First a quick PSA. In case you’re wondering why I’ve been traveling more this past month, it’s because things have drastically slowed down at my schools. Classes ended at NTNU on November 21, and December at Byåsen has mostly centered around exams and final projects. The Christmas holiday also helps in terms of giving me more free time. Additionally, I’m prone to separate more jam packed travel days into multiple posts to make things easier to read.
I was excited to travel back to Bergen for a short trip this week. Having talked with Kyle in Oslo, I managed to confirm that not only is Bergen a very rainy city–apparently it’s the rainiest city in Europe! In a fit of irony, the Fulbright Commission happened to give grants to a lot of Portlanders this year, and to the best of my knowledge they all ended up in Bergen with the exception of one person. I suppose that they all feel right at home. So, it was with Kyle’s warnings ringing in my ears that the first thing I packed in my carry-on was an umbrella. To my great surprise however, it wasn’t raining when I arrived in Bergen with Alix and her husband, Chris, it was snowing!
After we got settled into our Airbnb, Alix, Chris, and I headed out into the city. The thing that I desperately wanted to see on this trip was Pepperkakebyen, a gingerbread replica of Bergen. Residents of Bergen are allowed to bring in gingerbread houses and they are arranged to mimic the city of Bergen. Of course the gingerbread town doesn’t replicate Bergen exactly. There are plenty of world landmarks that make an appearance, such as the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and St. Basil’s Cathedral, yet happen to be nowhere near Bergen.
Now, my family has been making gingerbread houses for years since it’s our traditional post-Thanksgiving activity. It’s taken a few years, but now our houses no longer look like they’ve been hit by tornadoes. I would even venture to say that now that I have an attention span longer than that of my five year old self, some of our houses even look pretty good. So for me Pepperkakebyen was a must see it Bergen.
I wasn’t disappointed. Getting there was initially a bit confusing. Google Maps had no problem leading us to the building, but the three of us hesitated upon arrival. It looked like the building contained an odd assortment of businesses such as a gym. Alix then skeptically pointed out that there was a sign for a public pool. This renewed my hopes because Pepperkakebyen is actually held at the local pool (the pool is obviously covered and drained). So, after about a minute of searching we found the appropriate entrance.
I was enchanted. My love of gingerbread houses felt very justified as soon as I walked in. There was a real range in how well constructed the gingerbread houses were. Some of them were on the simpler side, while others had windows that looked like they were made out of sugar. We probably spent a solid hour walking around and admiring Pepperkakebyen. To top things off, Pepperkakebyen also had slides! Alix patiently waited for Chris and I to run around and test out the slides. There was both a short slide and a long slide. The long slide was a solid 30-foot drop into the empty pool. I’m personally not the greatest fan of heights, but Chris decided to try out the long slide and seemed to enjoy it.
Once we finished playing around, the three of us headed off to grab some dinner and a good night’s sleep.