Scandinavia Days: Day 3 / by vanessa

Today I ate meat for the first time in a decade.  More on how that basically makes me a man, later.  Now, for my regularly scheduled Norwegian update:

Finally!  A full night's sleep.  I'm sure the Ativan helped.  (Thanks, Aunty!)  I woke up around 9:30 with the sun bright and shiny, exactly as it was when I went to bed at 11:30 last night.  We've been starting our days with 7-11 coffee.  Don't judge -- it's good here.  After coffee, I swaddled myself in preparation for our six-hour hike.  The thing is, even though the sun is out and it's June 19th, Norway hasn't heard that it's summer yet.  I put on two pairs of pants, two shirts, a scarf, my Patagonia puffy, and of course my Vibrams.  And then I walked out of the house and felt overdressed.  It was actually mildly warm, like say, 60 degrees?  Anyway, we got more coffee, (this time at a proper shop), and some sandwiches for the hike and got on our way.

Bergen is a coastal town surrounded by seven hills, all of which can be seen from the top of Mt. Fløyen.  To get there, you can either catch a tram and take it 1/3 up the mountain then hike the rest of the way, OR you can be stoic like us and just hike the whole thing, and then wish you would have taken the tram.  The truth is, it's not technical.  It's a little like hiking Runyon, except that it just keeps going up and up and up.  With only a little sandwich a piece, (the Europeans have portion sizes like the Japanese), we were worried that we'd need more sustenance.  At the restaurant near the tram stop, we looked for something.  Our choices were a sit-down meal or hotdogs from a stand in the tourist shop.   Havis got the hotdog.  I ate half my sandwich and pretended like it was really filling.   Just like Oliver Twist would have.

While heading up the mountain, I saw this mural on the side of the ranger station.  I thought it was pretty because it seemed like she understood how miserable the cold will make a girl.

The good thing about the Vibrams is that you feel everything.  The bad thing about the Vibrams is that you feel everything.  Including marsh.  My feet were soaked by the time we got to the top.  It had been three hours since we started, it was really windy, and I just wanted to get down.  So we descended quickly, taking as many shortcuts as we could find.  (I know -- that's terrible trail etiquette.  You're supposed to stay on the switchbacks, blah blah blah, but I had to pee.)  

And as it turns out, one of the luckiest things happened as a result of taking shortcuts:  we got hopelessly lost.  Have you ever been lost in another country?  It's kind of fun.  We ended up in a totally foreign part of Bergen and walked in endless spirals until we happened upon a few beautiful parks where locals were sunning themselves.  (Apparently they're under the impression that it's warm here.)  We followed our instinct down, down the hill and eventually we wound up in a really touristy area of town, which we never would have visited otherwise because, well, it's touristy and we're snobby like that.   Anyway, it was neat.  I was happy.

By the time we got home more World Cup was on, so we watched that and got ready for dinner.  First we bought movie tickets because it sounded like fun to see an American film in a foreign country.  We then headed to this hipster pub located in the basement of Naboen, an old people's restaurant.  After dinner we time to kill before the movie so we decided to go for a walk.   But by 8 p.m. it was winter again, and I begged to get inside for a drink just to stop the wind from cutting my face off.   The bar we walked into was empty, save for us.  The bartender looked at us as if we were lost.  He asked us where we were from.   We told him, ordered drinks and I headed upstairs to the washroom.  I was looking around and trying to figure out the bathroom situation.  There were three doors:  a white one, ajar with visible urinals and the block figure of a man on the outside.  Not for me.  The second one was painted in rainbow stripes and again had the block figure of a man affixed to the door, but this time the man figure was sitting down.  Weird.  The third door, also white, had a woman on it.  I chose that one.  When I got downstairs Hav was looking at me and then looking at the wall of rainbow flags that we missed on the way in.  The question about where we were from started to make sense.

So we finished our drink and trudged to the movie theatre.  Outside, there was a girl eating from a tub labeled "Bacon" in bold letters.  Wtf?!  Its contents looked like mini strips of bacon.  Wtf?!  We went inside.  I had to investigate.  Bergen theatres don't have popcorn behind the counter like in the States.  They have entire candy ROOMS with loads of sugary goodness, pre-popped popcorn on shelves, and yes, tubs of bacon!  Two girls were standing in the candy room eating the mini bacon bites.  I asked one of the girls what she was eating.

Me:  Is that bacon?
Her:  *smiling,* (Norwegians are so nice), *but also not answering my question* Here, try one.
Me:  Oh, no thanks, I don't eat meat.
Her:  *smiling*  It's not meat.

So I ate one.  They're F*CKING PORK RINDS with food-colored strips of pink on them!!  She smiled at me.  I smiled back at her.  I smiled chewing, chewing, chewing the fried pig skin.  I feel like once you've eaten pork rinds you can't really be a hippie.  I thanked her and then went to watch Iron Man 2 in shocked silence.