June 30, 2010

More Norway

After the busy day seeing Håkon’s Hall et cetera, we woke up very early to take a fjord tour. We took a train to a bus (which went down a road with an 18% grade) to a boat, which led us slowly around a fjord. The weather was terrible – rainy and chill the whole day. The fjord was beautiful though – they are steep glacial valleys (my favorite kind) and can be a mile deep. On the sides are small towns, some inaccessible by roads. They all apparently have medieval stave churches, a style of building unique to Norway, but unfrtunately they all seemed to be hiding behind other buildings. The boat dropped us off in Flåm, a tiny town pretty much used only by tourists. We had a surprisingly decent lunch despite the lack of options, and then took pictures with a large troll holding a Norwegian flag. The next leg of the journey was a historic train up the steep mountain, with a stop at a huge waterfall with a singing troll, sort of a Norwegian siren with long braids. That train took us to another train, which took us back to Bergen. There we had delicious Vietnamese for dinner, followed by the best carrot cake I’ve ever had.

Saturday we went to some shops and then the Bryggen tour, which gave us a guided tour through Bergen’s historic fishing town. It was an important trade center in the Hanseatic League, and life there was so terrible they had to give the apprentices tests of strength before they could join on. The current Bryggen was built immediately after the fire in 1702, with each building in exactly the same location as the ones that had been destroyed. They areconstantly being repaired, as the salt content of the bay has changed with the construction of something or other, and now the foundations (basically, boats filled with shoes and sunk) are rotting away. The buildings now sit at funny angles, leaning into each other and over the paths between them. It’s really adorable. On the tour we learned all about life then, the Hanseatic League (which I knew pretty much nothing about before), and the later fish trade. The Hanseatic Museum even has 150-year-old salt cod hanging from the ceiling for luck.

For lunch we went to a hot dog stand called Kong Oscar’s Pølsar, where they had the most impressive sausage menu I’ve ever seen. I had a reindeer dog, 150 grams, which stuck out from the bun on both sides. The meat was gamey and smokey, but it needed more toppings than just fried onions and ketchup. Afterwards, we left for Copenhagen.

Going home tomorrow – will try to update more before then.

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