Yesterday’s weather was, everyone tells us, very unusual for Bergen at this time of year. When we woke today to heavy fog, strong wind and a 15° drop in temperature we were not at all surprised. By lunchtime the wind had blown the clouds away however, and though it stayed a lot cooler we ended up with another amazing day.
Today we took our first shore excursion – a bus trip to nearby Lysøen Island, to visit the home of famed Norwegian 19th century violinist Ole Bull – the Elvis of his time. He was hugely popular and spent his life touring and giving concerts, making lots of money (and losing it just as fast). At one stage he tried to found a new colony in the USA. It wasn’t a success but his legacy remains in Ole Bull State Park in Pennsylvania. In 1872 he bought Lysøen Island and built a summer residence there. It’s a beautiful house, designed to reflect the many places he travelled to throughout his career.
We also visited the Fantoft Stave Church. Originally built in 1150, the church was moved to its present site in 1879, after it was threatened with demolition, when a new stone church was built. With no windows and a very small interior stave churches are not very practical, but it’s good that a few have been saved of the hundreds that were originally built. Sadly in 1992 the Fantoft Church was destroyed by an arsonist. It has been rebuilt and copied as meticulously as possible, but the interior feels very new still.
We also visited a ruined Cistercian Monastery called Lysekloster. It was founded in 1146, and was once rich and powerful, but after the Reformation it was destroyed, and the stones used to build Rosencrantz Tower & Kronberg Castle in Denmark (better known as Hamlet’s Elsinore).
All that was before lunch. We still had a few more hours in Bergen, so headed back to see some more of this lovely city. The Bryggen Museum is built over an archaeological excavation of the earliest wooden houses, and contains lots of relics from medieval and Viking Bergen. The Seafarer’s Monument is a 7 metre high memorial of 12 statues and 4 reliefs dedicated to Norwegian seamen’s achievements through the ages.
Throughout the city there are flowers in such bright colours and pretty displays.
And now we are sailing. We left Bergen and are on our way to our next port of call Eidfjord. We are apparently side-on to strong winds, so there’s a bit of a roll, but in a few hours we’ll be in sheltered waters of a fjord. It’s been a long lead-up, but the cruise feels like it has finally begun.