18 hours in Bergen Norway

Bergen
We arrived by (ferry from Flam, a bus from Gudvangen, and a) train from Voss in the early afternoon. The train station is nearby the hotel but not exactly next door, so we opted to walk to it. The walk to the hotel over the city’s cobblestone streets was a lot of daka-daka-daka-daka as our roll-a-boards clattered over them.  

The Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret is conveniently located on the waterfront next to Bryggen, one of the oldest districts in Bergen, with foundations dating back to 1100 (it has burned down more than once – the last major fire in 1702). It has a very colorful lobby with splashes of purple all around:

The hotel is at the far left in these photos with the green dome:

After checking in, we wandered past and through the old town of Bryggen. It’s amazing that these buildings are still upright – most appear to be listing in one direction or another.   Some of them are famous for their crooked alleyways:


which have been memorialized on the manhole cover:

Other buildings are famous for their well endowed unicorns and other creative embellishments:

We headed past all this as we were on a mission to get to the Fløibanen to whisk us up to the top of the mountain with views over the city.

You can see the track running up the hillside above these buildings:

We arrived a short time later at the entrance to the Fløibanen.

The Fløibanen is a funicular – a rail car that is supported by another car over a pulley at the top – as one goes up, the other comes down. These are frequently used on steep slopes. This is the third funicular we’ve been on including one in Mürren, Switzerland and one up Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.

These slopes are so steep that the cars for funiculars are angled like parallelograms.


Note the steep stairs at the bottom:

Once onboard, we raced up the 26º incline, clearing trees and houses until the harbor below came into view. We continued to climb upward, passing the other (blue) train on its way down. It’s only possible to pass at one spot in the tracks. Note the cable attached to the blue car. The other end is attached to us!

After about 10-15 minutes, we made it to the top:

We hopped off and took in the views from 1000 feet above Bergen. This mountain is popular with runners who climb up the Lombard-like streets and trails up the mountain face.



Bergen is certainly a colorful town from above as well:

While we were up top, we had a little fun:

We looked around the gift shop and played in the little park at the top before heading back down to the harbor below (there is also a restaurant).

Once we were back at sea level, we spent some time looking through shops, playing viking, and walking past restaurants in Bryggen (note the warm blankets for cool evenings):

After dinner at the hotel, a couple of us ventured out for some more exploring around the harbor.

Just behind our hotel is the Bergenhus Fortress which was built around 1240 for Haakon (the Fourth) Haakonsson, the Norse King of Norway who ruled from 1217-1263.


Unfortunately, the museum had closed for the day, but Haakon Hall looks impressive on the inside from the photos.

Adjacent to the hall is Rosenkrantz Tower which was home to King Eirik (Eric II) Magnusson (1280-1299) who was the last king to rule from Bergen before the capital was moved to Oslo. It is equally impressive:


Comfortably at home with the kings, this 233 foot ship was docked across from the tower:


Further inspection shows the name MY (motor yacht) SKAT built by Lürssen Yachts. A little digging shows that the yacht is owned by Charles Simonyi, a former Microsoft employee (number 40) and the 5th space tourist (oh, and he’s also a billionaire).

As this is a working harbor, there are also several support ships for the offshore oil industry such as the Far Seeker, a supply ship.


After a good night’s sleep, we woke up early (5:30AM) to take a quick walk around the harbor before our bus departed at 9AM. We wanted to catch a peek at the Fish Market that was just setting up. Note the “whale meat” and hanging dried fish:

The harbor was calm and the water was like glass. The blue sky was trying to make its way out from behind the morning clouds:

Off to catch our bus!

Happy RTW Travels!

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