Norway 2011: Munkholmen

Today, once again, started with a lovely breakfast of bread rolls and apple juice and this time I made more of an effort to notice what else was on offer. Slices of watermelon, huge chunks of pate, pouring yoghurt in all flavours, rings of pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, muesli as well as the stuff I managed to notice yesterday.

I was at the jetty by ten, ready to get on the boat. The sky had cleared and it was warm and sunny. I had a nice trip out on a ferry to Munkholmen. It was the first boat of the day so the island wasn’t yet unlocked. It’s a tiny little chunk of rock out in the fjord, surrounded by unclimbable stone walls and only one entrance.

Inside there are little cottage-like buildings which were apparently prison buildings back when the place was a prison. I spent a very pleasant two hours circling the island (takes about twenty minutes to do a whole circle, even if you walk really slowly and keep stopping to sit on the picnic benches and look at the view. It’s miniature.)

I saw two Hurtigrute boats go out – one the big modern ferry I saw yesterday and one much more what I’d imagined. I saw oystercatchers (which make the most incredible whistling squeaking noise) and grebes (which make an “ooooh!” noise) and eventually worked out how to get onto the beach. It’s a little grey beach with shells and rockpools and it’s lovely.

Then I came back, walked through town a bit and came across my church. And behind it, Amnesty International were celebrating their 50th birthday and there was a band playing. I sat and listened and filmed five songs. They were great – sort of like if Them Crooked Vultures were Norwegian teenagers and had a trombone, ukulele and accordian.

Then it was back to the hotel for food before I went out again. I went back down the pedestrianised shopping streets where I came across a concert band. I heard the last thirty seconds of something nice, found a place where I could get an unobstructed view to film the next piece – and it was Colonel Bogey!

I meandered down to Ting again, bought my Moomin bowl (and will not be doing any more shopping in this country!) and then, since it was sunny, went back down to the harbour. Despite being surrounded by water, it’s surprisingly difficult to get at the fjord here. Everywhere’s harbours or marinas or in some way, the seafront is inaccessible. But down by the harbour there’s a lovely view. I sat on a boulder and took photos of Munkholmen, the fjord and the mountains until it started to rain – that heavy droppy rain that generally doesn’t last long. I came back via the Garden Hotel.

I intended for that to be all I did today but then I decided to go out again, this time heading west towards the hospital. It was founded 13th September 1277 and is bright pink. I went down by the fjord, or as close as I could get, then back to the river, across a bridge, along the south bank of the river. I met some ducks who are friendly enough to get out of the river and climb up the bank to come and say hello. I walked down to a pretty yellow bridge (I have now crossed every bridge in this city) and then I wandered the back streets and go lost. Not properly lost. There’s a limit to how lost you can get in a city this size. I found my way back to the main street and then went to the square to take a photo of the friendly lady statue.

Tonight I plan to have a shower (they cleaned my room today. Took away my towels. Didn’t give me any more. I had to go to reception and plead for some), pack and then go to bed. My plane leaves at 11.05am tomorrow. That means I have to be up early and be waiting for my breakfast when it opens at 7.30. I have my boarding card – there is a computer with printer downstairs, so I checked in up here, emailed the boarding card to myself and printed it when I came in earlier. I have even looked up the bus times. It leaves – from right outside the door – at 8.15 or 8.45. Now I just have to find out how long the journey is so I can decide which one to get.

(And also, that rash I had on my hands in Lithuania? All the way up to my elbows here)

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