BootsnAll Travel Network


Up in the morning and on the train to Bergen. I had heard this is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, and it truly lives up to expectations. Tall stately green trees, deep blue still water lakes, farms and waving meadows and rocky promontories, gurgling streams, wild flowers, all lit up in the bright summer sunshine. This must be one of the most beautiful places on earth. The deciduous trees turn to pine steadily as we move west. The conditions within the train itself are decidedly different, however. The train is very hot, no air, and I am all the way at the back in the last car. I think the ticket girl has once again played Screw With The Tourist because I must have the worst seat on the train. It is one of about four total seats that faces the other passengers like an interrogation, and I only have half a window to look through. There are dogs and cats all over the car, little ones, big ones. I am very allergic to cats, and I start to feel my breathing turn shallow. I think about asking the conductor to move me, but decide not to. Two Norwegian women, one younger and one older, sit in the two seats across from me. The older lady places the plastic carrying case with her two dogs in it on the seat next to me, trapping me in. The two dogs look like a cross between rats and vampire bats. They start to bark. One of them takes a dump, smelling up the compartment. The lady takes the dog out, getting shit on her pants. The girls tell me they are getting off at a stop half way, so I look forward to this so that I can take the girl’s seat, spread out and face the right direction. Five minutes before they leave, the younger girl gets up and goes to the bathroom, one of the little dogs manages to get out and promptly pisses in the seat I want. This is some sort of cosmic conspiracy, and I would like to lodge a formal complaint with whoever is in charge. But worse things have happened before, I suppose. In a little while, the trees grow very sparse, then disappear altogether. Then, suddenly off to our left I see snow! Pockets of snow dotting the landscape. It must be eighty degrees out. There is an announcement that we are at maximum speed and up at about seven thousand feet or so in elevation. Through a tunnel and then again to the left there is a giant glacier, slumbering in the hills, presiding over crystal clear lakes and streams down below. The train stops, I get out and realize it is actually a bit chilly, not eighty degrees like before. I bask in the scenery, the absolute majesty of nature as she still is in the furthermost outposts of the world, as she once was everywhere. We get going again, I watch the cat a few seats back, she is mesmerized, her eyes dart everywhere, she mewls plaintively and licks her lips, she wants to be out there, out in the middle of all that. So do I. I spend the last hours on the train with a wonderful Norwegian couple, on the older side, who speak halting English but are a pleasure to spend the afternoon with. They have a summer cottage outside of Bergen and like the Rolling Stones. A legion of Japanese march into the train at one stop, then methodically march out again a few stops later, part of some tour apparently. I get off at the train station and find my hostel, then my room, and lying in the bed next to mine is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life, an absolute vision, just waking up from a nap. Her name is Lisa, and she looks Norwegian but is from California. She will keep me up all that night just from the mere presence of her next to me. I go out to explore Bergen, which is a truly charming little town. At its center is a fish market down by the harbor, and a string of rustic houses stretches into the background up on to the sizeable slope on the city’s northern flank. Here in the warmth of summer, Bergen feels like a paradise, pretty and clean and relaxed, a model community, safe and picturesque, meandering cobblestone streets and churches and scenic views, but I can just imagine how cold it must get in the winter months. The prices are once again ridiculous, as well. I hang out at an idyllic little lake in a park near the train station for a while as the sun drops lower in the sky, then go back for some World Cup at the hostel bar. I go to bed and try to sleep, unsuccessfully due to the beautiful girl and all the commotion (lights going on, people shuffling around, doors opening etc.).

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