Over hills and across water, another epic drive led BV and I into Bergen for our third road trip stop. We had booked a very sweet condo on Airbnb, which, while lacking a primo location (20-minute bus ride to the center and overlooking a fairly industrial area), it compensated with a real bed (not bunk beds), and a washer/dryer. This was a strategic choice on our part.
We figured on having two nights to explore the city, but after our morning in Vik and the long drive that followed, we were too wiped to do much on our first night besides enjoy some home comforts, do laundry, and watch bad movies on Norwegian cable. No regrets there.
Refreshed and relaxed the next morning we watched the bus to the city appear promptly at the bus stop visible from the apartment every 10 minutes without fail. Our hosts had left us tips on what ticket to buy, as well as a few sights to check out in the city, and armed with that information we were off.
The bus dropped us off directly next to the harbor, in the heart of everything you want to do while in Bergen. In addition to the tips from our host, we had heard about some good museums to look into, and that the view from the top of Mount Fløyen might be worth seeing. We did… none of that. Turns out that the day was just far far far too beautiful to even consider doing anything inside, so museums were out, and Mount Fløyen with its funicular is covered in boat people* for most of the day. So what to do instead? Explore! We grabbed a map at the harbor visitor center, and decided to walk away from the water to see what we could find. A bit uphill and a few streets away from the harbor, we ran into Den Nationale Scene, or, the National Theater. I went straight to these lamp posts, but the whole theater was a dramatic Art Deco stunner. I’d love to get a glimpse of the interior, so if anyone has pictures, please send them to me!
We were not the only ones enjoying the day in the sun, as you can see by these folks just hanging out on the theater’s lawn…
Granted, we were only there fora day, but Bergen really struck me as the kind of city it’d be easy to live in. Yes, there were a lot of tourists, but there was a very relaxed, soak-it-up kind of vibe to it. Every cafe was full of people, and there were bits of green or public art everywhere just begging for you to sit down and sip your takeaway coffee. Lots of bakeries and places to get those coffees too, of course. While we couldn’t stop and sit at EVERY cafe, some corners made it harder than others, like this one across from the theater.A few more twists and turns, and we found ourselves looking uphill (not hard to do in Bergen) at a church. Guess that’s where we’ll head next!
St. John’s is the largest church in Bergen, and had one of the more unique interiors I’ve seen. At this point we were well used to seeing all the wooden houses around, but a wooden vaulted ceiling? That’s a new one on me.
The area around St. John’s is also home to the university, and street after street of colorful houses. I may have gone slightly overboard on the photos here, but I could not help myself. These streets were my favorite part of the day, and the namesake for this post. 🙂
At this point we were fairly thirsty from all the walking around and looking at cafes, but instead of settling into one, we opted to grab drinks and a snack from a convenience store and park ourselves on a bench back at the harbor.
A nice breeze blew off the water as we enjoyed the sun and a show. Watching people navigate their boats in and out, hopping on and off of the other vessels as they docked, tossing ropes back and forth… it was so relaxing to watch. I know they can’t all know each other, but it seems as if they do when you watch so many people work almost seamlessly together.
Refreshments had, we were ready to explore Bryggen, the old Hanseatic wharf buildings that line one side of the harbor. They’re a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the main stops for all those cruise ships. The whole area has been decimated by fire at least a few times, but the buildings that are there now are still made of enough old creaking wood to feel like you’re taking a trip back in time.
Nowadays the storefronts are filled with Norwegian wool sweaters and troll figurines, but when you explore the alleyways behind here, you’ll find all kinds of nifty artisan shops selling jewelry, leather goods (smelled amazing in there!), and my personal favorite, whimsical watercolors. I often try to buy art prints, but this time I found an original that I fell in love with. I’m still working on a place of honor for it in the house, so it’s waiting to be hung.
Though busy, it was easy enough to climb up a rickety flight of stairs in search of more stores, and find yourself completely alone. When in doubt, go up.
Some light shopping done, we went off in search of a sunny table and a drink. We circled back to a few other shops looking for postcards, etc., before deciding that the fish market was going to be our choice for dinner. The crowds seemed to have thinned out at this point, so we could leisurely stroll through and make our selection. In true fish market fashion, the vendors try their darnedest to get you to stop… even touting the health benefits of a lobster a day (no word on how healthy that would be for your wallet)…
BV is partial to paella, so he went with that. I couldn’t resist Bergen’s best fish and chips after I caught a glimpse of another customer’s order, and we both sampled generously from the other’s plate. Well worth the wait!
With a little something to line the stomach, it was time for a drink. I had heard that Bergen had a nice little craft beer scene, so we let Untapped recommend us a destination to sample some brews. That led us to Kontoret, a super-cozy pub just a few minutes walk from the harbor. It filled up around us as we sampled a few beers (sharing is caring in Scandinavia), enjoying our time back in civilization.
Fun money spent, we slowly meandered back down to the harbor. Though leaving a bar when it’s still this light out just feels… odd.
BV decided that he needed a little something else in his stomach, and he had seen that little something else earlier in the fish market. I do not condone this, but…
Shrimp, okay. Whale, not okay. But he promised it’d be a one-time thing and when else would he get a chance to try it? *Sigh* I distracted myself with the sun…
With that, our day in Bergen came to an end. We headed back to the condo to jam our laundry back into our bags and redistribute our hiking gear because our next stop was Norway’s highest peak!Have you been to Bergen? What should we put on the ‘rainy day’ list for next time?
*Cruise ship travelers