Experience the Absolute Best of Bergen, Norway in 7 Hours!
My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.
The next stop on the cruise was Bergen, the second largest city in Norway. My pre-trip research had warned me of the cool, misty days this location often has, so we were prepared with warm clothes and waterproof outerwear.
Records indicate that the area was inhabited as far back as 1070 and was originally referred to as Bjørgvin, 'the green meadow among the mountains". Bergen has seen a number of tragedies that have impacted its development and the city we see today. From wars, fires, famines, and plagues, Bergen has experienced enough to make a person wonder how the people living in the area didn't cut and run!
The Climate of Bergen
Most of the city is situated on a fjord and protected by barrier islands. Seven mountains surround the city center, creatively referred to as "The Seven Mountains".
Here is the specific reason, I always do extensive pre-trip research! Prior to booking this trip, I was under the impression that the region was harshly cold. I imagined tons of rain in the months not associated with winter and a ton of snow in winter. Pleasantly, Wrong! There is an orographic lift, caused by the mountains surrounding the area. This anomaly does yield an abundant amount of rain or misty and foggy conditions. However, it also provides milder than one would think temperatures, year-round. There is actually very little temperature variance as the months of the year progress. Honestly, I found this phenomenon quite interesting which is why I have shared it here!
My Fabulous Experience!
Stepping into Bergen was taking talking a step back in time! The harbor area, where we spent the majority of our time, was quaint. Yes, it was misty and cool. I heard several from our ship complaining about the weather. But, to me, it was perfect. Don't get me wrong, I always prefer sunny and mild temperatures but with the weather that day, I was getting the authentic experience!
This is no ordinary fish market! It's fabulous! Operating since the 1200s, traditionally this area has been a meeting place for the locals, fishermen, and merchants. In addition to fish right off the boat, one can purchase fruits, vegetables, flowers, and housewares. Surrounding the stalls of the market are shops and restaurants.
In the harbor where the market is located, you can watch the fish being off-loaded from the small fishing boats. We learned that these small boats rowed in from neighboring villages to benefit from the sales at the open market. Witnessing fish being cleaned and filleted, the fish market was swiftly becoming a spectacular adventure. The sights, the smells, and the sounds of bargaining abound; it was a great day!
An Error in Judgment
As we wandered the aisles of stalls, it wasn't unusual to be offered samples of every kind of seafood imaginable. It was awesome! But then, we made an error in judgment! We accepted a sample of whale meat from a very proud and insistent worker! What the heck, we had never had whale meat before, so enthusiastically, we popped the samples into our mouths!. Salty? Yes. Different? Absolutely! Delicious? Well, at first, yes! Then the taste sunk in. OMG! What in the world was in our mouths? The stall owner was anxiously awaiting a verdict!. Did we love it? Wasn't it the best thing we had ever eaten? Smiling, we did the only thing we could do to prevent an international incident: we lied! Trying to speak without swallowing, we thanked him and walked away, looking for the very first trash receptacle we could find! The whale meat quickly and without additional thought, became collateral damage in our cultural immersion!
Operating for over 100 years, the funicular takes you to the top of Fløyen Mountain. I am told that after the six-minute ride, there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the fjords. Unfortunately, due to heavy fog during our time in Bergen, the carriages were not in operation. Although this was disappointing, we now had the time to wander away from the harbor area and see a bit more of the town.
There is Life Beyond the Harbor
Having time to stroll, stroll we did! Wandering away from the harbor area and fish market, we found a quaint restaurant and indulged in the most delicious bowl of fish chowder and sourdough bread that I have ever had! Considering the cool, misty weather this lunchtime choice was just what the doctor ordered!
After lunch, we did some shopping and found some beautiful public gardens in the square. The rain continued, but under umbrella cover, we managed to enjoy a cup of coffee in the square.
Other Important Features of Bergen
Being on a cruise with limited time, there is plenty we did not have the opportunity to explore.
Home to some spectacular museums and churches. Bergen also offers one of the oldest Philharmonic orchestras in the world. Dating back to 1765, it celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2015. The city is the cultural hub of the region and caters to the arts and its participants. It kind of has it all from art to nature and much in between!
Because of the location amongst the mountains and fjords, hiking, kayaking, and other natural activities are prevalent. Bergen is also the location of several cultural festivals throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
While we only had about 7 hours in Bergen, it was a fabulous day! Yes, the whale meat was a bit over the top but no regrets! Part of the travel adventure is new experiences- just glad that one is in the rearview!
As I said, earlier, spending time in Bergen was like a step back in time. It was everything I imagined a fishing village would be, except it's not really a village. Although Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, it felt small and welcoming.
As the trip progressed from Denmark to Norway, it was awesome to experience a "different" Europe. So much of Europe is popular for its antiquities, its cosmopolitan cities, and nightlife or its beaches. Being somewhat off the beaten path, Norway and Denmark have a culture much different than other destinations that I had visited; one of simplicity and appreciation of natural beauty. Both countries to some degree depend on tourism but they lack the commercialism we typically associate with that industry. To say it was refreshing doesn't seem to fully capture the essence of those destinations. I believe that the phrase "je ne sais quois" best describes both.
If you have had the opportunity to spend time in this area, I encourage you to share your thoughts and comments in the section provided in this article. If you have not visited this area, then perhaps it is now on your travel radar. either way, until next time friends, remember "To Travel is to Live!"
© 2022 Dee Serkin