A few weeks after their successful reunion-concert in Trondheim in October 2009, Gåte, one of Burkhard’s favourite bands from Norway, announced that they would play a few final farewell-concerts in summer 2010. When Burkhard read about this he thought that this might be a good opportunity to travel to Norway. The first concerts to be announced were those at Raumarock and Vinjerock. Somewhere in spring 2010, Burkhard read that Gåte’s final concert would take place at Operataket in Oslo on August 20th and he decided that he wanted to be there.
Since it’s a very long trip to Norway, Burkhard hoped that another one of his favourite Norwegian bands would play a concert in Norway around the same time and he was lucky, because Bergtatt, a folk rock/metal band whom he had already seen live and enjoyed very much last year at the Nordklangfestival in St. Gallen (Switzerland), announced a concert in Sandane on August 15th, thus only 5 days before Gåte’s concert in Oslo. Now Burkhard had just to decide which route to take and book the hotels as well as the ferry.
Unlike on our first and rather short trip to Oslo in November 2003 to attend the Voggesanger fra ondskapens akse concert, Burkhard didn’t want to go by train this time, because since this journey would take longer, there was more luggage to carry and in addition to that, there were no trains going to Sandane, so we would have had to travel there by bus. Therefore Burkhard decided to travel by car.
Since I had already enjoyed our first trip to Norway very much, I told Burkhard that I also wanted to travel with him. He said it would be nice to have some company, since travelling alone was boring. When Dwarf Vader heard about this trip, he said: "I also want to travel to this No-way, I’ve never been outside Germany before!" It’s true. So far, he had only accompanied us on our trips to Kari Bremnes’ concerts in Bad Wildungen and Küsten in 2004 and 2005. While this little black chap is a bit weird – always walking around dressed in black and wearing a helmet even when the sun is burning from the sky -, we decided that he could come along with us, especially since he also likes Gåte and Bergtatt.
Finally, there was another one who wanted to travel with us. His name is Bjørkisen
– actually, his full name is Bjørkeskoggrønningen, but he says
that since this is a bit long, it’s OK to just call him Bjørkisen. He
is a freak. Freaks are a very rare species and most of them live in Rennebu
(Norway). To learn more about freaks, go to:
Bjørkisen also stems from Rennebu, but about 4 years ago, he travelled to Germany in a package Monika Edvardsen (the former vocalist of the Norwegian progressive metal band Atrox) had sent to Burkhard. He has adapted quite well to the living conditions in Germany, but he says that sometimes he misses his relatives in Norway, even though he had only been together with them for a short time. When Burkhard told him that it wouldn’t be possible to also travel to Rennebu, Bjørkisen said that he would like to travel with us nevertheless and to sort of go "back to the roots" and see more of the country where most of his relatives lived. Since Bjørkisen is also a big fan of Gåte – he had enjoyed the DVD, which came along with the "Gåte i Dødens Dal"-book, very much – he also wanted to see Gåte’s final concert in Oslo.
Bjørkisen and the signed "Gåte I Dødens Dal"-book
Bjørkisen watching the "Gåte I Dødens Dal"-DVD
So we couldn’t leave him alone at home in Germany, could we?
On August 11th, our trip started at about 10 a.m. and we arrived in Harislee (close to the German-Danish border) at about 5.30 p.m., where we stayed overnight in a small, cheap and quiet hotel called Alte Direktion Kupfermühle.
While we were driving, we listened to some of our favourite albums, namely "Terrestrials" by Atrox, "Eight Ways" and "Deadlands" by Madder Mortem, "There Be Squabbles Ahead" by Stolen Babies, Midnattsol’s "Nordlys", Coroner’s "Grin", Znowhite’s "Act Of God" and, of course, Gåte’s "Iselilja".
The next morning, we left Harislee at about 10 a.m. and drove to Hirtshals (north of Denmark), from which our ferry to Kristiansand (Norway) was to leave at 4.45 p.m. We already arrived there at 2.40 p.m., thus early enough for the check-in. Burkhard had booked the fastest ferry, the Fjord Cat, which only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes from Hirtshals to Kristiansand.
When Dwarf Vader heard the name Fjord Cat he said: "What? We’re travelling with an animal? Must be really huge then!" So I explained to him that in this case "Cat" was just an abbreviation for "catamaran", a special type of ship.
When the Fjord Cat entered the harbour, we were all very excited, maybe except of Burkhard, since he had already travelled with a similar ship from Sweden to Denmark many years ago. To bore you with some technical details, the Fjord Cat has water jet propulsion and reaches a maximum speed of 41 knots, which equals about 75 km/h.
Once the ship had gained full speed, it was really cool to see the water shooting out of the jets at the back of the ship. Dwarf Vader wanted to have a closer look, but Burkhard told him it was too dangerous, because since he was so small he might easily fall over board.
Water jet propulsion at full speed
The wake of the water jet propulsion
Even though the sky behind us looked rather dark, there was sunshine from the west most of the time, so if you looked closely enough, you could sometimes spot hints of a little rainbow in the spray of our ferry.
A tiny rainbow in the spray
Bjørkisen was very happy when he could have a look onto the sea from the back of the ship, because that was something he had never experienced before.
At about 7 o’clock in the evening, we eventually arrived in Kristiansand and it wasn’t too difficult to get to the Yess! Hotel which Burkhard had booked, since it was quite close to the harbour. Even though it was the second cheapest hotel on our trip through Norway, it cost still more than twice as much as the hotel in Germany where we had stayed the night before. The room was rather small, but since we only wanted to stay there for one night, it was OK.
Studying a map of Kristiansand
The next morning after breakfast, we left Kristiansand at about 8.45 a.m. to continue our trip to Voss. Coming from Germany, one might think that a distance of about 425 kilometres isn’t that much when you’re travelling by car, but in Norway there are hardly any highways and the country isn’t as flat as many parts of Germany are. Therefore, it took nearly ten hours until we finally arrived in Voss. Well, it has to be said that we also stopped many times, because Burkhard wanted to take pictures. While we were driving, Bjørkisen sat most of the time on the seat beside Burkhard holding the map, because it’s always good to have someone who can tell you which way to go when you are driving through unknown territory.
We drove north through the long Setesdal. It was slightly raining nearly all the time and the higher parts of the mountains to the left and to the right were often hidden in fog. It all conveyed some kind of mystic atmosphere and could lead you into believing that trolls and other ficticious creatures actually did exist, though we all know that of course they don’t!
Somewhere in Setesdal
At one point we halted at a small river with a small waterfall. Since the rain had nearly stopped, Bjørkisen wanted to get out of the car and sit down by the river to have a few minutes of contemplation. I think I heard a deep sigh from him when he was watching over the river into the forest on the other side.
Once we had left the Setesdal, the road suddenly went high up into the Haukelifjell until we were so high in the mountains that there weren’t any trees anymore. It was still raining and the tops of the mountains around us were hidden in fog. We stopped several times, so Bjørkisen could have a closer look at what this country, which he had left four years ago when he was still very young, looked like.
Somewhere in the Haukelifjell
Our trip continued via Røldal and Håra to Odda, which lies at the south of the Sørfjord.
Dwarf Vader and me at the Sørfjord
Bjørkisen at the Sørfjord
On our way to Odda, we drove through many long tunnels, the Vågslidtunnel (1647 m), the Haukelitunnel (5682 m), the Austmannlitunnel (903 m), the Hordatunnel (475 m), the Røldalstunnel (4657 m), the Seljestadtunnel (1272 m) and the Lausesteintunnel (681 m).
Talking about tunnels, one would expect that Dwarf Vader felt at home inside these tunnels because of his fondness for black and his dwarfish nature, but already when we entered the second or third longer tunnel (there were always signs before the tunnels telling you the name and the length of the tunnel) he moaned: "Oh no, not another one. These long dark tunnels give me the heebie-jeebies!" To be honest, I think we were all a bit relieved each time we saw the daylight again.
From Odda we drove along the Sørfjorden (passing another three tunnels) to Utne, where we took the ferry to Kvanndal and crossed the Hardangerford. It was an impressive sight for all of us with all these huge mountains to whatever side we looked.
View from Utne to the east
View from Utne over the Hardangerfjord towards Kvanndal
Me on the ferry to Kvanndal
Looking back at Utne
View from the ferry to the west
Another view to the west
Close to Kvanndal looking east onto the Granvinfjord
From Kvanndal we drove along the small Granvinfjord to – who would have guessed this? – Granvin, then through another tunnel until we eventually arrived in Voss at half past 6.
Fleischer’s Hotel, which Kari Bremnes’ keyboarder Bengt Hanssen had recommended to Burkhard, was very easy to find, because it lies directly at the E16. From our hotel room we had a nice view onto a lake called Vangsvatnet and the mountains on the other side of the lake on whose tops (about 1,300 metres high) one could still spot remnants of snow.
View from the parking lot in front of Fleischer’s Hotel across Vangsvatnet
This hotel was the most comfortable on our whole trip, but also the second most expensive one. Our room cost about €150.00 and I think that was one of the cheaper ones. The breakfast buffet was the best one of all the hotels we stayed at and from the breakfast room you had also a very nice view over the lake and onto the mountains on the other side.
Bjørkisen testing the bed in our hotel room
Reading the Hotel Information
View from our room at dusk
It seems that in the evening Dwarf Vader got a little bit bored, so he asked Burkhard to hand him the cardboard-thingy which had contained the key for our hotel room – the key was actually, as in most hotels nowadays, a plastic card you had to insert and pull out again – and a few minutes later he proudly announced: "Look, I have built a tent!"
Dwarf Vader, the tent-builder
View from our room (next morning)
One last look at our hotel
On the next day, we only had to travel about 200 km, but it took about 6 ½ hours! Of course, we stopped many times, so Burkhard could take pictures of the landscape which was, once again, really impressive.
From Voss we drove north into the Vikafjell, thus again high up into the mountains. According to our map, a part of this street is even closed from October to May, probably because there’s too much snow then. Luckily, there wasn’t any snow now – except of a few white spots on some of the mountain tops.
On our way into the Vikafjell
Bjørkisen looking out of the car
At several stops, Bjørkisen got out of the car, sat down somewhere in the grass and looked around. He didn’t say anything. More than once it seemed that his colour perfectly matched the colour around him.
Higher up in the Vikafjell
Even higher up
The vantage point after Storehaugtunnelen
From the Vikafjell the road went down to Vikøyri at the Sognefjord and from there we drove further north to Vangsnes, where we took the ferry across the Sognefjord to Hella.
View across the Sognefjord from Vangsnes
View from the ferry onto Balestrand (left) and Tjugatoten (the mountain in the middle)
View eastwards to Hella
Looking north to Hella; somewhat hidden in the clouds: Hestfjellet (1,360 m)
From there the road went eastwards along the Sognefjord through the Fatlatunnel (2250 m) and the Stedjebergtunnel (2100 m) to Sogndalsfjøra. From there we drove through the Sogndalsdal. Then it was the real heebie-jeebies for Dwarf Vader, when we drove through the Frudalstunnel (6758 m), the Bergstunnel (2595 m), and – a few kilometres later – the Fjærlandstunnel (6397 m) and the Støylenestunnel (2630 m). All in all, we drove about 25 km underground on our way from Voss to Breim.
Between all these tunnels, we also made a few stops, the first one immediately after the Frudalstunnel at a place called Berge. Looking to the south from this great vantage point, which is about 190 m above sea-level, you have a beautiful view onto the Fjærlandsfjord and looking to the north you can already spot some parts of Jostedalsbreen (the Jostedalsglacier). If our map is correct, the part we saw is called Bøyabreen, i.e. the Bøyaglacier.
The Fjærlandsfjord seen from the vantage point right after the Frudalstunnel
Looking north from the same vantage point
Getting closer to Bøyabreen
We came as close to the Bøyaglacier as you can get. Immediately before you drive into the Fjærlandstunnel, you can turn to the right and park your car.
From there a path leads to a small lake below the Bøyaglacier. Even though the sun was shining, it was quite chilly at this lake – not a big surprise, considering the fact that the water from the glacier was flowing down the mountain right into this little lake.
As close as you can get (unless you want to start climbing)
At about half past five we finally arrived at the Gordon Hotel in Breim and checked in. It was the cheapest one of the hotels Burkhard had booked in Norway, though about €85.00 per night was still more than twice as much as what Burkhard had paid for our hotel in Harislee (Germany). What has to be said is that this hotel surely could do with a bit of renovation. However, it also has to be said that the view from our room was probably the best on our trip. From both windows, one to the south and one to the west, you could look onto a lake called Breimsvatnet. In the distance you could see some mountains reaching up to 1,500 m and there were still some spots of snow on their tops.
View from our room to the west...and to the south, shortly after our arrival
The same views at about 22:10 h
Once we had checked in, Burkhard noticed a fly in our room. He opened one of the windows so it could get out. Just when he had closed the window, we heard another fly, so it was again "open window, let fly out, close window". After repeating this procedure several times, Burkhard started wondering from where the flies might come. Having a closer look at the windows, he noticed that there were some holes in the window-frames. While he didn’t see any fly entering the room through any of the holes, he sealed them with tape (which he had wisely brought along) just in case.
At about 6 o’clock, we drove to Sandane. Just about a week before our trip to Norway, John Stenersen, one of the guitarists of Bergtatt, had told Burkhard that Gåte’s former drummer Martin Langlie was now playing in a band called Valkyrien Allstars and that Burkhard should check them out. When Burkhard checked the website of Trivselshagen, the venue in Sandane where Bergtatt’s concert was going to take place, he noticed that one day before Bergtatt’s concert Valkyrien Allstars would play at exactly the same venue. So instead of spending the evening fly-hunting in our hotel, it had seemed to be a much better decision to attend Valkyrien Allstars’ concert in Sandane.
Since we were already at Trivselshagen, Burkhard also picked up the ticket for Bergtatt’s concert which he had already ordered and paid online several weeks before. Strangely, the computer refused to print it out, so he got a hand-written one, signed by the woman who sold the tickets.
Valkyrien Allstars entered the stage at about 8 o’clock and played for about 70 minutes or so. The band consists of three violinists, the one of the female persuasion being also the vocalist, a bass-player and the former drummer of Gåte, Martin Langlie. The songs sounded very folky, but there were also some jazz-parts, especially the drum solo. We weren’t familiar with any of the songs, but all in all, we really enjoyed the concert, most of all the really fast parts.
Since Burkhard didn’t sit very close to the stage and since the stage was rather dark, we couldn’t see the face of the bass-player, who was standing a bit in the back, properly, but already during the first songs Burkhard had the impression that his silhouette and his movements seemed somewhat familiar. When the musicians were finally introduced by name, this impression was confirmed, because the bass-player was in fact Sondre Meisfjord. Burkhard already knows him very well from all the concerts of Kari Bremnes he has seen, because Sondre also plays in her band, but he hadn’t expected to see him at this concert.
It turned out that this was just a lucky coincidence, because when Burkhard talked to Sondre after the concert – you don’t travel more than 1,500 km and then don’t say "Hi" when you see someone you know (unless it’s someone you wish you didn’t know) –, Sondre told him that it was only his fifth concert with this band and that he wasn’t their regular bass-player. Burkhard also got a chance to talk to drummer Martin Langlie and get the CD-booklets of Gåte’s demo-EP (the one starting with "Byssan lull"), their first official EP and their second studio album "Iselilja" signed.
Outside Trivselshagen after the concert
It was a really nice evening, until we came back to our hotel a few minutes past 10. Once Burkhard had turned on the light in our room, there were suddenly lots of flies buzzing around. When Burkhard came to the reception to tell them that we were being plagued by flies, the answer was "Ah, yes, today we had a lot of flies." and as a remedy he was handed a weapon of fly destruction aka as swatter. Back in our room, Dwarf Vader encouraged Burkhard: "Swat ‘em all!" Since it was already dark outside, whereas flies are attracted to the light, it probably would have taken too long to do it the peaceful way and get them to fly out of the window. So while Burkhard was fly-hunting, Dwarf Vader suddenly started yelling "No Remorse!" and "Searchiiiiinnn, Seek and Destroy!", jumping up and down frantically, so I asked him: "Anything wrong with you?" "What? Erm...I dunno, probably a sudden old school-Metallica-flash." In the end, Burkhard had killed 12 or 13 flies. It seemed that they had all hidden in the lamp hanging down from the ceiling over the bed and there was still one left inside which didn’t want to come out. Dwarf Vader suggested "Another day, another death - oops!" Since Burkhard was already tired, he turned off the lights and went to bed. The meeting of the remaining fly and the swatter was postponed to the next day.
Burkhard woke up already early in the morning and since he couldn’t sleep properly anymore, he took some pictures of the lake and the mountains from the windows of our room.
The views from our room at about 5:30 a.m.
About half an hour later
When he had breakfast, he also had a very nice view from the breakfast room to the south onto Breimsvatnet and the mountains surrounding it. After breakfast, Burkhard wrote some postcards and he put some very special stamps on them. In Norwegian they are called "personlige frimerker", i.e. personalized stamps, and Burkhard had ordered a sheet of 20 of these self-adhesive stamps on the website of posten.no (the Norwegian postal service) before our trip to Norway. It’s really easy, because you just have to upload the picture you want to appear on the stamp, choose the quantity (minimum: 20 stamps) and a few days later the stamps arrive. When Bjørkisen saw the sheetlet he beamed with pride, because the stamps showed a picture of him and a baby owl!
Bjørkisen and his stamps
One of the stamps cancelled on a letter
At half past three, we drove to Sandane and Burkhard had something to eat. It was a really nice, warm and sunny day. When we arrived at Trivselshagen, the members of Bergtatt had just arrived and unpacked their equipment. Burkhard talked a bit to guitarist Rolf-Erik Solstad Karlsen, violinist Marie Forr Klåpbakken and their new singer Linn Katrin Øygard – all very friendly people. While they were setting up their equipment inside the hall and having their soundcheck, Burkhard waited outside and I asked him to take a picture of Dwarf Vader and me in front of the advertisement for the concert. I had decided to put on my metal outfit for this special event, because even though Bergtatt are not a pure metal band, they definitely have some metal influences in their music.
Posing in front of an advertisement of the concert
Dwarf Vader and me approaching the entrance of Trivselshagen
After Bergtatt had finished their soundcheck, they had something to eat in the canteen and Burkhard was invited to come with them. This seemed to be a good occasion to hand over the presents he had brought along: copies of some of his favourite albums and - chocolate. It was dark chocolate with the flavours orange, pomegranate & chili and mango & cayenne. You can’t go wrong with chocolate! When Burkhard asked "Do you like chocolate?" the answer was a unanimous "Yes." Now there was also some time to talk to the new bass-player Rune Gandrud, the new drummer Åsmund Knutson and guitarist Joachim Skjervum, a stand-in for John Stenersen, who unfortunately couldn’t play this concert, since he had to take an important exam the next day. After about 45 minutes – or was it longer? – the band had to get prepared for the concert, which eventually started at 9 p.m.
Already after the first song "Bläck", a Swedish song from Bergtatt’s debut album "Røtter", which is also to be found on Garmarna’s album "Vedergällningen", three elderly people who had sat beside Burkhard in the first row left – at least that was Burkhard’s impression, but after the concert someone told him they had just fled several rows upstairs to the back, probably because it was too loud for them in the first row. However, even though Burkhard had brought along his earplugs – you never know! –, he didn’t have to use them, which was a positive surprise.
Other songs from the debut album Bergtatt played were "Åsgårdsreia", "Kvinnemordaren", "Når eg døyr", "Harpa", "Villemann og Magnhild" and "Aegir". Bergtatt also played several new songs which hopefully will appear on their second album. Marie, who is a great violinist, also had a solo part. Unfortunately, the concert didn’t last much longer than an hour.
The setlist of Bergtatt’s concert in Sandane
Linn Katrin does of course sound different from Bergtatt’s former singer Marianne Lia, but she can also sing with a powerful voice, which you might not expect when you see her. Even though Linn Katrin is from Sandane, the audience there was a bit difficult. When Bergtatt entered the stage, there was complete silence. Luckily, after the songs there was applause. There were also definitely less people than the evening before, but hopefully Bergtatt will attract some bigger audiences in the future.
After the concert there was still some time left to talk to the band members. Rolf-Erik, Rune and Joachim had to drive back to Oslo the same night, whereas Linn-Katrin, Marie and Åsmund stayed in Sandane. During his conversation with Åsmund, Burkhard learned that another musician he knows quite well, namely Kari Bremnes’ guitarist Hallgrim Bratberg, had been Åsmund’s guitar teacher. Sometimes one feels inclined to believe that in Norway all musicians know each other.
At about 11 o’clock it was time to say goodbye to Linn Katrin, Marie and Åsmund – the others had already left earlier – and about 20 minutes later we were back at our hotel in Breim. Luckily, there was no need for fly-hunting this evening.
The next morning, Burkhard woke up again quite early and took the chance to take some more pictures of the nice landscape.
5:51 and 5:53 a.m.
6:11 and 6:15 a.m.
7:05 and 7:03 a.m.
After breakfast, we left Breim in sunny weather at about 10 o’clock to continue our trip to Rødberg.