This might be my last trip-related post on here, as I think I have posted all my photos now. This last batch is from two separate hikes I did in Bergen up Mount Fløyen, the most accessible of the small mountains surrounding the city. Making Fløyen really popular is the fact that it is quite centrally located, and it has a funicular that goes up to a restaurant/gift shop area on the mountain. I chose to forgo this and walk up.
Leaving from the tourist centre of the city, near Bryggen and Bergen’s well-known fish market, the walk up to the top of the funicular takes one along a fairly steep but paved path through lush green forest. Vegetation is thick, and there are lots of small creeks and streams running down the hillside. At the top of the funicular there are a number of trails that split off going further up the mountain. The hiking even beyond the station was surprisingly easy with many of the trails being well-maintained and even paved, the scenery around the trails changes dramatically. Walking past the station I took to one of the main trails, on the first hike leaving it for one leading to a small pond named Brushytten to have lunch.
After that I returned to the larger trail, heading towards Vidden, the plateau that would be my ultimate destination. The plateau, though easily accessible via maintained trails, take one through some really beautiful natural scenery that it’s hard to believe you just left the city less then two hours ago. By the time one reaches the rocky cliffs that form the plateau the vegetation has already changed to a more Boreal forest kind of vegetation. The plateau itself is again starkly different, resembling arctic tundra with the exception of some small patches of scraggly trees. The weather also changes dramatically, the wind was blowing hard and it felt much colder when I was there. Both times the weather kept me from staying up there too long. The views were amazing though, small lakes and ponds dot the rocky plateau, and to one side is Bergen and the ocean, and to the other side are snow mountains and a noticeable absence of humanity. I really liked this hike for that reason, two hours after being right in the I had been able to pass through lush green forests, then arrive on a mountainous plateau, in relatively pristine condition it seemed, and look inland and just see more untouched land and mountains. You can get the best of both worlds: the natural and the man-made.
A funny thing happened the second time I hiked up though. When walking up the trail I found myself amongst hundreds of Norwegians all decked out in serious outdoor gear. Was this that popular of a weekend activity in Bergen? Why are these people all so seriously equipped? I even saw soldiers. I later found out that it was the day of a early event where people run/walk between all seven of the local mountains surrounding Bergen.
I hope it has been enjoyable to read about and see pictures from my trip, stayed tuned for updates on the upcoming harvest coming out of my gardens.
Murren is the village next to Gimmelwald and is known for a few reasons. First, like Gimmelwald, it is close to the Schilthorn. Second, at 1650m it is the highest permanently inhabited village in the canton of Bern. And last, it hosts the “International Inferno Race” which at 15.8 km is the longest as well as largest amateur ski race in the world. Like Gimmelwald, there are no public roads accessing it so you have to take a cable car or walk up. The walk from Gimmelwald to Murren takes about a half hour on a paved walking path, so while not really hiking it still offers great views of the valley. I had to go to Murren to get some groceries so I took these pictures. With 45o people, Murren is larger than Gimmelwald (pop. 140) and has more amenities such as a grocery store, sports store, souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels. They also have cool fire hydrants.
Here’s a few more pictures from the Gimmelwald. These pictures are from another hike a went on, this one was about half the time of the other one and only went up to 1631 metres and was point-to-point as opposed to a loop. Where it does take you though is to the head of the river that runs through the valley. The river head, called the Chilchbalm is a large bowl at the end of the valley where much of the melt water from the surrounding mountains converges. All the pictures in this post, with the exception of the waterfall close-up which is from the beginning of the trail, are from around the Chilchbalm at the end of the trail. It was a different sort of scenery being at the bottom of the valley as opposed to up high. It doesn’t quite have the same panoramic views looking down at the valley, but I thought it was just a pleasing to be in the forested valley looking up at the surrounding peaks. And the same peaceful (near) solitude was there to be enjoyed.
I still have a bunch of pictures from Gimmelwald that I want to put up so I will be uploading them as part of a few different posts. The first post will be pictures from my hike to the base of the Schilthorn. The Schilthorn is probably most famous for the revolving restaurant on top which was featured in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I didn’t go all the way up the Schilthorn as the snow made the trail impassable, the cable car to get there was running but it didn’t seem worth it if I couldn’t hike up. Where my hike did take me was from Gimmelwald, elevation 1303m, to the Rotstockhutte (a restaurant that operates in the summer) at about 2040m. The scenery throughout the hike was beautiful, the mountain air was cool and fresh, and there were few sounds aside from the rumble of avalanches up on the peaks. The downside however was, after just over two hours of hiking I arrived at the Rotsockhutte only to open my bag and realize I had forgotten the lunch I made in the hostel kitchen, which means I had to hike over two hours back on an empty stomach which made me want to rush back a little more and enjoy my surroundings less. I wasn’t alone in this however as just as I went to head back two fellow hikers that were staying at the hostel arrived, expecting to find an open restaurant. They too had to head back on empty stomachs. The recent snow also made the hike back (the route was a loop, not point-to-point) quite wet and slippery, and canvas Vans with wore out soles are not the best footwear for snow and mud. Eventually I made it back though and enjoyed my lunch on the hostel’s patio overlooking the valley. In the end though it was definitely worth it, I enjoyed the being more or less alone in nature (I only saw two people in the four hours), the views, the mountain air, and being active in the outdoors. All the pictures in this post are from the hike I just described, they show the surrounding mountains (look for some small avalanches), the Rotstockhutte, and Gimmelwald as seen from the trail.
When I was staying in Ermoupolis on the Greek island of Syros, after taking a walk up to a the old town and I church that was up there I looked around and seeing cool things decided to keep going. The church looked over a ravine with a creek, and on the other side of the ravine were all these terraces, no longer in use for the most part, built with old stone walls, and abandoned stone buildings that appeared to be of similar vintage. Scattered intermittently among these ruins of sorts were shanties, often with small vegetable gardens, livestock animals (goats and chickens mainly), and dogs. At the bottom of the creek I also found this little building that the water flowed under that housed a number of wash basins that looked like they hadn’t been used for a while. I continued up the other side of the ravine, sticking to the narrowing paths and trying to avoid the shanties because they a) usually housed angry sounding dogs, and b) didn’t want to intrude into someone’s space. The path I was on eventually ended so I just bushwhacked it, cutting through the brush and climbing old walls and terraces. I eventually arrived at a church which unlike the majority that are open to the public, was enclosed by walls with a locked gate. Surrounding it were terraces being used to grow a number of fruits and vegetables. I continued my walk, going both along paved and dirt paths or just cutting across fields and hills when the pathways didn’t lead where I wanted to go. I continued on until reaching the top of the hill to the right of the windmill pictured, then took a round-about route along paved roads back into town. It was a cool adventure, I got some great views of the town, the island, the sea on both sides of the island, and some stuff that I didn’t see marked on the tourist maps for the area. I would liked to have found out the story behind all the old terraces and buildings there. There is a passage in one of Henry Thoreau’s writings where he talks about how great it is to walk through the forest not using any path and ignoring property lines and other limitations, and how this is an experience in individual freedom. To just walk, not bound by the routes or rules of people. I think I understand what he was getting at. If I can remember what work it was in I will put it in this post. Ermoupolis was a neat town and I will definitely post pictures of it on here.