The end of October, friends came to visit from Oman. It was Eid holiday there, and they thought they would get away from the heat. Boy, they were in for a shock! They hadn’t been here 3 hours when we treated them to rain and hail and snow… and a vicious, biting wind.
After a weekend of travelling around the southern part of Norway, Alice and I headed to Bergen by ferry. Robert was supposed to be coming, but he and David decided they just had to go back to Kristiansand to visit the German Cannon Museum – a huge gun placement from World War II. Fine with us – we’d made the 4 hour drive once already.
We arrived in Bergen to sunshine – only for a while though as the sun sets pretty early these days. Bergen is a very old city, being incorporated in 1070. In the 13th century it was the capital of Norway. It is the second largest city in Norway, and is a unique blend of modern and ancient. The harbour is lined with old, leaning buildings which date back to the 1300’s, when the Hansas, a German merchant guild, set up their shipping offices there.
We found our hotel with ease, right on the harbour, attached to the Hanseatic Museum (which wasn’t open while we were there – drat!) and then set off to find somewhere for dinner. We ended up at the Holbergstuen – a fairly posh old restaurant.
All around, we had seen signs announcing the arrival of lutefiske. I knew it was fish and was served around Christmas – the waitress couldn’t really explain what it was like, except that it was a bit like jelly. Alice, the brave (foolhardy) soul, decided she would try it. I stuck to the trout.
Here is Alice in her special lutefiske bib, the lutefiske, and all the trimmings.
I tried it too – it really wasn’t so messy that you need a bib after all. With the bacon, mashed peas, potatoes and spicy mustard along with it, it was alright. Not saying I’d have it again……. but it’s not on my bucket list any more, if it ever was.
After a good night’s sleep, we made our way to the train station. We were scheduled to leave early Tuesday morning, and I had to buy my ticket. Luckily, it wasn’t far off. On our way back to the harbour, we passes a 12th century cathedral…Drat! It was closed Mondays.
Thwarted, we turned loose on Bergen’s shops. They are mainly along the harbour – very handy for the thousands of tourists that pour into Bergen on cruise ships during the summer. Needles to say, we were glad they weren’t there now.
I found a little hardanger kit to make three angels – I thought that was something I could actually finish while learning this traditional Norwegian art. We found an incredible silver shop that sold knives and silver work done by the Saami – the Laplanders,
a Christmas shop,
and countless beautiful sweaters and other knitted items.
Robert arrived about noon and we headed off to the historical sites. The Rosenkrantz Tower (13th century) was closed, but we were able to go into Haakon’s Hall – also dating back to the 13th century. Except for the stone walls, it has been completely restored, as a German munition ship exploded in the harbour during WWII, and the hall caught fire. It is used for ceremonial occasion, just as it was in the 1200″s.
We had a quick tour of the Bryggen Museum, did a bit more shopping (would you believe that Robert had seen the quilt shop by the ferry terminal and we had missed it?). We had an Irish coffee in Scruffy Murphy’s, and then wandered into the narrow street behind it. There we discovered a wonderful fish-shaped door handle. Just as we were about to take a photo of it, out walked two gentlemen. They directed our attention to the corner post on the step, and said that it was the centre of the old town and dated back several centuries. Of course, after they left we took photos of both the post and the door handle.Later we met up with Robert, and had dinner at the unicorn restaurant, which is in one of the oldest lanes in the Hansiatic area – the buildings are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Tuesday morning saw us up early and trudging to he train, for our trip to Flåm – but that’s another story.