Last night, we poured over the guidebooks to determine what we wanted to see in the time we had left in Bergen. We paired it down to six places or adventures: a city bus tour to get better oriented; a combination of three museums close to each other; a stave church outside of town; the home of Edward Grieg, the composer; the city's old town district; and the aquarium. We made sure everything was open on both Sunday and Monday, and chose to believe the majority of the books where there was dispute. We also knew that today we needed to decide where to go next, and make some serious moves to get there, with a hotel at wherever it was on Tuesday night.
After breakfast, we walked down to the city information center, and grilled the staff. Our choices for the day's activities became easier when we found out that three of them could be combined into one. There is a city bus which goes to the local stave church and the home of Edward Grieg. It was leaving in 15 minutes, so we jumped on it. If we still had energy and time, we'd walk to the museums and do as much of them as we could before they close or we tired out.
After some consideration to going south to Stavanger, we chose to head north to Alesund. It's a town a days ferry ride north of here, on routes which stop at lots of small fishing towns. Three companies make the trip, and one of them couldn't make the reservations fast enough. The remaining two weren't open on Sunday, so we did our best to learn how reasonable it will be to show up tomorrow morning (Monday) and try to book the trip for the next day.
Then we dashed off for the bus. Securing seats on the top of a double-decker (left side), we spent the next three hours learning (in english and german) lots of interesting knowledge about Bergen and the two sites I mentioned.
I tried to get some pictures of the inside of the church, and was only moderately successful with the camera we're carrying. The shots of the outside turned out better.
I enjoyed the trip to Edward Grieg's home more than I expected I would. I didn't put it high on my list of priorities last night, thinking it was just another uniteresting big house which didn't look lived in. On the contrary, I could perfectly imagine this brilliant but frail little guy spending the last couple decades of his life using this house to reflect his new love of Norway in music. It hangs off the edge of a gorgeous lakeside peninsula, and his composing room (a small desk, piano, and a stove) is exactly as all of us would like to own to be creative.
I did come up with a question about his work which I will pursue with his researchers. The materials in his museum describe his concert schedule over his life. In them, it is written that he performed in Jotunheimen while on tour three times: in 1885, 1889, and 1893. I asked the staff at the museum where he would have performed, as I knew of no concert halls in that area? They smiled and reminded me that he was a romantic, and probably just found a large field. Now that would have been a great summer's sunset bonfire performance on the mountain.
The tour ended back at the city square at 2pm, and we decided we would walk to the museums and get lunch at one of their cafes. To save time and energy, we only visited the exhibitions which featured Norwegian art prior to 1900. It was both strange and reassuring to see illustrations of Norwegian countryside and life which mirrored what we had seen in the Valdres Valley. Unfortunately, there was too little for my appetite, as the artists preferred to choose scenes of coastal life or life in Paris, Italy, or Denmark. I did find two artists there of interest to me. One is Torsten Torsteinsen (the similar name of one of my distant relatives), and the other is Frantz Diderik Boe (who shares the last name of some of my ancestors).
I do have to include a photo I took in one of the museums. Photos of the art is forbidden, and there are guards all over to prevent it. But there was a point were two directional signs pointing toward each other best illustrated the confusion we all sometimes feel. I couldn't help but snap the shot when no one was around.
Tonight, after dinner, we got on the Internet and booked a hotel for Tuesday night in Alesund. We believe that we will be able to find a way to get to there on Tuesday by ferry, bus, or plane. We'll find out tomorrow, and we'll make other arrangements if we can't. That's sometimes the fun of planning while you're traveling... not really knowing. But, we'll need a little luck on this one. Stay tuned to find out.
Here is a link to all of the photos we took today: Bergen Bus Tour and Museums