February 4, 2008

We got up early on Monday, especially considering how little sleep we got after watching the Super Bowl the night before. This was to be our only day to see some of the sights inside London and our flight to Norway left at 5:30 that afternoon. We checked out of our hotel, checked our bags at the underground station and caught one of the local tour buses to head into town.

The upstairs seating in the double-decker tour bus had a great view to see the sights but we soon found ourselves in the daily traffic that plagues a city the size of London. The bus drove up and down the fashion district and by Piccadilly Circus, on its way to the city center. We decided to finally get off the bus so we could take some time to walk around and take some pictures of some of the most popular sights. We stopped at Westminster and snapped some photos of the London Eye, Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey before jumping back on the bus to head to the Tower of London.

Once again we hit stop and go traffic and being stuck on the bus proved to be quite frustrating. As we passed the Tower Bridge, we decided to get off and take the underground in order to make up some time. We split up here so because not all of us wanted to see the same things and one of our travel companions had been in London just six months earlier on his honeymoon. He decided he wanted to check out the Hard Rock Café while we decided to check out Buckingham Palace.

It felt like a short trip on the underground to get to Buckingham Palace after all the time we spent stuck in traffic on the tour bus. We got out and walked the 4 or 5 blocks to Buckingham Palace and snapped up a few more photos before getting back on the underground and meeting up with our friend for the last ride of the day, an underground trip into Heathrow Airport for our next flight to Norway.

Heathrow Airport is quite large but the underground takes you right into the main terminals. We made our way to the terminal and went through security for the third time on this trip. The security checkpoint went quite smoothly for two of us, we got cut off from our friend before he was singled out for a complete search of his carry-on bags and it took him nearly 30 mins to escape and catch up with the both of us. Since we got to the airport quite a bit early, we had an hour or two before we could find out which gate to find our flight. After a few minutes of last minute currency swapping, we decided to do the one thing we never did during our stay in England, we stopped in a pub for some fish and chips. It was one of the best meals we had in all the UK.

As time arrived, we boarded our flight to Bergen via a quick layover in Oslo and took a while to say goodbye to the UK since we would not be back through here on our return trip. It was a pretty uneventful flight into Oslo with the exception of some pretty nasty looking food served on the plane. Oslo was a blur of white as we landed, all we could see was snow and lights. We had to get off the plane out on the tarmac trying to avoid the icy patches of snow along the way.

The Oslo airport was very modern and very clean. It was later in the evening and there were few people walking around besides the passengers on our flight. I wished I had taken a few pictures because it was the most unusually designed airport I had seen. There were floor to ceiling windows everywhere and lots of metal. The hardwood floors contrasted greatly with all the glass and steel, giving the whole area a bit of an organic touch. We cleared customs here and picked up a second stamp on our passports. After a brief runaround in the terminal we headed out to our last flight of the evening to Bergen.

Flying in to Bergen we couldn’t see too much, it was well past 10:00pm and the rain had started before we even landed. The airport in Bergen has a very similar design to the one we left in Oslo. It was nice to walk on hardwood floors after the cold concrete and tile we saw outside of Norway. We grabbed our bags and headed out to find a taxi. It was here that we noticed how spread-out things were compared to the tight streets and high buildings in Scotland and England. It felt a bit like Northern California to me. If Northern California was in Norway and everybody talked a different language!

Bergen is situated on the western shore of Norway in the southern part of the country and it is a major sea port for the surrounding area. Our hotel is located in the city center of Bergen and it was a half-hour drive from the airport. The rain was steady the whole ride but it didn’t keep us from seeing some of the beautiful waterways that littered both sides of the highway.

Finally arriving at our hotel, we checked in and got a chance to relax and wind down from our hectic day. It was finally time to get some rest and be ready to get some real work done during the rest of the week.