Norway (first trip)
In the early part of March 2013 I was offered a job interview with a Norwegian offshore geophysical company. It wasn't what I wanted to do, but it was the first job offer I had. Plus they we were going to fly me to Bergen Norway for the interview. I had never been to Norway or Scandanavia and the interview would coincide with March break. At the time, I was studying hydrographic surveying at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown Nova Scotia. The town is small, like 50 people small, and the school is hard, like 80 hour work week hard. So the idea of an all expenses paid trip to Norway was a no brainer. I gratiously accepted and away-the-fuck I went.
I arrived in Bergen late on a Tuesday. My interview was set for the following day at 9am. I checked into Neptune hotel. It’s a nice spot right downtown Bergen, a block up from the harbor. I was too tired and confused to remark on the foreign beauty of the city.
Originally the company had booked my plane ticket for 2 days. Fly in, interview, fly out. But I had convinced them to change it so I would have 5 days to see Bergen. Seemed like a good idea, except for the fact that I was living on a very student budget, and Norway is very expensive. With this in mind I took steps to keep within my budget. Mainly I chose to buy a large chunk of bread and a large wheel of cheese, thus saving the rest of my money for booze and adventures. I would end up living off this for the entire week.
The following day I made my way by tram and foot to the company’s headquarters. The interview went smashingly well and I got some tips on where to get some good Aquavit – Norway’s national drink.
I spent the rest of the day wandering my way back to the hotel. Marveling over the strange but logically architectures and city design. Bergen is a city in a fjord. The ocean sweeps in and boils up against rising mountains. The city is known for it’s rain, but on this trip the streets and mountains were covered with snow and it was blue bird every day. It’s the kind of city where you feel like every breath is unique and your steps never get heavy. That night I spent too much time and way too much money drinking whiskey and aquavit at the Hotel Scandic Strand’s bar, the finest aquavit bar’s in Bergen and one of the best bar’s in Norway. It’s a place known for hosting book signing’s and rowdy drunken authors such as Gunnar Staalesen.
I spent days wandering the city, in and out of coffee shops and pubs, museums (because Norway is so progressive the museums and art galleries are free) and up and down the mountains. Watching the sun set over the fjord from atop Mount Fløyen felt like dreaming inside a cloud; the dark air crisp in your lungs like opium.
Eventually the free ride ended and I moved myself into a hostel in the city centre, on the waterfront. From there the liquor began to take over. I shared a room with a Spanish gentlemen whom I can’t recall the name of, but I do recall sharing many a bottle of wine and stumbling through the streets of Bergen singing songs with no words, laughing ourselves to bed. On my last night there I found my way to a local dive bar, a place called Garage on Christies Gate. The place is known for its live metal shows and cheap (for Norway) beer. I had managed to stay remarkably under budget and thus had a pocket full of Kroners to do away with. If you want to make friends quickly in Norway, just start buying drinks. You’ll immediately make yourself known for two things: being foreign and being awesome. Both will result in probably the greatest night of your life.
In the end I left Bergen, my heart heavy with admiration for Norway, and a deep longing to return. Fortunately I got the job and it would be the first of many trips to the country.