Seeing Bergen from the top of a mountain and the bottom of a beer glass.
The first thing you notice about Bergen is the rain. If it’s not already precipitating, it looks like it’s about to – and then usually starts precipitating as soon as someone says aloud that it’s not. However, I was lucky upon arrival. It was a reasonably dry Saturday evening and the streets were buzzing. Even though I didn’t particularly feel like going out for a drink, I felt like I should. Once again I found myself meeting and having a couple of beers with a local who immigrated to Norway only a few years ago; an Argentinian bloke this time. I am yet to have a conversation with a Norwegian citizen (beyond discussing directions to the right bus stop).
The second thing you notice about Bergen is the mountains that encompass the city. Taking the morning Fløibanen funicular up the eastern mountain, Fløyen, was unfortunately nothing special. But once I was atop the mountain, the feeling certainly was. Misty clouds obscured the city, fresh forest air flowed across the mountainside and the smaller walking tracks took me through wondrous parts of the woods. I like to believe I took a few amazing photos up there – I would’ve stayed taking excessive amounts of footage if it weren’t for the rain, which shooed me down the mountain and into a café.
The main bustle of the city seemed to occur around either side of the waterfront, with tourists and locals alike. The fish market and the quaint architecture of Bryggen, along with the tall lush green backdrops, helped build a sense of a city preserved in time. Unfortunately, I felt that the visual appeal of the area couldn’t quite compensate for the lack of things to see and do in the rest of the city. It definitely couldn’t make up for the prices of a decent meal, especially fish and chips (which after passing through the fish market sounded like a good idea). At least some drinks are cheaper on a Sunday.
Most of the beers I drank that night were not. Something I have to get use to while over here is restricting my spending on alcohol – which if you don’t know me, is an extremely rare occurrence. Though I’m attempting to justify the night’s spending with the company I had throughout. I struck up conversation with a few Americans at breakfast earlier that day, one of which I met for a drink and we soon befriended a British couple who joined us for more drinks. And as the night progressed, so did the number of encounters. I always find it far more comfortable and enjoyable meeting people at a bar when you’re not alone.
This is why hostels, especially the common rooms of hostels, are an amazing space and tool for the solo traveler (secondary to the cost of course). I had a few very nice conversations with people stopping in at this Bergen hostel, and I expect I’ll have many more at the hostels to come.
Tonight I won’t be staying in a hostel, or crashing on a local’s living room. I’ll be camping out in the wilderness (or at least just far enough out of the town to be legal). And that’s genuinely terrifying. But it’s a leap I must take if I’m going to continue this journey.
Notes to future self:
- Always ask about travel pass and hostel discounts.
- Bring your own snacks on the ferry trip, you can’t afford this expensive yoghurt.