God morgen lovelies!
To put it simply, Bergen was enchanting. I’ve never thought of this small town as a “must-do” in Europe, but boy was I wrong. Often packed as a day-trip into lengthy itineraries that span the Nordic fjords, Bergen is a small town most popularly known for its colorful row of wooden shops along Bryggen harbor. It’s easily one of the most photogenic cities in the world, and though you probably could see all the hot spots in one day, I’d recommend spending a full weekend here to appreciate the often overlooked things this town has to offer.
I’ve never considered myself an architecture buff, but the colorful wooden homes + cafes steeped in Scandinavian roots are the thing I loved most about Bergen. After all, we spent an entire half day wandering through side streets and climbing up house-bedecked hills to catch a better glimpse at every detail. Cherry trees and fresh tulips were abundant, and I might have cried a little when I realized I couldn’t take blooms from the flower market back home. Peonies, gladiolas, and hydrangeas in a rhapsody of pink!
We stumbled into hole-in-the-wall cafes along these labyrinthine paths and tasted some of the best pastries you could possibly imagine. Funnily enough, Bergen was overflowing with antique shops! And though it’s more like digging through the Room of Requirement once you actually step inside, these vintage treasures each have their own unique story. Don’t let the piles upon piles scare you off!
Lex and I knew one of our first priorities would be emarking on a traditional fjord tour, and guys, this is something you can’t miss! As you speed away from the harbor, the homes become less and less stacked until they’re so isolated from the next that you wonder how these people get food + daily necessities! Eventually you drift into a fjordic wonderland with turquoise waters and tree-covered mountains everywhere you look. This is the point at which you realize just how small you are. I’m not sure if this is a component of every fjord tour, but Lex was chosen to retrieve fresh spring water from a waterfall nearby. In a bright orange wet suit, she helped grab a bucket and extended the arm to collect the most refreshing H2O that could possibly exist. Definite highlight of the day. These fjord tours are a bit windy, so expect a chilly punch if you’re standing on top of the boat – even in May! We chose a short 3 hour trip to Mostraumen and back, but try Norway in a Nutshell if you have the time. Spanning a full day, you get to sail across a plethora of fjords, ride a bus through the mountains taking tight hairpin turns, and travel by train to take in all the scenery. Um, yes please!
This is a foodie’s city, so be adventurous and try some of the more traditional Norwegian dishes like reindeer + whale. PRO TIP: they hand out free samples by the fish market so you don’t have to order a full entree! My absolute favorite restaurants in Bergen are Duggfrisk, Colonialen and Bien Snackbar. Duggfrisk is a fairly new gastropub with a great ambiance + even better steak. I almost licked the béarnaise sauce off the plate and honestly, no regrets. Colonialen was a bit more intimate + upscale, so I’d definitely recommend a reservation for this one. I had a melted cheese appetizer before the braised beef + risotto magic I feasted on for the main course. If you know me, you know I sometimes cry over great meals. This was one of those times. Bien Snackbar is crowded with more locals than tourists, as it’s a 3-4 min ride outside the city center on the light rail. Take the Danmarksplass stop, walk left, and you’ve arrived in cheeseburger paradise. Their menu makes American burgers pale in comparison.
The last day we moseyed through the shops of Bryggen (even a Christmas shop!) and took the funicular up Mount Floyen for a million dollar view of the city. The funicular ride is an attraction in itself, so try to wait for a spot in the front row. The view from the top will truly make your heart beat faster (though we can blame the shortness of breath on the changing altitude). We didn’t realize there was a restaurant at the top, as well as a Norwegian hot dog stand. If the weather weren’t as bleak and we hadn’t just eaten, I would say definite yes to either of these eats. If you keep wandering straight, you’ll come upon a few furry locals on your way to a trail you can hike or mountain bike back down!
If I remember anything from my time in Bergen, it’s that:
1. Words will never do the man-made architecture and God-made fjords justice
2. Reindeer actually tastes quite smoky
3. Though a little Norsk goes a long way, everyone here speaks English (Takk = Thank You!)
(Oh and they’re really obsessed with trolls. It’s not just a Frozen thing!)