Wednesday, May 20, 2009

20 May

Well, today was travel day.  And lots of it.

Last night, however, was a great final evening in Oslo.  When I got back to the Hostel to make dinner the kitchen was totally full of German Architecture students from the University of Nürnberg.  They were making a week-long trip to Oslo to explore some of the neoclassical buildings and the new Opera House.  They were also making scalloped potatoes.  Nice.  I introduced myself and they were perplexed and impressed that I was studying German back in the United States.  As a result, I got to have dinner and drinks afterwards with a nice group of my peers - and practice my language skills.  I retired at around 11 o'clock in preparation for today's journey.

I got up this morning at 6:15, showered, and ate a quick breakfast before tramming to downtown Oslo one last time to catch my train.  Oslo to Bergen might not look like very far on a map, but the terrain covered is riddled with steep mountains, majestic fjords, and deep snow.  (Even in the summer!)  So the trip took about seven hours - not that I was staring at my watch the whole time.  The views were unbelievable.  We departed Oslo Central Station (in the east) at 8 o'clock and arrived in Bergen (on the west coast) at about 3 o'clock.  Our trip took us from sea level, to an elevation of 5000 feet, and back to sea level again.  About two hours into the trip, snow started to appear in clumps on the mountains along the horizon.  Then, after about three hours, we emerged from a long tunnel into a valley completely blanketed in several feet of snow that stretched for as far as the eye could see.  Minutes later, we had a brief stop near Geilo, Norway where I had a chance to jump off the train and take a few pictures.  I was obliged again a little later in Myrdal, after we had begun our descent from the mountains.  I have now arrived safely in Bergen.  The whole day has been surreal.

I am now sitting in the main offices for Festspilline Bergen, the international arts festival.  I met with my new boss, Per Brynning, and the artist contact coordinator for the festival, Kaja Jorem, and got my shiny "Festival Staff" lanyard, which will allow me free entry to all the exciting events happening over the next week.  There are over 1400 artists coming to Bergen from all over the world, and I am serving as a liaison to four of them.  There is also a large jazz festival I am hoping to visit.

Gosh this is almost overwhelming.  I still need to get a bus pass and check into my Hostel on the outskirts of the city before it gets too late.  I wanted to make sure I could get some good internet beforehand though... I'm trying to keep you guys up to date and coordinate some things back at home.

I can fill in more details later, but right now I need to scavenge some dinner.  Photos:

The shiny new Oslo Opera House

Myrdal, Norway: Junction for the Flåm Railway

Jumping off the train for a quick photo op near Geilo (sweet snowmobile!)

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