We are camped at a lovely little tarred area off the E39 on the way to Stavanger, outside Rommetveit, after leaving a verrrry busy Bergen behind. A tale to be told, though!
We were all ready to leave our delightful parking place from Gudvangen early in the morning in order to maximise our stay in Bergen. Early light breakfast and off we set. Turned right in Voss to head towards Bergen … road closed due to mudslides. OK, no real disaster, we’ll head further south and then catch a smaller parallel road up the Hardanger fjord. Missed the turnoff at Gravin and then immediately entered a long tunnel, complete with roundabouts!! Ignored the GPS voice of doom insisting that we ‘take the third exit on the next roundabout, kept going, eventually bursting into glorious sunshine. For about 6 seconds. Back into a tunnel with no opportunity to exit. Left said tunnel after another dwarf-like sojourn underground that went on for miles before exiting onto a bridge. Cost us €15 to cross the bridge to find a place to turn around, then another €15 to return back to the tunnel. Any chance Norwegian Tollroad operators are going to be merciful? Back underground for our two very long tunnels, then eventually turned off in Gravin, heading in the right direction towards Bergen.
Hmm, not that simple! Road narrows, then reduces to single lanes at every corner with no opportunity to see oncoming cars, buses, trucks – all that was missing was a caravan of camels. OK, only 120km of this, we’re doing OK. Except that, far off on one of the promontories, I see traffic starting to back up. Found a place to turn at a ferry stop and headed back the way we came. Clearly every form of transport that was heading towards Bergen is now on this single lane – with interesting results.
And so we found ourselves in Voss. The town is much larger than expected, with a town centre almost 100m long and running down the better part of two streets, the whole lot carefully hidden behind roadworks and construction of a new gondola line that ends in the middle of town. On the upside, a quiet night at a carpark for €3, next to a huge park and lake made up for a day spent mostly underground, retracing routes and going, for the most part, nowhere.
We did eventually make it to Bergen on Friday when the road opened. Hmmm, how to describe? A very pretty town that tries hard to live up to the overweening pretentiousness of colourful houses photographed in great light, and in the absence of 5 cruise ships that, combined, literally quadrupled the town’s population. Add to that the expense of absolutely everything, and the day took a little more effort than it could have. We eventually had a beer (€18) in gorgeous sunlight in front of the old town (15 houses on one street) and Subways (€12) at the docks. This seemed a better option than local crayfish (lobster) at €130 per kg. That’s going to cost you around €200 a crayfish, or NZ$350, £180 or ZAR 3200. And that excludes the fried chips!! In perspective, last year we bought 30 crayfish in South Africa at $2 each …
One other thing that is noticeable in Norway is that every place has a plethora of museums. Bergen must have 12. And they are pretty awful – sorry about that. For example, we took a tour to the Rosencrantz tower (captain from Denmark, in charge of Norway, friend of Hamlet etc etc) – We might well have looked in 12 or 16 rooms, all but three were bare! Even those three seemed to have some afterthought stuff trucked in. One room had large posters explaining a sea battle between the British and Dutch involving the Rosencrantz tower. Apart from the posters … two cannons. That’s it! Another two rooms had a cannon each – neither of which, by the way, were used in land battles. The tour cost €12. To get into the next building – part of the same complex – was going to cost another €9, for more empty rooms. This is a pattern throughout Norway, and inclusive of the various Viking exhibitions – large rooms with 8 items. I get the idea of creating alluring tourist attractions – but then they should be alluring. I feel the next time a cultural exhibition catches my eye I may well enquire as to the number of items on exhibit before forking out another €15 or so. Hmm, I did say early on that I’m sure to offend each country as we meander across Europe …
Apart from all the above, Niki loved Bergen.
Today we did have a rare opportunity – a free event! We had a great morning at the composer Edvard Greig’s home. They host an annual international pianist competition in an amazing recital hall built at his villa. We spent a couple of hours listening to gifted young pianists who just brought the venue alive -and what a setting!