Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend in Bergen

This weekend we decided to hop the short (25 min) flight over to Bergen. This was my first experience flying domestic and I learned two things. First, the airport doesn't check your ID for a domestic flight. At all. And second, because no one is more important than anyone else (Norwegian mentality), they open up boarding all at once for everyone on the plane. A bit chaotic, but an experience nonetheless.

We arrived and caught the flybussen over to the sentrum (city center) and checked into our hotel before venturing out to walk the city and find dinner. Here was our first mistake of the evening - we didn't make reservations. The place we'd looked up was closed and every other place we checked as we walked around was full. One of the restaurants suggested we try Jacobs Aall as they normally have outdoor seating available. It was a bit chilly outside, but the heat lamps and blankets they provided made it tolerable. Until the table next to us started smoking and we learned that the entire upstairs since it was outdoors was smoking. After table-hopping three times and crying at the idea of having to find another place to eat because I was so hungry (I blame the hormones...) we settled into a spot away from anyone else and downwind in case new smokers arrived. Fortunately, the waiter was great and our food was amazing which saved the evening from being a total disaster!

The following morning we headed to the tourist office to pick up a Bergen card. Along the way we took advantage of the monthly Farmer's Market that we happened to catch and also perused the famous Fish Markets on the way to our next stop - the akvariet (aquarium). 

I'm not sure what it is about zoos or aquariums, but Jason and I are smitten with them and love visiting them wherever we are. There's just something serene about walking slowly together and enjoying looking at the animals and reading about them. We can't wait to take our daughter to zoos and aquariums after she arrives!

We made sure to catch the seal feeding before we left the aquarium. The male was a bit of a show-off and we enjoyed watching his tricks along with his three leading ladies.

We walked along the Strandgaten with a beautiful view of the water and mountains. We stopped at Cafe Kippers for a chai tea and muffin and sat outside soaking up the sun.

As we made our way back towards the sentrum we stopped at the Bergenhus Fortress. The main attraction there is the Rosenkrantz Tower, which we discovered was only open on Sundays. We noted the hours so we could visit the following day and walked around the grounds for a bit before heading to the Bryggens Museum.

Overall, I would say the museum was a bit of a disappointment. They had one floor with some decent exhibits and the upstairs temporary exhibit was all about shoes. It was interesting to see how shoes were made in the old days, but beyond that the rest of the exhibit was pretty corny. I would only recommend going there if it's free (as our visit was with the Bergen card) or you have time to kill.

We headed back to the hotel for a short nap before walking over to catch the tram up to Fløibanen. The mountain overlooks the city of Bergen from over 300 meters and we wanted to watch the sunset from the top. We took my Week 24 picture there and walked around before snagging a good spot to watch the sunset.

I did not throw a snowball at you...

Check it. I'm a troll.
We'd learned our lesson the previous night  regarding dinner so Jason had made reservations for us at Holbergstuen. We enjoyed another great meal and walked around the city afterwards as we slowly headed back to our hotel.

On Sunday we caught the bus and took a short walk to catch the cable car up to Ulriken, another mountain overlook of the city. This view, however, was over 600 meters high and allowed us to see more southwest of Bergen and a better view of the mountains surrounding us.

The top had lots of trails and we saw plenty of hikers and cross-country skiers taking advantage of the sunny weather to get outside. We threw a few snowballs at one another and walked around the top before heading back down to the sentrum.

Next we visited the Hanseatic Museum. It gave a great overview of the fishing industry in Bergen during the 13th to 17th centuries. I would highly recommend visiting this museum to get an understanding of the history of Bergen and how it was influenced by the fish trade.

King cod
Rosenkrantz Tower was next on our list and we walked through each of the floors of this medieval tower dating back to the 13th century. It was extended in the 16th century and named for Governor Erik Rosenkrantz. It also underwent significant restoration after a ship exploded in the nearby harbor in the 1940's.

Finally, we walked along Bryggen (the Wharf) and admired the old buildings we'd learned were built during the Hanseatic time. Their narrow alleyways gave us a good view of the shifting foundations that over time has caused these buildings to lean pretty significantly.

We had some time to kill before our flight and enjoyed a long and liesurely lunch at Nama Sushi and Noodles. Jason was aghast at spending over $150 for two people on sushi. (Welcome to Norway!) But once again the food was spectacular and hit the spot.

Here's all the delicious food from our trip!

Overall it was a great weekend exploring our first Norwegian city outside of Stavanger (which we really haven't done any of the touristy things here in our hometown yet...). We were fortunate and caught Bergen on a sunny and relatively warm weekend with no rain.

Up next on the list is visiting Tromsø this weekend to go dog sledding and chase the Northern Lights!

PS. I've added a link to the top navigation bar for our adventures in Norway. Enjoy!

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