This past weekend I traveled to the town of Bergen and spent a few days there exploring the town and the famous Sognefjord. Along with a friend from my study abroad program, I traveled via train from Oslo to Bergen. This train ride takes about 8 hours each way, and while it is a much longer travel option than flying, the scenery was incredible. Our weekend was full of idyllic scenery and picturesque views. Just in the town of Bergen itself there are great views – especially from the funicular. A funicular is a sort of tram car that rides up the mountain to give you a view downward over the whole city. We rode the funicular up to Fløyen and were rewarded with an amazing view of Bergen. (See photos below) If you’re ever going to Bergen, I would definitely recommend taking a ride in the funicular. The sightseeing from the funicular was incredible but was outdone in beauty by our views of parts of Sognefjord the next day. We went on a 10 hour fjord tour and despite the off and on rain, we were lucky enough to see lots of breathtaking scenery.
In many ways luck seemed to be on our side this weekend as our trip happily coincided with the Bergen food festival (a fact that we were unaware of when booking our train tickets). Since everything in Norway is expensive, we didn’t get a chance to try every food that we desired (probably a lucky thing for our health) but we did try a few new foods. My favorite was the pancakes that were sold at several different food stands. Now some of you may be thinking – you went all the way to Norway and your favorite food there was a pancake, really? So allow me to explain – this was no ordinary pancake. The pancakes were cooked right there on a portable griddle. They were hot and fresh and then were topped with jam and this sort of sweet cream. After slathering your pancake with these toppings you folded it over and ate it like a taco so the tart and sweet flavors blended together and melted in your mouth with the hot pancake – is your mouth watering yet? As you can imagine, it was delicious!
On a more serious note, it was interesting engaging in this experience after having been studying in Oslo for the past month. There was an overwhelming amount of tourists in Bergen, particularly on the fjord tour (I have to include myself in this count because despite the fact that I’d like to consider myself somewhat of a Norway insider after my month here, I had many tourist moments oohing and ahhing at the views in Bergen). It doesn’t surprise me that adorable towns like Bergen attract lots of visitors, however I find it concerning for people to only travel to cities like Bergen while in Norway. By only visiting an adorable, idyllic place like Bergen, one risks leaving Norway with a rather stereotypical picture of a rural utopia and missing the complexities of the country and the diversity within it. In my study abroad program we have been examining the popular conceptions of Norway and the ways in which images of beautiful, rural Norway are so often invoked. I can attest to the fact that Norway does have a lot of natural beauty. Yet, I would caution visitors to the country not to oversimplify and think that that is all Norway has. Norway has a lot to offer and by only looking at stereotypes of Norway you might miss out on several cool offerings. So while my pictures of Bergen and the fjords may help to fulfill stereotypes that you may have heard about the charming Norwegian rural landscape and astounding scenery (which are true – it is gorgeous), don’t forget about the more urban environment of Oslo and the unique treasures that are found in different parts of Norway.