We have always wanted to see Norway. And there certainly is not a more luxurious way to visit than on the Queen Mary 2. The Queen was scheduled for four port calls in Norway, but unfortunately, weather conditions prevented our visit to Alesund. We were able to dock at three: Bergen, Flam and Stavanger. Now, Bergen and Flam were most memorable for Dale. Candy liked Bergen and Stavanger, with (what she considered) good reason for not being as impressed with Flam. Bergen was definitely Dale’s favorite for food.
In Bergen, we spent our time walking the town, seeing it’s sights, shopping and eating. The winds blew us around and we spent a great deal of time dodging rain showers that would come and go.
The sights? Well, without a doubt, Dale’s favorite was the fish market. It really was amazing. We first browsed the indoor market with the most amazing array of fish and eateries where you chose your seafood option and they cooked it for you. And Dale found his Languistine, so, while it was too early for lunch, we knew we’d be back.
The market was Dale’s best treat of the day with numerous stalls, some with some most unusual-looking fish, and some also selling sausages made of moose, whale and reindeer, which, of course we had to try. (Moose and reindeer pretty good. Forget whale sausage!) Actually, Dale sampled so much on the long trek through the market that Candy wondered if he’d have room for lunch. Never fear. There’s always room for lunch in Dale’s world!
We visited Mariakirken, St. Mary’s Church, the 12th century, Romanesque-style church, the oldest remaining building in Bergen. It had the most amazing pulpit, understandably the pride of the congregation. Carved into it were scenes from the entire Bible from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to the prophesies of Revelation. Created by a Bergen artisan in 1658 it is truly astonishing! And further amazing carvings by this gentleman’s workshop reside in the chapels to either side of the nave.
While we went to the fortress, we did not go inside. It’s almost totally reconstructed and these days is more for gatherings and not much to see. But we did go a couple of blocks further to the fortress museum and loved it. Greeted by a lovely gentleman and offered a very welcome cuppa tea, we meandered around the three floors, the absolute most interesting being the one detailing the resistance by the Norwegians after the German invaded in WW II. Fascinating.
Dodging in and out of shops in the old town area, we found the typical tourist shops. Candy splurged on a magnet of a Viking girl and boy kissing. She said it was “sooooo cute”.
One of the neatest things about travel is the little unexpected treats you run into—things you didn’t know about when you set out on your day. For us in Bergen, it was being able to wander through the exhibits of the Bergen International Wood Festival, a competition in constructing spatial structures in wood. It focuses on “the use of wood as material and on its constructive structural and tactile qualities”. Teams consisting of designers, architects, artists, craftsmen and students from all over the world compete. We found impressive use of 1”x1” and 1”x2” pieces of lumber eight feet long, connected by bolts. Certainly a great deal of sophisticated computer modeling was involved, but the ideas behind the sculptures were human. A lot of work for a temporary exhibit, but greatly enjoyed….by us and by all the other visitors roaming in and out of the displays. Don’t bother rushing over to see it now. They were dismantling some of them even as we were there.
And, naturally, with Dale there, we ate at the fish market. He really, really wanted langoustines—a specialty in Norway, much like shrimp, but with claws. The taste is sweeter than either shrimp or lobster. Like lobster, they are kept alive whenever possible. The meat does not hold its texture or flavor if frozen or held on ice. He was able to choose from a large tank, picking out two about eight ounces each, considered mediums. (The large langoustines were about a pound each.) The price for two as $55, an exorbitant price, but you can’t get them in the States except in very high-end restaurants. Candy had baked cod and a salad. Total lunch for two—$98! Ouch!!
Have we mentioned that Norway is expensive??