Monday, 9 July 2012

Bergen - continued

Day 3.  Not content to just do the funicular we decided to go to another close mountain, Ulriken which is accessible by cable car. It is easy to catch the special ‘tourist’ bus there which leaves every half hour from near the fish market. We arrived in time to catch the 10 o’clock bus out, definitely not as popular as the funicular. I had read that there were a number of walks around the area that were worth doing.

Ulriken Mountain

We arrived very enthusiastic to do a bit of hiking, after fueling ourselves with a coffee we investigated possible routes. Choices: easy, demanding or very demanding. Well not knowing how they really graded the trails we decided easy. Next problem was although there was a general map there with the different trails marked there was nothing specific. I asked at the kiosk about the tracks and how to follow them around. The advice was, ‘They only give you destinations, there are coloured poles to follow and it doesn’t matter which way you go, you’ll have a nice walk.’
That wasn’t the instructions I was hoping for but, we can follow the poles, keep the T.V. tower in sight and we should have no problems. When we set out, initially, the trail was obvious and the green poles were easily seen. As we proceeded along the track it became less obvious and it was difficult to tell which was the main track and which were side-shoots. We scrambled here and there, over rocks only to face sheer drops. As we continued we decided that many of the tracks we were following were mountain goat tracks because the only foot prints we could see were those of mountain goats not fellow walkers. The most disappointing thing was that even though we were following mountain goat tracks we never saw one not even in the distance.
We were not impressed with the poorly marked tracks, coloured poles were hard to find and most had barely visible paint on them, no arrows for direction it was basically very poorly organized for such a popular area.
Our short easy walk took on a whole different perspective and by the time we finished it was quite late. We had lunch at the restaurant on the mountain, then back down to catch the bus back to town. By the time we returned every museum was closed.
Day 4.  This is our last day in Bergen and we decided to go to a couple of small museums as we check in for the Hurtigruten at 3.00 pm.

Rozenkrantz Tower

First we went to the Rosenkrantz Tower, it was built in the 1560’s by the governor of Bergen Castle, Erik Rosenkrantz at the command of King Frederik II but there had been a massive fortified tower here erected by King Magnus Lagabøte (the Lawmaker) in 1270. He codified many of the laws some of which seem quite enlightened considering the era they were written.  The present tower was the amalgamation of earlier structures. In 1944 it was badly damaged when a German munitions boat exploded. Restoration work has highlighted the medieval character of the tower. The displays and information in each section was very informative.  
Håkon’s Hall was built between 1247 and 1261 by the king. It was the largest building of the royal residency in the 13th century when Bergen was the political centre of Norway. It was mainly used for grand occasions and was also damaged by the 1944 explosion. It also has been restored and is used today for grand occasions and concerts.
Lastly we went to the Bryggen’s Museum and it has many interesting displays based on archaeological finds in the Bryggen area. The oldest buildings foundations from the 12th century are on display on their original site. Many artifacts and displays showing commerce, shipping, handicrafts and daily life in the Middle Ages are on display and were very interesting.
From here we went to collect or bags and made our way to the wharf to check in for the next part of our trip, up the coast of Norway to Kirkenes on the Hurtigruten one of their passenger cargo ships that plies the coast of Norway every day. Hurtigruten means fast route, it will take seven days to make the journey.

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