Gone to See Norway 2013 Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 3: Bergen then Embarkation on the MS Nordkapp for the Hurtigruten Northbound Norwegian Coastal Voyage.
I rode the Fløibanen Funicular a cable driven train that provides a ride to the top of Mount Fløyen. During the winter season, the ride is free with the Bergen card. I missed the first ride at 07:30, but was able to catch the 2nd ride at 08:00. This got me to the top of the mountain before sunrise. Even though the ticket office wasn’t open (needed to get the ticket) the Funicular operator let me in and got me the front seat. While waiting for the train about 20-30 pre-school/kindergarten age children were dropped off by their parents to ride to the top of the mountain. The kids were all wearing heavy winter coats and had backpacks. When the kids and their 3 adult guides got to the top they stopped to sing a song, and then went for a hike. It was cold at the top of the mountain, and I put on another layer before taking a panorama of Bergen at dawn. On the right side you can see the unique pink color (Belt of Venus) and the earth shadow blue underneath. The kids seemed to have disappeared into the woods. You could hear them yelling and having fun — It surprised me that they were running around in the still dark woods.
After the sun rose, I returned to Bergen and walked to the Akvariet i Bergen (Bergen Aquarium). Again free entrance with the Bergen card. There were some interesting displays of northern and arctic fish, a room with tropical reptiles and snakes, and a hands-on display of sea creatures that would be found in tidal pools. Outside there was a pool for seals, and a display with Penguins. There were at least 3 groups of pre-school/kindergarten age kids at the Akvariet.
When I walked back to the hotel to check out, I saw why I didn’t find the fish market earlier in the morning. They moved the fish market (and a flower market) indoors under the Bergen Tourist Information center. The same place I went yesterday to buy the Bergen Visitor card. I had a fresh salmon sandwich and Coke for lunch (120 NOK). I passed on the Fisk Soup (200 NOK) although it smelled good. The folks working at the fish market said they moved into the new location last year. They still do have the tents up in the summer when more tourists are in Bergen.
While walking around Torgallmenningen, the main square in Bergen I came across a Monument to Norwegian Sailors (Sjømannsmonumentet). On each side is a bronze representation of different time periods (Vikings times to the 20th century) . The side for the 1800’s (as best I can translate) includes a crucifixion, a ship with icebergs around it, someone fighting off a polar bear, and the lower section shows a ship being attacked by a sea dragon.
One thing I noticed during this visit to Bergen were a number of folks sitting out at corners with cups begging for change. They did not look local, and the locals did not appear to be giving out any change. I checked out of the hotel and continued to walk around Bergen. I found the Japanese Photography shop where I went to look for some lens cleaner. They didn’t have any in stock – but went to the backroom and gave me an opened bottle for free.
Later in the afternoon, I went back to the top of Fløyen mountain to watch for the arrival of the Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp. I wondered how many of the folks watching the MS Nordkapp arrive would be riding on the Northbound voyage that evening. There were also a number runners doing a race up the mountain that afternoon. I think some were making it up the mountain faster than the Funicular (which does have several stops).
While wandering around on top of the mountain, I did find where all of the kids went running earlier that morning. There is a path going through the woods that has a number of large wooden trolls. Ultimately, the trail ends at a day school. By the time I got back to the top of the Funicular there was a long line of kids, runners, and tourists waiting to take the trip down. I was glad that they doubled the frequency of runs to handle the rush.
By the time I got back to the hotel, it was time to get to the Hurtigruten terminal. The taxi ride cost 175 NOK. I could have walked the distance, if I didn’t have the luggage to carry. Check-in at the Hurtigruten terminal was fast. No passport or credit card required. They took my heavy bag and delivered it to my cabin. Before boarding the ship, there was a mandatory safety program. One notable difference between the Hurtigruten ships and the Semester at Sea MV Explorer is that the life vests (and all-weather suits) for the Hurtigruten ships are kept on deck 5 with the lifeboats. On the MV Explorer, the life vests are in the cabins.
My cabin on deck 3 had a set of bunk beds and a couch that could be folded open for a 3rd bed. The desk was very small and barely held my laptop computer and various battery chargers. Unlike my previous Northbound Hurtigruten voyage out of Bergen, there was an open seating buffet dinner before we departed. Once on board, we were told that there was a German TV crew that was going to be filming the Northbound voyage. Included with the TV crew were a couple of radio controlled helicopters (drones) to do some of the filming. The ship departed on time at 22:30. Once I downloaded the GPS track for my Bergen walkabout, I realized why my feet were so sore. During the day I walked over 14 miles (not counting the two trips up and down the Funicular).