Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Counting down the days

This would ordinarily be a footnote.

Well, I suppose I could mention other things. Like the stuff that's keeping me rather occupied off shift this trip, the basketball (at which I still suck :P) and the foosball (at which I suck considerably less now, it appears :D). Or the brand spanking new PS3. And consequently the NFS ProStreet (that I like, but don't like quite as much as I'd hoped :|) and the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (which I definitely do like, once I managed to get a hang of the darned controls :D).

Truth is, this trip is definitely going by rather quickly. Not necessarily for all the wrong reasons :). Well, not yet anyway. So that's definitely a good thing :). I guess the real bummer recently was the Massa accident :(.

And yes, this is the time of the year when a bunch of things pass the four-year mark for me in a hurry. Yesterday it was this blog's turn... How much longer? It's not like I've never had the urge to stop. But there's a bit more to this than the mere narrative. The phrase withdrawal symptom comes to mind =)). So I suppose we'll just have to wait and see now won't we? :)

Currently: wasting time :P
Listening to: She & Him - Sentimental heart

Monday, 27 July 2009

Highs in lows

Good news isn't exactly what you would normally expect under the circumstances. But then, I suppose I have been a wee bit pessimistic lately, understandably though :). The only good thing with that of course, is that the good news feels even better!

It seems to be confirmed that I'm supposed to be getting off the boat on time!! Well, the usual caveats apply, as always :-<. But this is definitely looking rather promising :).

a little less apprehensive :)
Listening to: John Mayer - Clarity

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Another week's gone by, and it's still going by pretty quick! Although without much by way of memorable events :). With one strong exception, the whale sighting. The difference from the hundreds of previous times? See for yourself.I wish the light was a little better though! Too many blurry 'action' shots :D.

Due to a rather annoying turn of events, I'm back on a top bunk in a shared cabin for the first time since... Can't remember actually!! Over a year I suppose! Takes a little getting used to, the fact that the floor is a lot further away, when I'm crawling out of my bunk, having just been brought to a rather jarred and thoroughly incomplete wakefulness by the alarm right next to my ear (that I'm used to having at least a couple of metres away :|). At least there's more head-room and I won't be banging my head every day when I wake up :).

And here's hoping for miracles (the kind where things don't go all wrong at the last gasp) :).

Currently: floating, barely
Listening to: Audioslave - Drown me slowly

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

500, 20 and other meaningless numbers

Back on the boat. Almost feels like I was hardly away at all! And now life seems to present less to talk about. Naturally. It is the middle of winter here. And while that doesn't exactly imply cold in particular, the eternally overcast sky and the generally gloomy atmosphere does induce the occasional shiver. Add to that the unnaturally low temperatures in the instrument room :|. I absolutely definitely miss the Norwegian summer :-<. It is hardly surprising therefore, that I'm not posting any pics from here. I haven't taken any. Five days on-board already! Almost a week. With this supposedly a 4 week trip, it might be over pretty quick! However, I did say supposedly. And that wasn't just casually dropped into that sentence :(.
Went bowling on my last day in Asker :). My first time outside of a Wii :P. Was quite thrilled therefore to have achieved two things, managing one legitimate strike, and finishing not last in one out of three times :D. Have I mentioned? My iPod earphones finally decided to go phutt soon after I got off the boat last time, after 3 years of fairly loyal and rather hectic service :). Good thing I'd got one of those noise cancelling Sony in-ear thingies last time on the boat! Air-travel will be a little more peaceful from now on.
And since I now have it in writing, it is official, no office rotations for the near future. Said future spanning at least 6 months. So as it turns out, that last day in Asker will be the last for some time to come. How long exactly? We shall have to wait and see. I did leave a couple of bags with a friend there, so if nothing else, I will return some day to pick those up :). On the way out, managed to snap this. Turns out it covers the entire area I have ever walked to in and around Asker, the lake, the fjord, the office, apartments, pretty much everything...
I know, it doesn't look like much :). But I will miss the place. New places await I guess... I hope. Beginning this time when I get off this boat. For the twentieth time.

Currently: wondering if I should dare to hope
Listening to: Zero 7 - In the waiting line

Monday, 6 July 2009

A trip to Never Never Land

When I'd landed in Bergen, just shy of 5 days ago now, it struck me as a fairly spectacular place. And I had barely scratched the surface! I'm not sure if I've done much more in the 5 days since, but it is fair to say that this has been one of those trips that strips off the sarcastic cynicism that we almost invariably pass off as 'growing up'. To put it simply, it made me feel like a happy kid. :)
The dunking in the water at the course went quite well, actually, which was a relief. As was the water temperature. Seeing how I was done by 3 pm the first day, leaving me another 8 hours till sunset, I went walking around the town on my own. Bergen is unmistakeably a city of the sea. The fjord has fingers stretching into every part of the land, and the salty tang in the air is hard to miss.Add to that the apparently unusually brilliant weather, and I was greeted by people trying to soak up the sun in every little stretch of open air possible :). Bergen sees so much rain usually, that whenever the weather is even close to nice, the inhabitants flock outdoors.
The next day I finished off with the helicopter underwater escape training, which involves, amongst other things, getting strapped into a frame, plunged underwater and turned upside down. Then it was time for the proper holiday to begin! My plan was to stay with a friend off the Trident who actually lives in Bergen. What followed has to be easily the easiest to plan, most action packed holiday I've had yet :D.
As it turns out, I've never sailed in the North Sea, and first of all we went about rectifying that, in my host's small out-board engined boat :). Once that was out of the way, I tried my hand at kayaking. It was a very good thing the water wasn't too cold, 'cos I'd already managed to capsize the boat within the first five minutes :P. Thereafter, thankfully, it went a lot better. I managed a roughly 6km trip in the fjord without further incident. Although negotiating the wakes from some of the larger boats speeding by took a little getting used to!After a quick dinner and a bit of warming up, it was time to go watch the sunset from one of the islands furthest into the sea. Amazing as the start was, the next day's plan was really the highlight. We planned to head down the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) near Stavanger! Something I'd been hoping to do for years!
There had been a little back and forth about a couple of friends joining the trip from Asker, in the end we picked up one of them from Bergen train station at 7am, and off we went. Talk about last minute plans :D. It took about 5 hours of driving and ferries to get to the base of the hike. The signs all said so, but we couldn't see the famous ledge, nonetheless, we put on our hiking shoes and headed up.We were definitely lucky with the weather again. The views were getting progressively spectacular, with lakes hidden up high on hollows in hill tops and vistas of valleys below with a peak of the blue blue fjord down below every now and then. Yet, the ledge stayed hidden, so on we went.Then suddenly round a corner, there it was! The sheer drop to the water over 600m below!!! The word I'm looking for is breathtaking :). And maybe a little bit frightening :D. After the initial excited cautious looks over the edge, we settled down a little further in. Understandably, no one really wanted to leave :).It was pretty late by the time we got back to Bergen, in fact it was past midnight. We ended up missing out the entire morning after :). But the sleep was definitely much needed. And soon enough, we were off on yet another hike. To Lyderhorn this time, one of the mountain tops of the seven mountain walk. The view from the top was, as usual, spectacular.
We ended the day with a look at the guns on Kvarven fort and another walk around town. Ended up strolling through Bryggen, with the old, quaint, sometimes lopsided wooden buildings that make up one of the oldest parts of the city. The rows and rows of motor yatches and sail boats along the waterfront made for a characteristic picture of Bergen.
Finally on the last day, today, we went to have a look at one of the historical peculiarities of this area, stave churches. Made completely out of wood but for the foundation, we found one such, hidden away in the woods and the hills. Almost insulated from the hustle and bustle of city life that surrounds it. An island of quiet, dreaming away. Unfortunately, this one is a replica, the original was burnt down by a fanatic almost two decades ago.With a little time on our hands, we went off the have one last look at the city from above. The cable car took us to the highest hill in Bergen, Ulriken. Between Floyen on the first day, Lyderhorn and this, I think I've covered most views of Bergen from an elevation :).
Further proof of my perfect timing presented itself in these last two days. Yesterday it was sporadically overcast, but that helped by not making the hike too sweaty :). Today, however, the clouds were darker. And sure enough, as I settled down at my window seat on the train back to Asker, raindrops started streaking the glass.Of course since then, as we've sped on eastwards, the sun has come back out and the promised spectacular ride through the mountains has so far completely lived up to its fame :). With still lakes, steep moss covered slopes giving way to rivers and fast flowing streams and rapids, still steep slopes, but now covered with a patchwork of snow that has survived up to this, the middle of summer. And now we pass by lakes that haven't given up all the ice from the water and the feeling is almost as if summer never really touches this place.
Now it was just announced that we are about to pull into Finse, the highest station on the Bergen line at 1222.2 m above sea-level :). It is seriously cold outside and the sun seems to be fighting a losing battle with the clouds!! I guess right about now would be a good time to call it. The holiday is over. As I watch the wild trees, rocks, lakes, rivers, mountains and raindrops flying past, I am rushing further and further away from the joy of my days in Bergen.
I get back to work tomorrow, and then day after, it's back to the boat. But here is proof that a holiday doesn't have to be long to make you feel perfectly happy :).

Currently: staring out the window
Listening to: David Gray - Slow motion

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Point and counterpoint

As I was telling someone the other day, no wait, it was earlier today! Anyway, as I was saying, if I were to quit this job, it'll be because of the whole moving all the time thing. It's seriously getting on my nerves!! I mean, I don't even mind it if the place isn't exactly the bomb, just leave me be!!! But, as it turns out, this particular bit of travelling has gone quite nicely so far.
So I'm in Bergen now. Never been here before, but managed to rope in a sea-survival course, so here I am. The weather's really nice, so the first look at the city was pretty awesome. Of course, it helped that I had an awesome tour guide :). Looking forward to the weekend I'm planning to spend here. Not so much the next couple of days, that I will probably spend soaked in really cold water, making sure I'm still 'sea-worthy', so to speak :|.

Currently: really tired, and don't see the point of unpacking for 2 nights, without even a cupboard in sight :-<
Listening to: Massive Attack - Antistar