So it’s the Bergen Food Festival. And – naturally – raining. Photographer man (met on fjord trip) says it rains 300 days a year in Bergen. I hope he is joking (he wasn’t, it’s apparently called The City of Rain.
Anyway, I catch the funicular up to the top of Mt Ulriken, which overlooks the town. I can go home now, because….:
Fløibanen in Bergen is one of Norway’s most famous attractions and the only cable car of its kind in Scandinavia. We can justifiably claim that you have not really seen Bergen before you have travelled on the Fløibanen.
Well, now I have. Seen it. And had a coffee while overlooking the view. Which consists of grey mist, grey ocean, and an indistinct jumble of residential areas and cranes.
Bergen Montana Hostel is up above the city and on a fine morning has a great view of its own, so I really needn’t have bothered with the funicular but do (because I was forced to sing ‘Funiculi Funicula’ as a child in school and so I’ve got a fetish for funiculi).
As it’s a Festival, there are lots of free things to look at (none to eat, worse luck)! For instance, in the grounds of the Bergenhus there’s a mediaeval fair going on, complete with busty maidens in pointy hats, fools, jesters, tumblers, and little kids beating each other up with wooden swords while the ‘master-at-arms’ vainly tries to convince them that real violence is not required. If he’d seen my kids’ squabblings, he would’ve known not to bother, just let them do their stuff and let the winner survive to procreate. That’s MY strategy.
Part of the fortress is called Rosencrantz Tower. I’m assuming that the Tower is named after the same R.Crantz who had issues with Hamlet. Anyway, inside there is an interesting discussion of the trials and ultimate burning at the stake of one Anne Pedersdotter , mainly for being a pain in the neck (although allegedly extra-marital sex with a priest was also involved). Apparently it wasn’t good enough to die of smoke inhalation (that wouldn’t burn the sin out of you) so they made the fire first and then lowered you onto it on a ladder when it was good and hot. Makes you wonder if there were a lot fewer annoying people (especially women) about then, given the penalties.
On to the offices of the Hanseatic League, which was the mediaeval equivalent of the European Union, an evil multinational fish-based association headquartered in Bergen. Headquarters are a three-storey squashed-up house with interminable dark wooden staircases and cupboards for the grey-faced company men to sleep in, reminiscent of those Japanese capsule-hotels. As a lifelong fish-hater, I’m not at all surprised.
Bergen has a famous fish-market (well it would!). I go there thinking I might pick up a delicious jar of pickled cod eyeballs for someone I don’t like back in Australia. Along the way I pass a kind of barbecue thing where you can turn a goat’s head on a spit and then eat it. Little Norwegians don’t seem to be put off by their meat staring pathetically back at them as it slowly roasts – they’re all gathered around eagerly awaiting their turn at goat on a stick. So I move on quickly to The Bounty (yes you can pay to go on, no it’s not worth it except for the photo opportunity). After all, it’s not the real Bounty, just the Hollywood version, which is bigger (so the actors had room to pose) and has more gruesome punishments with which to thrill cinema goers.
On my last morning, I realise too late that buses to the airport are a bit few and far between on a Sunday. So I decide to WALK from my mountain eyrie (the Montana) down to Bergen, using the steep stairs down between the houses as a shortcut – basically straight down the mountain. This got me a good view of lots of ikea-decorated living rooms and people having muesli on their rear decks, and eventually I arrived at the bottom where there were lots of buses (even on a Sunday) and, well, goodbye Bergen!
An interesting (to me) fact about Norway: it is constitutionally ruled by one King Harald V. As an avid reader of Viking stories, I love the continuity of it (if only in name). In keeping with tradition, King Harald ought to have a descriptive title, like ‘The Fair’ or ‘The Quarrelsome’. Maybe (seeing as it’s the 21st century) he could be King Harald the Irrelevant!
And I never did buy those pickled cod eyeballs (too much choice about which ‘friend’ to give it to).