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In the Realm of Trolls and Fjords

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Part 5 - Bergen

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Part 5 - Bergen

 

This was our day in Bergen. Originally we had booked a City Highlights tour, as it included a visit to the home of composer Edvard Grieg, where a pianist was to give a little concert performing some pieces by Grieg. Birgit and I enjoy classical music and had been looking forward to this tour. Unfortunately, we already learned on the first day of the cruise that this tour had been cancelled, probably due to insufficient interest. There wasn’t any other tour we wanted to book, so we set of for “Bergen on our own”.

In Bergen, there is a proverb saying that children in Bergen are already born with umbrellas and rubber boots. But chance would have it that we were in for another day of superb weather. As part of a public announcement, our captain – a man from the north - had already confirmed that this was definitely not the norm. He said he had never experienced such consistently beautiful weather.

We liked him even more as bearer of the good news that the forecast for the rest of the cruise was more sunshine and warm temperatures. On one hand this was great, but on the other hand we had packed everything except sun tan lotion ;-)

Our ship had docked a little way from the main pier, which was occupied by MS Europa and a HAL vessel. Shuttle buses waiting in front of the ship. For the passengers of the Brilliance they offered a free transfer to the town center (and back), leaving almost every minute.

Drop-off was at Byparken, Bergen’s municipal park.

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Our first destination was the base station of the cable car going up Mount Floien, from which you have a great view of Bergen. On our way there we noticed cute little similarities in our languages, which made us smile.

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It only took us a few minutes to reach the base station. On our way we passed the interesting fish market, beautiful old houses and the piers, where many supply ships demonstrated the port’s importance for the oil industry.

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At the base station we hit a very, very long queue of people who also wanted to enjoy the view from Mount Floien. We estimated that climbing the 320 meters to the lookout on foot couldn’t take much longer than joining the queue and waiting for the cable car. So we set off on the steep path, which led us through beautiful residential areas and hiking trails through nature. From there, we got the odd taste of the view that was to come, which kept us going.

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Some 40 minutes later and a little sweaty we reached the top of the hill, where we found a lookout platform and a restaurant. But first of all we met our lovely Canadian dinner friend, who was clearly struggling with his fear of heights. But in the end, he was just as impressed by the view as we were.

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After we had soaked up the unforgettable view from the platform, we headed back down to turn to the World Heritage Site of Bryggen.

Our Canadian friends stayed a bit longer and took the train down. At dinner, they told us that they had gone for a little snack in the restaurant at the top of the hill. Their comment on the prices was simply “Jeeeeeeeesus!”

Bryggen (Norwegian for quay, pier, jetty) was/is a Hanseatic trading post set up by the Hanseatic League in 1343 and was subject to the Hanseatic city of Luebeck/Germany and later to the Hanseatic Diet (Hansetag). After several devastating town fires (1702, 1855, 1916) which were favored by the timber construction typical for Norway, the town issued a decree by which the construction of wooden houses was no longer permitted in the municipal area. The Bryggen Waterfront, which wasn’t spared by the town fires either, was rebuilt from the original drawings after each destruction. This is why the profile we see today is still the same as it was in the 12th century. For this reason, Bryggen, as an example of Hanseatic architecture in Norway, was appointed World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1979.
 

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The road passing Bryggen led directly to the fortress of Bergenhus with the Haakon’s Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower. It has been very well preserved, or rather originally rebuilt after it was damaged by the explosion of a ship in the harbor in 1944.

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Tired from all the footwork we decided to return to the ship, but not without first following an advice we had found in a travel guide. We stopped at a supermarket and bought 1.5 kg (3 lb.) of “Gudbrandsdalsost” cheese made from whey, cream and cow’s and goat’s milk. It has a soft brown color and a slight taste of caramel resulting from the special manufacturing process. Since we had never tried it before, we left it at those 1.5 kg (3 lb.) – unfortunately. We still had this cheese for breakfast after our vacation – VERY tasty!

Therefore, during our weekend breakfasts even after our vacation, we had a reminder of this beautiful day in Bergen, which unfortunately was almost over by the time we bought the cheese. The cheese alone would be a reason to return to Norway.

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