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.
After staying a few nights in Oslo I took the train to Bergen, on the west coast of Norway for a few nights there. Bergen is a nice city but it was the first place on my trip that I had to adjust plans due to bad weather, supposedly the norm for the city. Bergen’s smaller than Oslo and I think because of that you notice the presence of tourism a lot more than larger Oslo which has a lot more non-tourist stuff going on. But even though you could tell tourism was much more of a focus in Bergen I still thought it was a nice city with just a short hike taking you out into some beautiful natural scenery. Most of these pictures here show the old town of Bryggen, a UNESCO world heritage site featuring old wooden buildings and alleyways that were originally built on a wooden wharf (since filled in with concrete). One picture was taken through the train window going from Oslo to Bergen where the train gets up to about 1200m, passing through ice-fields where it was snowing quite hard before dropping down to sea level at Bergen. Another picture shows the city of Bergen from Mount Fløyen, and a sign on the route down that I thought was funny. I will have more pictures from the hike up Mount Fløyen in the next post.
It was suggested to me that when in Oslo I should check out the city’s opera house. Thinking it wouldn’t interest me I decided I would pass on it, but I happened by it when walking elsewhere and decided to check it out and it was actually pretty cool. It has a roof with all sorts of slants and angles, running right down into the water, that you can walk all over. It’s neat and offers a good view of downtown Oslo and Oslofjorden. After checking that out, I went over to Akerhus Fortress which is a medieval castle (construction started around 1290 according to Wikipedia) that was later renovated to be used as a military fort. Currently it’s used a museum and it is situated next to the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, explaining the guard with an assault rifle in the one picture. I also passed by the Noble Peace Centre.
When Tim took me on a bit of a walking tour through Oslo one of the notable sites we went through was the King’s Garden, a fenced in garden area behind the royal palace. Supposedly only open to the public at certain times I guessed I lucked out because it was open and I was able to go through both times I went by there. Even though I think monarchies (even constitutional ones) are ridiculous and a manicured park isn’t as nice to me as a truly natural environment, I appreciate good green spaces in urban environments. Oslo seems to have a lot of greenery and nice parks which I think is important for the health and happiness of it’s inhabitants and probably makes for an overall more sustainable city. I was really bothered by the lack of green space in some of the cities in southern Europe, as much as I like cities for the culture they provide I can’t imagine living without an escape from them and good parks offer a a way to feel like you’ve gotten back to nature a little if you don’t have the opportunity to actually get out. Later in the day after taking these pictures I went to a vegetarian restaurant called Vega (I think) and had all-you-can-eat vegan buffet for 99 kroner. Almost everything was vegan and I ate way too much, remembering why I avoid all-you-can-eat. So here are some pictures of the royal palace, the garden, and a couple nearby streets.
Today I’ll start posting my pictures from Oslo, broken into a few different posts. I really liked the city of Oslo. Being the largest city in Norway and the capital gives it an urban an cosmopolitan feel but since it is quite small (the greater Oslo area being only about 800,000 I was told) it has a sort of quaint small city feel, I’ve read in travel guides that people say one of the best things about the city is how easily you can leave it and be out in the forests and hills. Th small size also makes almost everything within a reasonable walking distance. One thing I’ve always disliked about Toronto is how it’s surrounded by suburbs, meaning to get out of the urban/sub-urban areas you have travel quite far, most likely by car. Also, I didn’t feel like anywhere I went was really touristy there, which was a nice change from some of the places I had been. The city is attractive and everything seems very clean, well-maintained and efficiently run. And out of everywhere in Europe Norwegians are probably the most polite drivers as well as being the most proficient in English (everyone seems to speak it fluently, similar to the rest of Scandinavia). On the downside everything is really expensive, if you live there it would be a worthy trade-off for their high wages, generous social security system and overall high standard of living, but as a tourist it hurts.
This group of pictures is from the Vigeland Sculpture Park, contained within Frogner Park, both being free public parks. The sculptures are the work of Gustav Vigeland who also designed the layout of the sculpture park. Frogner Park is older and was layout by someone else. As well, on one of the hills visible from the park one can see a quintessential Norwegian sports culture… Oslo’s ski jump.
On a side note, it is also sad to hear about an untimely and horrific loss of life, but I think the recent shooting and bombing in Oslo is doubly sad because it happened in a place that I think is generally seen as an example for the rest of the world to follow. It also hits closer to home because I have friends that live there, and I myself was there not that long ago.
On the subject of picnics, one of the many I had when i was on my trip was at the Oslo’s botanical gardens. It was really nice there, it was a nice day, and I took some pictures. I could see myself going there often to relax if I lived in Oslo despite the fact I got kicked out of my first picnic spot (there are designated areas).