Saturday, July 28, 2007



It helps to have a strategic plan. Just like organizations trying to figure out what to do with themselves, travelers need to maintain a daily and weekly strategic plan. What are the objectives of the day? What do you want to have achieved in the next three days? Of course, changing the plan to adapt to the changing conditions is essential also. But you have to have something against which you measure your performance.

Back home in Sonoma County, my friends in Coastwalk will be spending the day trying to decide the directions of the organization. Pat and I will be deciding our own directions concerning museums, parks, shopping, and people watching. Given the fact that it rained off and on most of the day, and because Pat left our umbrella in a hotel bathroom, we had one objective: find and buy two collapsible umbrellas for the remainder of the trip. I had not had one, preferring to dodge the drops. Referred to an over-priced shop on the waterfront, we purchased a pair which opened awkwardly (pop it open it completely, then straighten out each metal strut). Oh well, we had seen a century-old Norwegian heraldry tapestry in one of the museums which had two umbrellas embroidered across the top. It was a sign from the past.

Another objective was to get lunch. The hotel breakfast was not nearly as good as the guidebook raved, so we didn’t make a sandwich to take with us. It was just as well. It probably would have gotten soggy. Bergen has plenty of restaurants, but today wasn’t a day we wanted a sit-down meal. The plan was to walk as much as we could around the area of our hotel, and see what we could see. And not get too wet. So we had the equivalent of a polish hotdog and a coke, sitting on stools against a small shop window. It was pleasant, and it hit the spot. So did a bird when it hit the window in front of us. He soon got his bearings, and went his way. So did we.

We stopped at a bookstore, and bought a new paperback novel. Phillip Roth wrote a book entitled, “The Plot against America” , which tells the story of Charles Lindberg’s 1940 defeat of Franklin Roosevelt, and the aftermath of his cooperation pact with Hitler. Pat was only moderately interested in it, but she agreed to let me buy it even though I have two books with us that I haven’t read yet. One is about Theodore Roosevelt’s Amazon travels after his defeat by Wilson in 1912, the other focusing on many little known facts about the indigenous cultures in the Americas before 1492. The topics are right on target for me, it’s just that I have trouble finding the time to read. Pat will probably read them before I do.

The longer term plan is to use the three days we have here to learn as much about Bergen as we can, and see the city and its history from its streets and museums. It’s not hard if you have a good umbrella, and you pace yourselves.

If there is one place in the city that you have to put on your list of seeing even if it rains, it’s Hakon’s Hall. It’s the former royal residence of an early line of kings in the 13th century. Reconstructed twice in the past 150 years, the story of its use for the past 800 years is a fascinating chronicle of Norway’s political and governmental journey. Left in disuse during the 400 years between 1310 and 1814 that Denmark controlled Norway, it rose from a series of storage functions to be transformed architecturally at the turn of the 19th century. The interior facades and decorations gave impetus to a dramatic and romantic view of Norwegian history and life in the middle ages. Blown up in 1944 when a Dutch ship carrying explosives accidentally blew up and destroyed much of downtown Bergen, the Hall was reconstructed in the 1950’s to resemble paintings made of it in the 1500’s, and absent some of the excess of the previous remodeling. The grounds of the fortress which surrounds it, and the views of the city and harbor it overlooks, are also worth the visit.

Tomorrow, we’ll visit some of the five other museums in the city, take a bus to the aquarium, and continue to absorb Bergen. The forecast is for rain until we leave, and we’ve got our umbrellas.

Here is a link to all of the photos we took today: Bergen

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