, magnus] and walked down to the harbor to watch the ms nordlys arrive; amazing docking agility. back to the hostel, i met canut from norway and jeremy from oregon; spent a few hours talking with them, posting a picture of the ship on the site and making final preparations.

i knew food on the ship was going to be expensive. stopped by a supermarket on the way down to the harbor to buy some bread and sandwich meat; i had to navigate the extremely narrow isles with THE pack on. very tight. kalkun is norwegian for turkey. skinke is norwegian for ham.

down to check in. yes, that will be 3667 kroner please. i explained that i'd booked the ticket over the internet and had canceled my trip on the ms kong harold when i'd reserved a spot on the ms nordlys. my credit card had already been charged. call into the central office; code green. got my boarding pass [i make fake id's if you're interested]. boarding at 6pm. i had some time. i sat down in the reception area, made a sandwich, and watched as the other passengers arrived. from the looks of it, i was going to be one of the youngest onboard; the average passenger was 67 and german. up to the boarding area; stood outside and took some pictures of the ship.

at 6:15pm i noticed the herd begin to board. i waited for the initial 'we must be the first ones aboard' rush to die down [i don't have much experience with public transportation in the states; but i've noticed in europe that there is much frenzy associated with boarding and exiting any type of vehicle, some instinctive need to be the first one on or off]. while the herd took a left through a doorway, i took a right and walked along the port side to the stern, climbed a staircase to the next higher deck, and sat down in a comfortable chair. i had more than an hour to kill and so i began reading a book i'd purchased in bergen [d-day by stephen ambrose; i decided it might be best to use discretion when reading this on a boat filled with 67 year old germans].

the ship pulled away minutes after eight, right on schedule. giant swelling excitement to see bergen from this new angle; i imagined what it must have been like for ships traveling to and from bergen five hundred years ago. up to the bow, i couldn't get enough of the scenery, taking in the water and the mountains. it was at this moment that i felt like i was truly going on an adventure. although the hurtigruten fleet had been sailing the coast of norway for over 100 years transporting goods and people to the far reaches of the country, i imagined i was leaving on a ship sailing into the unknown, the unexplored, where anything could happen. this wasn't a cruise ship; it was an important part of norway's shipping system. i felt privileged to be aboard.

information and safety meeting at 2100. back outside. i stayed outside for the rest of the evening taking in the rugged coastline, countless jagged islands amongst the rising mountains. i'll try my best with my camera, but like many of the other amazing things i've seen while traveling, i don't think the photos will ever come close. when i went to the bathroom to brush my teeth at approximately 0100, i realized i'd been burned yet again today, this time by the evening sun. interesting the way a sunburn makes one tired; i imagine the body is expending energy to repair the skin. [?]

i was one of a handful of passengers who hadn't rented a cabin aboard; this meant i'd be spending my nights in one of the ship's lounges. i was preparing to go to sleep when the ship called at the first port on our journey, floro, at 0215. absolutely incredible docking agility. i'm always so impressed when watching one of these large ships slide flawlessly into the dock. i wanted to stay awake through the night but i knew the ship would be passing through the geiranger fjord tomorrow and i wanted to be wide awake for the burning.

posted by paul on Sun 10 Jul 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

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