Some trips are bound to transform our lives. They open doors to a new culture, new people, and even hatch a chance to experience what we have never experienced before. I don’t know if its sheer curiosity that leads us down new paths or if it’s a streak of luck that lets us have the opportunity to embark good adventures. Whatever it may be, my last trip to Bergen did have a strong impact on me. After I returned from this Pleistocene era city, I found myself intrigued by the history of Earth. During my week-long stay in Norway, I spent a few days exploring every corner of Bergen. It’s a city enwrapped in mesmerising beauty, a city that extends beyond the natural world. The skies are often draped in a mammoth cloud attire, wherein, the roads swathed with cobble-sized stones.
Every step I took onwards, awakened a memory of the bygone Kingly days. King Olav Kyrre had found Bergen in 1070 AD and its during his reign that this city flourished. Bergen hasn’t changed all that much, since then. Some of the old houses have, in fact, seen the birth of seven or more generations in a row. By all means, taking a trip to this enchanting municipality is as good as exploring a fairytale kingdom in real-time. From the moment, I’d stepped in this city, I had this uncanny feeling like I was the Alice falling into a sort of Wonderland. Against the postcard-perfect backdrop, varying aspects of nature were glued together like a poetic act. And almost like a dream, I felt invisible fairies inspiring my next action. So I was struck with luck, wherever I went.
As I retrace my steps, I remember how the magic of benevolence had unfolded right at the Bergen Airport. Right at the moment when I set my foot at the aerobridge, a Norwegian man approached me and uttered “Kan du hjelpe meg,” meaning “Can you help me?.” He needed to unfold the baby stroller and in the meanwhile, he was hoping that I would hold his 3-month-old beautiful son. Which I did, with boundless joy! This very incident shattered the myth that Europeans don’t trust non-Europeans. Instead, I was convinced that our vibe does attract our tribe. Next few minutes were spent rejoicing amusement and love, as the baby and I formed a connection. The baby’s touch and smile instantly rejuvenated me, after a long tiring journey.
In the twinkling of an eye, the father quickly spread out the baby stroller and it was time for me to say bye to that little angel. However, another surprise was expecting me as I paved my way to the airport lobby. The jetbridge opened to an extensive gallery of art. The spirited collection on display is bound to leave you flabbergasted. Wherever you look, whether walls or flooring, the installation engages you like no other. I’ll be honest, I felt just about guilty walking over those gorgeous floor designs. Then I arrived in the main lobby, which was a much simpler space exhibiting another type of art from. In my vision, was a miniature plane hanging from the ceiling, a florist store fanning out the sweet-smelling fragrance of fresh flowers and a stream of outlets including money exchange machines, a coffee shop and a retail store. After gathering my luggage from the baggage carousel, I drove to Scandic Bergen City, my hotel for the next few days. Located 17 km from the airport, this hotel is a perfect boarding house near the famed Bryggen Wharf. Next morning, I set out to saunter the streets of Strandkalen. I walked along Norway’s West coast, while, embracing the magic of blue skies kissing the streets with a hint of diamond-dust. Each city square embosomed street performers surprising everyone with a spritz of gleaming drizzle. Like a child, I was excited by everything and I couldn’t hide my cheerfulness.
A bubble-blowing couple noticed my exhilaration and made my day by blowing big translucent bubbles at me. They reached beneath my smile and touched the serenity of a child. In fact, with every bubble they blew in my direction, a sense of enthusiasm ran through my soul. I was truly overwhelmed by the act of kindness. Before long, as I crossed Bergen’s fish and flower market, I was met by yet another astonishing event. This time, it was an unexpected meeting with the officers of the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy. The serendipitous episode was followed by me taking several pictures with these charming men in uniform.
However, I was struck by luck when they offered the Royal Sceptre for me to hold. From what I have heard, a civilian has to be really lucky to even get a chance at touching it. The Royal Sceptre is a symbolic trinket of a ruling Monarch, which showcases their invincibility and imperial insignia. Therefore, this stark touch of Royalty did strike me as a pleasant surprise. Although the amazement didn’t come to a cease here. In the evening, when I was meandering at the 17th-century UNESCO site of Bryggen Wharf, the same officers, this time along with other members of the Royal navy marched the streets with the Royal Sceptre. I got goosebumps all over me. What was even more amazing was that the crowds stood still as the officers marched past the Bryggen Wharf. It was, as if, someone had stopped the time for a few minutes. Everything from the Ferraris to the crowds, to artists to shop-owners froze until the last officer made his way past the street. After which, I took a thorough look at the well-preserved, Bryggen Wharf, gleaming with tiny wooden houses. I got the best views from the Schøtstuene Museum square, where I stood gawking at the reflection of these beautiful wooden houses in the waters of Bergen Havn. Back in the thirteenth century, this whole site was set up as the Hanseatic League trading post.
The framework of Hanseatic League was laid out in the 1100s, as a profit-oriented and shielding alliance of merchant guilds. Hanseatic League operated one of the oldest trading routes used by merchants; exercising control over Baltic maritime for 3 centuries before finally diminishing in 1450. It’s for this reason, Bryggen Wharf fringed up the eastern side of the Vågen harbour holds an important place in history. This site inspires an exceptional night scene as the old town reflections begin to dominate the harbour post-sunset. Due to the close proximity, from my hotel, it was possible for me to frequent the Bryggen Wharf as much as I liked. While here, check out UNA bar for its incredible craft beers and burgers.
On the other side of the Wharf, is the seafood market which will tempt you with its delicious fish and chips, deepwater prawns, farmed mussels and paella. I couldn’t resist trying the lobster meal at the seafood market, which by far was the best I have ever tasted. On my way back, I was blessed with good luck once again, when a store owner Rafiq offered me a discount of $15 on a purchase I made. This was the first shop at the entrance of the seafood market and they sell everything from cheese, reindeer sausages, caviar, whale meat to a variety of other meats. I bought brown cheese and reindeer sausages from this store and was overwhelmed by the discount Rafiq proffered. On the other days, I simply went museum hopping, souvenir shopping, and cafe hunting by the harbour.
Each night I would return to my hotel and have a relaxing bath in the bathtub. A routine that helped me stretch out my tired limbs and drain away all the tensions. However, before slipping into a sound sleep, I would watch Bergen’s night-lights through my window. Like a subtle sheet of gold, these night lights would shimmer over the hills, like a candle in the dark. All in all, each of my experiences, in Bergen were far too extraordinary for me to be left wonderstruck for months after I returned.