Like a Voss

I got up early to make sure I caught my boat okay. After packing up my stuff and making sure the apartment was clean, I went out about 40 minutes before the boat was due in case I had trouble finding it. Luckily, the little shop was open, so I asked in there and was pointed in the right direction. I sat on the pier and took in the mountains and the water and closed my eyes and had some meditative time. My journey to Voss consisted of 2 boats and 2 buses, and though I was feeling anxious beforehand about making all of the connections, it was really easy. I’ve thought that about all the public transport here – it’s really user friendly. I’ve lived in the London area all my life and still sometimes get the tube in the wrong direction or can’t find the bus stop I need. In Norway it’s more logical, for example, the big ferry I got on leaves 5 minutes after the smaller boats arrive at that port, so no one has to wait around for ages, even though the transport doesn’t run that frequently. A lot of the transport is wheelchair accessible too, though not all of it, which I would actually expect of Norway.

When I arrived in Voss, I had a hostel booking but no map to find it. I knew it was West of the station, but I couldn’t figure out which way west was by the sun as it was midday and cloudy. I took my chances on following signs towards Bergen as that was the opposite way to where the bus had come and found it before long. It’s called Hostel Vandrerhjem and is part of Hostelling International. I just dropped my stuff and went to explore Voss.

Voss isn’t a pretty town. It’s centre is grey and concrete, but it is surrounded by mountains and next to a lake. My hostel sits a little outside the town and it’s lovely there – quiet and pretty. I chose Voss to stay in not for the town itself, but for its proximity to a cornucopia of outdoor activities. It’s really dying down now, as September is hit and miss with the weather and the tourists are mostly gone by the end of August. It’s quite a normal, functioning town with department stores and pharmacies and hardware stores, but lots of shops selling outdoor gear. I stopped for my first proper meal in a cute cafe bar called Tre Bror where I had a bowl of soup (for about £9) which was warming and wholesome and wonderful after my excess of bread and peanut butter.

I went to sit by the lake and read for a bit, then decided to walk the circumference of the lake. I walked down a footpath, which took me past campsites and groups of young women orienteering and a teenagers playing volleyball. I kept stopping to take in the views, and once stopped to play on a rope swing I found hanging from a tree. I walked for a while, then realised it was impossible to walk the whole way around the lake as it fed into a stream which carried on from there. I sat on a rock and tried to meditate. The thoughts were rushing but mainly in a positive way so I just watched them come and go. It started to rain and I focussed on the feeling of the raindrops. It was nice. I walked back to the town and dropped in at the tourist information point to enquire about activities. I have a spare morning before I have to head back to Bergen in a couple of days, which will now hopefully be spent white water rafting or paragliding. We’ll see.

Back at the hostel, I met my dorm mate. It’s a five bed dorm, but as the hostel is so empty at the moment, it’s just the two of us. She’s from South Korea and is travelling in Norway for 2 months. She’s fascinating and we chatted away for ages.

I went on a mission to find some good Norwegian food for dinner, but the restaurants in Voss are quite ethnically diverse and the only Norwegian I could find was meat, and when I say meat I mean elk. So I settled on Mexican.

Tomorrow is another early start, as the hostel breakfast is rumoured to be great and then I’m off on the 2 day kayaking trip I booked ages ago and am most excited about out of the whole trip. This part of the world is stunning, so seeing it in a kayak then sleeping between the stars will be a dream.

I still can’t get over the prices here. In the hostel, half a litre of beer is £12.50 and a bottle of wine, Not even good wine, Jacobs Creek, is £34.