Vikings, fjords, Norsca (the deodorant company) and ridiculously good looking people – just some of the things that immediately spring to mind when you mention “Norway”. So to be returning there after a 6 year hiatus to visit some friends, you could say I was rather excited to head back, and to a city I’d yet to visit – Bergen.
After boarding my Easyjet cattle bus from Gatwick I was pleased to learn that you can now use MP3 players, headphones and other devices with a “flight mode” option during take off and landing on all flights now. Screaming children will not even enter my ears anymore! After the short 2 hour hop north I arrived in Bergen – which, believe it or not, has a smaller airport than Perth’s – NO BULLSHIT! I loaded up with 12 x Carlsberg Elephant Beers from the Duty Free and proceeded to head to Fantoft to meet my friends and hosts for the weekend, Ben and Lisa.
After reuniting with Ben & Lisa – I hadn’t seen them since we met travelling Turkey last July – we had a few catch up drinks – as you do. Many Elephant Beers and many more Scotch & Drys later, we proceeded to head into the Bergen City Centre for a few “unreasonably priced” drinks. Bear in mind Bergen has a population of around 260,000 so it’s not a massive place.
*Top Tip – If you happen to be in Norway – buy some alcohol duty free and use these in a pre-drinks format BEFORE going out. Drinks in bars are in excess of 70-80 NOK (Norwegian Kroner) or around $15 for a beer so it can get expensive quick! It’s a good idea to either not drink here or get nicely topped up before you go out and maybe buy 2-3 drinks at the most – just to maintain your level of merriment.
The one thing that confused me was the extremely late sunsets – it was still twilight at around 10pm! I had forgotten the effect of this since my last visit. In the north of the country it is even later – the effect is called the “Midnight Sun” – a natural phenomenon which happens in the summer months in areas located north of the Arctic Circle OR (stay with me) south of the Antarctic Circle. Impressive stuff but not for the body clock! But…returning to Bergen.
Saturday consisted of that hungover feeling, followed by a trip back into the City Centre – which, incidentally, was only a 20 minute tram ride in on the “Bybanen”. A pass for an adult costs 60 NOK and lasts for 90 minutes. I wanted to visit the Fish Market as I had read that it was a “must-see”. In truth though it consisted of 2 or 3 medium sized marquees and took about 30 seconds to walk the length of. That said, there were some impressive crabs legs for sale as well as some ridiculously priced tins of crab meat! After our fleeting visit it was off for a hike up the Floyen Mountain, which is right in the heart of the city and provided a great vantage point overlooking everything. It was an effort to get up there, mainly because of my alcoholic consumption the previous evening but once we reached the top, in between the passing rain showers, the views were more than worth the pain and effort! It gave a good perspective of the city which, despite retaining a lot of it’s history, is also slowly modernizing itself with new buildings slowly appearing amongst the landscape.
The day ended with a nice barbecue back at Fantoft before a relaxing evening playing Ping Pong and Table Football in the Students Bar where Lisa and Ben are staying. Sunday morning rolled around way too quickly – and it was time to go again – this time to Oslo to visit some family friends. A big thank you to Lisa and Ben for having me and for being wonderful friends and ambassadors for the lovely city of Bergen!
NB: 1 NOK = £0.10