Statistically Bergen is one of the wettest cities in Europe. So I should be happy that those greys never really built up to proper downpours. it is Norway’s second city set on the coast where several fjords cconverg, backed by steep, forested slopes. The town’s history is based on trade and the sea and the old streets reflect the wealth of companies and individuals who grew rich here.
Ancient sailors and merchants can almost be heard on the timber wharf, Bryggen. The wharf dates from the 12th century although the buildings there today are around 300 years old, replacing those burnt down in a devastating fire in 1702.
Behind this facade is the old town of narrow, cobbled alleys and white-painted clapboard houses. This is where the real business was done as indicated by the winches hanging from gables. German merchants from the Hanseatic League held sway here trading in dried fish and grain. Homeowners showed off their wealth by painting their homes and warehouses white. White paint was really expensive to produce and so it was an indication of being up there with the rich and famous.
Bergen’s fish market is a wonder. Open every day, you can eat every type of fish, shellfish, smoked fish, even whale meat (if that is PC). Plukkfisk is a traditional local dish of white fish, mash and bacon.
It is true, Norway is slightly pricey compared with…..practically everywhere else. I have to share: when asked about the location of the nearest public toilets the bus driver explained where it was and when pressed about the need for coins, advised that a credit card was required to gain entry. The cost of a pee is 10 krone – £1! Goodness knows what you do if you do not have a credit card. It will be good to get home to where I can ‘spend a penny’ or is it ‘a 50p’?