Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

July 2010: Bergen

A somewhat startling thought occurred to me prior to making this trip: if someone with far too much time on their hands were to make a list of all the cities I've ever visited, and then arrange that list into chronological order of first visit, Bergen would occupy position number 3, after Glasgow and Edinburgh. Norway's second city and I go back a long way. My first visit took place in May 1969 - two months before Neil Armstrong took his 'one small step' - as part of a school trip during my last few weeks in primary education. Almost unbelievably in the context of my life today, it was my first time outside Scotland.

In the years that followed I had only been back once, in the late summer of 1992, and I felt that even this was now in danger of becoming a distant memory. It's hardly surprising then, that I felt the urge to check up on how the Gateway to the Fjords was faring in the 21st Century, and in the process rekindle some of my earliest travel memories.

City Centre

Nordnes District

Afternoon Trip to Troldhaugen

I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon on a musical pilgrimage to Troldhaugen, the home, workplace and final resting place of Norway's greatest composer, Edvard Grieg (1843-1907). I had visited the location - immortalised in the well-known piano piece Wedding Day at Troldhaugen - on both my previous visits to Norway, but this time I was able to make use of Bergen's brand new Bybanen tram line, in only its third week of operation.

On my way to Troldhaugen, I made a stop to visit Fantoft Stave Church, as I had in 1969 and as I had tried to do in 1992. The original building dated from 1150 and it was moved to Bergen in 1883 in an attempt to ensure its preservation. I remember my amazement, as an eleven-year-old, at being inside such an ancient wooden structure, seemingly designed for small people! When I revisited the site in August 1992, I found a scene of devastation. The church had been burned to the ground by anti-Christian arsonists two months previously, and the sickly smell of destruction still hung heavily in the air. I was saddened not only by the loss of something so old, but also because a little fragment of my own childhood had been so wantonly erased from existence. An exact replica of the original has since been built and it was this that I was now able to visit.

On completing the journey to Troldhaugen, it was interesting to see a well established museum building, which in fact had been added to the site in 1995. However the villa, studio hut (where the composer did most of his work) and grave were all more or less as I remembered them.

Mount Fløyen

They say you haven't seen Bergen until you've seen it from Mount Fløyen - and they're right! The short trip on the Fløibanen funicular and the magnificent views from the top form some of my most enduring memories from 1969.

Amazingly, the little model funicular on the café roof was still letting people know the position of the red and blue cars more than forty years on from when I first saw it, even though the cars themselves had been replaced at least twice during that period!

Base: Grand Hotel Terminus

Linked report from same trip:

'Norway in a Nutshell'