Day 11 |
Jun 04, 2011

Norway, Bergen

By Imogen Corrigan, Medieval Historian

Co-ordinates: 60, 24, 06 N, 5, 18, 34 W
Weather: overcast but sunshine later
Air Temperature: 9C, 49F
Pressure: 1026 hPa
Wind 22 km, 232.0 degrees

After the strong winds of the previous couple of days, it was paradise to have such a smooth ride from the Shetlands to Bergen and I think everyone slept extremely well. The clocks went forward, but we were not in a rush this morning so The Restaurant staff at breakfast was not exactly rushed off their feet and it was pleasant to be leisurely as we sailed up the fjord towards Bergen. It’s extremely attractive, even in overcast conditions.

There was quite a crowd on deck to watch the docking procedure – always a source of fascination to us landlubbers. There seemed to be some delay in getting tied up because the port hadn’t provided a linesman (if that’s the right term), but an enterprising taxi-driver jumped out of his cab and secured up, getting a huge cheer from the top deck.

After lunch we set off on the excursion to the Hanseatic museum and Fantolf stave church – long an ambition of mine to see one even if this one is a replica because the original had been destroyed by arsonists in 1992. A stave church is a wooden church from the medieval period, often fairly early in it; most of them date to the twelfth or thirteenth centuries but with the fashion for building them going on into the fifteenth. Twenty-nine remain but it’s thought that at one time there may have been as many as 2,000 stave churches just in Norway. All of that aside, we were fascinated to see the endless intertwined carvings and just enjoy the unexpected harmony of this strange building. It was also excellent that it was a new copy, as, for the first time, we could smell how it must have been when it was a new-build in the C12th.

Bergen is such an attractive town with history going way back through the centuries. Its involvement with the Hanseatic League was also fascinating linking it, as it does, with so many other towns across Europe. We went to the Hanseatic Museum, which was extraordinary, full of dried fish and information on how to trade it. It seems that the good people of Bergen suffered endless fires but still continued to build in wood. The weather got better and better as the afternoon progressed, which seemed almost to overwhelm our guide who claimed not to have seen sunshine for months (he may have been speaking the truth). This put him in an excellent mood and those people who didn’t opt to leave the tour for shopping were treated to an impromptu extra 5-minute tour of another part of the town.

Most people did stay in town and I suspect the ship now holds a large number of Norwegian jumpers, which seemed to be a top attraction. At least our guests should be warm if the weather reverts to drizzle. Once back at the ship where the staff was lined up holding cards that spelled out Welcome Home, a lot of us dumped our overcoats and headed back to town. As we weren’t sailing until 2030 there was time to enjoy the last of the evening sunshine even though a fresh wind was picking up again. All in all, it was a delightful day in Norway leaving many thinking seriously about returning sometime in the future.