Bergen is Norway’s 2nd largest city and its wettest city and this year has been their rainiest year in a very long time. Here is a joke I we read about a normal year: As it had been raining ever since she arrived in the city a tourist stops a young boy and asks if it always rains here? “I don’t know.” he replies, “I am only 13.”
How appropriate. It pours almost every evening, night and morning. Luckily it often stops for the main part of the day (1100 – 1900). The problem is that when it is still raining at 10am you don’t have any faith about how the day will turn out. Some days it doesn’t stop but it is usually lighter in the afternoon. Actually this all makes it sound worse than it really was. We have enjoyed ourselves in and around Bergen and walking in the drizzle doesn’t kill us. It was dry most afternoons when we were wandering around. We took a cable car to the top of Mount Ulriken where folks were jumping off the mountain edge and paragliding. One of them told us how lucky we were to have a nice clear evening to see the sights. What he didn’t know was that we had waited three days before we took the cable car to the top so that we would have a view. I have never actually watched people jump off a hill and hope that the wind picks up their sail before they fall to their death. It was definitely interesting. We met two German university students who were camping in a tent. They told us that it rained the entire two days that they were in Bergen. The only place for them to stay warm and dry was in separate campsite washrooms.
From the centre of historic Bergen you could take a funicular up Mount Floyen. Mount Ulriken and Mount Floyen are two of the seven hills or mountains that surround Bergen. There must be something mystical about the number seven. If I remember correctly during various trips we were told that Lisbon, San Francisco, Istanbul, Rome and Edinburgh were also surrounded by seven hills. Maybe some of the cities were surrounded by eight or nine hills and they just stopped counting at seven, who knows.
On our first day in Bergen, the tourist areas where quite busy. This was presumably due to the two cruise ships docked in the harbour. When we went back the next day both cruise ships were gone and so were the majority of the tourists. Many of the older portions of Bergen were slated for destruction and rebuilding back in the 60s. Luckily these plans were stopped. The narrow streets and alleys with their wooden houses are now a tourist attraction. Part of Bergen has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and will be permanently preserved.
In Bergen we camped near a small mall with an easy streetcar ride into the tourist centre. 15 of the 19 campers near us were all from Germany. I wonder if this means that the German children don’t start back to school until early September while the Norwegian children have already returned? Luckily the EU insists on license plates indicating the country they are from. Mike and I had to get a Canadian designation to add to our vehicles next to the license plates. There was a church near where we were camping. Every night at 1900 (7pm) the church bells rang for an extended period of time. This seemed like a strange time to us.
One of our tour guides in Bergen told us about the explosion in the harbour of a Dutch trawler confiscated by the Germans that occurred in 1944 on Hitler’s birthday. The explosion was huge with several ships thrown on land. The air pressure from the explosion and the tsunami that followed flattened whole neighbourhoods near the harbour; then fires broke out and further destroyed the wooden houses. The boat’s anchor was eventually found on a mountain 417 m (1,368 ft) high. Given the significance of the date sabotage was originally suspected but it was eventually determined that this was not the case.
On a much more modern day topic, it looks like Mike might end up in Canada with a pony tail! He has been trying to get a haircut for a while. In Norway it doesn’t look like there are any barbers. Men get their hair cut in the same salons as women which means they pay similar prices. The last quote Mike got was for $75. My guess is that he is either going to weaken and pay it or keep looking until he eventually finds somewhere less expensive but still outrageous to Canadians.
After we left Helge & Elin’s home we drove west to tour the Hardanger Fjord. The gorgeous fjords deserve and will have a separate article all to themselves. Apparently while we were camped in this part of Norway Helge drove by and saw our vehicle but we weren’t home at the time. A few days later we travelled to the east coast to Bergen and had a knock on our door at 9am one morning. Again, Helge had been driving by on business and seen our RV and come to visit. It sure makes Norway feel small. One day while we were in Bergen Helge and Elin and their daughter Trine were in Bergen for the morning and took the afternoon off to tour us around. It was lovely and we had a good time. They had to leave early so that they could get Trine home for her soccer game in which she scored two goals. Way to go Trine!
We spent some time in Bergen getting some important items fixed. We purchased a new set of house batteries that were expensive but hopefully worth it. Our power was running out during the night when we weren’t plugged in and that isn’t good. Mike also fixed the car braking system while the car is under tow. This has worried us for a while. It turns out that the original installer didn’t understand hybrid cars at all and made some major errors. We are very pleased to have everything fixed and working.
We are now leaving Bergen to travel north. Our first main sightseeing area will be the Sognefjord.
Late Update: We have just got some internet so I checked and there is a whole page on Wikipedia about many, many cities with seven hills and Mike has a haircut ?