It is 0615 and I leave in an hour and a half for the Norwegian Naval Academy where this shindig is going down. I met my fellow presenters at a dinner last night, one of whom I knew, another of whom I knew by reputation, but the rest were new to me. More on dinner later, but time to fill you in on yesterday.
me know with a pruned up face and a shaking head that one should walk the 15 minutes to the station. Capable of following orders, I did so and cut up through the heart of a quaint shopping and restaurant district, espying a possible Chinese option for dinner tomorrow night should my Norwegian eating spree lose steam. Once at the station, I turned my internet receipt into a little ticket book to enable my day, and I was off.
First on the agenda was a train ride on The Bergen Railway to the town of Voss, about an hour away. The scenery was stunning and the train was serviceable, though no coffee/dining car. The purpose of the stop at Voss was simply to transfer to a bus that would take us to the town of Gudvangen. The bus ride was
|A little fjord hamlet|
|Quite the Valley|
We then all hopped on a train from Flam to Myrdal which cut through even more beautiful scenery as we headed uphill all the way--more snow appeared as we went on. After an hour, we got off at Myrdal, transferred to another train, and spent two hours traveling back to Bergen. I think you get the point...great scenery, but a lot of just sitting.
When I reached the train station, I had an hour to get my act together, get to the hotel, change, and get to the Bergen Fortress for the dinner with the other speakers. The dinner was held in a beautiful room in the Fortress Commandant's house. We were in open collar, but everything else spoke formality. Toasts, little speeches, champagne before dinner, cognac after--really well done. And the lamb chops were wonderful. I sat next to the host (his choice) and an instructor at the Norwegian Naval Academy. Both were amiable dinner companions and good conversationalists.
It is now 2008 hrs on the 17th, over 12 hours after I started this. I had to put it down in order to get to breakfast and then off to the conference. I will pick up where I left off.
As I've discussed, this new hotel has no gym, so I arose this morning at 0500 solely to catch up with the world and to get this now overly long post done. No nescafe here in the room, but a quick elevator ride to the lobby resulted in the juice I needed to get my day started. I sat down to breakfast after showering and changing into my superman suit (Blue Suit, light green tie), and was soon joined by another conference speaker, a retired Norwegian Rear Admiral. He was a pretty good guy and we had a nice chat before piling into the van that took us and our comrades to the Naval Academy for the conference.
|The symposium crowd|
I won't bore you with the details of the conference, except to tell you that the Norwegians are great allies, and the Russians have them worried. That is, they have the military folks worried, but their general population is still pretty clueless. I gave them the red meat American view of Eurosloth, and they seemed to enjoy it. One of the speakers was a Finnish Naval Officer who said, "you Americans are always the best speakers---and it wasn't fair that you got such an easy topic for an American" ("Are the Europeans Up to It?"). I can't say he's wrong. Fact is, I sorta had them eating out of my hand when I pulled the old, "I'll be an old man someday, and I want my grandchildren to know that I addressed the Leadership of the Kingdom of Norway" trick and took a picture of them.
After the day was over, we had a dinner provided to us there at the Naval Academy, some damn good beef tenderloin, and then repaired to the bar for a few drinks--cognac seems to be a favorite round these parts. I think if I were to start drinking again, it would be high on the list. Has a nice bouquet.
That should do it for this edition--my plan tomorrow is to find the gym that this place is associated with and sweat a little, to eat nothing but authentic Norwegian food, and to do a lot of work. Hop on a plane Friday AM.