Trolls and More in Bergen, Norway

by Katina Arvidson on September 3, 2013

In July 2013, my husband and I took a week-long trip to Bergen, Norway, to visit my brother and his wife, who had moved there a few years ago for jobs in the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. After many phone calls, emails, and trips to REI, everything started to come together.

Bergen

Day 1
Martin, Steve, and I walked around Bergen this morning. We went to the fish market (collection of tents with fish and other food). I may or may not have tried smoked whale. It may or may not have tasted like beef. Met Yumi for lunch at Zupperia. Steve had the reindeer soup (“Rudolph soup”) and I had a creamy fish soup. We all went to Hanseatic museum and learned about the history of Bergen with the Hanseatic traders. Tried to go to Haakonshallen and Rosencrantz Tower afterwards but it was closing soon. So we walked around the grounds instead. Dinner was grilled sausages and veggies. Drizzly.

Katina troll headDay 2
Woke up early to walk up Fløyen. Trolls and playground at the top. Great view over Bergen. Starting to clear up and become warm. Took the Fløibanen (funicular rail thing) down. Martin said it normally didn’t move as quickly as it did for us. I’m guessing that because there were long lines of people waiting to go up, they were running them at super-speed. Steve wanted to the library before we left for Nutshell. Train to Voss (lots of tunnels through mountains) and then bus to Stalheim Hotel. Ate potato salad sandwiches on deck in back of hotel. Took tons of pictures of the valley and surrounding mountains. Dinner at the hotel restaurant: pumpkin risotto and halibut. The buffet was a popular choice for other guests, but we didn’t think we could really commit to that amount of food.

IMG_0867Day 3
Nutshell continued. Bus to Gudvangen. Very crowded and we had to stand on steep switchback decline. Ferry in Gudvangen around the fjord. Again, ferry very crowded but we got great seats up front and on the top. Looked into the sun for almost the whole time. Faces got really sunburned. Took train from Flåm to Myrdal. One hour to climb about 800m. Didn’t really feel like it was ascending too rapidly.  The train made a 5-minute stop at a waterfall so people could take pictures. I was one of the first ones off and back on the train, so I really didn’t get to see the lady dancing by the waterfall. (some touristy thing with a lady dancing next to the waterfall to music) Towards the end (close to Myrdal), the track was sort of became enclosed by a wooden bridge. Not sure exactly what was going on because I couldn’t look out the windows. All I know is that one side was mountain face and the other was a steep drop-off. Arrived late into Myrdal but luckily everyone was making the train connection to Bergen so it waited on us. Took train back to Bergen and Martin met us at the rail station. Martin, Steve and I ate dinner at USF Verftet (an old sardine factory right next to the water). Martin told us that it’d be really crowded, but maybe only 1/3 of the tables were occupied when we arrived. The boys had fresh shrimp and I had a delicious baked fish (trout?).

IMG_0904Day 4
In the morning, we walked (struggled) up Stoltzekleiven. 800ish steep stone steps up the side of a mountain. There’s a race in September (current record is 8 minutes). People often train on it year-round. Today, there were lots of people running past us, panting really hard. Nice to know even they were feeling it! We eventually made it to the top. Actually, Yumi was way ahead of us. Martin stayed behind with me as I brought up the rear. When we got to the top, we enjoyed stunning views of Bergen and surrounding areas. Took a ton of pictures here too. During WW2, one ship in the harbor exploded and its anchor ended up all the way at the top of Stoltzekleiven. We didn’t venture to see it, though. We took a different way down through woods and by lakes and streams. One lake was strictly for drinking water so we refilled our water bottles (signs surrounding it saying not to swim in it or disturb the land around it). Dinner was moose (maybe deer) burgers on the grill.

Leprosy 29Day 5
Steve and I set out on our own this morning and visited the Leprosy Museum. Fascinating. Bergen was really at the center of leprosy back in the day. I think there were 3 hospitals (more like residential facilities) in the Bergen area alone. A few more in other parts of Norway. It was both depressing and remarkable to read patient accounts and see artifacts. Sat in park afterwards while we waited on Martin and Yumi to join us. Went to Haakonshallen and Rosencrantz Tower in the afternoon. Haakonshallen was built in the 1200s and has survived through a lot. In fact, the exploding ship in the harbor (see previous day) was right next to Haakonshallen. The building lost its roof but really had not much other damage. Stopped into a little/free museum (Bergenhus Fortress Museum) on the way back that focused on Norway’s involvement in wars, mainly WW2. Lots of pictures of Bergen from when it was under Nazi occupation. Strange to see downtown buildings I recognized covered in swastikas. Also featured information and pictures of the resistance movement within the city. As we left, we saw the park near all the museums being set up for upcoming Rihanna concert.

IMG_0918Day 6
Maritime Museum in the morning. There was one large exhibit about the Norwegian emigration to the US.  Didn’t really have enough time to see everything in the museum due to time. Then we picked up a car from a car-share program and drove to a passenger ferry to visit the island of Lysøen where the summer villa of former Norwegian violinist Ole Bull is located. Crazy house with weird architecture (vastly different styles and intricate wood carvings). Walked around island (beautiful walk along paths) some before returning to the boat and back to Bergen. Dinner at Spisekroken – delicious food! Walked more of Bergen on the way home and saw a totem pole (apparently Bergen and Seattle are sister cities).

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