Test riding our bikes

We arrive in Voss from Bergen via train with a lot of daylight left, especially with sunset around 11pm.  We explore the town for a bit and caffeinate ourselves to fight the jetlag at a nice local coffee shop.  With coffee now in our system, we can start to figure out what the rest of the day should bring – some combination of trying out our new rental bikes that we’ll be using as our main transportation over the next week, taking a quick hike, and finding food for dinner.

We research some nearby ride routes, and find one that circumnavigates the lake right in front of the hotel.  The distance is modest, the elevation reasonable, and the temperature perfect, so we set off in a counter-clockwise direction.  We quickly learn of some unexpected challenges, so good thing for the test ride so we can be better mentally prepared for tomorrow.

The main challenge is the weight of the clunker – I mean bicycle.  Without exaggeration the bike weighs 50+ pounds without any additional snacks, jackets or cameras.  Turns out that cycling up hills with an extra 50 (maybe 60 or 70) pounds isn’t so nice on our muscles and our knees.  The road is beautiful and the views even more so, but my right knee is already quite soar and our muscles tired.  Luckily, I can raise the bike seat more and buy myself a simple brace in town – two easy, quick fixes.

Although it’s clear that we’ve been spoiled by nice, light road bikes with clip-in pedals and seamless gear shifting back home, these bikes won’t stop us.  The distances are all manageable and more importantly, the landscape is wonderfully distracting.  We are looking forward to getting back on the road in the morning.

Bergen really puts the fun in funicular

As weary travelers, we land in Bergen

Close to midnight with the land still bright,

With jetlag, the time is quite uncertain

So we find our beds and say good night.

The next morning starts before the hour six

Starting at an award-winning coffee shop,

And we’re excited to learn the city’s tricks

In this spectacularly mountainous backdrop.

An early ride on the funicular

Where we get to see the whole city;

And what we’ve already seen in particular

From way up here, look more pretty.

The fish market does astound

But not as much as the blue skies

Because though they sell whale by the pound

Apparently the rain and clouds, only lies.

(*knocking on wood*)

Our first stop in Norway ends with lunch

At a place with a twist on Norwegian fare

Pickled veggies and salmon, a true 1-2-punch

And the restaurant Lysverket has its snare.

Getting ready for Norway

Trying to find a book on Norway, I came across many of the history books that write of the many battles that occurred through the Viking Age and into the Middle Ages.  Although the blood and guts seemed exciting and although it is clearly an essential part of Norwegian history, I decided to take a different route.

Jostein Gaarder, originally from Oslo and a long time history teacher in Bergen, eventually wrote the best selling book across the world by 1995.  Sophie’s World, which is subtitled “A Novel About the History of Philosophy” tackles 2000 years of philosophy through the relationship between a philosopher teacher and a 14-year-old girl, Sophie.  Through this book, I obviously learn a thing or two about some of the greatest philosophers of all time, but I also get a sense of a peaceful Norwegian village.  One that is next to a lake and filled gardens and trees, so many trees that it becomes like a forest.  The village is safe and idyllic and she and her friend Joanna walk down the streets together.

Although from this book, I don’t learn the great history of the Vikings, I do get a sense that the Norway will be a thoughtful place full of nature and adventure, and I am ever more excited to go.

(Next book on the list: Growth of the Soil, a book that describes the simple life of a Norwegian man who settles and lives in rural Norway, stressing the relationship between characters and the natural environment more than anything else.)