Sunday, June 26, 2011

A full day in Bergen

Breakfast room in Steens Hotel
Today we explored Bergen’s history back to the 13th century and saw a more of Norway’s artistic history.  After having breakfast in the Steens Hotel’s ornate dining area (photo), we began the day with a guided tour of Bryggen, the area on the Bergen waterfront where the Hanseatic League operated from the 14th to the 18th Century.  It was an excellent tour which we would recommend to other Bergen visitors.  We learned about the trade in dried stockfish from northern Norway (photo of fish being weighed) that made Bergen such a valuable post.  The league’s trading offices ran as a sort of monastic order, in which a master, journeyman and several apprentices lived under conditions of mandatory celibacy; they were forbidden to fraternize with the local women (honored in the breach, apparently) but they could hope to accumulate enough wealth to go back home and get married.  We toured typical assembly areas (photos), living areas where heating was forbidden because of the danger of fire.  Apprentices were locked bunks for two, but rooms were a bit more spacious and decorative for the masters, who indeed had a hatch into their sleeping areas to the apprentices could reach in to clean up (photo).   The buildings, which are now used as shops, aren’t quite straight or aligned (note especially the two buildings at the right of the photo) because they were damaged by an explosion on a Nazi ship in the harbor in 1944.

We visited a wiener stand and the seafood market where we had reindeer sausage and delicious herbed and smoked salmon for lunch (photo). Then we swung by a couple of churches (we could not get into the cathedral (photo) because there was a wedding), then visited the Bergen Art Museum. We walked through room after room of J.C Dahl, Hans Heyerdahl, and other Norwegian artists (such as the interesting Nikolai Astrup, of whom we had never heard, including more Edvard Munch than in the Oslo art museum. Finally we walked over to the fortress that was erected in the 13th century when Bergen was the capital of Norway.  We walked around Haakon’s Hall (AD 1260) and Rosenkrantz’ Tower (AD 1560), which were already closed for the day.  We had a good supper on typical Norwegian food at the Pingvinen (good stuff) before turning in early because we had to catch the express boat to Balestrand the next morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment