August 11-13, 2015: Although I prefer to travel by rail, sometimes distance or connections make flying a more logical choice, and so I flew from Stockholm to Bergen, on Norwegian. As well as checking myself in, I had to tag my own bag. Then I discovered that even water cost 30 krone on board. Good thing it was a short flight! So short, it took nearly as long to get my checked bag, partly because a mob of Viking cruise ship passengers were picking up their luggage from the same belt and the place was a zoo, and partly because my bag was the last one out. I had nearly given up hope.
The airport bus delivered me practically to the door of my hotel, the Scandic Ørnen, but my day did not otherwise improve. After I left the hotel in search of lunch the heavens opened, and the wind picked up. At first my light-weight umbrella refused to open, and when it did it was promptly blown inside out. After this happened for the fifth time I gave up. I lucked into a good sandwich and the corner of a table at the aptly named Godt Brød, and then went into the first likely looking store to buy a sturdier umbrella. Of course, the rain stopped as soon as I was properly equipped. Dinner that night was at the very crowded Pingvinen, where I shared space at the bar with a woman on her first solo trip in five years.
I was in Bergen, another former Hanseatic port, to take a six night Hurtigruten cruise, and my elder sister flew in from England to join me. We had two nights in Bergen, and since we would not board until the afternoon we had plenty of time for the town. Our first priority was the funicular that climbs high above the town, and the rains cleared long enough for us to enjoy the excellent views, and to take a short walk to a pretty lake.
As in Copenhagen, the redeveloped quayside was mobbed by tourists and tourist shops, but it wasn’t quite as bad, and the area included a photogenic fish market. We avoided the shops, visiting one church, one disappointing museum – Bryggen – one very good and little known one – the University Cultural History Museum – and an art museum with three rooms of Munch’s work. The city has its own Cultural History Museum, closed for renovation, and the university also has a Natural History Museum, which didn’t interest us. Enquiries for the University Cultural History Museum invariably resulted in information about one or both of the others.
When we eventually reached our target Cultural History museum we spent a couple of hours there, before eating lunch in one of the university’s cafeterias. The artifacts in the religion section, including beautifully carved woodwork from demolished stave churches, were considerably better and more extensive than those we saw later in Oslo’s History Museum. The museum also offered a costume section and a number of theater mockups.
On my first afternoon I had asked both a woman in the T.I., where I had gone for a map and general information, and a man in the Nespresso shop, where I had gone in search of decent coffee, for the best place in town for espresso. Happily, they both recommended the same place, a small cafe to the right of the funicular station, and I visited all three days.
Bergen is pleasant enough, at least when the sun shines. Our hotel was fine, and although not really central we got to walk past a prettily landscaped park on the way to the center. Still, we were ready to board our ship and head out.