Sunday, June 05, 2011

Bergen in the Sun!

(Mark has reminded me that our cabin in Stavanger did not have a grass roof, but the others surrounding it did,so I am correcting it)

Took off towards Bergen today, starting with three ferry trips and some jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenery. The E39 winds up along the islands with bridges, some really long tunnels (8 km! under water!) and a few ferries. The ferry bits are short, which is good, but it still took most of the day to get to Bergen. We actually considered taking the long way round the hardangerfjord, but we decided we wanted some time in he city with the sun shining -- which is a remarkable rarity; Bergen gets 280 days of rain a year. And it was a lovely day, almost hot. We parked the car out near the bus station and walked into the town center to find our hotel.

We're staying at Den Hanseatiske Hotell,which is in an old wooden shipping building near the end of the wharf. The floors tilt rather crazily, and there aren't any right angles in our room. We're tucked up in the top floor (which is lucky, actually -- tehre was a mix up with the reservations and we arrived to find they had no idea who we were. We got a room, though, so all is god) under the steep eaves, and while the room is tiny (and leans precariously to one side) it's actually quite comfortable. We've been boggling at the number of fire-sprinkler heads in the room (5), but in light of the history of Bergen in general -- they lose about half the city center every hundred years or so to fire--it makes sense. They are very serious about protecting the remaining stretch of buildings from 1702 (after a massive fire and "modernization" destroyed over half of them) and fire is a big worry.

Out and about in Bergen, we got the standard tourist photos of Bryggen -- all those red and yellow and white warehouses lining the quay. They are all tourist shops now, and artisans workshops in the alleys behind, and they are quite a bit smaller than I imaged they were, to be honest. A few have been replaced with five-story brick buildings, but a long strip of the original plank and post buildings remain.

We walked along the main harbour and through the fish market, and found the one remaining city gate (which is not so much for protection as it was for the collection of tolls) and Mark got to gawk at the big ships moored at the piers for awhile. We even found the laundry (which isn't open until tomorrow) and walked around the tiny domkirke (cathedral). Most museums are closed, so we just walked around the kings park and the lake, and meandered around with the rest of the people enjoying the rare sunshine.

Our room is above a pizza place, and the smell was good enough to convince us to eat pizza yet again (yes, we're in Scandinavia, but usually eating pizza for dinner. We find good places for lunch whenever we can, and then we're tired enough at night to just want something quick and hot. Pizza fits the bill, and the aroma was pretty good advertising).

But we did make a quick trip to see Fantoft Stave church, which is only a few kilometers from Bergen. It's not really an authentic stave church any more -- it was originally moved from some remote village, piece by piece, but the businessman who bought it had it "enhanced" with dragonheads and more decorations to make it more like the bigger stave churches near Oslo. Then, in 1992, it burned down and was completely rebuilt from scratch to the same specifications. So, it's a completely new reproduction of a changed-and-updated version of an original church. It's small, too -- mark assures me that most of them are really tiny. Somehow, I imagined them as much larger. But then again, I have a lot of problems with scale when it comes to old buildings.

When we finally crashed, it was after 11 and still bright outside. That is SO hard to get used to.

Tomorrow? More Bergen -- this time in the rain. We're going to see the Hanseatic Museum, the Bryggen museum (of the archeological excavations beneath the wharf), and the Shotstuen house, and climb Rosenkrantz's tower and Hakon's Hall. And shop. We have no souvenirs yet, which is par for the course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful narration, as usual. Thanks, Robin! Are you avoiding getting sick, or just ignoring it?