I don’t think I’ll be going back to Bergen before the end of my Fulbright so I thought I’d go ahead and summarize what I’ve learned about Bergen thus far:
- An umbrella is crucial. Also, be prepared to encounter multiple types of weather.
- Most things in Bergen and in the wider Bergen area shut down after August/September or have reduced hours. So, if you’re planning a trip to either Bergen or the surrounding area make sure that everything you want to see is actually open.
- If you plan on doing any driving check the road conditions. If you cross over Bergen’s mountains you’ll encounter a significant temperature drop and, depending on the time of year, snow and icy conditions.
- As for things to do in Bergen, I highly enjoyed Pepperkakebyen (which runs from the end of November to the end of December), Bryggen is nice to walk around, the funicular provides a great view of the city on a clear day, and I’ve heard that the Kode is an amazing art museum.
The next day we decided to stick a bit closer to Bergen. We took the car on a quick drive out to the local stave church, Fantoft. The church was closed but the three of us still enjoyed getting to walk around the exterior. As you can see, the church and its craftsmanship are pretty incredible considering that it was originally built and designed in 1150.
Afterwards, we headed to Edvard Grieg’s house. Kyle had warned me that the museum would be closed, but he also said that it would still be worth walking around the property. So we stopped by, and to our great surprise the administrators of the museum even offered to open up the house for us. We didn’t really want to disturb them so we opted not to take them up on their offer, but we did have a good time slipping and sliding around Grieg’s fairly icy property.
After we had paid homage to Grieg we set off in the car. Chris wanted to check out more of the surrounding Bergen area so we drove out to one of the peninsulas around Bergen past Straume and North towards Ågotnes. Unlike our drive yesterday, there was no snow in sight. I suppose it’s a perk of being right on the water. If you want a better idea of where everything is, it is all pinned on the Map page.
Because it was rapidly becoming dark, we decided to return the car around 2pm and walk around Bergen (sunset was around 3:30). First we stopped by Bergenhus Fortress which was closed (again most things seem to either have reduced hours or are closed after August/September). After that we walked around Bryggen and spent some time in the shops there. Bryggen was definitely not as bustling as it was when I visited around August, but it was also nice not to be surrounded by tourists. Alix has also been trying to convince me for weeks that I need to wear a hat outside. Well Alix finally won the hat battle in Bryggen. The three of us wandered into a fur shop and with some encouragement from Alix I walked out with a wool and rabbit hat. It wasn’t exactly the tourist item I thought I’d leave Bergen with, but I admit that it has kept me warm.
Our first stop today was Bryggen, or the historic part of Bergen. Bryggen used to be the site of warehouses, businesses, and homes. Today it is a tourist attraction with stores selling things ranging from stuffed bears to embroidery.
Because Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular things to do here is hike. Thus we duly headed to the nearest mountain, Mount Fløyen, and took the lazy way up, the funicular railway. Luckily we were blessed with a sunny day and the view at the top was spectacular.
From what I’ve learned so far hiking is a huge Norwegian pastime so once we reached the top we saw plenty of hikers coming up and down the mountain. Instead of taking the funicular back down the mountain we decided to be slightly more active and walk down. One perk of walking was being able to picking and eating the wild raspberries on the way down.
After walking down we spent the rest of our time walking around Bergen. Funnily enough I got a strange reminder of home when we stumbled upon an American car show. Most of the cars were quite old, but all of them were in excellent condition and it was nice to walk around and admire old Ford Mustangs.