I am awfully sorry that it took me so long to follow-up with the next and final blog post about my cruise to the Norwegian Fjords onboard Norwegian Star, but these last weeks have been so filled up with work and leisure trips, that I have had actually a hard time finding a moment in between to not breathe with increased heart rhythm and a pulse of 180, lol. But I promise to do better in the future. I am planning to keep my future posts shorter without leaving out the most relevant information in order to be able to post closer to my travels. And this one shall be the first of the kind!
After being more than lucky with the weather during the preceding days of the cruise, our last stop in Bergen was literally soaked with rain. So there was no chance of enjoying the panoramic view onto town from Mt. Fløyen viewing point, nor taking my camera with me without risking it to get a rash action by the enormous amounts of water falling down from the sky.
But thank goodness to the mostly reliable weather forecasts these days, I had been aware of this the day before our arrival and therefore had plenty of time to research how to stay entertained even on a rainy day in this beautiful city. And since an umbrella and a well insulated windbreaker should belong to everyone´s packing list when considering a trip to Norway at all times of the year, rain would not hold me on the ship and miss out on all the highlights that Bergen has to offer:
Like a stroll through the historic walls of Bryggen. The cruise terminal lies only a short walk from downtown Bergen with the World Heritage Site just being a stone´s throw away. While most of the buildings have actually been reconstructed during the 1950´s after the massive fire in 1702 and World War II, Bryggen remains highly fascinating! I got goosebumps walking the narrow streets in the rain. The reconstruction is so realistic, that Bryggen will take you on a journey back in time. Amazing!
But also the rest of Bergen, which ranks these days second largest city in Norway behind the capital Oslo, surprises with lots of historic buildings and architecture. Some houses date back to the 12th Century! It is a lot of fun to sneak through the back streets and discover neighbourhoods with picturesque cafés, lively bars and highly romantic little public parks. With every step you´ll take through in this area, you´d expect a Viking behind every corner that you pass. A great and unique atmosphere.
Another thing that some of you might not expect to find here is a vibrant art scene with lots and lots of independent artists´ studios and galleries to showcase their works. Particularly spray art, or graffiti, is the most popular contemporary style which is also showcased on a lot of houses or walls within the city. These two articles (Art scene in Bergen & Best Galleries in Bergen) give you a good overview on what Bergen has to offer in terms of local art and craftsmanship. There are also tons of little antique stores where I am sure that you will find your perfect souvenir for home.
Since I had known a day before our arrival into Bergen that the weather would be proverbially crap, I had checked the internet for possible alternatives to do. This is how I learned about the predominant role of art in the city and the fantastic KODE art gallery. The museum consists of four buildings. Each of them displaying a different theme of art and artists. I found particularly interesting the Golden Age in Scandinavian art displayed in KODE 3 (you will see works by Edvard Munch, J.C. Dahl, Backer, Werenskiold or Munthe). The exhibited works of art are presented in authentically restored Scandinavian interiors! Simply beautiful. And don´t miss out on poking around the Museum´s shop.
Downtown Bergen is just around the corner from here. If you love the sleek and elegant Scandinavian design for your home, you MUST stop by the Illums Bolighus branch close to the port. I could spend hours and hours inside this Danish design store. But careful, there is so much visual inspiration inside, keep your credit cards deep down in your bag :).
Next stop is the famous Fish Market. You can sit down inside the highly modern construction to feast on fresh King Crab, Norwegian Salmon or other freshly caught delicacies. Or are you keen on trying grilled Whale meat on a bun from one of the food stands outside? The choice is yours.
Of course, there is definitely more to do in Bergen, but for my part, it´s been adventure enough for today. In order to leave the rest of the city for you to explore (and please tell me about your personal discoveries), I am heading back to Norwegian Star to warm up inside the sauna of the onboard spa.
Skies are still grey and the low hanging clouds empty themselves over us as the ship passes the impressive Askøy Bridge and begins the last segment back to Copenhagen as we leave port in the early evening. Ahead of us lies a last day at sea. A last day of Freestyle Cruising and a last day of the warm hospitality that I was able to enjoy during the entire week.
And even though there lies a little sorrow in the air because this wonderful journey is unavoidably coming to an end, this last day at sea trumps with the most beautiful weather, even sea and a surprise visit to the ship´s bridge. Made possible by the amazing concierge Hanno. This day is also perfect for trying out new routines again. Like taking lunch in the main dining room Versailles at a set table with table linen and cloth napkins. Such a difference to the hustle and bustle of the buffet restaurant upstairs. You should try this sometimes, too! Food tastes just so much better in the right environment.
The same applies to dinner. I am opting tonight for Ginza, the Asian specialty restaurant on Norwegian Star (À la carte prices). A spicy Seafood Ramen is just what I need to finalize the last night onboard. Later, I pay an ultimate visit to Sugarcane Mojito Bar to review and pay tribute to this marvelous week. It´s been one of my most memorable cruises so far and Norway should be on everybody´s bucket list for future travels. So why not check out these remaining itineraries on Norwegian Star for 2016. In 2017, she will not return to Copenhagen as base, but will 7 days-itineraries out of Venice, Italy.
I myself will be returning to Norway this upcoming May 2016. This time going the classic way with Hurtigruten. I hope, you had fun reading through my blog posts and maybe I was able to spark your interest for one of the most beautiful nature scenery that Europe has to offer. And going the Freestyle way could definitely be the right way for you when considering to discover Norway for the very first time!
Find more info on itineraries, ship details and excursions on www.ncl.com!
Safe travels, folks!