Surrounded by steep mountains and sitting next to the World’s largest fjord, the colourful charming city Bergen is tucked away on the west coast of Norway.
Bergen, also regarded as the gateway to the fjords, casts a fairy-tale-like spell with its small-town charm. Enveloped by seven mountains Bergen is blessed with natural beauty. Colourful houses dot the hillsides and the waterfront areas of Bryggen—the city’s harbour district, a Hanseatic wharf. The city teems with tourists seeking slices of nature, adventure, culture and history.
I reached Bergen after my fjord trip. As the train of Bergen Railway arrived Bergen Central Station, I got down and walked to the Youth Hostel – that I booked for night shelter via booking.com. After checking in, I got freshened up and started exploring the city.
The hostel was located downtown. Almost every part of the city was within walking distance. First I decided to visit Bryggen – the old town of Bergen, now inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The old city of Bergen was traditionally thought to have been founded by king Olav Kyrre in 1070 AD. During Viking age, Bergen was gradually getting established as the important port and trading hub of Northern Europe and thus assumed the function of the capital of Norway. The Hanseatic merchants lived in their own separate quarter of the town, where Middle Low German was used, enjoying exclusive rights to trade with the northern fishermen who each summer sailed to Bergen. This part of the city is regarded as Bryggen, on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Unfortunately the city was devastated numerous time by fire but every time, rebuilt to its current state. Currently Bryggen is the center of attraction of the city.
Like other travelers, I was dragged by the small, brightly coloured narrow boat houses of Bryggen. I went inside the area. At present, there are about 70 houses. Each of the buildings houses a restaurant, cafe, antique shop and bookstore nowadays. I started wandering the narrow cobblestoned alleys where the miniature of the lifestyle of the medieval Norway was depicted. I seemed like a time travel.
Walking in the Hanseatic Wharf I felt hungry. A food truck was standing nearby. I was a bit confused about the dishes. The counter person suggested to taste Norwegian Stew – a Viking dish. The delicious dish is prepared by marinating minced lamb with yoghurt, onion juice, lime juice followed by cooking with boiled potato and carrot. A detailed recipe is found in my blog post Norwegian Stew – A Viking dish from the street of Bergen, Norway.
Feeling my stomach and secreting saliva inside my mouth, I decided to explore the street art of Bergen.
Scandinavian people have a refined aesthetic sense. It reflects on their design, graffiti, murals, architectures and sculptures. I started walking towards the Kode Art Museum.
En route I found “The Homeless” – a bronze sculpture dedicated to the destitute.
Walking further I reached KODE – Scandinavia’s largest museum for art and music. It has a unique combination of art museums of visual art, historical objects, concerts and parklands. The museum is located in four buildings; visitors can also visit the homes of three famous Norwegian composers (Edvard Grieg, Harald Sæverud, and Ole Bull). Purchasing a ticket by 160 NOK (16 Euro) I went inside the huge museum.
I was completely astonished to see all the 40,000 objects displayed in the museum. When I left the museum it was around 9PM. I decided to have dinner in the world famous ‘Fisketorget i Bergen’, popularly known as the Bergen Fish Market.
The Fish Market in Bergen is one of Norway’s most visited outdoors markets. Not only fish, other seafoods like squid, octopus, whale meats are also available in this market.
The Fish Market in Bergen has since the 1200s been a meeting place for merchants and fishermen. For more detail about the Bergen Fish Market, please check my photo story (Inside Norway’s Fish Market) published in National Geographic Traveller.
It was quite late when I came out of the market. The city was in full charm of night life; nonetheless, I preferred to call it a day.
Next morning, I decided to trek to Mount Fløyen. Though surrounded by seven hills, the best top view of the city can be seen from the top of Mt. Fløyen and Mt. Ulriken. The second one can be accessed by zip-lining. But due to the weather conditions, the service was temporarily stopped.
Mount Floyen can be accessed by cute Fløyenbana funicular but I decided to hike up. It was a 2 hour hike from the city center. The trail was easy. Breathtaking views of the city were seen during the entire trail.
The trail started from Skredderdalen – an uphill neighborhood of Bergen, then through forest. If felt like being totally in the wilderness.
It took two hours to reach atop the mountain. The weather unfavored me. The sky was completely over casted with cloud. I planned to went back.
When I came back downtown, it was 3PM. I had lunch with baked salmon and planned to have a fjord trip. I went to the jetty. Right after the ferry ran, it started raining. So we got deprived to get the view but it was a thrilling experience to sail on a sea while raining. The colourful Bryggen during the rainfall looked like a cityscape painted by Van Gough.
My soul was craving for coffee. When the rain stopped, I visited a nearby cafe where I met a middle aged lady who offered me a ticket to the National Theatre.
I am fond of Nordic plays. The performance and story was great. The evening ended with a great dinner in the Fish Market.
After dinner I was sitting alone on the sea shore. It was my last night in this beautiful country. Norway is not only the most scenic, the people of the country are also welcoming. My life as a traveler would be incomplete if I could not visit the amazingly beautiful Norway.