Last week my work took me to Bergen, Norway for a few days, and afterwards Rachel flew over to join me for a long weekend. Apparently it rains on average 202 days a year in Bergen, so when it dawned clear on the Friday we decided the classic hike from Mt Ulriken to Mt Fløyen was in order, despite the shortness of the days at this time of year.
We caught the bus to the foot of Mt Ulriken and decided to walk up rather than taking the cable car. This was quite tricky in places as the steep ground combined with lots of ice (it was around -3 degrees at sea level) made for treacherous footing in places. However, the views over the city were nice and we soon reached the snowy plateau at the top.
The woman in the tourist information had said “you won’t need a map as you’re in the mountains” when we’d asked about the route, and we soon realised why – the long line of large cairns stretching across the mountain made it pretty simple to see the route even where snow covered the path.
The ice and snow made running tricky, but with the sun out it was pleasant enough to walk despite being well below zero. The views were lovely, with the city visible below at various points, and lots of frozen lakes to look at.
Eventually we reached Mt Fløyen, much lower than Ulriken, and mostly tree-covered. From there the path wound across the hilltop past various huts and old military relics before eventually arriving at the top of the Fløibanen funicular, with lovely views of the city. We elected to walk down the switchbacks to town, where we arrived in time for hot chocolate and cakes as the sun set.
Saturday was again nice so we went for a stroll around the harbour, explored the town, and then visited Bryggen, the old Hanseatic town (a UNESCO world heritage site, with a lovely row of old wooden buildings along the waterfront) and the Hanseatic museum, which smelled of dried cod and had lots of poorly explained exhibits. Sadly it didn’t feature biscuits in cod heads like the museum in Å. However, the man at the front desk was very informative and explained the history of the place and how it all worked – he was much better than the exhibits themselves! After the museum we wandered around the old fortress, went to the same cafe for cake again and then walked back up Fløyen in the late afternoon as it started to snow gently.
Sunday featured pouring rain so we decided on a museum day. The science museum turned out to be excellent, with a centrifugal bicycle and an oil well simulator as well as a variety of other interesting hands-on science toys. The Bryggen museum was a little small, but interesting, and gave a bit more of an idea what the town would have been like in Hanseatic times, and the aquarium was much like most aquariums but featured playing penguins and a very friendly sea-lion. Sadly the rain still wasn’t letting up, so after one more visit to the cafe with the nice cake we headed off for the airport home.
Bergen is a lovely city and well worth a long weekend stay. There’s lots of access to nature very close to the city, and lots to do. Hopefully I’ll get to go back in the summer and explore some more!