Posts Tagged ‘Bergen’

Sometimes the universe has plans for you when you least expect it. For me, in the last few years, it’s come down to travel and writing. In 2012, I went to Ireland to attend a poetry writing retreat with some amazing poets. In 2013, my friend Dan suggested I join his school’s tour to Australia and New Zealand. (At the time, I was thinking, “Why? I could just go to Ireland to write….”) But I think my soul was smart enough to kick me in the ass and get me going. Where else would I be able to hold a koala, see a dingo in the wild, and then feed a kangaroo at an animal sanctuary. Last year, I went to Saskatchewan and spent ten days with great writers at the Sage Hill Writing Experience. That changed my life as a writer, my mindset opened up and I’ve made amazing new friends who know what it’s like to love writing even more than people some days!

Dan and his wife, Michelle, asked me to think about Scandinavia and Russia this summer, so I’m writing this from Bergen, Norway. It’s 10pm, but you’d swear it was 5pm. It’s that whole northern European, midnight sun thing, and I’ve got to say that it is pretty darn cool to see. It makes you feel a bit timeless somehow, like you’re in a Dr. Who episode or something. (or…maybe that is just jet lag).

First thing to notice about Scandinavia….even just from hanging out briefly at the Copenhagen airport this morning….is that trolls are a very, very big thing. My sister, Stacy, asked me to bring her back a troll. I thought, “Yeah, okay, I read there was a troll store in Bergen…” Um, no….there are trolls in every store! One store even had baby-sized onesies with trolls frolicking all over them. There are troll fridge magnets, mugs, postcards, and even trolls picking their noses! It was, to be honest, a bit overwhelming. I couldn’t even pick a troll this afternoon. More on trolls later, I’m sure, although Moomins are also big here…

Bergen is beautiful. I arrived on time, and everything seemed grand, until I realized that my big brown flowery bag, nicknamed “Monster” by an Irish cab driver in the summer of 2012, had not arrived. This is, as my friend Alexis reminded me today on Facebook, the second year in a row that “Monster” has been delayed. (I feel a bit like a turtle without its shell…but the bag is apparently having a fine time at Pearson and will soon be on a Dreamliner flight out overnight. If all goes well, Monster will be here when I get back to the hotel tomorrow afternoon. Please God….my sunscreen is in there…and my rain jacket!)

Bryggen is an old part of Bergen. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Bergen was the capital of Norway. It’s all about the fish, and it is my intent to eat fish every darn night. (I also, though, want to try reindeer at some point….) Bryggen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for fine reason. There are a number of really colourful old wooden buildings that date back to just after the fire of 1702, although the footprints of those current buildings are much, much older. There are little wooden alleyways, all crazy and Dr. Seuss like, and doorways that seem arthritically bent into themselves, and tiny stairways that are totally wonky. Everything creaks. It’s amazing! 🙂

After a supper of soup, fish and cabbage with capers, Dan and Michelle and I went for a walk. Up high on the hill is the Bergen Cathedral. We wandered past the Bergen Kunst Museum, where you can see works by Munch (“The Scream”). Opposite the museum is a beautiful little lake with a fountain in the middle. It’s called Lille Lungegardsvann and you sort of feel, while you walk around it, that you’ve slipped out of time again. It’s so beautiful here….and I feel sorry that, when Dan and Michelle first asked me to join them on this tour, I said “What’s there? Vikings? I like vikings, but how many dead viking ships can you see before it’s too much?” In a day, I’ve learned that vikings are as plentiful as trolls, but that this place is much more complex. I’m looking forward to learning more, and to going out on the fjords. (Partially, I’ll admit, because I just like to say the word
‘fjord’ out loud!)


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