Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bergen, Norway

We arrived in Bergen and pointed our internal compasses directly to our hotel. Even though it was still early evening we were absolutely pooped and ready to roll into bed.The "Velkommen" could not have looked more welcoming on our red hotel!BUT you see the thing about Bergen is they only get 60 days of sunshine a year and an average of 80 inches of rain. And this day - our "nutshell" day - was still shining bright. So after we got Connor in bed the sunbeams literally guilted me out into the night to explore despite my exhaustion. Travel guilt is a terrible thing...the feeling of leaving something behind and not experiencing it to its fullest. So I laced my tennis shoes back on and out I went into the "land of the midnight sun" to explore in the white night!I was looking for a few staples - OJ, cereal, what have you, and look at what my eyes spied! Oh my goodness! KIWI Jelly Bellies!!!! There are no jelly beans period in Europe, or so I thought. And Kiwi is hands down the very best flavor. I indulged. And it was worth every expensive Norway cent!Bergen was a energetic little town. There were lots of college students and young people out and about this Saturday night. It kinda made me feel old.......but the sun reflecting off these windows reinvigorated me and being out and alone (without lugging a stroller, diaper bag, and a two year old) was light and carefree.This row of old, historic wooden houses is called Bryggen and was Bergen's German trading center until WWII. Very quaint backdrop right on the harbor.I poked in and out of the identical shops which all sold the exact same sweaters, troll figures, and postcards. What is it about places like these that keep you going in one souvenir shop after another just to see what might be different from one to the next? My new fascination seems to be noting the phone booths in every country. You really don't see them too much anymore in the USA thanks to cell phones. But something about the ones in Scandinavia seem a part of their design culture.I wandered through the famous Bergen fish market. It wasn't quite as large in magnitude as I expected, but the crab legs were enormous.Anyone for an elk hotdog or a whale burger?!?!
We awoke the next morning in Bergen to strong downpours. I was immediately happy I had pushed through the night before to see the town in the setting sun. However despite the rain, we still had fun! Just a little damp. Connor became a pro at jumping in puddles.
With these images (below) as inspiration we knew we wanted to experience a Stave Church before we left. These medieval houses of worship - tall, skinny, wooden pagodas with dragon's-head gargoyles - are distinctly Norwegian and palpably historic, transporting today's tourists right back to the Viking days. So on our rainy day we bused about 30 minutes to the nearby Fantoft Stave Church. Unfortunately the original had burned down in 1992, but the rebuild at least gave us the Stave Church flair we were after.
Connor liked the little church. She sat still for a seconds and knew it was "Baby Jesus' Home" before she sashayed up and down the aisles with another little girl.Those Norwegian wooden shipbuilding skills were spotlighted in the Stave Church.
By midday we still had several hours before our return train but we were soaked and ready to dry out. So we circled around every floor of this shopping mall while Connor napped in the stroller. We were all pretty pumped when we settled in for our LONG train back to Oslo and found the children's play area in our train car. Whoever came up with this was BRILLIANT! Connor played cards, read books, watched movies, and skipped around with space to climb and dance.

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