Bergen Trip Day One: Bryggen & Mount Floyen


Hi! So anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook knows I went to Norway back in late May/early June with my Mom, because I posted oh, maybe 1001 pictures (I'm only slightly exaggerating!).

It has taken me this long to start posting partly because, summer, am I right?! Also I felt daunted at the prospect of blogging about it because I knew I was going to have to break the trip up into a few blog posts to do it justice.

Norway was very lovely, and VERY rainy, our first day excepted! I didn't have many expectations other than some hasty guide book reading, but it says something I think that I would really love to go back to visit because I am always bemoaning the rain in Scotland, but in Norway it was slightly less annoying somehow! Our hotel, the Zander K in Bergen, even had a rain theme in its décor!

So as usual with my Mom and I this was a very last minute trip, I think I booked everything about two weeks before she arrived in Scotland (I would NOT recommend this if you are going in peak tourist season, we were lucky as it was still just before the summer season kicked in). 

Luckily you can fly direct to Bergen from Aberdeen, something I learned awhile ago from fellow Aberdeen blogger Anastasia at Natbee's, who shared some lovely posts about a winter visit to Bergen, which also looks really appealing to me!

We flew with Wideroe Airlines, who fly to many different cities in Norway. My only slight hesitation was that they use prop propeller airplanes, as a nervous flyer I admit I did worry how it would be. Honestly it was a very smooth and quick flight though, and now that I've done it once I think I might be ok to do it un-medicated the next time!

Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, its main industries are marine research and off sea oil drilling. It is possibly most famous for its scenic old harbour area, Bryggen, artists like Edvard Munch, composer Edvard Grieg (whose mansion house on an island is a popular day trip from Bergen, we just didn't have time to squeeze it in this journey) and um brown cheese and cloudberries and other fun stuff! ;-)

Bryggen shopfronts, Bergen
There is plenty to see and do in Bergen alone, we spent two days of our trip on fjord tours but we did manage to see most of the city by foot. including the Floibanen funicular, several museums and other sites.

First Impressions of Bergen


We were staying in a hotel near the railway and bus station, I figured it might be helpful if we decided to do one of the fjord tours that involved a train (we didn't, but it was handy for the airport bus!).

The street our hotel was on was very quiet as it was a small dead end street. It was, as was every area I saw in the city, very safe and clean seeming. 

One of the first things I noticed was how FRESH the air is. You really don't feel like you are breathing city air at all. Also I love that the city is in a valley surrounded by SEVEN mountains (hence the rain!), it feels very nature adjacent and I totally could see myself living in one of these hillside houses that dot the landscape:


Bergen hill houses!

The first day we walked to the harbour to check out the fjord tours (more on that in posts to come!), and went via the path around the lake in the city center called Lille Lungegårdsvannet as per our hotel concierge's directions (to be honest there was a back road that was quicker that we ended up taking more often, but it is a pretty way to get acquainted with the city - just don't turn the wrong direction from the harbour and get slightly lost like we did the first time!).


Bergen

This building looks kinda touristy but also it's cute because everything in Norway is cute



Ole Bull was a famous violinist who was like a rock star in his day and made the ladies faint with his violin playing!



Pedestrianized central Bergen

Bryggen


Eventually we made our way to the harbour (it only takes about 15 minutes walk if you don't get lost!), and went to book our fjord tour excursion for the next day (it is recommended by many you do this ahead of time in peak tourist season/the summer, we had no issues though).

We then had a little stroll around Bryggen - it was the least crowded day and also the sunniest so that was a perk! Bryggen was originally established before 1070 AD, so it's you know, crazy old. And yet it looks pretty sparkling! 

That is because unfortunately it has burned down several times and been rebuilt, with the last big fire as recent as 1955. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 because of its history and remarkably there are still plenty of artifacts from its Hanseatic trading era in the 1400s. 

Bryggen: The fake facade while one of the buildings is being renovated was clever I thought!

The harbour in Bergen is full of many tourist boats, a few pretty older ships and usually a large cruise ship or two at the mouth (I took more pictures I will share later from our boat trips). It still manages to feel tranquil somehow though which I found impressive compared to the harbour clogged full of oil tankers/large ugly vessels in my town! 

Bergen Harbour
Also beside the harbour is a large market as well as a very fancy fresh seafood restaurant adjacent (a bit pricey like everything in Bergen though!). They sell lots of freshly cooked food at the market as well, and more traditional market wares. I didn't get a chance to eat there but everything looked nice and I would definitely like to check it out if I go back again!

Bergen market

The Bryggen museum keeps slightly unusual operating hours and we never timed it quite right, but we did manage to visit the Hanseatic Museum one day (I may try to group that into a separate museums post, along with the LEPROSY museum because Bergen has it all going on! ;0).


I don't know what these signs say but they should translate to "VERY EXPENSIVE TOURIST TAT!" ;-)

Bryggen alleyway. This place was packed every other day so we were lucky it was quiet this day!


I can't believe no one has shot a spooky "Don't Look Now" style horror movie set in Bryggen!




Many of the small alleys between the Bryggen buildings have more artisanal and boutique shops and a few restaurants. As it was a sunny day we postponed browsing for another day and headed for possibly the city's main tourist attraction, the Floibanen fernicular railway up the mountain to the top of 

Mt. Floyen



Floibanen entrance, Bergen


So you wait in this sort of rustic tunnel to take an electric cable car (it's on a track though, there is another mountain you can take an actual cable car up in Bergen though if you are a DAREDEVIL!) up the mountain. I would have taken pictures but it was very crowded, plus this annoying couple was blocking my view with a gross pda session .

ANYWAY you climb very steeply up the mountain with nice (in theory) views as you travel up. There are a few tunnels (they love a tunnel in Norway) and a few stops along the way for locals who live on the mountain - it's very cool and made me wish I lived on the mountain, too, but it's probably very annoying sharing your commute with tourists!

According to VisitBergen.com:

"The Fløibanen line is 844 m (2,769 ft) long, covers a height difference of 302 m (991 ft), and carries over 1,8 million passengers a year. The line is single track with a central passing loop and was build in 1918. The track is has a gradient that varies between 15 and 26 degrees. There are two cars, each of which can carry 100 passengers and the cars are individually named and painted, with Blåmann in blue and Rødhette in red. (Source: Wikipedia) The track has 6 stops and are frequently used by locals living up on the mountain side as well as two kindergardens on the mountain. During the summer and rush hours only certain departures will stop at all stops."

When you get off at the top you are greeted with some pretty stunning views over the city.

View of Bergen harbour from Mount Floyen
Hi I don't know how to pose.

Bergen panorama

 I was so glad we went up on this sunny, clear, day also as every other day we were in Norway it was pretty rainy for the most part. My mom and I had a soft serve ice cream from one of the little shops at the top that was HUGE, I actually couldn't finish it!

Took a picture with this guy, who someone had stuck a scarf on his nose but it didn't occur to me to take it off (some people taking pictures after us did, I was like "oh...) because I'm dumb so anyway....




There is a nice looking restaurant as well if you feel like eating something other than an ice cream or pastry!




There's a cute forest path walk through the woods to a lake (it's advertised as "10 minutes" but it's uphill so it took us closer to 20 - we are not super fit Norwegians okay tourist board!). There are lots of hikes around the hills surrounding Bergen and we saw plenty of people out enjoying nature. You can choose to climb up or down the hill - we had had a long day thought so took the Fernicular both ways.


Be on the look out for trolls in Norway!



Obsessed with these goats who live on the mountain!

Oh hi hello



Fresh mountain air! Bergen, Norway

Norwegian duckling! There were actually a ton of baby ducks, I think they all swam into some grass the minute I started taking pictures oops!

Babbling brook

So I googled this sign and it translates to "Do not sit inside when all hope is gone" and I thought that was kind of nice.



 
I/we really enjoyed this little jaunt and I would definitely recommend it on any visit to Bergen, I think it is a pretty cool thing to have so much nature so close to the city. I think it took us maybe 2 hours, keeping in mind we had an ice cream and a couple of leisurely strolls and view gazing, it could be done in an hour or less probably though if you are short on time. It's also supposed to be lovely at sunset. 

I did read in my guide book to avoid at peak cruise docking times as it can get very crowded. Apparently it takes around 45 minutes to walk up Mt. Floyen, the paths looked very well kept and if you are a big hiker type it might be a more scenic way to see it.

The ticket can be purchased at the Floibanen booth or it is also included in the Bergen Card seasonally (I think you just got a discount when we visited) along with many other museums and attractions. We did not buy a Bergen Card this visit because we were kind of indecisive and seeing what the weather was doing when planning our fjord excursions, but if you are planning on sightseeing in the city for one or two days in a row it definitely seems like a good bargain.

Ok I will leave it there for now, I hope to follow up with some posts on our Mostraumen fjord cruise, Sognefjord and Vik Fjord Tour, and the museums and other sites we saw in this adorable city during our time there.





4 comments

  1. Wow, it does look so fresh,and clean! Though all those names/signs sound like like the Swedish Chef to me ;)

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    1. Ha I loved the Swedish chef! Disappointingly I actually didn't get to hear that much Norwegian spoken, they are mostly very proficient in Engish there, which is always a weird combination of relief and "oh yeah I am dumb for only speaking one language."

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  2. I went to Oslo last year and would love to go back and explore some more of Norway, it seems like such a lovely country! Definitely very beautiful but also very expensive unfortunately!

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  3. I would love to go to Oslo, also obsessed with seeing all of the fjords/countryside now too! It is definitely expensive though, you are right. I think if I went for a longer trip I would need to get serious about a budget because the money goes fast there! Thanks for stopping by Kirsty! :-)

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