Moody, Rainy Bergen

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve visited this little space and haven’t finished up our last trip, which was to Scandinavia in August 2017. If you remember, we had just traveled by train from Sweden to Bergen, Norway.

Ah, Bergen. Let me just preface this with an interesting tidbit concerning weather: It has been said that Bergen, Norway is called the “most rainiest city in Europe”. This seems to be a hard fact to verify since several areas of Europe are pretty wet. But I daresay, Bergen is always in the top 5 of these and it’s there for a good reason. It is very wet a lot of the time. 
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That said, it can still be a lovely city to visit and enjoy, as long as you have proper rain gear. Which we didn’t. But one can’t purchase quality rain protection for a mere 5 day visit and expect to get your money’s worth once you return home where it’s NOT the rainiest city or even region of the States. So we made do with what we had and were grateful it didn’t actually rain every single moment of every day.

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Photo by Lynn

I’m sure each of you would recognize the song, “In the Hall of the Mountain King” or “Morning Mood“. The composer Edvard Grieg wrote both of those for a play titled, “Peer Gynt” which premiered in 1876. I didn’t realize that Grieg was from Bergen till I was reading through the travel brochures at our AirBnB. But what a happy discovery! It’s fascinating to me to link a town to a composer whose music I have heard so often but don’t have any other connections to otherwise. My sister plays violin and has performed “Morning Mood” before with the orchestra she is a part of so I had to get a picture with Grieg’s statue to send back to her.

 

 

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Why yes, there is a seagull sitting on top of his head. It wouldn’t leave for my picture.

Ever on our quest for coffee (and waffles, which we heard we had to try), the first coffee shop we stopped at in Bergen was BarBarista. Perhaps the most eccentric place I’ve ever stepped foot into. Melody captured my thoughts about this establishment perfectly below:

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Photo by Melody

It indeed was odd. Some folks would love it, and it has great reviews, but it was not my cup of tea. Or coffee, if you prefer. Still, a memorable stop.

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Photo by Melody

I was glad to step outside and get some more views of the city. It had even stopped raining.

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Our meal out for the day was at Pingvinen or, The Penguin. Everyone knows prices in Norway are outlandish and I would say this is true especially for eating out. But we had expected this and that’s why we try to save money by cooking at the AirBnB for most meals.

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We still like to try the local cuisine and this meal did not disappoint.
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Train Travel in the Rain, With Children

8.9.2017

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So get on your way!”
― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You’ll Go!

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Traveling with children is not one of the easier things in life. Our entire trip so far had been a mixture of hard, harder and hardest in terms of getting around with Natasha (age 7) and Lincoln (14 months). Natasha woke up the morning we left Chicago with a sore throat and Lincoln soon had a fever on top of teething for our sight-seeing days in Oslo and Gothenburg. Not how any parent wants to experience new countries, but these things do happen.

Melody pointed out that it was a good thing we had the baby carrier and I could cuddle Lincoln so much during this time. That got me to thinking how true that was: If I was at home, I’d probably be pretty perturbed that I wasn’t able to get anything done and that I couldn’t put him down. Instead, all I had to do was carry him around. He only wanted to be held {by me} anyway, so I got to cuddle him, love on him, soothe him and sight-see Norway and Sweden all at the same time.

That sounds all romantic and motherly, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t all that glorious, trust me. The bus ride from Oslo to Gothenburg was pretty stressful. The train ride from Gothenburg to Bergen wasn’t the relaxing journey one imagines when you see a train travel poster. Children get bored. They get hungry. They cry. They want down when they can’t be down but won’t sit still when they’re being held and won’t fall asleep when they’re beyond sleepy. I had this idea that I might get to do some journaling while riding along, maybe when Lincoln was sleeping peacefully. That was a very nice thought, but not reality. By the time Lincoln was sleeping soundly, I was so worn out, I didn’t feel like digging in the bag to find my notebook.

Thus, Daniel and I traversed the ups and downs of parenting while making our way across Scandinavia. The train ride from Gothenburg, Sweden to Bergen, Norway has over 180 tunnels. When you’re not inside darkness waiting for daylight again, the views are fantastic.
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That is, when you can actually see them. I spent a fair amount of my time pacing and standing at the back of the train car trying to bounce Lincoln to sleep. The windows are just low enough that when you’re standing, you can’t see anything outside.

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It did give me plenty of time to admire this premium baby pram by the Swedish company, Emmaljumga. I think you could purchase this exact one for approximately $600 USD. As you can see, below the bassinet is a sheepskin. I asked the mum about these and she said they’re quite nice to have; warm and cozy for the baby. She kindly gave me the name of the store, Nøstebarn, where I could find one in Bergen. Oh, how I wish I could afford to bring one home with me.

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Once Lincoln did fall asleep, I could sit and enjoy the scenery a bit. But don’t get the wrong impression here: This was NOT how I spent the majority of the trip.
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7+ hours later, we finally arrived in Bergen and stumbled out of the train. The sun was shining, we were at the gateway to the fjords of Norway and we felt fantastic.

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We had a lovely AirBnB apartment awaiting us, soon food was being prepared and spirits were definitely on the rise. They rose even more when our landlady sent up fresh, homemade bread. To say we were delighted is an understatement.

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Photo by Melody 

To the Land of Pippi

8.5.2017

We finished our time in Oslo toting all our gear along with us since we were catching the bus to Gothenburg, Sweden mid-day.


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Coffee was beckoning us, so we tried some at Stockfleths. I sat outside with the kiddos while the girls enjoyed a more quiet downstairs seating area with free wifi.

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Lunch was another kebab restaurant right near the city central and that’s where Natasha chased pigeons and Lincoln was assumed to be Norwegian by a local artist with a gallery there. She was chatting away to him and when she directed a question to me, I responded in English. She then exclaimed, “Oh! I was speaking Norwegian-he looks so Norwegian!”

The bus ride was approximately 3 1/2 hours long and memorable, to say the least. There were several young children and 3 of them screamed/cried/and didn’t nap for the majority of the ride. One of them, being our youngest. If Lincoln wasn’t crying, the one or two in front of us were alternately crying. Sometimes Lincoln and one of the other youngsters got into cahoots and decided to match tones simultaneously. It was one of those parenting moments when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I chose to laugh outwardly and cry inwardly. Lincoln finally fell asleep in the carrier, but wow. That bus ride wore me out.

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A rare calm moment on the bus.

Our arrival in Gothenburg was still eventful. The bus terminal is right next to a mall, so we left our luggage near a play area so Natasha could play, while Daniel went in search of groceries and the girls went in search of bathrooms. This in itself was quite a feat. The bathrooms required payment, but wouldn’t take credit card. That meant coins were needed, in the Swedish krone. However, since we just arrived, we didn’t have any and the mall bank ATM had just closed. They finally found a ATM which provided the needed $, but then had to purchase something in the mall to break down the cash. What an ordeal to simply use the WC! Meanwhile, my eyes were busy darting back and forth between our two piles of luggage, my two children, a random dog with its not-so-attentive owner, numerous other children and people who I felt were sitting too close to our bags. It was crazy.

I was so glad to see the girls and Daniel reappear and we quickly headed out to the bus to take us to our next AirBnB house. It was about 25 minutes outside of Gothenburg in the small village Kvisljungeby and so much more peaceful than the chaotic mall. We got off a bus stop too soon and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We weren’t, but it did require extra walking to get to our house.

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Teamwork, folks. That’s how we carry groceries.

Thus, we met Sweden. The AirBnB house was so spacious compared to the tiny Oslo apartment; it was a welcome relief to spread out for our stay. Here’s a picture from later in our visit:

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24-ish Hours in Oslo: Norwegian Folk Museum

8.4.2017

Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum was something we thought we wanted to see. I mean, there aren’t any viking ships where I live in the States. However, once we made it to the museum, we realized it didn’t look like it was worth our 100 NOK ($12.50) to enter. Mind you, there are a few preserved viking ships housed there. You can see one from the gift shop right inside the door, as well as go up the stairs to see it from above for no cost.

If you decide to go though:

  •  Take the 30 bus towards Bygdøy from Rådhuset (City Hall) to Vikingskipshuset. Get off right there and stay on that side of the street. We mistakenly followed the signs with a ship on them that took us to the opposite side of the street and up the hill a ways. Save your walking for other sites and don’t repeat after us.
  • Tip: There are free bathrooms down one level, including a diaper changing station.

We decided to walk back to the previous bus stop (Folkemuseet) to the Folk Museum and we were all quite pleased with that decision as we got to see so much more for only a slightly higher entrance fee. (130 NOK for adults.)


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The very tidy, organized garden with defined borders is the French style. The more brambly, wild looking one in the background is the English style. I like them both.

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This was a schoolhouse with a traditional sod roof and it was used as recently as the 1960’s, which I found very interesting.

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The classroom was the main portion of the space inside and built into a back corner was a small room for the teacher as her living quarters.


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One of the main things we wanted to see while in Oslo was a Stave church. There is one right here on the museum property and it’s open to go inside for awe-inspiring architecture. It’s about 700 years old and covered in tar.

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Right nearby is a more intricately decorated storage shed I’ve ever seen anywhere. We paused for a picture in between rain clouds and dealt with a grumpy 7 year old. I tickled her to get her to smile for at least one picture.

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Photo by Maria

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Photo by Melody

As we meandered along, we caught some details of Scandinavian life years ago. There was a lefsa baking demonstration, and some folk dancing in one building. Typically the dancing is outside but was moved indoors because of the rain. Natasha enjoyed peeking into as many storage sheds as possible and climbing as many steps as she could. I liked the dairy barn and the quieter way of living represented. One thing we didn’t understand though was if the Vikings and their descendants were/are so tall, why are the doorways so short? :)

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Loved the swinging baby cradle.

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24-ish Hours in Oslo: The Fortress

8.4.2017

Akershus Fortress was our next destination since we were now powered up with caffeine. It’s a good thing too, since all fortresses seem to be built on a hill. Hmm…

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Photo by Melody

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Photo by Melody

 

There are guards who take their job pretty seriously, and in the case below, stared down at the youngster on the hillside until the trespasser climbed down the forbidden hill. 17-IMG_5501

We got our first group photo here. From left to right: Lyn, Melody, Maria (or Mia, as she is commonly known these days), me and half of Lincoln, Natasha and Daniel.

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Where did she learn to pose like this? #dramatic

 

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Photo by Natasha

Turns out we girls (and Lincoln) sat here an unnecessary length of time waiting on Daniel who was researching where to have lunch, when he simply wasn’t sure where we were. Ah well, Lincoln amused the other visitors with his cheesy grins.

 

 

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From here we headed to a kebab restaurant, one of the more cheaper options for eating out in Norway. Food is always a very good idea.