Holiday destinations - Bergen, Norway
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:18 16 November 2018
Former European Capital of Culture Bergen is a tasty destination, just two hours from Liverpool, writes Vijay Arogyasami.
It is thought that scouse, the famous dish which lends its name to the natives of Liverpool, is derived from the Norwegian stew called Lapskaus which was said to have been introduced to the region by the sailors who arrived in the city when it was one of the major trading destinations in the known world.
In the modern times, one of the main motivations for Norwegians to travel to the North West is their love of our famous football teams. Unfortunately, the sentiment isn’t reciprocated from our side, so I decided to spend a weekend in the city of Bergen, situated on the west coast of Norway to see what I could find.
Travelling from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to Bergen takes less than two hours, and those of you who travel regularly will know that a train journey from the North West to Birmingham can take even longer. I’m sure our friends in the West Midlands would concede that the prospect of exploring the Norwegian fjords is a much more appealing prospect than a trip around the Bullring.
Liverpool and Bergen are both former European Capitals of Culture and one of the more obvious similarities between them is the transformation of their working docks into a major tourist and leisure destination. The waterfront district of Bryggen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and like the Albert Dock, it is home to many museums, shops and restaurants.
I stayed at the Hotel Havnekontoret, a stylish and convenient location which lies in the heart of the historical area and has stunning views overlooking the harbour. For those of you who love a bit a celeb-spotting, there are plaques that commemorate the stays of global superstars such as Rihanna and Tom Jones over the years.
Bergen is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, and it will come as no surprise that seafood and fish are the central themes for dining in a city with a port and famous fish market. Enhjørningen overlooks the waterfront and is a fine dining restaurant with a predominantly seafood menu, so much so that the only non-fish main course on the a la car te menu was defiantly named: ‘No Fish Olsen’. The dish is named after a Norwegian politician who became famous for his wrangles with the EU over fish quotas. Yes, they do take their fish seriously over here.
Further inside the iconic row of brightly coloured warehouses you will find Tracteursted, a much more casual dining experience set in a building that retains many of its original features.
Moving further away from the harbour you will find a more contemporary city feel to your surroundings with a good range of shops, restaurants and art galleries. If you want a change from seafood, there are a whole range of different types of cuisine on offer; with American style diners and a variety of Asian food on offer. The Colonialen Litteraturhuset, which is just a stone’s throw away from Bergen Cathedral, is a stylish and modern café/restaurant with a wide range of inventive and rustic Norwegian fare on offer.
For those of you who prefer to experience the natural beauty of the land, Bergen is famous for its setting within the surrounding of seven mountains. You can take the short funicular ride up to Mount Fløyen and enjoy the view of the peninsula high above the city streets. Once you have taken in the views, you can hike or cycle along the many routes that criss-cross the woodland.
No trip to Norway would be complete without exploring the fjords, so we took a cruise from Bergen to Mostraumen which sets off from the Fish Market. Travelling through the Osterfjorden, you sail by some breath-taking landscapes, passing waterfalls and picture postcard scenery.
The three hour round trip, certainly whetted the appetite for the great outdoors, so the next day we headed west to Steinsland and the Panorama Hotell & Resort. There are activities on offer such as cycling and kayaking, but you would be forgiven if you were tempted to spend your stay here just enjoying the dramatic vistas from the restaurant terrace or the hot tub.
We opted to venture out and explore and visit the nearby Marstein Lighthouse via a short but exhilarating ride via a rib-boat. This famous landmark welcomed sea-faring travellers from across the continent on the final leg of their journey to Norway. Thankfully, these days, the journey is a lot less arduous than in the past and the reasons to visit are much more varied and fun than the search of trade.
Take off to Bergen
Widerøe fly direct to Bergen from Liverpool John Lennon Airport with twice weekly departures on Monday and Friday. www.wideroe.no/en
To read more about the locations mentioned in this article, go to visitbergen.com
Vijay Arogyasami was a guest of the Widerøe and Visit Bergen.