Bergen is the rainiest Norwegian city, with an average of over 90 inches annually. This is nearly twice as much rain as Seattle or Portland and matches or exceeds the rainfall in some Hawaiian cities.
According to our guide yesterday, Bergen is likely to have its coldest May on record this year. Neat. This is a coincidence. Last spring, I was in the Netherlands and Belgium, and it snowed. I bought some gloves (really good ones) and Serious socks.
It’s cold and wet here. I regret not having brought my winter hat. How cold could it possibly get? I’ve been refusing to buy another winter hat, despite Rhett arguing that a hat was “more useful” than an ordinary mug. It’s not true because a winter hat is only useful at certain times. Mug? Mug has no season. The mug is timeless. The mug is the best.
A hat would be a bad idea, as it will be 70 degrees in Copenhagen for the rest of our journey. I wouldn’t have room to buy candy, and what if my hat got wet? ).
Bergen is proud of its unique culture and dialect. In Bergen, they say that other Norwegians were born with skis. But in Bergen, it was the umbrella. The local joke “I’m Not from Norway I’m From Bergen” has become so popular that a local station made a Bergxit commercial when Brexit occurred. They were joking that Bergen would break away from Norway and that anyone who could not properly roll their R in “rhubarb” would be left behind.
We had no idea that Sunday was the last day of sunshine in Bergen.
Rhett: “All those homes will be ruined when the sea level rises.”
After spending the majority of the day in our apartment, we decided to take a stroll. The houses are colorful and packed tightly, in contrast to Oslo’s modernity and the traditional Balestrand homes. Our apartment is only a 5-minute walk from the ferry, next to Bergen’s narrowest road.
The street is hardly a street; it looks more like a path. But we are right in between two of the major docks of the town, so we can watch cruise ship tourists parade down our street most days. The tourists like to take photos of the alley that leads into a cute courtyard among several colorful houses.
The apartment we rented was located in the house with the red roof on the right.
Bergen’s narrowest road (Rhett for scale)
We walked to the tip of the peninsula for a view over the fjord. The wind was blowing, and it was cold (surprise), but the view of the fjord we had just crossed to get to Bergen was still beautiful.
The Cutest Houses on the Way
The last time we saw the sun
It rained all day long on our first full day at Bergen. We visited some of the wonderful bakeries and cafes in our area and took a few wet walks around the neighborhood. Bergen’s city park is beautiful, and there are many tulips and lavenders in bloom. We took shelter in a gazebo, which was protected. The locals seem to be relatively unafraid, as they don’t allow the weather to dictate their lives. The majority of people have rubber boots and rain jackets. I regret having left my waterproof hiking footwear at home. My shoes dried quickly.
Pingvinen, the Penguin (a traditional Norwegian restaurant), was our choice for dinner. There were a lot of meatballs, fish, and mushrooms. Rhett’s mashed potatoes looked like regular mashed potatoes but had fish in them. (I regret my fishy bite).
When traveling, I feel sorry for you if you’re a vegetarian and don’t like mushrooms.
We decided to do all our activities on the second day – going up the funicular to Mt Floyen, and then a walking tour through the historical part of the city, Bryggen.
Funiculars are a great way to get up a mountainside. I’m sure most locals walk up the mountain, but my flatlander legs are weak, and I didn’t want to kill our elders. So, I took the funicular. We rode the funicular up the steep mountainside just before a group of tourists. The cloud had just begun to leave the mountaintop. The view was beautiful but cold.
We took a few short walks on the mountain. First, we walked around a tiny lake. Then we climbed up to an overlook. A spooky, dark cloud rolled by and made our hike beautiful but difficult to see. A group of children were singing in Norwegian while picnicking by the pond. We avoided the children; their voices barely faded over the small pond. We felt as if we were about to be killed by the ghosts of the children, who were Not Ghost Children. We would not get away quickly because our ankles were weak, and the trail was small, muddy, and uneven.
The cloud passed for about 30 seconds at the lookout, giving a good view of the port and the town.
View of Bergen
Hiking around Floyen can be a delight, with ferns and moss covering almost all surfaces. This was a great little hike. Many other options are less intimidating if you don’t usually walk in the mountains.
We began our walking tour in Bergen after lunch. We walked through Bryggen, the old town (the colorful, pointy houses you can see in the pictures), and then up to some historic residential areas. The neighborhoods were mostly free of cars, making them ideal for walking.
Today I am educating you on some fun facts about Bergen.
- It was primarily an extremely wealthy fish trading community that played a significant role in the Hanseatic trading league.
- You were mainly trying to get a rise out of your neighbors by painting your house white (so that all the places coming into port would be white).
- For 66 years, it was the capital city of Norway.
- The most affordable and accessible building material is wood.
- Bergen has been on fire for 30 years on average because of the abundance of wooden buildings, despite all efforts to prevent it.
- Bergen was a critical military base, but now it’s an oil hub.
- The other side of the harbor is made up entirely of modern buildings because a ship blew up in the sanctuary during WWII.
- The town will look historic if all the buildings are painted with colors from the approved list.
We climbed up the steep slopes, past important restaurants and historic stock exchanges. As the foundations of the buildings are decaying, they are starting to lean. The city uses cruise ship fees to fund the restoration.