On 23 March we arrived by scenic train from Oslo, Norway to the southwest coastal city of Bergen - located on Norway’s largest fjord, Sognefjord. Here we spent 5 nights in an area of higglety-pigglety colorful mid-17th century homes at an Airbnb. The space was compact, the neighborhood quiet, and we were perfectly located for seeing the sights of this city – talk about living like a temporary local! At one time Bergen was a medieval sea-trading powerhouse and much of mainland Europe counted on the fishing industry in Norway – primarily cod. Bergen’s history still shows in its beautifully preserved neighborhoods and wharves.
A word about the the Bergensbanen (Bergen train) from Oslo. The trip was 308 miles and took us 6.5 hours. It’s the highest mainline railway in northern Europe with the highest point in the Finse Tunnel (4,058 feet). While we left Oslo in sunshine; as we climbed, the snow got deeper until finally we were in blizzard conditions. The conductor even mentioned he was slowing the train as the conditions were not normal for this time of year. On our descent, the scenery changed dramatically from what we had seen in the hilly eastern slopes around Oslo, and turned to snow-capped mountains. As we approached the rainy side of Norway on the west coast, we could see Bergen surrounded by peaks and fjords. This train is heralded as one of the most beautiful in the world. That remains to be seen sans blizzard, but we enjoyed the trip.
Here are some of things we saw while in Bergen:
Fantoft Stavkirke (Stave Church) is a reconstructed 12th-century wooden church with intricate carvings similar to those of the Viking ships. Unfortunately, an arsonist burned down the previous church. We thought we should see this, even if it wasn’t the original and the interiors weren’t open for viewing until summer, just in case we don’t get a chance to see another one before we leave Scandinavia.
Bryggen is cluster of shops on the old wharf of the Hanseatic League (German merchants) trading post. They were quartered here in the medieval-style tenements. Now shops, it was not bustling while we were there, but for us it was all about seeing the colorful sight and not about shopping.
Fløibanen Funicular is a lift up the Mount Fløyen hillside to views of the cityscape. There is a steep walking trail, but we had snow overnight and thought it was a bit too slippery.
Lastly, a bit of the colorful street scene
Thanks for joining our journey.