Bergen might hold the title of being Norway's second largest metropolis after the capital city Oslo, but owing to its location as the prime gateway to the Norwegian fjords, it comes as no real surprise that the place has put it in contention for the nation's most preferred urban area. There are a few factors which need to be considered when planning any trip to Bergen, one of them being the unavoidably high cost of living which manifests itself in just about every realm of spending imaginable, and another being the fact that this is a city with an average of 200 rainy days per year. Coming prepared then, is advisable, but in reality, you needn't worry too much, as there are ways and means of enjoying Bergen without pushing the (Viking) boat out too much, and emerge from the experience feeling short-changed. If you plan to buzz round as many museums and payable attractions as possible in just one day, then a purchase of a Bergen card is well worth considering, though this being the Easter period, not everything was open, so a little inside knowledge and a pre-planned route came very much to the rescue. The first experience was
the commendable trip up the funicular known as Floibanen, and the vantage point coupled with the view it affords captures the kind of city view which reminded this traveller of how spectacular a city can look from up on high, as per Rio's Christ the Redeemer monument or indeed Sugarloaf mountain. For another city view from a different angle, be sure to also try the cable car ride 'Ulriken', which takes the visitor up to a vantage point at the base of a TV mast, and views of both a natural and man-made nature - impressive! Bergen is well represented on the museum front, yet aside from the obvious locally-themed offerings such as the fisheries museum and the maritime museum, the VilVite science museum is one of the most interactive hands-on displays of entertaining and educational aspects of science which you could ever cobble together, and an absolute must if you have kids in tow. Bergen storsenter seems to be the city's most centrally-located mall, being located right beside the main railway station, but it becomes fairly apparent that outsized malls are not really what the city excels at, and the independent stores which line Bergen's streets are better evidence
The Norwegian fjords
of the kind of commercial culture which was destined to be the longest-established and most upheld by the locals. Nightlife is as well represented as could be expected from a city of its size, and one tourist-centric, but sufficiently enjoyable, local spot comes in the form of the Magic Ice Bar, one of numerous ice bars located right across the world, but succeeds on account of its ability to attract camera-toting visitors whose passion for gimmicky creations will gravitate them towards these kinds of places. Eating out in Bergen soon reveals a higher-than-average set of standards, often with a price tag which more than matches that level of quality, but then again, if this is a short trip seen as a one-off, then a spot of indulgence is more than likely on the cards. An unmissable excursion from Bergen is the Norwegian fjord tour, commonly referred to as 'Norway in a nutshell', and whichever way you choose to plot your route, you can be assured that the variety of cruise boat, trains and coach which will take you around the fjordland route will reveal scenery which tries so hard to justify its status as being National Geographic's greatest scenery on
earth accolade. Even though the Norwegian fjords are extensive and stretch further north than Bergen, the popular route of Bergen - Myrdal - Flam - Gudvangen - Voss - Bergen is a full day stretch involving 3 trains, one coach and a cruise boat, the world's first electrically-powered passenger vessel, designed to minimize any environmental impact of daily cruises. Dramatic scenery abounds along the way, where rivers, waterfalls, cliffs, valleys, mountains and rolling greenery fuse into one glorious whole where the visitor's attention could be held in a captivated state throughout the whole duration of the excursion. A prolonged stop at Flam is a common feature of the route, as it offers the greatest en-route spread of shopping, dining and relaxation options, with one insightful (free) museum documenting the history of the world-famous Flam railway. Back in Bergen though, there is sufficient evidence to state that urbanization needn't ruin the city's natural poise, as the building material of choice appears to be wood from local timber forests, adding weight to the fact that Bergen was more than likely designed to blend in with the surroundings as best it could. Rebuilding Bergen due to fire-related damage has been an occurrence on more than one significant occasion in the past, but having risen from the ashes (!) of defeat in the past is part of this fine Scandinavian city's identity and ability to re-align itself with the kind of reality, living through which one can only suspect has been on the cards ever since the very first city planners drew up the blueprint for the city's original structure.
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Very interesting as always are your travels. I visited Norway with the Commands veterans in December 2017. Some 2hours coach drive into the mountains from Oslo. The Royal Marines commando's have very close ties with the Norwegeian military over many. Because of the possible attack by Russians forces all modern day Commandos are taught snow warfare. Well done again Simon you must put all your travels into a book. I keep telling you. Spoke to your Mum and Dad recently they are both proud of you and they too enjoy travelling with you. Kind regards Earle