Our day started by racing to the funicular station. We passed Bryggen Wharf and a ton of cool things along the way, but we had read that the line for the funicular can get really long, and there was another ship in port, so we were concerned about this.
When we arrived, no one was there. We bought our tickets (1-way at first, in case we wanted to walk down), breezed right on to the funicular, and headed to the top. The ride up was neat, but had been way over-hyped for what it was.
Same goes for the view at the top. It was pretty, but definitely not as good as Fjellstua Viewpoint in Ã…lesund. In fairness, the two experiences and views are very different, but if I were to arrive at the funicular station and there were a 30-45 minute line, I’d probably skip this. I doubt anyone will actually follow this advice since this is so heavily-touted as the best do in Bergen…
What we enjoyed more than the funicular ride and the view from Mount Floyen was the goats we encountered on the trail that looped around the top. Our cruise up until that point had been alarmingly goat-free, and this was a nice fix to that.
After watching the goats for a few hours, we continued around the forest paths. These were incredibly quiet and peaceful, and made for a really pleasant stroll. Without question, this was the highlight of Mount Floyen for us.
On our way back from the lake, we once again passed the goats, spending another 4.25 hours gawking at their majesty. This time, a few of them were in what looked like a warming hut.
My assumption was that this is to keep them out of the snow in harsh winters; in actuality, they live on an island during the winter. I wonder if these pampered goats take the funicular to get up to Mount Floyen when they ‘summer’ in the mountains?! 😉
The funicular was half-full (at most) when we headed down, but the line to board at the lower station stretched pretty far outside, and appeared to be only getting worse as groups were approaching. I’m guessing it was a pretty long wait at that point.
Here are some other photos from up at Mount Floyen:
As we left this area, we stumbled upon Godt BrÃ¸d, which seemed like a “sign” that we needed some school bread. It was, once again, delicious.
The forecast called for rain all day, starting mid-morning. Our goal was to ‘beat’ that forecast and get as much done as possible before it began. Since the stave church seemed like the most photogenic aspect of our visit to Bergen, we decided to head there next via the light rail.
Right before we boarded, Sarah realized she smelled fishy. Literally. Remember my bright idea to put smoked salmon in cups with ice? Well, we found out firsthand what happens to solid water when it gets warm…and is mixed with salmon. The results? Decidedly not good.
Disgusting salmon-juice was leaking through Sarah’s backpack, and we were forced to throw our lunch away. Now that I was fully awake, I asked Sarah why she let me go ahead with this clearly-awful idea. Her response was something to the effect of not wanting to poke the bear before he was caffeinated. This made me feel like I should take a deep look in the mirror, as I’ve basically become one of those cheesy “Grumpy” shirts IRL.
Although it was definitely a bummer to learn that about myself, I’m sure it was even more of a bummer to smell like fish all day. 😉
Anyway, we got on the Bergen Light Rail for our journey out to the Fantoft Stave Church. We had read conflicting advice about which station to exit for this church, and we opted for Paradis. Almost as soon as we got off the tram, it started pouring.
Google Maps directed us on an odd route that was almost entirely through the woods, which was pleasant, but also uphill. When we arrived at the Fantoft Stave Church, we discovered that they don’t accept American credit cards. I pressed this a bit because the reason many places say (or used to say) they cannot accept American credit cards is because they’re not chipped. The person selling tickets stuck to this line, and wouldn’t even try, so we had to go find an ATM.
According to the Fantoft Stave Church staffer, the nearest ATM was back by Fantoft Station. So, we walked that direction. We went into a couple stores in that area, and non had ATMs. We even bought some coffees at a grocery store, hoping that would enable us to get cashback. (It didn’t.)
If you’re wondering why we didn’t have cash–it hadn’t been necessary up until that point. Most developed countries we visit are close to cashless, and it’s far easier to pay for everything with credit card. We’ve probably also been a bit spoiled by Japan, where there’s a 7-11 or Lawson’s (with ATM) on every street corner.
Having wasted about 45 minutes by that point, someone told us the nearest ATM was back at a shopping center, which was 2 or 3 stations the other direction on the light rail. We decided it was not worth the hassle, time, or rail ticket. Unfortunately, I had not taken photos of the church when we were there before, so we walked back again.
The good news was that in the time that passed, the rain had stopped. So, we headed back to the stave church and I took plenty of photos of the exterior. It was disappointing not to go inside, but it seemed like most people we’ve spoken with were more impressed by the outside than inside.
Here are some photos of the Fantoft Stave Church:
By the time we arrived back to the city-center, it was pouring again. We had gotten off at a station near Kafe Special, one of the restaurants we had recommended to us, and given our tragic salmon loss, we had nothing else to eat for lunch, so we went there.
Being near the college campus and having low prices by Norway’s standards, it was a pretty busy place. We ordered a couple of pizzas (we could’ve probably split one) and hoped the rain would pass while we were there. The lamb pizza we had was really good, but not exceptional or anything.
If you’re going to Norway, it’s probably not for their ‘world famous’ pizza.
The rain did not pass, but it wasn’t a huge deal. We both had waterproof coats (and my camera bag has a marginally-effective rainfly), so we continued on to the Bryggen Wharf.
We started there at the Hanseatic Museum, and opted to purchase the multi-museum ticket that included transportation. Since the bus was already there (and the Fisheries Museum interested us more anyway), we decided to take that rather than doing this museum first.
It was a relatively short drive to the Norwegian Fisheries Museum, but long enough that we didn’t want to walk it in the rain. We arrived there, hung up our coats, and spent some time touring it.
A few of the most interesting aspects of the experience included a short film about Norway’s controversial (past) seal-hunting practice, a timeline that explained the evolution of water rights off the coast of Norway and how that impacted the fishing industries, and information about the types of fish commonly caught in Norway.
For our interests, the museum was perfectly-sized; we spent a little under an hour there and felt like we had a satisfactory experience. It was interesting to learn how the fishing industry has changed in Norway over the last few hundred centuries, and where things stand today.
After this, we debated whether to press on to Old Bergen. We really wanted to do it, but the rain had not let up, and it was about a 20 minute walk there. Ultimately, our desire to see a Spirit of Norway location (a film we didn’t really even like) won out, and we headed there. Here’s my photo…
Many of you may not be familiar with Spirit ofNorway–it’s what used to stop you from leaving the exit area of Maelstrom.
Later, it became the thing you’d awkwardly walk through, ducking as you left Maelstrom while 3-4 people watched the short film. Now, it’s part of the queue for Frozen Ever After. Here’s the scene I’m referencing from Spirit of Norway…
That was not our only reason for visiting–we had heard Old Bergen was cool, and indeed it was. There were a ton of preserved/re-created houses on display, almost Norway’s take on Main Street USA.
Some of these houses even had actors inside recreating conversations and life in their era. Impressively, these actors all spoke perfect English.
Here are some of our photos from Old Bergen:
The downside of going to Old Bergen is that we were getting tight on time. We still needed to spend more time in the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf (and its museum), and have some waffles before getting back to the ship.
We left Old Bergen and started rushing back towards the Norwegian Fisheries Museum, hoping to arrive just in time for one of their buses.
We actually arrived a bit early, so I had time to pose in front of one of the museum’s viking ships…as a pirate?
We arrived back in Bryggen with about an hour and a half before it was time to go back to the ship. We started with a quick tour of the museum, which presented a fascinating look back into the city’s history, including involvement with the Hanseatic League.
Unfortunately, due to limited time we breezed through the museum pretty quickly in order to have time to wander the wharf itself a bit and (hopefully) get some delicious waffles.
Unfortunately, it was again raining really hard, so I couldn’t take my camera out for photos. At this point, I was kicking myself for not slowing down and snapping a few pictures while we were racing for the funicular and the weather was actually okay. The VisitBergen site has some great photos–mine would not have been that good no matter when I took them, as it was overcast all day. I want night photos of the wharf anyway, so at least now we have an excuse to go back (not that we needed one). On Page 3, we’ll embark on our quest for waffles…and race back to the ship, and I’ll share the Norway-inspired super hero I created at dinner that night…