I have fond memories of Bergen, Norway. My husband and I went to Scandinavia on our honeymoon back in the ’70s. Not your typical destination to celebrate a wedding — these days it’s Hawaii, the Caribbean or some other exotic island. My first thought was to go to New Zealand, but about a month before our August wedding, I realized it would be winter down there. So Scandinavia won out. Why? Norway has fjords like New Zealand, lots of mountains, and my family on my father’s side hails from Trondheim.
One of my favorite cities in Norway is Bergen. It was our final port of call on Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights Cruise in February 2008. The six-day southbound cruise aboard the MS Polarlys departed from Kirkenes, 240 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the extreme northeastern corner of Norway, near the Russian-Norwegian border. The ship journeyed down the west coast to Bergen, making 32 stops along the way.
Bergen is a World Heritage City and also one of Seattle’s 21 Sister Cities. It was founded in 1070, when King Olav Kyrre sailed into the habor. Summer is all about parties and festivals, with people out and about, whether enjoying the local cafes along Bryggen, the Hanseatic Wharf or eating smoked salmon and fresh shrimps from the Fish Market. And the weather? It rained off and on during the two weeks we were there in August. But like Seattleites, Bergensers and other Norwegians don’t let a few raindrops get in the way. The Bergen International Festival takes place for two weeks in early summer, and there are other fetivals throughout the season:
- Grieg in Bergen Festival – June 18-August 27 -Ten weeks of continuous music by Norwegian national composer Edvard Grieg, including concerts, conferences and seminars.
- Bergen Game Festival – July 29-August 6 – The world’s largest game festival featuring a week of competitions in Monopoloy, Trivial Pursuit, Pub Quiz, Chess, Poker, Backgammon and more.
- Hole In The Sky – Bergen Metal Fest XII – August 24-27
- Bergen Food Festival – September 9-11
Getting to Bergen: Sadly, SAS no longer has flights from Seattle to Scandinavia, and Norway isn’t among Icelandair’s 15 European destinations. Your best bet is to use one of the airline aggragators such as Kayak.com, Expedia.com or Orbitz.com.