In short: I am so glad I went! I have so many great impressions and memories from just 48 hours, it is going to be hard to boil it down to a reasonable blog-length post. So here it is, a (partial) chronicle of my rainy but wonderful west coast Norwegian holiday.
My trip to Fosnavag was about 21 hours door-to-door, and this was after working a half day in the office. I flew to Oslo via Copenhagen, then flew to Alesund, rented a car and drove two hours to Fosnavag. I checked in to my hotel about 5pm on the evening before the concert, which was perfect so I could relax and get over my jet lag overnight.
The ferry ride.
Despite the rain that followed me all weekend, the scenery along the coast was beautiful. I had to really focus on driving and try not to get distracted by the green fields and brightly painted homes, the mountain peaks covered in trees and rocks, and islands connected by narrow bridges. On the first day, my soundtrack on the car stereo was a playlist created with suggestions from some friends on Facebook, and on the second day it was the 'Beatles' movie soundtrack (which is awesome driving music!).
Fosnavag was interesting, but I didn't get to see much of it because I was there for such a short time. That first night I went out and bought a sandwich for dinner and basically chilled out in my hotel room after the long trip. I couldn't fight off sleep for very long, I was in bed by 9pm, and slept for nearly 12 hours! I had a large room on the top floor of a B&B, with tall windows facing the water. I might have been the only guest there - the Thon hotel has just opened and since it's (1) new (2) beautiful and (3) connected to the concert hall, it was fully booked - I never saw another guest at my B&B. I went down for breakfast on the first morning and had the entire dining room to myself. Talk about solitude. The owner welcomed me warmly and chatted with me, and when I selected my table by the window, she came over and lit the candle on the table for me.
View from the breakfast room (my room was directly above).
My day was wide open, so I went out for a drive. It was great to not have a destination in mind - I did intend to go through Flo at some point during the day, but wasn't bothered much about how and when I would get there - and I simply retraced my route from the day before, looking more closely at some things along the way and just enjoying the road. Generally I have a very good internal sense of navigation, but there were loads of twists and turns, bridges, tunnels and islands, and I was glad I invtested in GPS for the car.
I wound up in Hareid, where the ferry comes in, and decided to turn left and drive along the coast. Everywhere I looked were interesting views and all I wanted was to find a place to pull over and take some pictures of the waterfront and the distant mountains. The ideal spot presented itself - Ishavsmuseet has a large parking lot and a really nice view. I stopped and took a stroll around the buildings, took pictures, got rained on, and headed back towards Hareid.
Ishavsmuseet (and my cute little rental car!).
This lady has a timeless and beautiful view of the fjord.
I have a new appreciation for the beauty of mountains.
At this point, I had discovered that the shoe lace on one of my boots was just about to fray apart, so I stopped in a convenient COOP to buy new laces. And two CDs, because Tini :-) I also went into a few shops along the same street, and bought a couple of gifts and a little candle lantern for myself.
Next up: Flo! (please excuse the lack of proper characters, I haven't figured out how to do that on my PC)
Before my trip, I told a few people that I intended to visit Flo while on the west coast. Most people seemed to think this a bit strange, especially since the gallery and shop are closed during the week; what would be the point of driving so far out of the way with nothing happening there? I guess people thought there was nothing special about the place without the band? Only one person seemed to really understand what drew me there, that it was more about finally having a personal experience with a place I had heard about for several years, and would continue to follow from a distance. To me the place has its own magic, and it would have been strange to be so close and not go visit.
Anyway, the car navigation took me on a roundabout route through various neighborhoods before depositing me on the coast road to Flo. It was still raining steadily, and when I parked near the requisite pink tractor (which my father admires greatly, traditional Wisconsin farmer that he is), I threw on my rain jacket and set out on foot to look around.
Along the coast.
As I stood out there in the rain with only some mellow, damp sheep for company, it suddenly did seem a bit odd to be traipsing around taking photos on a rainy day - literally fighting the wind to keep my hood on and protecting my camera inside my zipped coat - and I found myself smiling at the strangeness of it all ;-) But I was glad I followed my curiosity, because now when I see pictures and read stories from Flo and the gallery and the summer art/music festival, I'll be able to connect my own associations with them.
I sat here on a bench during a brief respite from the rain.
This would have been my sixth Moods of Norway store, if it had been open that day. Better luck next time!
Hello pink tractor, I met your cousin in Los Angeles!
I drove back to Fosnavag along a more direct route, and got ready for dinner and the concert.
On the morning after the concert, I met up with another fan who had been planning to take a bus to the airport in Alesund, and we rode together. It was a different adventure than the trip in, pleasant and fun, and the time passed quickly.
All I can say is that my west coast ramblings were the perfect way to decompress from work and regular life and get into the holiday mode. It also made me seriously miss being around people, so that when I did get to Oslo, I was definitely ready to be social and enjoy the time with friends :-)
I'll post about the concert itself separately, but this sets the stage as it were :-)