It was finally time to bid goodbye to the Lofoten islands. We really had an AMAZING time here. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we could come back again in the near future to immerse ourselves in the peaceful and zen-like surroundings.
All good things will come to an end. 😦 Our next stop was Bergen. We made our way back to (the tiny) Svolvaer airport to return our rental car and catch the noon flight out. There aren’t any direct flights to Bergen as almost all the flights from Svolvaer heads to Bodø, where we made the transfer to another flight towards Bergen. The flights were operated by a local airline – Widerøe, and it was where we experienced the first propeller plane ride.
Despite husband’s initial reservations, the plane ride was surprisingly smooth, as the constant whirring of the engines created a blanket of noise that lulled us to sleep. We finally arrived at Bergen around 5pm and took a cab to our airbnb right in the city centre.
Our airbnb host – Erik greeted us at his apartment and gave us a quick tour of our two-bedroom suite. Erik had a three storey apartment, and we were given a suite on the 2nd floor, while our hosts stayed on the third floor. Erik’s airbnb is highly recommended as it was tastefully decorated, well equipped with a functional kitchen and near a groceries store. Link here.
After settling down and grabbing our cameras, we headed towards the picturesque harbour (a short 5 minutes walk from our airbnb) to take in the sights. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway (after the capital – Oslo), and is well-known for its colourful wooden houses by the harbour set against the steep mountains that surround the city.
The historic Bryggen quarters by the east side of the Vågen harbour is a Unesco world heritage-listed cluster of colourful timber buildings, and was famously featured in the fictional town of Arendelle in the Disney movie “Frozen”.
Bryggen was razed to the ground dozens of times since the 12th Century, by marauding pirates, disgruntled merchants, drunk traders or civil wars. The fires were huge, with thousands of buildings being burnt each time. The worst fire happened in 1702, when almost 90% of the city was levelled .
The colourful wooden buildings by the harbour were initially Hanseatic commercial buildings. According to wikipedia (the main source of information for ignorant tourists like us), the Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns. It originated from North German towns in the late 1100s, and subsequently came to dominate Baltic maritime trade for three centuries between 1400 and 1800 along the coast of Northern Europe.
With such wonderful views, we couldn’t help but snap away with our cameras, and also took the opportunity to take some K-drama inspired portraits 🙂
We took a stroll across the harbour to take a closer look at the colourful houses in Bryggen, which are now occupied by shops, art galleries and restaurants. Very arty-farty.
Docked at the far end of the east side of the harbor is a beautiful wooden vessel named Statsraad Lehmkul. The ship is a three-masted barque rigged sail training vessel and was built way back in 1914 as a school training ship. After the First World War the ship was taken as a prize by the United Kingdom and in 1921 the ship was bought by one of Norway’s former cabinet minister Kristoffer Lehmkuhl (hence the name, which means “Cabinet Minister Lehmkuhl”). The ship is still operational, and is contracted out for various purposes, including serving as a school ship for the Royal Norwegian Navy.
We took more pictures of the amazing harbour before reluctantly heading back to our airbnb to prepare dinner to fill our hungry stomachs. Bergen is truly one of the most beautiful cities that we’ve visited, and we’ll definitely be back in the future!