What better way to spend the long summer days of late June than on the rocky and fjord-dotted west coast of Norway? We were lucky enough, in this case, to spend the four-day weekend with Britt’s sister, who joined us after attending a wedding in Sweden. We were not lucky, however, with the weather. Bergen is often cited as the rainiest city in Europe, and while we were mentally prepared for that, the weekend was even rainier than expected, as noted by the apologetic border patrol officer that stamped our passports on our way out. Oh well! We stayed in Bergen at Ole Bull Hotel & Apartments (mediocre, but relatively affordable rooms in the center of the city) on nights 1 and 3 and took the famous Norway in a Nutshell trip over the middle two days, staying overnight on night 2 in Flåm.
The most obvious starting point for a visit to Bergen is its harbor. Bryggen, a collection of wooden houses on one side of the harbor, while touristy, is undeniably charming. This is a good spot to grab a souvenir, especially from one of the many local artists; we brought home a piece by Ketil Kvam. Northwest of here lies Bergenhus Fortress, which is worth a wander.
Further up from the harbor, Fjellet Nord is a quaint neighborhood in the hills, with cobblestone streets and attractive wooden homes. And all with barely a tourist in sight! We had a similar experience around the Nøstet neighborhood, with its beautiful homes and charismatic winding alleys.
We had hoped to hike up around Fløyen on our final day, but the rain was near-torrential and the mountains were shrouded in clouds. We called an audible and decided to spend the day indoors at Kode, a series of art museums in the center of the city. Highlights for us: a display of wooden spoons, carved in one day over consecutive days; Queen Sonja’s art collection; and discovering the work of Norwegian painting icon J. C. Dahl.
In the very last hour of our final day, just before heading to the airport, the rain and clouds cleared up and we grabbed the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Fløyen with just enough time to appreciate the views of the city and surrounding mountains. The travel gods couldn’t stop the rain for long, but they did their best to make the end of our trip very special!
We admit that Norwegian cuisine is not quite up our alley, but we did have some good food in Bergen. We grabbed breakfasts from Godt Brød, a chain with a wide selection of breakfast fare (bread, rolls, pastries). Lunch at Smakverket, located in Kode 2, was surprisingly good (chicken sandwiches). Our best meal was had at Potetkjelleren (lamb, cod). Our most shameful meal was takeaway pizza (and a brownie!) at Dolly Dimple’s. We got back so late and so tired from our 2-day Norway in a Nutshell trip that this seemed like a good idea. Sometimes you just want to eat some bad comfort food in your unexceptional hotel room! Ending this on a nice note, we grabbed delicious brownies with ice cream from Ruccola Café while we waited out the rain before heading up to Fløyen.
Stay tuned for tales from our adventure out of the city and into fjord country!