Bergen-Gateway to the Fjords

bergen-featured

Our trip to Norway at the end of May has already acquired a dreamlike quality even if it was only two months ago. Revisiting our vacation pictures helps me remember that there are places in the world where the hottest topic of conversation is the weather. And occasionally Norway did make me feel like I was back in Minnesota, not least of all because it seemed all the young folk we met had a very Minnesotan accent in English.

Our first day’s travel included 3 different flights over 9 hours, Tel Aviv to Vienna, Vienna to Oslo, Oslo to Bergen. The last leg may have been the shortest, but thanks to a delayed flight from Vienna, we had 35 minutes to make our connection to Bergen after collecting our luggage for Customs; the boarding gate, perversely, was the furthest from the in-transit check-in counter. A mad dash ensued and, thankfully, both we and our luggage made it.

The older sections of Bergen, or more correctly Bryggen, is where the German Hanseatic League had a trading enclave for 400 years, the main product from Bryggen being dried North Sea cod or Stockfish. The wooden buildings where the fish were processed were in constant danger of burning down and the one housing the Hanseatic Museum was rebuilt after the fire in 1702.

We only had one full day in Bergen and used this guide as a starting point. Fortunately, the older part of Bergen is compact enough that we could cover it in a day.

More to come…

Season’s Greetings!

Tinseltown

Feels a bit odd being out of the holiday loop with Hanukkah (Channukah, whatever) having been so early this year and the civil New Year not really observed by the majority of people here. Meaning, it’s been difficult to get into the “holiday spirit”. Our visit to the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem over the weekend helped a bit. No blaring Xmas music (thank goodness) but lots of decorations. We saw many groups of overseas pilgrims visiting, which is a nice change from a couple of years ago when our friends from the States were visiting at Christmastime and the streets in the Old City were nearly empty. I hope the shopkeepers are at least benefiting from the renewed traffic.

Yes, that is snow on the ground in Jerusalem, which 10 days ago got socked with around 40-50cm of the white stuff and came to a standstill for nearly 5 days. We saw many, many trees and branches that had snapped because of the cold and weight of the snow. No power in some homes for 3-4 days. Heads rolled at the electric company. Will we be prepared for the next time this happens (which is once in a decade or so)? Probably not. It even snowed in Cairo for the first time in a century!

Warm wishes for joyous festivities and a happy, healthy New Year!