Day 9 of our trip and officially over the halfway mark. We woke up hating the room a little less than when we went to sleep. We had slept very comfortably, and the shower was pretty good in the morning. We were excited to try the magnificent breakfast everyone had raved about online. When we got down to the lobby we could see that it was indeed probably the biggest breakfast spread we’d ever see at a hotel. They had so many choices it was incredible. I tried a freshly made omelette with peppers and onions, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, a crepe with strawberry jam and coconut, and a raspberry mango smoothie. There were also many types of meats, fish, vegetables, yogurts, cereals, breads, and something for everyone from wherever they might be visiting. After filling up there I was already looking forward to the opportunity to eat breakfast again the next day!
As we had no real plans we just spent a leisurely morning getting out and eventually walking down to the wharf area. We strolled slowly enjoying the sights of the city. There were mobs of tourists everywhere that had apparently come off the multiple cruise ships here. We came across a market selling fresh seafood, cheeses, and sausages. That was fun to walk through. The feel of this city is definitely more overall harbor-like than the others so far. It’s bright and nautical and has a fun little history.
Our first stop was the old fortress where we toured a main castle tower and an event hall. We walked around the fortress grounds a bit and read about its history. It was only ever involved in one battle, officially, but much of the main castle was badly damaged in an accidental explosion in 1944 and rebuilt from there.
We didn’t really have a second stop so we just decided to wander around the wharf a little more and eventually get some lunch at that fish market. I had some really excellent fresh fish and chips and Eric had a reindeer sausage. We also shared some fresh berries. It was very good. After that we took a quick stop at the hotel before heading to the leprosy museum.
Eric did not want to go to the leprosy museum, but it was pretty interesting to me. It is housed in the old hospital/institution where the patients lived and each room has a tiny exhibit. The exhibits were all in Norwegian only so the staff had handouts in various languages for all visitors to read along with. I found it very interesting to read about the way lepers were treated in society and how the institution ran. I also didn’t know too much about the disease itself so this was educational about how leprosy is contracted, spread, and presents in symptomatic patients. Even if the stories of the patients and the social history of leprosy wasn’t of interest to someone, the old hospital building was pretty cool to be in anyway.
The last museum of this day was the Hanseatic Museum. It was a chance to go inside those really cool old buildings of Bryggen and see how the interiors looked. These in particular were the offices (and homes) of the Hanseatic League fish traders. We learned all about their lifestyles and the trade of dried fish. I didn’t realize Bryggen was basically a miniature German city within Bergen, complete with its own laws and language and industry for hundreds of years. My favorite part was that they were so paranoid about their buildings burning down that they forbade all forms of fire. No light/candles, no cooking, no heating, nothing with fire. So they lived and slept in the cold and dark. They would have clusters of houses together and then one common house at the very back of the row where they allowed a kitchen and heating. So they could go there to prepare food and get warm, but then they’d have to stumble back home to their cold beds in the dark anyway. We also got to hold a dried fish. It is way heavier than I imagined it would be. Apparently the Norwegians still use dried fish which can be rehydrated and cooked as normal up to a year later with good taste, but the guide said back in the 1500s or so they would eat the dried fish up to 30 years later! Yeesh.
After that I was in desperate need of a coffee. We ducked into a cute coffee shop and I got an iced latte. It was amazing. Way better than Starbucks. At that point we decided there wasn’t much left to do except go hang out in a brewery for a while before dinner. We had picked out a cool looking microbrewery earlier near the fish market. It was a perfect place to sit up with a view over the harbor and enjoy some of their craft beers. We spent about an hour and a half just relaxing up there and sipping beer. Then we moved into their restaurant section to order dinner. The fish was not the best I’ve had on this trip, but the presentation was by far the most impressive. Plus the view over the water made it all worth it.
We took a stroll after dinner up toward the university area to see what the campus looks like. We hadn’t really been on that side of the city yet so it was fun to check that out. We took another brief stop at the hotel room and then decided to go back out for dessert. We found a very small ice cream shop that makes small batches of unique flavors right there in the shop. We each got a cup with two scoops and took it to the big park by our hotel to enjoy. It was incredibly good ice cream. The flavors were prominent and the ice cream was buttery and creamy and perfect. Also sitting in the park after 9 watching the world go by as if it was 4 in the afternoon was a cool experience.