a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘bergen’

will I be the only one without a senior’s discount? ;)

I am hoping I won’t regret this 🙂  The staff have been fun so far.  Not EVERYONE has a cane 😉  I don’t do cruises… because I am restless and easily bored – and because I have always worried I would be trapped on a boat full of people over 70…

I think not everyone is over 70… but my initial impression still holds… there is a couple sitting across from me right now who look younger than me but they are likely on their honeymoon so there is a good chance it will be me and the geriatrics… training for the future?

norway the beauty queen :)

norway the beauty queen 🙂

So far, Norway is that pretty girl with the perfect complexion and the rich daddy.  She doesn’t have to talk to you.  She doesn’t have to try.  She’s got the world by a string and she just wants your lunch money.

Apparently Norwegians are reserved.  So far that has been my experience.  No one is rude and I am fascinated and impressed by the country – but no one seems inclined to indulge in idle chit-chat.

We haven’t left port yet and it finally started raining so I may feel more enthusiastic tomorrow.  On the plus side, dinner was excellent, especially the cold salmon and halibut.  And I found the unmarked Vinmonopolet and discovered that there are Norwegians who own operations in Cognac so you can buy a bottle of Cognac to take onboard the ship for only slightly more than a bottle of whiskey. The ship information has procedures on bringing your own alcohol onboard – that is how expensive liquor is in Norway!

waiting for departure

waiting for departure

It’s an interesting place and I am hoping some Norwegians will talk to me before I leave.  So far the friendliest people have been taxi drivers in Bergen.  Apparently a girls’ choir from North Korea is here for the Bergen International Festival (I am leaving Bergen too soon!).  We were discussing how North Korea and Norway are about as far apart on the cultural and political spectrum as you can get.

I may be a little bored but it IS a beautiful country and apparently we can get a postcard stamped “Arctic Circle” in a couple of days so I think at least the scenery will be entertaining.

even pretty in the rain :)

even pretty in the rain 🙂

And I will try and bond with the geriatrics.  It won’t be long before I have a senior’s discount – and I hope that won’t mean I have nothing interesting to say.  I have my parents for inspiration – we always have to remember that my mom should get out her ID because she can get a discount – even if she acts at least a couple of decades younger… so I just need to find a senior with her vitality 😉

p.s. things DID get interesting but I wasn’t paying proper attention soon enough 😉

living la vida disney ;)

It’s always exciting when a place exceeds the dreams you have had of it in your imagination.  I have been dreaming of Bergen for over twenty years.  I imagined myself here in 1989… but on a budget of $50/day, Scandinavia dropped off the table.

I had read an article in the globe and mail travel section about the “mail boat” that cruises up the coast of Norway through the fjords.  Not a cruise ship but a regular boat whose principal purpose is cargo and mail delivery.  At the time it seemed you could book something really basic and it didn’t cost a fortune.

It was still way out of my backpacking budget so I’ll never know but a trip on Hurtigruten in 2014 is not cheap although I am sure the cost is substantially less out of season.  But I am here in Bergen on a glorious day in mid-May.  It is so sunny it’s tough to type and I have to contend with my reflection in the screen as a kind of unwanted screensaver.

http://www.hurtigruten.com

I wanted to save a little money on the Hurtigruten ship so I booked really far ahead and came in May instead of June.  I can’t guarantee your experience of Norway in May is going to be as spectacular as mine but I have rarely had a more perfect climatic travel experience.

gorgeous bergen!

gorgeous bergen!

And then there is Bergen… (the Hurtigruten ships start out of Bergen)…  It is like Brugge and Ljubliana – another small city that is so cute and perfect it’s hard to believe Tinkerbell didn’t scoot in prior to your arrival and sprinkle pixie dust over the place.

It’s an old trading post and seafaring port, one of the Hanseatic merchants` four most important trading centres.  I am sitting typing this next to the harbour on one side and rows of adorable houses rebuilt a series of times due to fire but apparently using the original blueprints from the 12th century.  It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site called Bryggen.

As has already been noted, Norway is a wildly expensive country to visit so I read about all the tourist attractions but almost nothing is free (maybe a church… not all churches though) so you will have to explore them on your own.  Most sound pretty small town so paying at least $12 to be underwhelmed seems a recipe for disappointment.

And the town is gorgeous so exploring it will provide plenty of free entertainment 🙂 The one thing I did pay for – and I would encourage you to do the same – is the funicular up to the top of one of the mountains (the city is surrounded by seven).

bergen via disney ;)

bergen via disney 😉

It`s the Floibanen Funicular and takes you to the top of Mount Floyen in seven minutes.  It costs under $20 (not much in Norway does J) and, on a sunny day, the view is breathtaking.  It also provides a great bird`s eye view of the city.

The other cool thing to do from Bergen is explore the fjords.  I expect I will be back.  There is no question Norway is gorgeous – but, like supermodels, it charges a lot of cash per hour so one has to plot a careful strategy.

I`m not sure exactly what I will see via Hurtigruten so that`s the plan for this trip.  I can fly back to Bergen on another European jaunt and check out the missing fjords if I am not OD-ed on ice, water and rock in the next seven days.

Tomorrow I join the ship.  Today I am soaking up the sun and the immense satisfaction that comes from realizing one’s dreams – and having the reality exceed everything one has imagined.  Skol Bergen 😉

p.s. after I wrote this, I searched for a great final meal in Bergen that wouldn’t break the bank.  I wanted to have fish.  I knew that if I got off the main drag next to the harbour the cost would likely come down.  I finally settled on Ruccola at Verdidsalmenningen 7.  It’s just down the street from the station for the funicular.  An amazing meal of salmon and vegetables for about 220 kroner – and the best house wine I have had in Norway!

http://www.cafe-ruccola.no

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