Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 09/13/12
SCAND2003 #18 Norway in a Nutshell
June 22-23, 2003
Sunday, June 22, 2003
At 2:50 we boarded the Flømsbana train which carries you back up to the top to the town of Myrdal. Ten minutes up the hill and the train stops to let the train coming down the mountain pass by (the only place they can pass each other). A little later the train stops and everyone gets out to see this incredible Kjosfossen waterfall. All of a sudden music starts playing and in the distance a woman appears and begins to dance. Then she disappears and immediately appears in another area (obvious multiple women). It was obviously a setup but incredibly beautiful with the girl dancing, the music and the backdrop of this incredible waterfall.
We then took off and arrived in Myrdal at 3:45 PM. We said our goodbyes to Giulio, who was heading east to Oslo, and then we caught the fast train to Bergen with again spectacular scenery en route. I worked on the computer during the boring parts.
We arrived in Bergen Station (above right) at 5:50 and walked back to the hotel. It looked like we had brought the sun from the inland to Bergen. Since sun is rare, at 6:30, I decided to run around and photograph as much as I could in the good light. I went past the Kunstindustrimuseum (Industrial Art Museum) and to Lake Lille Lungegaardsvann with its fountain in the middle. The Bergen Kunstmuseum is the large white building on the other side which Marcia got to go to but I missed. I went by the Bibliotek (Bergen City Library) and there was an interesting metal sculpture on the lawn representing a knight on horseback.
I went back to the hotel and Marcia and I strolled down to the Brygge area and then went up the little hill and at 7:30 we took the funicular called the Fløibanen up to Mt. Fløyen. It has an interesting route which goes under several streets.
At the top it is very nice with souvenir shops and we had a Hansa beer and wine at the Fløien Folkerestaurant at the top. The views of Bergen from here are breathtaking and you can see how the city is built on this peninsula jutting out into the North Sea. At 9:00 we took the funicular back down and walked back to the Brygge area where there is a line of old buildings that date back to the merchants of the German Hanseatic League. This was a large group of merchants originally from Germany that controlled most of the trade in the whole area from about 1300 to the 1700s.
This particular group of houses (above) is listed on the UN preservation list. They have been kept up very nicely by their individual owners. We discovered that one of them housed the Irisk Pub so we went in for a drink at 9:30. I had a Guinness followed by a Ringnes and Marcia had wine. The bartender was interesting in that he is from England and a singer. He put his CD on of Elvis songs and they were pretty good. We had the chance to chat with several Norsemen as well.
At 10:30, we left and went down the street for dinner at a place that looked pretty good on my run the day before. It is called the Bryggeloftet & Stuene (stuene = living room) [, +47-.] Marcia had a chardonnay, fish soup and a salmon trout. I had a rioja red wine, grouse breast salad, and went ahead with a Hvalbiff (whale steak) with gratinated potatoes with cheese. The first steak was very tough so she took it back and brought me another one. There was something about the taste of this whale that led me to conclude that it would be the very last time I would be eating hvalbiff. I did finish it all however. We walked back to the hotel and got to bed at 1 AM
Monday, June 23, 2003
I woke up at 9:00 and it was raining again, so I slept and woke at 10:00 and then got up at noon. I went out to find a place to change money and waited in the usual line (taking my number) at Sparebank1Vest. It was there that I saw a Bergen police car for the first time and the Bergen tour bus (left.) At 1:30, I went for a cappuccino at Henry Hilgesen Bakery. I went back to the hotel and found Marcia and we walked back to the Brygge area. I finally decided that we needed a rest from all the driving we had done and since it is a very long way to Nordkapp, the best alternative is the Hurtigruten (means "fast trip") ferry ships that leave Bergen every day. You can read about the history of the line. They have new modern ships that are real cruise liners and they also have some old clunkers. It’s hit or miss which one you get unless you plan ahead, of course (which we never do.) While walking I used the cell phone and booked the ship from Bergen to Trondheim (it stops in many places.) We were lucky and they had a room for us and a place for our car.
[In 2007, they added 10 new modern ships. You can book passage on the above link. To download a beautiful 102 page brochure on the Hurtigruten right click HERE.]
At 3 PM we found the entrance for the tour of Håkonshallen (Håkon’s Hall) and Rosenkrantztårnet (Rosenkrantz Tower.) It was pretty tricky to find and was not marked with a sign. We first took the Håkonshallen tour (above) which was mandatory to have a guide. It was in English. It is a Gothic ceremonial hall built by King Håkon Håkonsson in 1261 for the coronation and wedding of his son, Magnus Lagabøter. It’s made of local stone with details in soapstone. The ceremonial hall was originally on the top floor but in 1683 it was redesigned to store corn. In 1941, on Adolph Hitler’s birthday, a German boat sitting near by, loaded with explosives, exploded causing tremendous damage to the whole area and many people were killed. Was it a coincidence? No one really knows. The hall is now located on a lower floor after the reconstruction and has the throne room in it. There were also ancient symbols inscribed in the stone of the walls by prisoners and old areas where they used to store wine.
Then you go over to Rosenkrantztårnet where she shows us the gradual construction and additions made over the years. The tower, along with the Hall, is part of the fortifications of Bergenhus (Bergen Castle) and the tower was built in 1560 by Erik Rosenkrantz, the governor of the Castle. I climbed to the top of the tower and got some very nice views of the Brygge area. We left there in the rain and headed for the Brygge Museum.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #19
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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