In which our heroines explore Bergen, miss all the museums, but do find some trolls (not the internet kind).
Monday, August 18th – Bergen Airport
Yesterday was always going to be a quiet day, and we started it by sleeping in, in our tiny dolls’ house room. R. made us waffles for breakfast, after which we got into an extended conversation about science, politics, global warning, and the fact that Shakespeare’s name is basically a massive knob joke (and that he may well be the only person in English history to overcome such an unfortunate name). We also discussed things to do in Bergen, with a focus on things that would not make our sore feet sorer.
Of course, with all this chattery, we didn’t actually manage to leave until after midday. Entirely worth it, though.
This time, we took the tram into town, where we pottered around peacefully. We were intrigued by a monument that appeared to depict different ages of Norwegian history.
Vikings were obvious, as was the 19th century, where they were harpooning a whale (not something I ever thought I’d see on a monument), but what was the deal on the 18th century one with the crucifix and the squid attacking a boat? We couldn’t even blame our insufficient Norwegian for not understanding this – there was no text to decipher.
We went to a wool and embroidery shop that also had souvenirs, and I got into a lengthy conversation about Hardanger embroidery – not having realised until we were on the Hardanger Fjord on Saturday that this was of course where the style of embroidery came from.
The elderly lady who was their embroidery expert assured me that if I could do cross-stitch, I could do Hardanger – she had been given her first Hardanger pattern at the age of seven and had had no difficulties!
We went to one of R’s favourite bookshop cafés and had apple cake and hot chocolate, before visiting an art gallery and souvenir shop, where it was my friend’s turn to get into lengthy conversation with one of the staff while I admired glass birds that I would never dare try to transport back in my luggage.
At a shop selling traditional knitwear and embroidery, I bought a red jacket, which I needed, as Bergen promptly began to demonstrate why it is known as the rainiest city in Europe (apparently they have 355 rainy days per year).
Then we went up in the funicular to see the view from the top of Fløyen, which turned out to be a bit difficult, because by the time we reached the top, we were in a cloud. Also, we had the funicular song on constant repeat in our heads, thank you so much, R! (And if you click on that link, you, too, can share this earworm! You’re welcome!)
We took several misty photos, and then decided to go for a walk around the mountaintop.
An unusually flat walk, as it happens.
Someone with a pleasingly quirky sense of humour had put up a lot of signs around the place warning us not to scare the baby dinosaurs, feed the trolls, or annoy the witch.
Good advice in any circumstances.
At the end of the trail there was a small lake, with a path around it.
Because this is Norway, it was outrageously picturesque, of course.
(It’s not exactly that one gets jaded by all the gorgeous scenery, it’s more that one runs out of words with which to describe it, and is reduced to saying off-handedly, oh, look, another beautiful view…)
It was a very pretty lake, though.
We then walked back via another path which led to the Troll Garden.
Andrew had requested Trolls, so Trolls we had to see. The troll garden is a strange blend of quirky, cutesy, and creepy. Trolls grin at you from behind rocks…
…or out of trees…
…and then there are the ones that are mounted on top of high stumps, like cheerfully grinning decapitated heads.
As I said, slightly creepy.
Back at at the lookout, the sky had cleared, and the sun was beginning to go down. Our feet were sore, so we admired the view just for a few more minutes, before boarding the funicular again to return to Bergen.
Dinner was at a local pub recommended by R. We both had quite traditional food – I had a lamb stew with crispbreads, and my friend had a fish stew that was more like mashed potato mixed with flaked fish, herbs, and pepper. I coveted this madly.
By this time it was quite late, so we finished writing our postcards and took the tram home.
Today has been a very early morning. My friend is going to Oslo and will meet me in Paris later in the week, and her train left at 8am. My plane goes at a more civilised hour, but I got up anyway, to see her off. R. made waffles again, and then she crocheted while I attempted to decipher Hardanger embroidery. I fear the lady in the wool shop overestimated my potential competence at this art.
R. helped get my bags down the steps, and then I caught the bus to the airport and she headed off to work on her bicycle. I can’t fathom managing that hill on a bicycle, I must say! But if there is one thing I have learned about Norway, it is that those who live there are made of stern stuff where hills are concerned!
And so ends my first Norwegian adventure – but not, I trust, my last. Next stop – Paris!