Before we planned our Norwegian backpacking trip we had been warned to expect bad weather, especially in Bergen. It is known in some circles as the ‘rainiest city on earth‘ as it regularly gets over 240 days of rain every year. The rain is part and parcel of what makes Norway the place it is and the seven mountains of Bergen make it even wetter than anywhere else in the country. We knew this of course and were well prepared.
The Floybanen funicular
Waking to another cloudy but dry day (how lucky had we been so far?) we set off across the town to the Floybanen. This is one of those steep mountain railways and climbs up to the top of Floyen mountain overlooking the city and the harbour. We had heard it could be busy so a reasonably early start got us straight on with no queuing.
Once in the carriage we began the slow steady climb with our fellow passengers, a mix of locals and tourists. Within a few minutes I noticed a tall chap at the top of the carriage and immediately had that lightbulb ‘I recognise him’ moment. Took a few seconds to figure out where I knew him from as although the face was very familiar I wasn’t sure where from. Then it hit me. ‘Morse‘. ‘Lewis‘. ‘ Auf Wiedersehn Pet‘. It was the actor Kevin Whately and as soon as I heard his Geordie accent it was confirmed. It’s always interesting to see someone wellknown away from the media isn’t it? He was obviously on a trip with his family just enjoying the Floybanen with the rest of us tourists.
The trip took under 10 minutes but we emerged right at the top of Floyen mountain where the views down over the city were magnificent. Fascinating to see the layout of the harbour and ahead to the fjords snaking away towards the sea. The sun even showed it’s face for a few minutes as the viewing platforms were crowded with everyone trying to take advantage of the moment.
Apparently the Floybanen is one of Norways biggest tourist attractions and takes over 1.8 million visitors each year. Today was significantly quieter than a typical summers day thank goodness as we wandered around the site at the top that included a cafeteria, a restaurant, childrens playground, souvenir shop, and bike-hire centre. Dotted all around in the trees and in the playground were strange troll statues. Bit creepy but interesting.
As we were at the top of a mountain we thought we should take a hike and see some of the surrounding forest so we headed off on a track towards Skomakerdiket Lake. Only a 30 minute walk or so it took us along a beautiful forest path to the edge of the lake. Passing many creepy troll figures hiding in the trees we were soon away from the bulk of the tourists and Kevin Whately.
As we walked we saw a carving in one of the trees at the side of the lake. It said,
“Dagen i dag er morgendagen du drømte om i går,” approximately translating to “Today is the tomorrow you dreamt about yesterday.”
The lake is one of the most visited lakes in Bergen during the summer but we found it unbelievably quiet and very beautiful. The autumn leaves were all around us as we strolled around the waters edge not quite believing how close this could be to the city. It felt like the real wilderness Norway that we had been expecting. Absolutely stunning.
The walk back to the Floybanen was slower as we didn’t really want to join civilisation again. Saw a certain Mr Whately as we left the lake, probably after our autographs. We did enjoy the creepy troll garden though and thought a few of them had an uncanny resemblance to one of us at least ……
It would have been great to have sat outside on the decking sharing a coffee and cake with Kevin watching the world go by and enjoying the view but the weather wasn’t really suitable so we headed back to the Floybanen for our return trip. It had only cost 95 krona each, around £8.50, for the journey up and down so we were well pleased with that budget-wise.
Bergen is world famous for its fish and especially its fish market, the Fishekrogen, so we tramped along the harbours edge to see what the fuss was all about. Neither of us are fish experts but the range of fishy stuff on sale was outrageous with creatures of every shape, size, and colour displayed in chillers and hanging over our heads. Some were a little unpleasant to be honest and we spent a lot of time just shouting ‘come and look at this one’ to each other. Didn’t make us hungry just pleased that we weren’t fish.
Nordnes and Johanneskirken
The famous Bergen weather looked like it was on the change by now with dark clouds tumbling in over the mountains so we decided to walk out along the edge of the Nordnes peninsula to the viewpoint overlooking the North Sea inlet. Strangely passing the Norwegian branch of the Manchester United Supporters Club on the way we had to quicken the pace a little as some light drizzle started.
Returning along the west bank of Nordnes we passed row after row of quaint typically Norwegian wooden houses and headed for Johanneskirken. Its the largest church in Bergen and over 100 years old built in 1894 and seems to dominate this side of the city looking down all the way to the harbour.
Bergens Notorious Weather
By now the weather had seriously changed and it had become one of those 240+ days of rain. We’d had the best of the weather for most of the day so were just pleased to get back to the Ole Bull Apartments to dry off and relax. Another wonderful days exploring. Unfortunately our final day in the most northern place we’ve ever visited was a washout with torrential rain all day long. I did venture out to get some food and the locals didn’t seem at all phased by the downpour. I guess they are well used to it by now.
Tid for a ga (time to leave)
An easy tram ride out to Bergen Airport, or should that be Bergen International Airport? We were returning on Norwegian Airlines again to Gatwick where we had a couple of days with our youngest son Ryan and his lovely girlfriend Ella to look forward to. Before we left however we couldn’t help but notice the airport sign outside the entrance. Do you think they weren’t sure where they were or was it just to scare incoming travellers?
20/10 – 22/10/2018