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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Wednesday, 5 September 2001
--> Bergen (N) 3rd day

From John Alrid and Nikolai's place I moved on to the friendly Anna Margit, whose far away husband advised her not to stay alone with me. About life with a free massage, interviews, interviews, interviews and religion...
Nikolai woke me up this morning at 10, announcing breakfast at John Alrids place in half an hour.

Nikolai had already been to school this morning and woke up at 6, complaining smiling that his assistent Thomas overslept himself in time.

On the internet I answered interviews by email from newspaper from different unknow corners of the world that made me think: “Do people really live there?”.

It was Nikolai who had introduced my project with Sturle Holstad, who runs a massage saloon called Puse Rommet (Breating Room) in town. Assistent Geir drove me to the place around noon in the so-called company car (which was adjusted so that a wheelchair could be placed at the passenger’s seat) and during that trip Geir told me about him being an assistant.

It all started when John Alrid, his cousin, asked him to assist him to the cinema. From one thing came another and now he gets paid by the state to be an assistant.

“I am un-educated,” he told me, “And I am now getting paid even better than with any other job I could get. It’s not hard working, it’s more about being there and helping out with meals and housecleaning.”

“And it has it good and sad times.” A disabled friend of John Alrid and Nikolai died last week as he could not bring up any more power to live. And that came in as quite an unbelievable thing, a shock in their lives.

Geir dropped me off at the massage saloon, where I got a free 90 minutes full body massage, one I had never ever experienced in my life before!

While ambient music was played from a stereo on the background and a water floated down a stoney fountain in the corner of the room, all my muscles were brought back to life again, giving me the feeling like I was reborn and ready to start my ‘around-the-world’-project all over again.

After the massage I had to rest a while on the table and I almost fell asleep in this atmosphere.

I thanked Sturle for the massage and headed back to John Alrid and Nikolai’s apartments, recharged and full on new energy.

I understand why they have Sturle as their personal therapist, because he is sooo good!

It was later this afternoon when I packed my backpack again and thanked John Alrid and Nikolai for the really pleasant stay I had with them.

I walked to the carpark at the Grieghallen, the local music hall in Bergen, where my next hostess picked me up to take me to her home.

Anna Margit Grindheim is a librarian in a local Economic and Business School and read about me in the Aftenposten newspaper two weeks ago. She decided to invite me, as Bergen was not on my list of places-to-go.

(This list will not be updated anymore, but I am working on a possibillity to peek into the database to see the places I am invited in)

Anna brought me to her apartment in the north of Bergen where she lives with her husband Johnny, who currently stayed on an oil platform in the sea.

When she told him I would come he asked her not to be alone with me out of safety, so Anna had invited her friend Suzanne to stay for the night too.

Anna prepared a simple but good dinner with cotelets, potatoes and vegetables. When we were up for dessert, a reporter and a photographer of the Bergen Tinede (Bergen Times) joined in for an interview with us.

The reporter was, like all reporters, amazed with my simple webproject.

I told him about the fun I had with the American tourists and how I get overloaded with almost pledging emails from Asian people. Some Asians even want to get married with me to get out of – for example – China!

It’s always hard to answer the question ‘What has been the best experience until now, looking at the past 4 months’.

Of course, not everybody takes me microlight flying at 300 feet high, takes me to a celebrity movie premier or lets me sleep in their castle tower room, but that is not what this project is about!

I already get full enjoyment in the little things people share with me in their everyday life.

That’s mostly my main answer as I don’t want to rate or grade anybody who just opened their door to me out of simple hospitality.

And of course that isn’t always that interested for the media. They want adventure, romance… details, Ramon!

Well, then just wait for the book when I am finished travelling!

When the ice cream dessert was finished and the news crew had left I had a phone interview with Shannon from the Miami Herald in Florida (USA), followed by an email interview with the Times of India (read that great article in English!), with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, and one with the European male version of Vogue, GQmagazine.

And that is when I loose a lot of energy. Most times I get those same questions and my answers won’t be always that different.

I spent the rest of the night with Anna Margit and Suzanna while drinking coffee.

Anna was surprised when she suddenly received her Letmestayforaday-gift from John Alrid and Nikolai: it was a Norwegian translation of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – which made them travel the universe a bit more than they now possible can.

We also talked about religion, as Anne Margit is a christian person and I am not like that at all.

I see any religion in a most respectful way as a stick to lean on in life: it gives balance to many people and something to hold on to.

I am raised religious too, but I don’t use the stick anymore.

I do believe in a “there-is-something-out-there”, but I will find out when the time comes. Not now, there is a complete life ahead of me and I might only live that life once.

I slept in the guest room when everybody went to bed.

Johnny didn’t have to worry, because how would I ever get to travel the world and stay with total strangers who invite me if I would harm my guests?

Let me just dream about tomorrow…

Good night Bergen!

Ramon.





On the American radioshow www.TheWorld.org:
"Room to roam" (listen here)



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