LUTMAN'S 2017 NORWAY FAMILY/BIRDING TRIP

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Day 7. Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Flam to Bergen. The Waterfront Buildings. The Rain. The Funky Funicular..

LEAVING FLAM. THE DRIVE TO BERGEN. STALHEIM HOTEL.

We wake up in Flam again. I'm wondering what's the difference between this gull we're seeing and California's Mew Gull.

Mew Gull is not listed in the Collins bird book of Europe. I use Speaking Siri on my iphone to ask the difference between mew gull and common gull. Siri then prints out on the screen what it heard that I said. And that is: " the difference betwen google and common goal." So after correcting all the words, I learn that it is Mew Gull along the Pacific Coast, and it also occurs in Eurasia where it is called the Common Gull.  In other words what is the difference? NONE! They are the same species.

Sharon has read about, and wants us to leave the main road and drive up this windey, twisty road to a famous hotel. {I had read in the travel guides about this road with many switchbacks, beautiful views off the balcony of the hotel} So the challenge is on for our mighty Fiat motorhome. It's not too bad actually. The Fiat has a great turning radius, so making the turns is quite easy. But man I'm in first gear most of the time. {And I left some of my fingernails in the arm rest as we go around some of the turns, yikes!}

Here are some pictures from that drive.

A cruise ship came into Flam last night apparently. The number and quality of tunnels is amazing.


Here are a couple of the hairpin turns that Sharon shot. The first one is looking up the mountain, the second one looking back at the valley we started in and the most recent hairpin.

After many turns left, right, left, right (I was consantly scared I would meet a giant tour bus coming DOWN) and a few minutes, we reach the top of the climb, meeting zero oncoming vehicles. A tall, thin feather-like sculpture greets us, and I assume it is a congratulatory award for making it up. We high five and drive over to the Stalheim Hotel. Whew! There are big trucks and machinery near where I first pull in. We won’t leave our rig here, and take a chance on getting bumped into and dinged this early in our trip. These lovely hydrangias greet us. Or Sharon will tell you what they are. Petunias. Pansies. Marigolds. Hmmmm. Sharon? {Violas and pretty ones too. this is the Stalheim Hotel. The hotel itself dates from 1885 but the book says there has been an inn here since about 1700, where the royal mailmen would change horses. The hotel is geared for tours but the view is available to all behind the hotel, so we go outside for the view.}

Before going inside, we check out the view from the top, looking at the valley we started in. A common sight, all through Norway, is a living roof, consisting of some kind of grass in some kind of soil, often with some kind of trees (yes TREES!) growing on top. Like you see here.

Here is a better look at the trees growing on the sod roof of a maintenence building.


I love the colorful clothing the Norwegians wear, and here's a sample. Sharon loved the piece on the right. {Rick Steve's travel book said "genuine trolls sew the pewter buttons on the sweaters}


The Norway flag will forever evoke a nostalgic feeling for me. Can't wait for the 2018 winter olympics. At right are colored glass doodads with the mountains and valley as background. I have a strange desire to buy all these. I quickly move on.


Sharon liked these two displays, so here they are. {Wedding costumes from different Norwegian regions,. and if you can enlarge the next picture, the old trunk has painted designs that are repeated in the wooden screen above it.}

We do some shopping and after an hour or so, and after Sharon gets this nice Norwegian sweater jacket with really cool clasps {Like the white one in the picture only in black}, we head out again..

The road down the other side is meat and potatoes -- no sharp bends at all, just smooth high speed road. Hmmm. How does that work?

SHOPPING ON THE ROAD

It's time for groceries again, and we stop at a Kiwi store -- one of the grocery chains in Norway. I ask if they have camera memory sticks. No, they say, but over there is an "electric" store next to a Rema1000. Not understanding, but remembering what they say, we drive to the Rema 1000, and I see there's an attached, fully stocked camera and electronics store next to it.

I get a 64 GB card for about $80 bucks. I lost the protective screw-on lens cover for my camera some time ago, PLUS I have lost my lens cap, and I ask if they have them. "Yes," the fellow says, but after searching, reverses his answer. But he says, "We have the lens cap, but not the screw-on 67 mm protective glass cover. You can go to Elite Photo in town. They will have your lens cover". If you're confused by that, the lens cap is solid black plastic, and the lens cover is clear glass.

Then we go into the main store and get groceries (hot dogs, more cottage cheese, cherries, pickle relish, and then some different kinds of meat) and head out.

We drive into town (I forget exactly what town now), find Elite Photo. I park and go in. It's raining so I use my bumbershoot, having my camera with me and not wanting it to get wet. Yes, they have the protective glass cover, which is also a UV filter. Only, whoops, they are out.

We need to have 2500 kroner for our bird guide's help. I change about $1200 for about 8500-9000 NOK at a bank we found that works with real money (Imagine!), then we head out, looking for a place to park and have lunch. We find a situation where there is a nice hotel on the right, and an associated parking lot across the road, next to a lake, with almost no cars in it. I park, with a nice view out the front, but before we can get set up, a fellow runs over, knocks on my window, and just shakes his head. {There WAS a sign there saying the parking spot was for Hotel guests only (at least that is what we figured it said) but we figured we would only be there 30 min at most and there were plenty of spaces anyway. But immediately, and I really mean immediately the man saw us and came out. So much for trying to fudge the situation a little.} And I know what he means. "I nod my head," and he watches us leave. We find another spot down the road next to a pine tree, and have our lunch.

So time passes, and we pull into Bratland Camping, our spot for tonight, and maybe the next night. We check in, and select a spot that's supposed to get good Wifi, but when I go to plug in for our electricity, the housing to get to the receptacle is locked. I go back to the office, but the son -- the fellow I dealt with, is gone. His dad is filling in, and finds the key, but when I get the box open, I find that this is the first place that uses the newer, 3-pin connector instead of the older 2-pin one. So back to the office, but dad can't find any adapters to loan us. He says his son knows where they are, but won't be back for a couple of hours.

I plug one side of our cable into the motorhome, and run the long cable over to the box, just leaving it there. When the son gets back, presumably dad will tell him about it, he'll find the adapter, and plug us in. And meantime...

Let's go to Bergen! Dad has shown us the bus schedule, and it runs every half hour or so, and stops right across the road from the camp. Hot dog. We collect all our stuff and catch the next bus out. It is a strong rain that's falling, and has been all day. That's ok, I have my umbrella and Sharon has her parka hood, so we're good. We exit the bus and take the train (only one train line so we "can't get lost"). Sharon gets this photo of me on the train.

Finally the bus comes to the end of its line, right in downtown Bergen, but about two blocks from the waterfront, where the row of colorful buildings lives. This is the main reason I came to Bergen, for this photo. Here's what we get right off the bat, off the bus. You can't tell from this but it's raining pretty good. {It's clearly Spring here and their tulips are beautiful}


We continue to the waterfront, and take these great overcast-sky photos of the buildings that got me here. {This area is called Bryggen, the German "Hanseatic" region, the name for the German Union of merchants. The Norwegian fishermen would ship their dried cod to Bergen where the German mechants would market it to Europe. Norwegian cod provided Europe with food and cod oil which lit the lamps until about 1850. (The warehouses date from the early 1700's, now many shops but carefully restored using medieval techniques.) Over the centuries, many fires destroyed parts of the town, including 10 devasting ones. Each time the people would tear the rubble down, and rebuild over it, slowly moving the shoreline out. The foundations here, composed of debris from the many fires, settle as they rot.}


Here's Sharon, dressed for the day. And me by a huge catamaran. Did I mention that it's raininggg? We then head through the waterfront businesses and buildings. There are houses and streets going up the mountain face.


Sharon runs into a woman with an Irish Wolfhound. If you're gonna be a dog, be a BIG dog.



Sharon has read about the corridors between and behind the shops, and we set out to see what that is. Lots of rooms that jut out into the air, almost touching the next building sometimes. {These were all warehouses in the 1700's The overhangs here were the storerooms and had winches and pullies to pull the merchandise up to the second floor.
} Love the long angry fish and the white moose. {The cod, next to a well is a reminder that the economic foundation of Bergen--the biggest city in Scandinavia until 1650 and the biggest ciy in Norway until 1830--was this fish}

{The stone building was one of the fireproof cookhouses serving the line of buildings at the harbor.}

The other big thing we want to do here is to take the Fleibanen funicular to the top of the mountain, and we set out to do that next. We are sitting in the next to lowest seat, facing backwards (downhill), but I turn around and shoot UP for this photo. Great view of Bergen from up here (when it's not raining crazy).


Looking to the right, downhill. For orientation, if you were on that boat coming into the tight harbor and looked to your left, you would see the row of colorful buildings shown earlier.


(About 90 seconds later!) Let me tell you, it is RAINING like everything. The signs point to different cities around the world, with distances. That's Sharon in a huddle, with the strong wind and driving rain at her back, trying to blow her to, I guess, New York. {The funicular climbs 1000 feet in seven minutes to the top of Mount Floyen and was built in 1918}


We finally head back to the mountain station to wait for the funicular, and we are HAPPY to be out of that rain. Can you tell?


Here's a look down the funicular track on our way back.


We finish up, and make our way to the train terminal. There is only one train line in and out, so you can't mess that up. We enjoy our ride back to the train/bus intersection, knowing that we nailed Bergen, including the often-heard phrase that Bergen is the rainiest place around. {The Norwegian saying is "there is never bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."} With some help, we get the right bus to our camp.

After a short ride, we exit the bus at Bratland Camping, and find that the son has located the necessary adapter, attached it to our cable, and to the source and we have electricity!

Sleep Tight, Children,
Bob and Sharon

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