I’m a city girl at heart so when I arrived in bohemian Bergen for my last two days in Norway I set off to explore this avant-garde city rich in both historical significance and cultural flair.
In a nutshell, Bergen is most well-known for Bryggen, the old wharf consisting of a series of Hanseatic wooden buildings. Today, Bryggen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its importance during the 14th-16th centuries. There have been multiple fires throughout Bergen’s history which destroyed these houses, yet each rebuilding process used the original construction method. I popped into the Hanseatic Museum to see what life was like for these traders. I was rather impressed to see how eco-friendly they were centuries ago. Note the hand-drying towel.
The Many Conquests of Ole Wall
Moving on form Bryggen, I learned of a very “talented” man named Ole Bornemann Bull. Not only was Ole a famed Norwegian violinist and composer born in Bergen but he was also very active in his personal life. According to my local guide, Ole Bull fathered 40 children and actually admitted to having 100 children. It took me a few minutes to recover from this fact but after glancing at this statue made in his honor, I can see why so many women swooned as he played his violin, which remains on display at the nearby art museum.
Students Take Over
What started as a quiet afternoon in Bergen quickly changed into something much more intriguing. I started hearing loud music and cheering coming from all directions. I finally asked two local girls what was going on and they explained the event as a kick-off to another year of college. Each student dresses up in a themed outfit according to what subject he/she is studying. These two Sociology students were dressed head to toe in “Where’s Waldo” outfits and I regret not snapping a photo during our conversation. Other costume themes included “Grease”, “Pirates”, “Smurfs”, “Construction Workers” and “Nerds” (shown below).
Observing Architectural Contrasts
My local guide gave me a lot of information on the architectural highlights of the city. As a result, I spent a good deal of time simply roaming around the streets, noting the major contrasts between the historic buildings and the more modern ones located closer to the University. Although the newer houses are made with more fire-resistant materials, both styles showcase an assortment of color. I later learned that white paint was much more expensive than red and other colors and therefore, people would show off their wealth by painting the front and sides of their house white and cover the back with cheap red paint.
Eating My Way Through Town
Food is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel and luckily, Norwegian recipes tend to be both flavorful and healthy. My fist dinner was at Enhjørningen Fish restaurant, which is one the second floor of one of the old Hanseatic buildings. On my last night in Bergen, I ate at Cornelia Restaurant (pictured below). Their chef incorporates edible flowers into many of their dishes and although I found them too beautiful to eat, it definitely added color to the presentation.
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