Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bergen Trip!

So looking over my blog, I seem to be more than a little remiss in keeping it updated while I was in Norway. I had such plans!
However, I still have pictures, so I thought that I'd share some with you today.

These come from a little side trip we took to Norway's west coast towards the end of July. We took a train from Oslo to Bergen and saw some of the most stunning scenery that you can imagine. Truly! The ride has been described as one of the most scenic in the world! See here if you want to learn more.

See?? Isn't it beautiful?! These are taken from the Hardangervidda, the highest mountain plateau in Europe. I thought it had a soulful, Wuthering Heights kind of feel to the landscape. But there were lots of waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and forests.

Welcome to Bergen
This was the sight we saw when our train pulled into Bergen. The city is absolutely ADORABLE. It reminds me of a smaller, Norwegian San Francisco. It has the hills, the sea food and the colorful houses.
Scene from the top of a mountain, Bergen in the background
We dropped off our stuff at our hostel (more on that later) and took the funicular. The funicular is like a tram that you ride up the mountain. It was a pretty view. Our professor took us on a hike even further up the mountain. Again, it was a pretty view. I didn't really understand why we had to put that much work into seeing the same sight just at a higher altitude, but apparently, there is a hidden joy to hiking and nature that I have yet to find...

After our adventure on the mountain, we had dinner at Peppe's Pizza! Hurrah! And it was Dr. Kramer's birthday, double hurrah! He threatened to walk out and leave us with the check if we had the servers come to sing him happy birthday.
We disregarded his warning and had the servers sing happy birthday anyways. Secretly, I think he really enjoyed it...
The next day was our Norway in a Nutshell. We saw Norway via train, bus and boat. It was, stunning, as usual.

Experiencing the scenery really helped me to better understand where the mythology and folklore comes from. I mean, who wouldn't see trolls in the mountains when you are surrounded by them?
It also explains why Norwegian mythology ends so violently. Looking at the dramatic landscape, the world just has to end in fire and ice.

The next day, our last day in Bergen, was our visit out to Troldhaugen, or Edvard Grieg's museum/home.

This is the concert hall that they built just a little ways from his house.
We were fortunate enough to attend a concert of some of his piano pieces in that very, grass-covered, concert hall and it was AWESOME.
After the concert, we went back to Bergen to check out of our hostel and explore the city before our train ride back to Oslo that night.
This is Bryggen, the old wharf area of Bergen.
Yes, this is probably the most recognizable part of Bergen. It's on all the tourist things. These buildings are hundreds of years old from the old Hanseatic league traders that made Bergen an important part of Northern Europe economics. They are also a part of UNESCO's world heritage sites, so they are all sorts of famous. It's really neat to walk past them and peer down the alleyways between buildings and see how much they lean. When I say lean, I mean lean. It's practically a miracle that they are still standing! Bergen is cosy like that. They have lots of curvy cobble-stoned streets and alleys and old buildings. Lots of charm, lots of personality.

Besides Bryggen, I wandered all of the city with my professor. We looked at the theater building with all these crazy carvings; St. John's Church (very big and very red); the Bergen Cathedral; this old medieval fortress called Håkons hall and Rosenkrantz tower; AND the fish market.

Since Bergen is by the coast, they have a pretty vibrant fresh fish market. There are all these different languages being spoken because of so many tourists and there were crabs literally jumping out of their containers! Live produce, man! It was freakin me out. I wasn't into the whole seafood thing, so I opted for a kebab instead. (SO GOOD. So much meat for so little money.) The other girls got plateloads of seafood. I even tried a little whale from one of the girls' plates... It was interesting.  I just had to try it because where else in the world would I have the same opportunity, hmmm? Norway is one of the few countries that still participates in whaling, which is so odd considering how pro-environment they are...

After the fish market, we went to our hostel to collect our things and meet back at the train station. Unfortunately, when we got to the hostel, I discovered that someone made off with my backpack. Sad day, I know. I was most distressed about loosing my journal that I had just finished. Two years of my life, sporadically recorded, gone forever.
Bergen YMCA, beware of your luggage...
After a brief mourning period, I got over it. I am glad that it was my backpack instead of the others. Besides my journal, packed with sentimental value, all I had in there was some clothes and some chargers; so nothing that cannot be replaced. (All the good stuff was with me the whole time.) I will just be more careful about my items in the future.

When we met up with our professor again at the train station, that is when we heard about the bombing and the shootings. We were shocked and stunned. We quickly contacted our family and our host families. Everyone was ok and safe and we just read the news as it came online as we waited for our train. It was unbelievable that something like that could have happened to a country that we had come to love so dearly, but bad things do happen to good people, so we had to deal with the tragedy the best way that we knew how. And even though it was a truly sorrowful experience, I thought Norway's reaction was one of the most beautiful and heartfelt that I've ever seen. The rose memorial has been burned into my heart forever and I will always, always remember it.

Jeg elsker dette landet. <3

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