Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Short report from Bergen

Short report from Wednesday in Bergen:

An ordinary start. Madame le Princesse wakes feeling horrid. Monsieur le Hero Husband delivers breakfast filched from the hotel breakfast room, across the street. MLP slugs down her roids and returns to slumber on't until lunch time.

After a light but restorative meal, we both repair to Interwebs cafe, Tourist Information Centre, Galleriat shopping centre, and do our various tasks. M finds out so much about the cultural life in Bergen we are now racing to touch even the surface of what we'd like to see. I discover that MY size in leggings or gym shorts is 'Buffalo Bum', only sold up a dark alley on the fat-mamma side of town. The hefty side. I galumph my way out of the H&M store [the non-slim-teenager-with-waistline version of this store, for bigger but not bigger enough sizes] feeling like Godzilla's mother. Again. Like I did the entire time we lived in China, in 1998. And I was rather slimmer then! Just hugely western, tall and the proud owner of a ginormous nose. Oh well.. now my bum appears to match.

M met me just as I was about to nip into a Telefon store and try to buy us two cheapo mobiles. 'Quick quick we have only 30 minutes to dash back to the hotel, get changed, and dash back down to the Fish Market to get on the free bus up to Troldhaugen [where Edvard Grieg lived every summer, and did most of his composing]'. We rush cautiously up the hill (wheezes still evident) and manage to get back to the bus in time. It takes us up a very steep hill, right on the edge of the city and the harbour, to the beautiful hilltop location of Grieg's house, composition hut, and now the Museum/Gallery and a concert hall. We have time to collect a few postcards, grab a cool drink, and look around. M goes down to the water-line to see the cliff-side grave of Grieg and his wife Nina. I eschew the steps, going up for a short walk through their house. It's so small, but was very modern for its time. The rooms that the public are allowed to enter are only three: the entry way, a room with no clear purpose (perhaps an open space used as combined cloakroom, welcome parlour, and access to the kitchen?). This leads into an open area with a dining room on one side opening to the main parlour or lounge. The style is very simple - scrubbed wooden floors and wood panelling on the wall. The furnishings echo traditional Norwegian textile patterning and folk themes. The window ledges are full of summer flowers. The very beautiful young woman at the door follows me suspiciously around, because I am rummaging in my bag and I think she suspects I will try to take photos.

The concert, a performance of a soprano and an excellent accompanist, is a delight. The tall windows behind the stage lead the eye 'above' the music to a view down to the harbour, echoing the view Grieg had from his composition hut. It's extremely peaceful but dramatic, with the steep hills rising quicky from the sea's surface. The view now is full of homes peeking out from the firs, but in Grieg's day it would have been essentially native forest overlooking the water.

We return just in time for a supermarket run ('Rimi', which is very like Audi stores - low price goods and you have to buy or supply your own bags). Neither of us really wants dinner, but a snack of Roddebrott (a very nutty black bread), ham and cheese, and some fruit, is just the ticket. M disappears downstairs to have a beer, because at the supermarket we discovered that they aren't allowed to sell the beer on the shelves after 8pm; 6pm on Saturdays! AND in this entire city of 280,000 people, there are TWO liquor stores. [Do the Bergenese - this is the correct word for locals - have a problem with the demon drinkk??)] We are trying to buy some supplies to take on the boat, as we have been informed that booze on board costs a bomb. As the entire cruise costs several bombs we are trying to save on fuses, so to speak. I must haves my gin! Apart from any practical reasons, it is the only alcohol I can even attempt to drink when my asthma is unstable. And a bit of a tipple now and then can turn gwumps into smiles very effectively.

I am about to go to sleep, while M is having a major rummage through all his luggage, intent on getting us to a post office at the crack of the midnight dawn, to post our first parcel of goodies/unwanted bits and pieces home. Mostly goodies. but M accumulates brochures, newspaper cuttings and booklets almost as effectively as I sense a coffee shop in a 2 km radius, or find a purrfume sale in a fish market. Which I did, last night, but I didn't tell M!

Today brought to you by an audible sense of relief, eau de rain on Bergen cobblestones, and the aroma of the shampoo I had to use to wash the yoghurt off my trousers. And a great big happy heart because I had a fabbo email from my darling dorter, AND my dad.

PS: and WHOM is Dr Wombat, writing to my blog? Is it someone I know and should be able to identify? OR might it be the excitement of a second unknown blog-reader actually replying???? Btw, all you lot out there who I DO know, where are my replies? My witty responses??? C'mon, give me a reason to feel homesick!!!

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