Travel Tuesday: Next Stop, Norway!
Article and photography by Kellie Saint
My first port of call on this week-long spring break trip was Bergen, where I stayed with a friend of mine for a couple of days (hello Elisabeth, if you’re reading this!). I didn’t have much time there — only a day and two nights — so I spent most of the day looking around Osøyro and the heart of Bergen.
On our way from the airport to Os we took a wrong turn — nothing major, it was just a longer drive. No problem for me! I got a nice little tour of the city outskirts and, best of all, we just happened to stumble upon a 12th century monastery in Lysekloster.
To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. I think Elisabeth was a bit taken aback. I love old stone structures, more so if they are in ruins (is it any wonder, looking back, why I chose St. Andrews for my studies? Both castle and cathedral ruins!). I think just stumbling upon this overgrown pile of stones made my entire trip right from the start.
We had an excited (well, I was excited) wander before hopping back in the car to meet Elisabeth’s family for dinner (we had tacos, which are apparently a big thing in Norway – I never would have guessed…).
The next day, after a brief foray into the Edvard Grieg museum (think Peer Gynt and ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’) we tackled the city. I, of course, managed to unintentionally find both a vegan café and a health food shop in under twenty minutes flat (my sixth sense?). But the main attraction for me was the older part of the city which once marked Bergen as a bustling trade port of the Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages.
Many people may recognize the famous front of Bryggen, the colorful wooden buildings lining the eastern side of Vågen harbour (fun fact from the word-nerd, aka me: ‘brygge’ means dock or quay in English, and is related to the German word ‘brücke’ and the English word, ‘bridge’). At one time, there were shops and warehouses storing fish and cereal from Europe. Today, there are tourist shops and a museum (which, sadly, I did not have time for on this trip. Next time!).
I did get to visit the Bryggens Museum, though, which was built up around archaeological excavations of remains of the original city. We saw human remains (a couple of full skeletons, even), runic inscriptions, pottery and coins, and even remnants of a Viking ship known as the Brygge-skipet dating from the late 13th century.
Only the darker bits of wood are original to the ship, which was probably used for cargo due to its flat hull. I could go on, but I realize not everyone reading this is a history fanatic…
For those of you not particularly entertained thus far, I’m sorry (not sorry). But to top off my trip to Bergen (until next time), after running about the city all day, Elisabeth and I got to sit back, eat chocolate, and watch How to Train Your Dragon…