Project Description

For this first visit of Norwegian fjords, I chose to go through Fjord Tours to directly book a “package”. One of them raised my interest, the Geirangerfjord & Norway in a Nutshell® tour. It is an organized, unaccompanied tour which only includes transportation and covers two of the most popular excursions in Norway: a cruise on the Geirangerfjord and the famous Norway in a nutshell®, which is a beautiful trip from Oslo to Bergen (or vice versa/roundtrip) via Voss, Gudvangen, Flam and Myrdal. Moreover, a visit of Ålesund and a cruise on the Hardangerfjord, second fjord of Norway, are on my to do list. I make this trip with a friend and we stay in hotels which provide us some comfort after long days of sightseeing. We eat from time to time in local restaurants and take the opportunity to do some activities on site.

We board MS Horald Kong, one of the eleven ships of the Hurtigruten coastal express fleet, then leave Ålesund for good at 1:00, towards the south. We spend the night on the boat and arrive early afternoon in Bergen. This is an opportunity for us to rest. We finally get up to enjoy breakfast and then sit down outside on the rear deck to enjoy the journey. The imperceptible rocking of the boat definitely help us to fall asleep, until we hear an announcement late morning that wake us up. We are kindly requested to leave the deck swiftly due to a repatriation in helicopter. So we settle into the large living room to the front of the boat, where we spend the rest of the trip. This is the time to read a few lines about Bergen.

Once the capital city of Norway until 1830, Bergen is an international city which has retained all the charm and atmosphere of a small town. The people love their beautiful city with many facets and are proud of their maritime, commercial and cultural traditions. The city is like a spectacular amphitheater surrounded by both mountains and the sea. This modern city, gateway to the most beautiful and wildest fjords of Norway, also has a rich history. Traditions, initiative spirit and dynamism have made Bergen one of the most active cultural cities of Norway. It is not a coincidence if the largest cultural event in Norway, Bergen International Festival, is organized here every year, and if the city was selected as European Capital City of Culture in 2000. Historic districts reflect a rich past and museums and galleries allow you to admire the ancestral heritage. We “drop anchor” in Bergen early afternoon, according to the schedule.

Upon arrival and as usual, we first reach our hotel in order to check in and drop our luggage. We are staying at Scandic Neptun Hotel, only 5 minutes away from the harbour and the market place.

  • Very well situated, right in the center.
  • Good breakfast buffet.
  • Room quite old looking.
  • Carpet in the room.
  • Staff unfriendly, cold welcome.

hotelbergen

After that, we go for a city tour to see the most famous tourist spots. Bergen city center can be easily explored on foot, but trams, buses and taxis are available is you need them. Bergen Card allows free access to the bus network within the city, most museums and attractions and provides discounts in many cultural attractions, tours, shops, restaurants and parking, but we haven’t bought it. We start ou visit of Bergen by Torget, the fish market.

This place which lies at the bottom of the harbour is the busiest and most touristic place of Bergen. Here stands the traditional fish market, where we can be found all kind of seafood, alive, fresh, smoked or marinated, and a lot of sandwiches and delicious dishes to enjoy on site or take away. In summer, traders use the services of foreign students, so you may hear French as well as Japanese, Russian, Spanish or Chinese. Flowers, vegetables, jewelry and other crafts are also sold there.

Following the road along the harbour, we reach the most famous group of houses of Bergen, Bryggen.

 

After several fires, the area of the Hanse has been faithfully reconstructed on the old harbor, along the docks. The oldest part dates from 1702, but is based on the old design from the 12th century. Today, Norwegian knitwears and antiques shops have replaced warehouses, but the charm still exists and it is easy to spend hours there.

This area, reserved for merchants of the Hanseatic League from the mid 14th to the 18th century, is situated between the fish market and the fortress and was a city within a city. Indeed, it was enclosed by walls, closed by doors, closely monitored, regulated and governed by its own laws and institutions and was directly submitted to the Municipal Council of Lübeck. Populated only by Germans, it consisted of long rows of houses, placed back to back, perpendicular to the sea and separated by narrow passages. Each company had its own business manager, apprentices and employees. Arriving in Bergen they should all commit to live in the German neighborhood, to respect the laws of the cantonment, not to become citizens of Bergen and not to marry. To ensure compliance with this last rule, the presence of women was strictly forbidden in Bryggen. Buildings with triangular dough up toward the sea served as home (waterfront) and warehouse (backwards). At the rear of each row was a building dedicated to social life and was the only one in which fire was allowed; it then served as community kitchen and living room in winter.

We then go back towards the port and the fish market, and take the Fløibanen to reach mount Fløyen.

The Fløibanen is one of the most famous attractions in Norway and the only one of its kind in the country. It connects the city center atop Mount Fløyen in 7 minutes and the way up there is an experience in itself. Departure point is from the lower station, in the heart of the city, 150 meters from both Bryggen and the fish market. It is said that the passing tourist has not really seen Bergen until he has climbed mount Fløyen with the Fløibanen! From the observation platform at an altitude of 320 meters, you can admire a breathtaking view of the entire city of Bergen, the fjords and the surrounding mountainous landscape. You must see it to believe it, amazing! But Fløyen is not just this. Indeed, the place is a starting point of various types of excursions such as walks, hiking trails, ski slopes in winter, etc… Anyway, load of things to do!

We then go down back to the city center and go eat at one of the market stalls inside the fish market. It has all different kinds of fish, fresh sandwiches and even fruits and vegetables, not to mention ice cream and pancakes. In short, we had a full meal, not very cheap, but it is like this with Norwegian prices. Afterward, we wander a bit in the harbour and in the old town.

Then we go back to our hotel to prepare our next day on the Hardangerfjord.

REVIEW OF THIS DAY IN BERGEN

Bergen is a beautiful city and so alive. We can walk all day without feeling the slightest boredom, as there is much to see and to do. If you are fed up by land, take off on one of the many boats taking tourists for a cruise in the fjords nearby. Wanna try out local food? It’s easy, go the the fish market and you will certainly find what you like. If you are staying in an apartment or if you have access to a kitchen, it is imperative to buy fresh seafood at the market and then cook it your way. In addition, Bergen is one of the starting points for the most popular excursions and its airport greatly facilitates access to the region.

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