Sunday, July 27, 2008

Getting to Bergen, a second view..

The end of the trip was peaceful enough. We got a taxi easily, got to the hotel, discovered we were at the wrong hotel, but the right one was just across the road. M went over to register, leaving me sitting on cases. A good move, because the hotel is in two parts, and the part our room is in is right next door to the wrong hotel. Got that?

A strapping young Viking called 'Peer' came along to help with the bags. He amused me by running up the three high flights of stairs with all our bags. I stomped up, feeling somewhat odd, developing an ache in my chest. At the top I dropped my backpack, thinking it must be muscle spasm.

Our room is hot, small, and is really a loft, with one window in a sloping wall, so M's side of the bed is a bit dangerous. I hate it. But it's now 1am and too late to start fussing. I try to hold it in, but M says rather bitterly 'this is the cheapo hotel I booked instead of the much more expensive one our travel agent found', so I say 'well if we need to move [for which read: if *I* can't stand it] I'll pay the difference for a posher hotel'. Hmf says M.

I have a shower, unpack the minimum and fall onto the bed. But I can't get to sleep, because no matter how many puffs of Ventolin I have, I can't seem to catch my breathe. Suddenly I erupt into a major, violent attack. M sits helplessly holding my hand while I fight for breath between coughing and trying to hold the puffs of Ventolin in my lungs long enough to do some good. M has dug out his spacer, so at least I can use the 'rebreathing' technique, which is a life-saver. We look at each other, both thinking 'how the fuck are we going to find an ambulance and/or a hospital this time of night in a completely unknown city???'. Not a happy situation.

The attack settles in about half an hour, a very long half an hour, especially for M, who has to watch me go through it. I have always thought that one of the worst things about asthma is how awful it must be for people to have to witness it, people who care about you and want to make it better, NOW.

When things are calmer, and I can get a peak flow reading which isn't in the danger zone, we discuss our next move. It's a toss-up between finding a hospital, and taking a big dose of oral steroid. The tablets, at nearly 2am, win. I chuck them down the hatch, crying a bit, have another shower to wash off the sweat from the attack, and fall somewhat hysterically into bed.

I wake feeling pretty frail, but not wheezing. I take the next dose of tablets, fill up on my puffers, and lie around thinking FUK IT'S HOT IN THIS HORRIBLE ROOM until M wakes. He, the saint, goes out for coffee, because I really don't feel well enough to move.

After the coffee [and the muffins and doughnuts he thoughtfully adds to his shopping], I try another shower. Then we totter over to the other bit of hotel to the reception. I tell them quietly that I have very bad asthma and is there any chance of a room lower down? Three flights of stairs being a major challenge right now. And, hurray, there is. With very little fuss we stuff our bags with the few things we'd managed to unpack, and M lugs it all down two flights. This room is MUCH nicer, has three huge windows and less sun (because the window upstairs was sloping up the roof, and therefore is exposed to more of the sun). It also has a kettle, so I have unpacked the plunger I bought in Stockholm (for rather too much, my maths was wrong, dammit), and the ground coffee I bought in Bangkok. Tomorrow morning, multicultural coffee!

We've been out for an excellent fish dinner, to a restaurant attached to a major pub complex. The restaurant is named 'Wesser Steigl' and claims to be the most famous restaurant in Bergen. It was certainly a lot cheaper than other restaurants nearby. Our meal is slightly spoiled by an American woman sitting at the next table, who whinges about the heat 'My, it was hot in the States, and now it's hot here' (DER!!! It's norther summer in both places!!!!), the slow service (it wasn't), 'do they call this CHICKEN??' she said, etc etc. I was glad when they left, and I hope they heard my remarks about 'lard-asses' and UNDERSTOOD THEM.

We walked slowly through the main 'square' - part closed-in street, part grass and sculpture area - down to the fish market at the harbour. The fisherman are hard at it selling their catch. At 8pm! The Bergers (Bergenese? Bergen-meisters?) are out in force, walking the children, showing off their purrfect '16-years old and lookin' good in shorts' tanned legs, taking the air with a few fags to improve the texture. The setting of this city is nothing less than spectacular - a shining harbour, beautiful Scandinavian architecture - all of the old buildings kept in excellent condition - and very close by, a mountain range rising a lot further than Mount Ainslie! We can see a funicular rail running up to a castle or perhaps resort of some kind. We'll investigate tomorrow when we go to the Information Centre.

The city is incredibly clean (see below for why!) and orderly. I love this orderliness, it means that a bit of logic applied to our general Australian/Western understanding of what you find where in a city, will have quick results. M always needs a newsagent, I always want lots of cafes and the odd 'shopping oppurrtunity'. Although I am trying to contain myself to small examples of local textiles or crafts, or little prints of typical artwork. Ahem. Failed that challenge in Stockholm and Bangkok ... Bangkok, says she defensively, WAS a planned spend-up at the tailor, but. As for Stockholm, I am delighted with my Viking t-shirt, which has gone straight into service as an extra pyjama top for M; my Svensk national colours of bright blue and yellow boxer shorts which are very airy (ahem, sorry dad, TMI); our new teddy bear to be Sophie's friend, and the doo-dads which I am posting home tomorrow, some for us, most for friends. So there.

I am happily settled back in the room now, grateful for the extra comfort, the lack of wheezing, and the very good news that the daily temperatures will go down by 10 degrees in the next few days. The forecast is that by Saturday, when we sail off to the fiords, it is expected to be 18 degrees and raining. Yeah! M told me earlier today that Bergen is famous for, among other things, the highest rainfall per annum in these parts. I looked askance at the hot blue skies above us and thought a few evil thoughts about bloody amusing Viking gods toying with my equilibrium.

And so to a good book (a psychological thriller), some vanilla yoghurt, a few more drugs, and the happy end to a rather anxious day. M has tootled off, re-energised by dinner and two huge tins of Aass beer (heh), to a department store called 'Galleriet' which is only a block away. To buy a fan. I will lug it, uncomplaining, however unwieldy, however heavy, around the rest of the world if necessary. Smiling as I shove it into my bags, gleaming with pleasure as I tote it on my back and pay extra double excess baggage for it on every bus, train, camel, Vespa, whatever. I will even offload purrfume to make room for it.

He is my HERO. He returns with a fan. LUVLUVLUV!

PS: I bought a German patchwork magazine because M said he could 'easily' translate it for me. We'll see!

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