Bergen is permanently salted with robust cobbles and a rich sea-trading heritage. Norway’s capital in the 13th century, Bergen’s wealth and importance came thanks to its membership in the heavyweight medieval trading club of merchant cities called the Hanseatic League. Bergen still wears her rich maritime heritage proudly. Here are some snapshots of my latest visit.
Protected from the open sea by a lone sheltering island, Bergen is a place of refuge from heavy winds for the giant working boats that serve the North Sea oil rigs. (Much of Norway’s current affluence is funded by the oil it drills just offshore.) Bergen is also one of the most popular cruise-ship ports in northern Europe, hosting about 300 ships a year and up to five ships a day in peak season. Each morning is rush hour, as cruisers hike past the fortress and into town. During my recent visit, it was the Tall Ships Festival — which added color and crowds to the mix.
Part of the joy of travel is seeing local families out just enjoying their city and spending time together. A classic scene anywhere in Scandinavia is blonde tots playing with colorful Legos (made by a Scandinavian company, of course). Here in Bergen’s main square, kids were in Lego heaven with giant tables full of parts to piece together.