July 24, 2015
Digging Deeper into Bergen
Today was a semi-rest day. We were staying two nights in Bergen so we had the luxury of sleeping in until eight before heading down to a breakfast with fried eggs. This was a first since Germany. We planned to avoid the German foundations of Bergen and look for the Norwegian. It kind of worked out that way.
Bergen was originally a Norwegian town. The Hanseatic League made a deal with the king to open up shop in the harbor. This relationship of trade for cod lasted almost 400 years. The trans-Atlantic trade routes eventually weakened the League to the point that it was easy for Napoleon to disband it when he reorganized the German states. While it lasted in Bergen, there was a well established process for making money and meeting the need for Lenten and Friday fish in Europe. The apprentices did the most work under the supervision of the journeymen. Their living quarters we saw yesterday made it clear how things were organized. The boss manager was the only one with a painted pin-up in his I heated bed quarters. There were no fires allowed outside of the cooking areas because of fire danger in this all wooden town. It still managed to burn down on a regular basis. The debris was pushed into the harbor like they did in Gold Rush San Francisco and they just built on top. The result is the tipsy building you see today.
The morning started with a walk to Bergenhus Festning or fortress. We enjoyed the tour with our English speaking guide who escorted us through Hakon’s Hall that was built around 1250. Its construction was ordered by the first real king of all Norway Hakon Hakonson whose son Magnus oversaw the writing down of Norway’s first complete law code. The building was severely damaged in WWII when a German munitions ship blew up on Hitler’s birthday in 1944. The entire complex has been restored. Our pictures of the hall are bad because of its size. I’ll download better ones later. The hall is still used for events today.
We then followed our tour guide through the Rosen,Rams tower that was started around the same time as Hakon’s Hall but was added to through the Renaissance. It was a jumble of stairs and passages and dungeons. The guide left us near the top. Peggy needed to go on the roof. I joined her despite the hurricane force winds and rain which threatened to blow me over the 12 inch guard rail. I let Peggy take the good pictures in the maelstrom. I finally got my chance to ham it up with the realistic weapon props that were laying around.
The Norwegian military museum was nearby so we headed there next. I was primarily interested in the story of the Norwegian Resistance to the Germans in WWII. It was compelling but focused entirely on Bergen. I need to return to Trondheim and spend more time there. It was just sprinkling so we headed away from the center of town. Our goal was to visit Gamle Bergen or Old Bergen museum. It is a living history museum with old relocated Bergen buildings. After walking a kilometer or so we caught a bus.
The museum brought to light many of the conditions that my Grandmother would have faced in turn of the century Norway. While Bergen was a city and Leirfjord was a village. Domestic life styles had to be similar. Particularly enjoyable was the village grocery store. I immediately recognized my Grandfather’s favorite sardines, King Oskar. I will incorporate many of these photos into the family history book.
We caught the bus back and headed for an ice cream store for lunch.peggy complained that she had not had a Norwegian ice cream cone. Mission accomplished. We then wandered through the old Bryggen buildings on the waterfront. I followed stairways wherever there were no locks. We were pretty much on our own. I figured that the buildings would stand one more day.
If there were building codes, I don’t think anyone followed them. It was a fun house type adventure. Even the modern shops had the same tilting and creaking floors. It was cool to,look down on the cruise ship tours taking the more refined pathways through the complex. We felt so adventurous.
The search for egg cups continued. We walked through a dozen or so stores looking for egg cups. Peggy has decided after Switzerland that the only proper way to eat an egg is from a cup. We finally found a stylish department store that had non touristy egg cups. We are now the proud owners of twelve egg cups. There are eight of Danish design and four from some 300 year old German porcelain maker. Peggy reminded me that she did not say anything when I was buying wine in France. I was relieved that the egg quest is over and I can sit down.
Getting ready for dinner. Back in the car tomorrow.