Day 6 |
Aug 24, 2012

Bergen, Norway

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Botanist

Co-ordinates: 60°24´N, 05°19´E
Weather: partly cloudy little bit of sunshine
Air Temperature: 16°C

Early in the morning the Silver Explorer entered the Korsfjord making her way up to Bergen, the second largest city of Norway. Bergen is famous for its long history, especially the time of the Hanseatic League, but also for its climate. More than two meters of rain in a year makes Bergen one of the wettest towns in Europe. But today we had luck with the weather: cloudy with a little bit of sunshine and no rain, which, for Bergen, is exceptionally good.

Two tours were offered to our guests. A short 2,5 hours tour to the Bergen Museum with its Viking and Medieval Collections and the longer one bringing the guests first to a Stavechurch then to the Hanseatic Museum and finally to the Bryggen.

Today I was joining the long tour together with my colleague Kara and 29 guests. We started from the pier, making our way first through the older part of Bergen with its wooden houses. These houses were formerly used by fishermen and because of their wooden construction, were prone to fire hazards. For this reason only a small number of them are left, yet often are very nicely restored.

After a drive through the city center, where our guide explained a lot about the history and famous personalities like for example the composer Edvard Grieg and the writer and Nobel Prize winner Martinius Bjornson, we continued our tour to the famous Fantoft Stavechurch. Originally the church was built in Sognefjord, but then brought to Bergen after it was destroyed by a fire in 1992, and rebuilt exactly as it stood in the Middle Ages. For a botanist, not only the church and its history were of interest, but also the lovely beech forest that surrounded the church.

From the church, the bus brought us back into town where we continued the city tour, this time along the other side of the harbor with a beautiful view of the Bryggen of Bergen. Passing by the 800 hundred-year-old fish market, our next stop was the Hanseatic Museum of Bergen. The museum is the only house on the old wharf in which the original interiors have been preserved. The building dates from 1704 and provides insight as to what life was like for the Hanseatics in that time.

As all of the houses were wooden constructions and no open fire was allowed inside them. So in winter, the days of work were short and the nights of rest long and cold. Interestingly the size of the beds would be considered small to very small for today’s adult. Discipline was very tough at that time and the Warehouse manager controlled very strictly the life of his employees.

After the visit of the museum we walked along what was once the old wharf of Bergen along the so-called Bryggen. The Bryygen are the old warehouses of the Hanseatic League and served as a trading base for the Stockfish, the most important commodity in that time. Today the restored warehouses harbor mainly art and handicrafts shops, souvenirs shops and restaurants. But listening to the stories told by the guide and with the pictures from the museum still in mind, one could imagine how busy and tough daily life was some hundred years earlier in this town.

The afternoon was at leisure time and a lot of our guests went out to explore this beautiful city of Bergen on their own.

Around 19.00 the Silver Explorer set sail for our next destination: Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. Sailing away from Norway out into the open North Sea along the trading routes of the Vikings and the Hanseatic League, together with guests, I enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Restaurant.