“Set amid picturesque and very Norwegian coastal landscape of fjords and mountains, Bergen lays claim to being one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.”
Just like the train journey to the city, this quote, set expectations pretty high for Bergen. This has happened before with other cities, where everything I read make it sound like the most amazing place on earth until you arrive and leave heavily disappointed (Point in case, Cairo).
As we arrive at night we tried not to make any judgments just yet, especially since our short walk from the station to guesthouse we were staying at didn’t reveal too much. Though, as it was still my birthday and we decided to have a proper dinner at a restaurant and go for a walk. It was then that Bergen decided give us glimpses of her beauty.
After dinner we walked through the city down to the harbour area and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Bryggen Quarter . Bryggen is Bergen oldest area in the city dating back the 1700’s and is famous for its traditional timber gabled buildings. Personally, Bryggen retained a bit of a Diagon Alley fell to and could have quite comfortably been used as a set for Harry Potter.
What also makes the city quite something at night is that it seems to crawl up into the mountains from the harbour, giving it a spectacular look at night, especially when seen from the Lille Lungegurdsvarnn (a central lake) as the lights in the mountain shimmer as they are mirrored in the lake.
The walk about at night provided us with a teaser to the city, so we were looking forward to seeing it by day. The next morning we got up early, too early perhaps as the city still seemed to be asleep when we stepped out the guesthouse at 9am. If the city was beautiful at night, by day it was stunning!
The area around the central station and lake had eerie wintery feel to it as the sun had not snuck over mountains yet. The town centre felt abandoned as Bergenians (I don’t know whether if that is what they are called, but hey, makes sense), it seemed, do not get out until the sun joins them. Raquel and I searched for breakfast before braving the cold. Once nourished with food and hot chocolates we were out doing what we do best: Wandering aimlessly, talking and photographing.
We stumbled upon the grandiose architecture of Bergen University, which even have their own personalised manhole covers. Wandering further down the hill we found Grieghallen, the concert hall named after Norwegian and local composer Edvard Grieg, which is a great example modern Norwegian architecture which sits quite comfortably with traditional architecture.
Walking back towards Bryggen was proof that sometimes cities need to be seen by night and day as they provide a beautiful contrast of colour, atmospheres and emotions. Bryggen by still retains the Diagon Alley feel it had the night before, but definitely less spooky. The daylight also gave the brightly coloured timber buildings a bit more personality. The quarter is filled with great chic boutiques, souvenir and chirstmas decoration shops, which stock some of the best nativity sets I’ve seen!
Just before sunset (quite early her in Northern Europe) we headed to the Floibanen funicular up to Mount Floyen which give you an amazing view of Bergen. The viewpoint was not only filled with tourists but with Norwegians taking their kids for walks. One of the great (and funniest) things about the kids in Norway is that due to the cold, parents dress them in one piece ski outfits which makes them look like teletubbies. There were two kids in particular which were having a ball up at the view point which kept Raquel and I in stitches.
As they sun fell and it became dark, Raquel and I had to press on as we had to start the next phase of our trip, the 4 day ferry ride to Tromso. We collected our bags, went to the supermarket to pick up supplied for the journey and made our way to the Hurtigruten Terminal to check in.
Raquel and I fell in love with Bergen. It’s great and beautiful city and in the end, turned out to be our favourite in Norway.
For more photos from Bergen check out the album on my Facebook page.*We stayed at Marken Guesthouse. Good and clean but bed linen and towels are not provided, can be rented though.