Well I’ve said goodbye to Norway and a happy hello to Denmark. I was desperate to make the most of my last day in Voss yesterday and do something fun outdoors. I looked into paragliding and whitewater rafting, but neither came into fruition. I have tried to book paragliding about 4 times over several different holidays, but have never got to do it because of weather conditions, as it doesn’t run if it’s windy and raining. Then unfortunately the whitewater rafting was running too late in the day for me to get back to Bergen at a reasonable time, so I missed that too. Luckily, there was a volunteer at the hostel organising a group hike, so I took advantage of that, as she knew the good places to go and it was free. Her job is awesome – she gets free accommodation and food at the hostel in exchange for taking guests hiking and chatting to them in the bar.
There was only one other guy on the hike, As the weather was bad and most people weren’t keen. Julia, the volunteer, who is from Germany, took us to one of the mountains by Voss, which I wasn’t daunted by at all. It didn’t look that steep or high, but oh my god, it was horrendous. The first hour was intense uphill, it just seemed never ending. Julia does it all the time, and the other guest, Ralf, lives in the mountains of Switzerland and is so used to hilly hikes that he was smoking cigarettes all the way up, and wasn’t remotely out of breath, while I was panting and heaving. I kept stopping to take photos, but really it was an excuse to rest without them thinking I was weak. In the rain, the path was quite slippery and my legs ached and I kept feeling like I couldn’t go on but pushing and pushing. It flattened out a bit in a stunning patch of tall pine trees, but then there was another 20 minutes uphill. My bad Achilles was hurting and I was getting dizzy from being so out of breath, but the view at the top was exceptional, not to mention the feeling of euphoria from overcoming a huge challenge. We walked across the top which was kind of undulating muddy pastures, and we stopped at a small lake for a while and drank some tea from a thermos. It was so peaceful. The journey down was much less exhausting but still a challenge. The rain had subsided but it was still very slippery and I fell twice. It was around 5 hours of brisk walking altogether, and I felt great afterwards, though sad to bid farewell to Voss.
I caught the train to Bergen, which was very scenic with mountains and fjords, and when I arrived I had a very quick stroll around the city. The bit I saw was really pretty, with a square and wooden buildings and a big fountain, but I didn’t go far as I had to catch the bus to the airport.
I have used a website called ‘sleeping in airports’ which someone told me about when I had to sleep at Stansted for my early flight to Spain in June, which was a horrible experience. This website said Bergen is one of the nicest airports to sleep in, and one of the reviewers described having been taken by a member of staff to a separate area with a couple of beds and a lot of chairs with plug sockets where sleepers could set up. So I had high hopes for Bergen airport. Unfortunately I had no such luck, but it was fine all the same. When I slept in Stansted there were probably about 100 people doing the same, but last night at Bergen there were only a hundful. This meant I could stretch out and lay across 5 chairs, and was away from the draught of the doors, and it was as comfortable as could be expected. I was very tired, so I think I got a good few hours, even if it was a bit disturbed. I caught my flight to Copenhagen very early, before the sun had come up, and took the metro to the hostel. I’ve bought a 3 day metro card, but have ended up walking everywhere today, as the city isn’t huge and walking is the best way to see it all. My hostel is called Sleep in Heaven and is in Norobro, which my guidebook describes as ‘the Brixton of Copenhagen’. It’s a cool neighbourhood, really multicultural with kebab shops and African dress shops, but it’s also quite hipster. There’s a massive cafe culture and when I arrived I had brunch in a laundromat that is now a cafe, but they’ve kept the washing machines, and there are books colour coded across the front counter and maps all over the wall. The coffee was great too.
I then (after walking in the wrong direction for far too long) headed across to Nyhavn to the Design Museum. On the way I saw the royal guards marching down the street with their rifles, and the big bearskin hats like the ones the Buckingham Palace guards wear. The Design Museum was cool – there was a room full of Danish children’s illustrations, which is a style I love. There was a lot of furniture, mostly sleek and stylish Danish chairs and there was a fashion area as well, with clothing dating back to the 1780s.
Not far from the museum was the Churchill Park, which was pretty although quite touristy. That’s where the famous statue of Hans Christian Anderson’s little mermaid resides, positioned on a rock in the water. Apparently a lot of Danes don’t like it, and it’s suffered some severe vandalism, but I thought it was okay, if a little underwhelming. I wandered round the park and saw some other statues and a church.
After popping back to the hostel for a bit, I went to see a movie at the Danish Film Institute. It was called ‘Every Face Has A Name’ and was about refugees. There were a series of interviews with World War 2 survivors who had gone to Sweden after they were liberated from concentration camps. Between the interviews was footage from the boats in Italy rescuing people in the Mediterranean at the moment. It was really moving, I had a full on cry in the cinema. There was a question and answer session with the director after, all in Danish, and I couldn’t slip out as I was right in the middle of the row. I think he said the film will be shown in London though, and if it is, I’d recommend it. It’s subtitled and a lot of it is in English anyway. It was a great film to watch.
So far I’m loving Copenhagen and looking forward to exploring more tomorrow.