I almost did not come to Bergen.

And if I had skipped Norway’s older west coast city, I would have missed out on the nine hour, 200 mile (you do the math) cross country bus journey from Lillehammer to get here. At least the lengthy duration of the trip reduced the per hour cost down to a manageable $8.50 – there’s not much else you can do in Norway that cheaply.

I also would have missed out on the views. And that would have been a shame. Because outside the window passed one of the most incredible landscapes I have ever seen – anywhere. Fjord Norway. Epic. Heroic. Land of the gods. All that and more.

Despite the copious amount of time spent on the bus, often at speeds I could have matched on foot, actual stops where we could disembark and take photos of the Olympic backdrop were scarce. But every inch of the way was worth capturing.

Down below, sometimes in permanent shade, Norwegians live orderly lives tending green fields. Next to their tidy homes, steep walls of rock soar thousands of feet up to permanent snowfields. On the valley floor, occasional house-sized boulders located inconveniently for human purposes hint at the perils of living underneath all that vertiginous weight. The gods still hurl thunderbolts when angry. So please do NOT litter.

For motorized travel, this is the land of the tunnel, and they are everywhere. The longest one we went through was about 25 KM. Long tunnels include fully carved out subterranean rest stops. But you would not want to linger too long given the air.

Sitting in Bergen this morning, for the first time in the month since I left Ireland on February 28, the sun is not shining. In fact, the weather looks like something out of the west of Ireland: wind, rain, and gray. Could be an indoor reading day.

Speaking of Ireland, if your reading stack is thin, the recently released Mahon tribunal findings are providing some good material for students of political corruption on the faire isle. As always, Fintan O’Toole adds his blow torch to the fracas.

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