No city is easy to navigate in a Motorhome. Overnight parking is generally of the concrete jungle variety 10 kms from the centre of the city, road signs and motorway exits are confusing and more often than not I forget to turn the “No Toll Roads” function off so we end up on a one way residential street heading up a cliff face. Sometimes I wonder is it all worth it and that we should bypass the cities all together.
That is until we actually are standing in the middle of some fantastic Market Square with history dating back practically to prehistoric times and I think – bloody hell this is amazing.
Bergen was no different. We parked literally with the nose of our motorhome touching the tram track to central Bergen in some concrete jungle carpark, door to door with probably 40 other motorhomes all for the princely sum of 200 NOK. The thing is – its convenient.
The buses and trams are always confusing – the ticket machines never make sense – so the quicker you ask someone local the quicker you will be on your way.
Luckily the tram, once we finally sorted the tickets, stopped practically a stones throw from The Fish Market which I wanted to see before the hoards of tourists arrived. We, just to confirm, are travellers not tourists.
Imagine fresh fish and shellfish right off the wharf cooked then and there. We could only imagine too as it was all abit pricy for our budget.
There were a few things off my menu in anycase – particularly the Whale. Just can’t justify that. Still the King Crab looked incredible and sides of salmon were massive. There were also stalls selling Whale, Reindeer and Moose salami, we dared to try the Reindeer salami but left the other two off the tasting menu. We did however have a Reindeer Hotdog from a local vendor with all the traditional toppings and it was delicious.
No city visit for us is complete without coffee but when you are paying $15 nzd for 2 coffee, it needs to be incredible, so it can take awhile to choose the perfect coffee destination. In the historic wharf town of Bryggen we found just the cup in a cafe called Vagal. Now im not sure how to put the little ° above the first a but it should be there to change the sound and I imagine the meaning of the word significantly. Anyway the coffee and the people watching of the ultra trendy customers was fantastic.
For all its mountainous ranges and little fishing villages, Norway is incredibly hip and ultra modern in many ways. From the fashion to the street art to the architectural influence seen in everything from the simpliest walkway to view a waterfall so whilst Bergen boasts a lovely old town with its historical houses, its heart is very modern.
Not to be missed is the historic village in Bryggen which has been wonderfully renovated to preserve its authenticity. It now houses loads of Norwegian artisans and their products. Personally I was a little afronted by the shop selling whole bear skins as well as seal furs and wolve skins.
One of the highlights of Bergen is riding the funicular up to Mt Floyen where the view of the city and the harbour below is spectacular. For us we like to wander abit, and as the first few streets up are the old houses, we missed the funicular and ended up walking nearly to the top of Mt Floyen anyway. Even if you don’t walk all the way up, the guidebooks are right, wander around the cobblestone lanes that zigzag their way up because the true beauty of Bergen lies in the historic houses.
You could spend more than a day in Bergen, apparently the restaurants are world class and at any other time we would have happily sampled some of its famous cuisine, just not the Whale, but being on a 6 month budget doesn’t allow for that kind of extravagance in such an expensive city. I read somewhere that a 4 star hotel, a short taxi ride and dinner for 2 in Bergen will set you back 550 usd.
There are also some fabulous walks to be had around the hills in Mt Floyen and the harbour itself with all the fishing boats and cruise ships is worth just oggling at. We did that over a bowl of local fish soup from a street caravan.
The only downside for me were the hoards of cruise ship passengers that have invaded the town and the immense amount of souvenir shops. You can only see so many Norwegian jumpers and troll dolls and reindeer skins.