Things don’t always go as planned. We had hoped to get together with a few friends in Oslo but that didn’t pan out. We did, however, manage to get a little taste (literally and figuratively) of Norway’s capital in our two days here. Let me share a few of our favorites. . .
The Oslo Street Food Market was a photographer’s dream — plus, they had good food!
My favorite place in Oslo was the Munch Museum. The exhibit was entitled Exit! as the collection will soon be moving to fancy new digs. I was fascinated by Edvard Munch’s life and his generosity in gifting his massive art collection to the city of Oslo. The museum itself was storied. There were interesting displays regarding its conception, its ultimate neglect and the brazen robbery of two of its most famous works, “The Scream and The Madonna, were snatched from Oslo’s Munch Museum in August 2004 in a daring daytime raid by two masked and armed robbers. One of the men tore the paintings from the walls while the other held terrified security guards and tourists at gunpoint.” Fortunately for Oslo (and for us!), the paintings were eventually recovered and restored.
Bergen is known as the “gateway to the fjords.” Their port is Norway’s busiest, with cruise ship after cruise ship depositing tourists anxious to journey onward to experience the majestic splendor of the fjords. The city itself is worth a look, too. Surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords, Bergen is beautiful and has a rich history. It was once the capital of Norway, as well as a very important port during the Middle Ages. Original wood buildings line the shore and colorful old houses climb up the hills.
Today, Bergen is the country’s second largest city with a metropolitan population of 420,000. It has many museums, its own philharmonic, a university and an active food scene. The modern transportation system of trains, trams, buses and ferries is well connected with easy transit to their state-of-the-art airport.
The weather? They say Bergen is one of the wettest cities on earth with an average 240 days of rain.
As a visitor to Bergen, you plan for the weather. We walked around with umbrellas, ducking into unique shops and eating our way through the outdoor fish market. The back streets, however, were where we found the city’s magic. The hills and stairways led to vibrant alleyways of gardens, pockets of street art and cozy, little cafes. Along with the fog, you become enveloped by this “gateway to the fjord’s” charming, village-like vibe. People are friendly and smile in spite of the weather. “This is Bergen,” they say.
I’ve dreamed about Norwegian fjords since I saw the “Song of Norway” in grade school. (I can’t tell you much about the 1970 movie but IMDB says it was about composer Edvard Grieg and starred Florence Henderson before she was in “The Brady Bunch.” Reviews were horrific but what can I say, I was 10. All I remember is the fjords.)
Our friends Marie and Anne-Mette joined Frank and I on a weekend to Bergen where we took in the popular “Norway in a Nutshell” tour. Did the fjords live up to my dreams? A picture perfect day with some of the loveliest scenery we’ve ever seen — you bet they did!