Tales from Bergen, Norway

IMG_1854Norway has been on my list for a long time now, but I knew enough about the place that I decided if and when I finally visited I wanted to do it right.  There was enough to see it was more than just a weekend destination, it rained often enough it was worth looking up just when it rained the least during the year, and it was far enough north that I knew to visit during the long days near the summer solstice.  I mean if you were going to a land of world-renowned scenery and $15 pints of beer in the pubs you’d make sure you maximized good weather, right?  Right.

So anyway, I finally found a long weekend straddling the end of May and beginning of June to visit, bought a ticket to Bergen on the coast entered the country armed with an umbrella and duty-free liquor… and promptly never needed the umbrella as the sun shone gloriously for 18 hours every day. (The duty free liquor was actually more for my Norwegian Airbnb hosts than for me, as the cardinal rule of Norway is you must always offer to bring alcohol to its citizens when visiting.) Seriously, I even got a little sunburnt by the end of it as taking sunscreen to Norway was just something that had not occurred to me!IMG_1865

All told, it was glorious.  Really.  I chose to base myself in Bergen, the second largest city of Norway with less than 300,000 people, a bustling harbor front, and a historic area of lovely little wooden houses called Bryggen, or Norwegian for “wharf.”  Every day the fishmongers still set up in the wharf area hawking their wares so you can have a nice meal by the water trying all the different sea creatures, as they have since times of yore except for the fact that the fishmongers now speak Spanish and Italian to each other, and on weekends the boaters from the area all tie up on the wharves for a bit of a party.  It’s all very hard not to like.

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Once the town got boring (really, it was small, so I’m not sure it was a “city”) one could head up into the mountains around town via cable car or incline- Pittsburgh-ese for funicular- and go hiking in the mountains around town.  I guess you could hike up the entire way too, but I preferred to save my energy to maximize the areas above the tree line where the view was spectacular.IMG_1870IMG_2020IMG_1877

Even if I hadn’t seen the fjords (which I did on a long day trip I’m determined to post pictures from still) Norway would have unquestionably qualified as a new favorite- no small thing to say when it’s your 55th country.  My only regret about the entire thing is I am now surely disappointed for the rest of my life when it comes to the weather in Norway- for me it should always be sunny with blue skies- though in the grand scheme of problems that’s a burden I’m happy to bear!

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