VOV: Bergen, Norway

Saturday, July 23, 2022

We were still so full from the Norwegian lunch buffet that we didn’t want to eat a big dinner. We played some slots and then went to the Lido. I had a salad and Chuck had some chicken pot pie.

Afterwards, we listened to the first set of the Ocean Bar band. Chuck went to play some cards. I came back to the room to read. It was going to be another early tour for us.

I was up at 5:30 and breakfast was delivered at 6:45. Our tour was to start at 8:15. Déjà vu.

Since today was another HAL tour, we went to the main stage area, showed our tickets, and got our tour number sticker – just like usual. We sat down next to a couple to wait for our tour number to be called. I noticed they had the same sticker as we did and I said “I’m glad to see others going for the walking tour of Bergen.” She gave me a strange look and said, “No, we are going to see a piano concert.” Hmm.

She and I went back to the Shore Excursions attendant handing out the stickers. We were the ones with the wrong stickers. He exchanged ours for the correct ones. I’m sure the concert was very nice, but we were looking forward to the walking tour.

The HAL Tour was aptly named: “A Walk through Bergen and the Ice Bar.” The tour description:

Meet your guide and walk with him/her from the ship to Bryggen. This is the wharf that was built by the Hanseatic League of the German merchants back in the Middle Ages. They were very powerful — an early example of collective bargaining — and did a great deal of trade with the fishermen of northern Norway. At the peak of their power (1350-1550) the Hanseatic merchants held a monopoly on the fishing industry and wielded significant political power in Bergen. They built some lovely warehouses here, and you’ll see these today.

Next, move on to the Fish Market, where it is clear that the heyday is over, but the fun is well underway.

An Ice Bar has cropped up in Bergen — your chance to enjoy an ice-cold welcome and a drink in an environment where everything is made of ice.

Head back to the ship after your tour.

Notes: This is a walking tour. Participants must be fit enough to cover approximately 2½ miles of walking on paved roads as well as cobblestones and uneven terrain. Walking time is about 2½ hours.

There were enough people on this tour to divide into two groups. Our guide was a young woman from Germany who was over here doing an international study course. She worked part-time for the tour company doing their walking tours to earn some extra money. She was supposed to do an international study in South Africa in 2020 but of course it didn’t happen.

I am glad we were in her group. She was very knowledgeable. She didn’t walk or talk too fast. She didn’t mind answering questions or repeating information. I heard later on that the other group did not get a guide as good as she was.

Our first stop was the Bergenhus Castle/Fortress that is still used today for military purposes as well as public purposes such as tours like ours and outdoor concerts. There were areas in it that we were not allowed to tour.

Rosenkrantz Tower
Haakon’s Hall -In medieval times, it was the largest building of the royal palace in Bergen

Our next stop was the wharf area and the Hanseatic buildings. Even though she was German, she did not hesitate to talk openly and honestly about the German merchants who occupied these warehouses – the good (built housing, paid well, and taught employees to read and write) and the bad (employees were boys as young as 10 – 12 who worked 10 – 13 hours every day in cold conditions and didn’t see their families for years, if ever).

The buildings that remain today, because they are wood and the weather is almost always rainy and damp, are in constant need of expensive upkeep. Some in Bergen have advocated that they just be torn down. But they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so they stay.

Yes, the buildings lean
Restoration work going on
1st level – selling goods, 2nd level – storing goods, 3rd level – living
Buildings were marked with statues, etc. so delivery people could deliver to the correct warehouses even if they couldn’t read

As we continued to walk, we passed several statues and monuments.

Monument to women and children who were left behind when their husbands/fathers lost their lives during the war.

We stopped for a bathroom break at some public toilets. Around the public toilet building were some plant containers. The sign in the containers said that all the plants growing in them were edible and eat as much as you want. Hmmm – Plants in containers around the toilets. How did they get watered and/or fertilized? Nope. Not trying the plants.

Next, we came to the fish and farmer’s market. The guide said that the outdoor market had the best prices as it only popped up on weekends. The inside fish market that was opened daily was for tourists and had high prices.

I had to do a double take at a restaurant sign at the market indicating what sandwiches you could get. Whale? Really?

As we walked to our last stop, she talked about how the old architecture of Bergen is slowly but surely being replaced by new architecture and she was not a fan. She did not call it new architecture – she called it ugly. I cannot disagree.

Our last stop was the Magic Ice Bar. I’ve never been to an ice bar and was excited to go to one. In the lobby, we were all given gloves and parkas and a drink ticket. Then we went through the heavy door into the Ice Bar.

The room is kept at a constant 23 degrees. The displays inside change periodically. While we were there, the displays were ice sculptures that mimicked famous art pieces by Norwegian artists. I didn’t recognize any of the works, but it was certainly interesting.

Our drink ticket allowed us to have a glass of local wine that I thought tasted like muscadine. We spent about 30 minutes in there. My fingers were starting to get very cold.

The bar and its shelves were ice. Glass that held the drinks were ice.

Our guide walked us back to the farmer’s market area. She then gave maps and information to those who wanted to stay in the city and do other things such as shop, eat, or ride the funicular up the mountain.

For the rest of us who were ready to go back to the ship, she walked us back a little different route so we could see some of the street art. She said the one that has the dove of peace pooping on Putin’s head just showed up a few days ago.

I really enjoyed the tour but they weren’t kidding about the cobblestones. I saw them trip up more than one person.

And I liked the city of Bergen okay but there was quite a bit of trash on the streets and sidewalks. Looked like they had a big party on Friday night and hadn’t yet cleaned up. Maybe it’s not always like that.

We got back to the ship and my Fitbit had recorded 4+ miles of walking so I guess that is “approximately” 2.5 miles as the description said. I was ready to relax.

Almost back to the Ship!

Flowers from Bergen

Travel Trivia

Bergen, Norway

Pronunciation: BEAR-eh-gen (hard “g”)

Bergen is known as the ‘city among seven mountains’ and is the second largest city in Norway (the capital Oslo being the largest).

According to tradition, the city was founded in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre but some research has indicated there may have been trading posts from the 1020’s.

Bergen is considered the rainiest city in Europe. It once had 85 days of consecutive rain.

In the latter half of the 19th century, the city had the largest concentration of leprosy patients in Europe.

Henrik Ibsen, Norway’s great author and modernist playwright, was employed as decorator and instructor at Det Norske Theater (The Norwegian Theater) in Bergen from the age of 23 to 29. Ibsen’s first dramas were written and performed there.

Bergen’s Nordnes Park has a totem pole donated from the city of Seattle, Washington.

Picture from Google

*Trivia provided by Wikipedia and Holland America documents

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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