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Reports

Monday, 3 September 2001
Stavanger --> Bergen (N)

Well, I guess I really enjoyed a free and pretty lazy weekend. But today it was Road Trip time again and I hitchhiked all the way from Stavanger to Bergen, almost 200 km. The same distance as from Brussels to Paris, only I had the fjords against me in time. It took over 5 hours to arrive at my hosts apartments complex in Bergen.
After last nights beginning chat addiction with readers of this website, Geert and I actually went to bed at 6 am this morning. I was chatting away and writing my reports as Geert was composing music on his second computer.

Guess we are both night animals.

But it was easy to wake up at noon again, when the rest of the house was also very awake. I packed my back and had breakfast with Gry and Geert Jan.

After two relaxing days with them it was time to get going again.

Just before I left I handed over the Letmestayforaday-gift from my previous hosts John Are and Monica from Sandnes. It was a CD compilation with John Are's favourite reggea music on it. And as Geert Jan is quite a music freak, he will really enjoy listening to it!

Armed with a lunch package and a bottle of coke for on the road, Gry and Geert Jan waved me off at the main road leading towards Bergen.

But it wasn't that easy, I waited almost one hour before I got a lift from a man who had to drive all the way to Bergen around 2 pm. Lucky me!

Conversation in the car:
"So you are travelling around? I have heard this story about a guy who does that with his website as a point of travelling."
Thumbs up. "Well, that was me."

He had heard the interview P4 radio had with me, almost two weeks ago and really remembered pretty well.

The route to Bergen from Stavanger isn't really a normal route as you can see on the map. Here is where the big fjords go inland and where land meets water, a lot of times.

So I already expected a long journey. Eventhough I have a free Scanrail Pass, in this area are no train tracks possible at all. But you might have figured that out with the photographs of today.

My friendly driver took me all the way to Bergen and we drove on small main roads along different islands we passed, drove through tunnels and had some breaks as ferries took us across waters where it was to deep to have a tunnel and to long for a bridge.

The complete ride gave me great view on the area and I saw a lot of different weather combinations today. One minute we were driving through heavy rain, the next minute it was dry and sunny again.

We finally arrived in Bergen at a few minutes past 7pm and it wasn't that hard at all. I had expected a long journey, but thankful that the driver gave me the complete ride to up here.

Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre and was favourably situated in relation to shipping traffic and was for a long time the country’s most important commercial, shipping and industrial town. Moreover, Bergen became a commercial and shipping town of European significance and for a while, during the Middle Ages, Bergen was also the largest of all the towns in the Nordic countries!

It was not until the beginning of the 1830s that the population of Oslo exceeded Bergen in number. Nowadays Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, next to the capital Oslo.

My driver dropped me off in the centre of town on Kongs Oscarsgate, which was the street where I easily found the address of my host: Jacob Berstad Apartments.

This is a short term apartment rental complex, offering 21 small but decent apartments, especially for those people who are passing by in Bergen and don't want to stay in a hotel. Quite conveniant I must say.

I rang the phone at the door and got connected with Erik Berstad, who was at his home just outside Bergen at that moment and he gave me the unlock code to the complex and told me my room number. He'd come over in twenty minutes.

I walked up the stairs and found my room 304. The room is pretty simple and small, but has everything a apartment should need. A bathroom, a kitchen (with fridge and coffeemaker), a dining table and just one floor up was the living aka bedroom with some seats, a television and a double deck bed.

I met Erik not much later. He told me how he had got an email by the Bergen Tourist Agency about my project and it would be a good idea to have me stay in one of his apartments. It's quite fun for me, like staying in a hotel.

As it was almost becoming 8 pm, Erik told me he would take me out for dinner. And for tomorrow the Bergen Tourist Agency had offered to give me a guided tour through the city and probably the local newspaper wants to speak with me.

I am used with that last part, but the restaurant and the city tour was a nice surprise to me!

I settled my things in my room and we headed from the apartment complex to the restaurant called Dickens, just a few blocks away in the centre.

The Dickens Restaurant building once contained The Bergen newspaper 'Bergens Tidende'. It has two floors - or rather - a downstairs and a balcony where people can eat or just chat and drink. Plants cover the ceiling and the balcony is furnished with heavy chairs with the walls covered with shelves containing old books.

While I had Gryllspyd as my course (bacon fried king shrimps on a bed of rice), Erik told me about his business.

Jacob Berstad started a office furniture store in 1929 and the store is still in the family, with Erik as the third generation owner. The house above the store once were offices too, but got rebuilt into apartments a few years ago.

He first rented the apartments for long term renters, but soon found out that there was more interest for short term accomodation. Just because in the summertime Bergen is full of tourists from Italy, the UK and Norway itself and accomodation is hard to find. And like I said, a lot of people prefer an apartment above a hotel or hostel.

Erik is also very up to date with his business. He likes to run the furniture store and the apartment rental, but it should stay very simple. He is now in the process of creating a full automatic booking system for anybody who knocks on the door foor a place to stay. That means that he doesn't always have to be at the reception desk downstairs and he could spend more time with his wife and their three children.

After we talked about my project, he confessed he also had had a small internet success.

He one tried to get the office furniture store online as an e-business. When he could get his hands on a cancelled shipload of office chairs, he advertised in the newspaper with a webaddress and his telephone number.

Through the website people found out that the office chairs were very cheap, but instead of ordering by the web, most orders came in by phone.

And he made quite some money with that operation. When he wanted to try it again the next year, with another container of goods, the internet had crashed. Interest from buyers was gone.

But he still sees it as his own little internet success. He has been there and that will always be a good story for his kids as they grow older.

After dinner we walked back to the apartment complex where Erik connected me online as I was going to have an official chat at 11pm. It was very interested how people from all over the world were suddenly talking with each on the #letmestayforaday chatroom and it was interesting to have some conversation with them as we typed.

As Erik left the office to go home again, I spent the beginning of the night with writing reports and uploading pictures.

Next to that I was also busy on the website itself, but you'll see that later this month (I hope). (Oh, Ramon stop teasing my readers!)

Tomorrow another day in Bergen! Good night!

Ramon.




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