Bergen Norway 11 & 12 June 2014

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June 13th 2014
Published: June 15th 2014
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Bergen Norway 11 & 12 June 2014

We arrived in Bergen just after lunch and drove straight to Camping Batland. After getting all the info from reception about how to get into the city, we hooked up to power and got ready for the bus, then light rail trip. We were about 15 kms outside of the city. We decided to do some food shopping at the nearby Spar which was 2 kms away so we drove there.

A little about the camp site, on the roof of the reception and toilet/shower block, was covered with weeds & other plants. We have seen a lot of this around Norway. We think the material that is used that attracts this growth, is slate. It looks pretty cool. Have a look at the photos. We see a lot of bus stop buildings with this weed cover.

We had a bus schedule which was every 1/2 hour but unfortunately one must have been cancelled as we had to wait 45 minutes for one to come along. It didn't really matter as the days were long so we had plenty of time.

Bergen's light rail system was fantastic. We changed to the light rail at a place called Nesttun. The bus stop is right next to the light rail stop - so convenient. In the light rail we stopped right out front of the famous Fish Market.

Bergen's outdoor fish market has a long history, being the historical centre for fish trade. Most tourists find their way here, but with locals changing their shopping habits, the fish market today does not compare to what it once was. The fish market is dominated by makeshift souvenir shops and seafood stalls. The seafood is generally of only ok quality as the fishermen no longer deliver their catch directly to the market. Still, you can get a pretty good idea of what the locals eat by having a look at the various fish they sell here, and try some of the stranger ones. Free samples of are usually available of the more common items such as whale, salmon and salmon caviar. Later on in the day, we had our dinner there - a skewer of prawn, salmon, monk fish and cod. Yum!!

Bergan is the second largest city in Norway and the most popular gateway to the fjords of West Norway. The city is renowned for its beautiful nature and offers excellent hiking opportunities in its immediate surroundings. Having fostered many of Norway's greatest bands and artists, the city is also famous for its cultural life and underground/indie music scene.

The city still has relics of its Hanseatic heyday, most notably the old harbor of Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bergen has been ravaged by several fires; the most recent major fire took place in 1916, a fire which destroyed most of the buildings in what is today the central parts of the city centre, centred around the large square Torgallmenningen.

Due to the city's location relatively far north, close to the northern sea and surrounded by mountains, special weather conditions occur, resulting in approximately 240 days with precipitation a year and a mean temperature of 7.6 °C. We experienced rain, hail & shine and a maximum temperature of 17 °C. During the night there was thunder and lightning but we woke up to beautiful sunshine. Then, just as we were going back into the city, it became overcast then p...ed down with torrential rain and hail. How changeable!!!!

The rain held off for a lot of our time while walking around the city, with the very occasional shower. We found the Information Centre very helpful.

After walking around the harbour, we caught the Fløibanen which is a funicular which goes up Fløyen, a plateau in the mountain massif north-east of the city centre. From here, we got a great view of the city. There was a massive telecommunications tower at the top as well as a restaurant.

We then went up the cable car to the top of Mt. Ulriken, the highest of the mountains surrounding the city. We had to catch a 10 minute bus to the terminal of the cable car. At the top was a souvenir shop and a very large restaurant which was re-opened May 2009.

We saw the oldest remaining building in Bergen, St. Mary's Church which was built in the 12th century. It is the best preserved of the city's three medieval churches. Having belonged to the German community in Bergen for many centuries, it contains a unique pulpit and one of Norway's most beautiful altarpieces.

We walked around Gamle Bergen (Old Bergen), which is a reconstructed town with about 50 wooden houses from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

Next was a visit to the Bergenhus fortress (Bergenhus), which was once the seat of the king, Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved forts of Norway. The oldest surviving buildings are from the mid 13th century, but the area was a royal residence from the late 11th century. The fortress is situated close to the international ferry terminal. The royal hall, Håkonshallen, (Haakon's Hall), named for King Haakon Haakonsson, was built sometime between 1247 and 1261. It is used today for royal galas, as a banqueting hall for the city council, and other public events. The roof is reconstructed after a blast during World War II. The nearby Rosenkrantz tower has the same appearance as it had in the 16th century. The oldest part of the tower dates back to the 1270s, a few decades after Håkonshallen. It was expanded in the 1560s by the governor, Erik Rosenkrantz, to its present shape. The rest of the medieval buildings in the fortress have been replaced or demolished over the centuries, with some ruins still visible. Among these is the medieval cathedral, the Church of Christ, which was used for coronation and as a royal burial site in the 13th century.

We also visited the Museum which is also on the site.

Bryggen (north side of the bay). Between 1350 and 1750, this area used to be a Hansa dock, trading and processing area. The wooden houses at Bryggen today were built after the devastating city fire of 1702, but are probably very similar to the buildings that were there before. Despite neglect and fires (Norwegian cities had a habit of burning down because everything is made of wood), a considerable number of buildings have survived and are now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We loved Bergen despite the weather. That night we had a big storm with thunder and lightning. It didn't matter as we were tucked up in bed by then.

The next morning we were just about to bus it back into town when down came the rain. This was when the hail came down (but no damage to us), and it was while we were talking to Kerrie. There was thunder when we were talking to Adam.

By the time the storm passed we decided not to bus it into town but say goodbye to the camp site and drive to the Fantoft Stave Church (Fantoft stavkirke) which Kerrie had encouraged us to see as she saw it on her cruise trip 7 or so years ago. Stave churches are built in a distinctive style using the logs of trees as pillars, by the early Christians. This is a reconstruction of a church originally built in Fortun, by the Sognefjord, around 1150. On the 6 Jun 1992, the church was totally destroyed by arson, but a perfect copy has since been constructed. The inside of the stave church has no wall paintings and the altar is quite austere. When we arrived, we smelled the recently re-tarred outside surfaces of the church. The forest around the church was also special with the trees and rocks covered by thick moss. It was a little eerie in some ways but added to the effect of the building.

Satisfied that we had seen all that we wanted to see in Bergan, we headed for Voss and Flam which was going to be yet another highlight.

Additional photos below
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