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  • Writer's pictureDonna Zabel

Norway--the North Way to Trolls, Fjords, and Viking Legends

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

Some places are defined by food, some by music, some by beaches that stretch for miles. Norway is defined by the scenery—the never-ending surprises of steep cliffs that can rise 1500 meters above the sea and then plunge to 1000 meters below. Add in beautiful towns, fascinating history, and a few misceivous trolls, and it is easy to understand why Norway had been at the top of my “must do” list for years.

Anticipation had me checking and rechecking my packing list, only to arrive in Bergen with all the wrong clothes. This gateway to Norway’s fjords, usually cold and rainy, was in July 2018 uncomfortable hot and sunny. I brought warm jackets and ponchos. I bought T-shirts and sunblock.

Arriving in Bergen, my first stop on a cruise in Norway, I got off the ship as soon as possible to grab a ticket for the funicular. It’s a ride up to a wonderful, 360-degree view of the entire region, especially delightful without the usual clouds and rain. Going early has its rewards—when cruise ships are in port the lines get very long very fast.

After our ride with narration, and a brief exploration of the town’s center lined with adorable shops and pop-up vendors doing a brisk business in T-shirts and sun hats, we walked uphill through one of the most delightful city-centered college campuses I’ve ever seen. Our destination was the Maritime Museum, an inviting two-story building tracing Norway’s maritime history from the early Vikings with boats dating to several hundred B.C. to WWII history and some of the world’s worst maritime disasters. As if understanding museum stamina varies with age, the delightful museum has several “chill out” zones where tired or bored youngsters can play—perfect for keeping the entire family happy.

Most pictures of Bergen show people in parkas and heavy jeans enjoying the delightful city. In the unexpected heat, all I wanted was ice cream and cold water. I got neither, just a walk back to the ship in time to change my new and now sweaty T-shirt for dress clothes, and a trip to the Bergen Performing Arts Center. The sacrifice was well worth it—there will always be another ice cream stand—but there will not always be the opportunity to hear wonderful music in a spectacular performing arts hall. Two singers and a pianist entertained with everything from Grieg (of course!) to contemporary.

Bergen is the perfect way to start a trip to Norway with everything anyone would want—sightseeing, music, shopping, and the amazing Norwegian scenery.

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