Norway: The Land of Trolls, Fish & Fjords
Today we are in beautiful Bergen and are so lucky to have a bright sunny day in one of Europe’s wettest cities.
We had a pretty exhausting day Saturday, leaving Zürich and travelling to London to connect with our cruise leaving out of Southampton. I had wanted to fly into Southampton, but that was not an option, so it was Heathrow and its hour-long passport line . . . it took us twice as long as it should have to get to our ship due to really awful weekend traffic in the UK. But we made it, and once on the Celebrity Eclipse, the stress melted away. We had a wonderful afternoon and evening exploring the ship and a quiet, pretty sea day on Sunday to rest and re-group.
Bergen is our first stop on this cruise to the Norwegian Fjords.
We had our own agenda and had purchased one-way tickets on the funicular railway up Mount Fløyen, one of the seven peaks surrounding Bergen. They claim it’s an 8-minute ride, but it was really about 4 minutes to arrive 1,000’ above sea level and see post card views of Bergen.
We bought the tickets on-line before we left home and avoided the incredible line that looked hours long.
Then, we walked down. They have a lot of trails from the top and the trail back to the city center took us a leisurely hour (with stops for some pictures and to leave a small rock offering to the local spirits). The trail was well-groomed and wide, wandering through the forest. When we got back to civilization, we had a nice bonus of walking through a really charming residential area.
We made our way to the Fish Market for some typical smørbrød (Scandinavian open-faced sandwich) of salmon and crayfish. We skipped the whale. It’s legal to hunt and eat whale here – but I don’t see how their arguments in favor of tradition and necessity, extends to feeding tourists.
We then headed over to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen, a street along the harbor lined with colorful, wooden Hanseatic buildings. The buildings still standing are the few that survived the many fires that destroyed the area, and are now filled with shops and cafes. Along the way, we sampled the famous local cinnamon roll, Skillingsbolle, a tradition here since the 1890s.
We enjoyed the nice, clean, modern downtown area with its beautiful central lake and grassy park, surrounded with museums and vibrant flowers. On one side is the city’s Festplassen, the Bergen festival square with its gorgeous music pavilion, surrounded by, and covered in, colorful flowers. It was such a gorgeous day, and everyone seemed to be out: lying on the grass in the parks, biking, hiking, jogging or sitting in cafes.
Now, I need a rest and a cocktail.
While most places here do take euros and US dollars as well as the Norwegian krone, it’s one of those countries you have to pay (10 NOK) to use a public restroom. Private ones in restaurants generally require codes to access. So having money is not enough, you need change!