Friday, August 26, 2016

2017 Norway Calendars available

Calendars with photos from my Scandinavian bike adventure for 2017 are now available:

English calendar:
English calendar - For more information click on the photo

German calendar (Deutscher Kalender):
Deutscher Kalender - Für mehr Informationen bitte auf das photo klicken

These calendars are available in online bookstores as well as in your local bookstore (they might not have them in the store, but will be able to order them for you). To avoid confusion: I do not sell these calendars directly.

Of course you know that there have been Norway/Norwegen calendars last year as well. For 2017 I have changed the layout and I have replaced and/or improved the photos presented in the calendars. The photo-captions are now always on the index page and the photos of the calendar pages are a little larger than the photo on the cover page. Of course the GPS coordinates are included in the captions of the photos and, in case you haven't seen it yet, you can find the story behind the Norway and Lofoten photos on here on my blog too.
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Friday, August 19, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Molde — Kristiansund

(Friday, June 27th 2014)

I woke up at around 4a.m. this morning, some dew had been collected on our tent’s walls, it was still chilly outside and once Solo saw that I was awake he told me to go back to sleep as it was too early to get up. Well that was an advise I could not deny to take. So I cuddled back into my sleeping bag, since I had this time learned to put my clothes underneath it to give me some insulation I wasn’t freezing as much as I had when we first camped in Vikersund — that seemed like months ago now, and went back into the world of dreams.
Until eventually being asked to hand over my cup and teabag, so that I could get the first tea of the day which Solo was preparing on his stove a few hours later.

Soon we were ready to pack our belongings into our pannier bags yet another time and break camp. Luckily the weather was on our side too — the sun shining already to a blue sky with some clouds over some mountains on the other side of the fjord. It looked like a perfect day for cycling toward Kristiansund.
But before leaving the camp I just had to spend some time taking some photos…
One of the almost surprising things when traveling with Solo, he’s the first one to tell me to stop cycling and to take some photos, never impatient, never hurrying me to finish, but always giving me as much time as I need to finish the photography, assisting me if necessary.

Trolltinden, Prosten and Trollstolen in the early morning
Trolltinden, Prosten and Trollstolen

Before the clock turned 7:45a.m. we were back in the saddles of our bikes — as so often before with the first task of finding a place to have breakfast. We considered for a little while to ride back into town hoping to find a neat cafe for breakfast, but that would have meant adding more kilometers to the ride. This time our planned ride to Kristiansund did not seem to offer us a plan B to stop somewhere before Kristiansund and call it a day. So every extra kilometer we had to put into the day’s ride had to be justified somehow. The choice was clear, we had to find our breakfast somewhere along the route that we were traveling on and not somewhere behind us.
In those cases I was reasonably happy to find gas stations that also sell some food, it isn’t the food I would rely on when I am not traveling, but hey the idea of guessing that there might be a better place to have breakfast some kilometers ahead is not something that really keeps you going for a long ride. If there was and the gas stations food — a baguette for me — was not enough then we still had a chance to put in an extra stop.

So we soon were back on our bikes pedaling along the E39 before turning onto the 64. Now the 64 had after just a few clicks a tiny surprise for us. A tunnel some 3 kilometers ahead and a road to go around it adding a few more kilometers to our count of the day.
When I did all the research for this trip I also did some research on tunnels that we could or could not pass on bicycles. Sometimes those tunnels that we could not pass on bikes would have a road around them, sometimes we would be forced to take the bus or a completely different route. When we reached the junction I was uncertain if this was one of those tunnels that we could pass or if it was not.
So we had to decide between going those 3 kilometers and possibly having to cycle them back to where we were or rather taking the road around it in the first place. We decided for the latter option — and we did make a good decision, when I later looked it up it turned out that this was one of those tunnels that are closed for cyclists.
And the road around the tunnel was mostly in a valley without any steep climbs, if we had been hungry we could even have found a place to eat half way into it.
Soon we were back on the 64 continuing our northbound ride.


At the junction where the 64 splits into the 663, 664 and 64 near Sylte we had to make another decision. We could of course stay northbound on the 64 and shorten our route significantly, or we could take the longer routes either all the way around the peninsula reaching Bud on the westbound 664 or taking the one in between and going north again on the 663. Since we were still good in time we decided to go on the smaller roads — the ones with the higher numbers — which now looked much better than the smaller roads we had pedaled along during our first days of our ride. So we had a chance to enjoy more of the coastal view as well. 

Gulvågen near Bud
Bay of Gulvågen near Bud

Eventually we decided to go for the longest option, taking the westbound 664 toward Bud and follow it north-east-bound from there toward Vevang, where we would eventually turn back onto the 64. Now fully exposed to the coastline we also were fully exposed to some chill wind coming against us. With a temperature of around 12˚C and the chilly wind we soon stopped to put on more clothes.
At some point we had to look out for an opportunity to fulfill some human needs and Solo told me to shout „Photo“ if I saw such an opportunity. Well the next thing I spotted was an opportunity to take a photo instead, so I yelled „Photo“. He turned back and asked me what I had seen, so I told him that I wanted to take a photo…not to fulfill my human needs. :-)

Lacking a cafe or some sort of warm building we had our lunch in a bus stop again. Getting out of the wind was much more important than the view which might have been offered in a different spot. Again our lunch was brief and easy…just some nuts and almonds and raisin rolls that I had bought, following my instincts, at the gas station earlier in the morning.
Getting back outside of our little shelter was a trial…but then we had some road ahead of us, so no chance for cowards, not now at least.
There is a reason I wanted to go on this route in the first place. Not only is it quite beautiful — even though not as spectacular maybe as some other places that I have seen — but it also is part of the well known Atlanterhavsveien — the Atlantic Ocean Road, with some stunning bridges that I wanted to see for a long time. 

Atlanterhavsveien - The Atlantic Ocean Road. This photo is published in Lille Ulven Photography's Norway calendars.
Atlanterhavsveien - The Atlantic Ocean Road

I always believed that the bridges would not be legal for cyclists to cross on their bikes, until I was proven wrong when I started my research for this trip. So now I was finally able to cycle this road for myself.
Yet the wind was still a bit strong, and I seriously wondered if it would be safe for us on our bike to cross the bridge. There was no shoulder on the road which we could have used to ride on, so we had to share the road with caravans and lorries. Solo decided he would try out first, if he could make it onto the top of the bridge I would follow him, if he could not he would turn and we would have to find another option. Not that there would have been much of another option than pitching tent in the wilderness and hoping for the wind to calm down later.
But yes, we both made it over the bridges safely and made it all the way to Kuholmen.
We found a little cafe to take some well needed rest and have something to drink to refill our bodies.
To reach Kristiansund we would have to ride some more miles on the 64 before we had to get into a bus which would take us through the 6km long Atlanterhavsveientunnel from Bremsnes to Kristiansund. I knew we weren’t allowed to enter the tunnel with our bikes — I later found out that this was because the tunnel had a speed limit of 80km/h and was one of the main roads into Kristiansand with no shoulder for bikes to travel on — so I was looking out for a bus stop once we reached Bremsnes. I didn’t quite remember at the time that this was the village where we would have to get our bikes into a bus, but we were both worn out at the time and some instinct told me that we were close to our target. We found the bus stop and soon after the bus to Kristiansand arrived there too. Incredibly good timing. It turned out this was really the very last bus stop before the tunnel, so had we gone on, we would have met the sign telling us that bikes weren’t allowed in the tunnel.
A couple of weeks after we had passed the tunnel in the bus I read about some tourists who actually went through on their bikes. The tunnel is under video surveillance though, so they were soon discovered and the tunnel entries blocked for all other traffic. The cyclists were then guided through by the police.
Considering there was no sign near the bus stop that this was the last bus stop before the tunnel and that cyclists weren't allowed to pass it on their bikes, I am actually not too surprised that someone attempted it. I don’t know if we would have made the same decision or if we would have gone back and rerouted our tour if we would have been in the same position as they were.
The bus ride was short and expensive with 180NOK per person (bike included), so we soon reached the other side of the tunnel and once I spotted the sign for the campground I made us leave the bus at the next stop.
Getting the bikes onto the bus was a challenge for Solo — he took care of the bikes while I paid our tickets — getting them off the bus wasn’t much easier. Having made it with all our stuff out of the bus we found the way to the campground where we would pitch tents for the night.
This time the campground came with a lovely little cafe where we had dinner — the yummiest burgers and fries I’ve ever had — which made up for the rather worn shower facilities. We had asked if there was a chance to do some clothes washing in the evening but were told that the washing machines weren’t working. Well a day more or less wouldn’t matter much.

After dinner we took a walk into town, believing it would be no more than the 20 minutes we were told…well it turned out to take us more like an hour to get into town. But at least we had a chance to check out the timetable for the ferry that we would have to take the next day.

Harbor of Kristiansund
Harbor of Kristiansund

You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Calendar photo of the month: August 2016

The calendar photo of this month is from my A-formatted New Zealand calendars: Otago - The Neck. The road connects Wanaka to Fox and leads along the shore of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea.
The story behind this photo has been published on my blog in this post: Fox - Wanaka

Otago - The Neck
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Friday, August 5, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Florø — Molde

(Thursday, June 26th 2014 2a.m. — 10p.m.)

No, we didn’t get off the boat at 2a.m., we stayed on it. But since my last post got somewhat longer than what I had expected, I thought to split it in two parts, and the best way of showing this already in the title was by using the closest stop to midnight of the Hurtigruten which we were on.

So today we had another day without any significant cycling. Instead we spend most of the time on the MS Polarlys, which we embarked on yesterday.
Another chance for us to enjoy a late breakfast without having to pack our bags just yet again. One could get used to it…but then where is the adventure in this holiday if we did it all by boat?

During the summer months the northbound Hurtigruten boats add a fjord sightseeing trip from Ålesund into the famous Geirangerfjord and back to Ålesund in the early evening. This is a 9 hour detour, during which we saw some of the beauty that Norway has to offer.
We could also have stayed the hours in Ålesund and visited the town instead, but I really didn’t think about it as I knew the beauty of the Geirangerfjord and the idea of having a place to sit down and relax — or take a nap during daytime if needed — was pretty convincing.

We finished our breakfast around the time when the boat arrived in Ålesund for the first time today. And after that just thought to relax and enjoy the trip into the Fjord, when an announcement was made over the speaker system that all passengers who wanted to disembark in Molde would have to leave their cabins at 11a.m. and not an hour or two before arrival in Molde 10 hours later. We just looked at each other and thought this had to be an error. What were we supposed to do with our bags for all the time?
Solo asked me to go to the reception and ask if we could keep our cabin for longer, since this really wasn’t how we had seen our day to be. Unfortunately I came back with bad news, the receptionist only told me that this was the way things were and we would have to leave the cabin so that it could get cleaned. Solo would not believe this, so I asked him in return to go there and see if he could come up with another solution. I don’t know if it was because when I asked I did so in Norwegian and when he did so he did in English, standing out as a tourist who would bring money into the country. But no matter what the reason was, he came back with good news, we were allowed to keep our cabin until about an hour before arriving in Molde.
About half an hour later another announcement was made over the speaker system telling everybody who wanted to disembark in Molde could keep their cabin for an additional fee of some 300 NOK until an hour before arrival. I looked at Solo and asked him if he had paid anything extra for it and he told me he had not.
Well, sometimes it is clearly a good thing to be the second person to ask and to stand out as a tourist, it seems.
Now we could enjoy our day on the boat without any more worries.

On the opposite site you will find the Waterfall the Seven Sisters (Syv Søstre), to which the Friar (Friaren) proposed, but they all refused to merry him. He started drinking and became an alcoholic and to this day you can see his bottle on the stone. This waterfall belongs to the Geirangerfjord and is part of the UNESCO world heritage.
Friaren waterfall in the Geirangerfjord

The Geirangerfjord is part of the UNESCO world heritage and as such pretty much every cruiseship that visits the Fjordland of Norway also visits the Geirangerfjord. The sights are remarkable of course, and the stories behind some of the buildings are stunning to say the least.
Some of the old farms are placed high up a steep mountain wall and in earlier times when the taxman had to come by boat for some strange reason the farmer would take the ladder, connecting the shore with his farm, up for repair. Of course it was just by pure chance that this would be at the very same day when the taxman was to arrive. ;-)

Even today Geiranger cannot be reached by road during the winter months, as both the Ørnesvingen as well as the road over Dalsnibba will be closed during the winter because of the snow. The Ørnesvingen is a rather narrow road with 11 hairpin curves toward Eidsdal, which you can see in the next photo.

This photo is published in Lille Ulven Photography's Norway calendars.
Ørnesvingen - The Eagles Road in Geiranger

The time spent in Geiranger is too short though to disembark and do some sightseeing, but of course you could buy additional trips to your boat tour and for example take a bus from Geiranger toward Molde where you would reembark onto the same boat again. The bus tour would take you up the Ørnesvingen or Eagles Road over the mountain and then down the even more famous Trollstigen. But of course this means you would have to spend some extra money. We didn’t consider this option though, it would probably not have worked out anyway as we had to disembark in Molde. Considering the trouble we had to get onto the boat with our bikes I really didn’t want to think about what trouble we would have had if we had decided to take this trip and have someone else take care of getting our bikes down from the boat. So we took the boat back from Geiranger to Ålesund, where we arrived in the early evening.
The Hurtigruten boats anchor pretty much in the town center of Ålesund, so we got a nice view of the town even though we did not have the time to visit it.

Looking upon the city of Ålesund which is known for its Art Nuveau buildings. This photo is also published in Lille Ulven Photography's English Norway calendar.
Ålesund as seen from the Hurtigruten

The white building in the upper right of the photo belongs to the viewpoint of this mountain, called Aksla. From here one has a nice view over the city and some of its surrounding nature, as I have seen on a previous visit to Ålesund in June 2005. But to get there one has to go up 418 steps or go there by car.
But you will not only see the nice view from up here. You will also find some reminders of WWII, as some part of the Atlantic Wall was built up here and those bunkers still exist.
We still had some time left before we had to leave our cabin for good. So we spent most of it on the outside deck after leaving Ålesund. We soon noticed that the wind was getting stronger and the waves a little higher. One could feel the moving boat now. Thankfully neither Solo nor I were affected by motion sickness, but we started wondering if the wind would pick up any more during the evening after the boat had left Molde…
It has happened before of course. And a couple of times the Hurtigruten boats had to return to their last harbor as the wind was too strong to safely make the whole day’s — or night’s — trip to the next harbor. One time it got so bad that the captain made an announcement that all passengers had to lie down in their cabins until calmer waters were reached, otherwise the chances for serious accidents where too high…

With some twenty minutes delay we made it into Molde, seeing the MS Richard With — a sister ship to the Polaris — leaving Molde before we had to get to our bikes.
Now it was time to figure out where exactly that campground was located. All I knew was that it was somewhere to the east along the European Road. But I also remembered that I had plotted the map and stored it in my GPS, so it was time to dig it out and let it be our guide.
It was getting somewhat cool in the evening even though we were riding our bikes, so we soon found ourselves stopping just one more time to put on some more clothes.
Eventually we made it to the campground, pitched Solo’s tent and got ready for the night, but not before taking some more nice photos of the area.

Trolltinden, Prosten and Trollstolen from Molde
Trolltinden, Prosten and Trollstolen from Molde

You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Bergen — Florø

(Wednesday, June 25th 2014 — Thursday, June 26th 2014 2a.m.)

Today we continued our journey from Bergen toward Molde — which we will reach tomorrow evening — on the Hurtigruten’s ship MS Polarlys.
But since the boat did not leave Bergen before 8p.m. and checkin was not opened before 3p.m. we had some time left before boarding.
So for the first time since we have been on this journey we could allow ourselves to have a late and long breakfast in our hotel. There was even some time to write a few postcards before checking out of the hotel at around 10a.m., thankfully we were allowed to store our bikes and luggage in the luggage-room in the basement of the hotel, so that we were able to walk through town unhindered by it.

This time though we didn’t spend our time sightseeing, but tried at first to find a new pair of trousers and a rain coat for Solo. Not an easy task. You know how it is like when you know exactly what you are looking for…you are almost guaranteed that you won’t find it.
So time passed fast.
We also decided to send a package, with all the things we thought we would no longer have any use for, back to my place. This way we assumed our bags would get lighter and easier to pack…well I cannot confirm either of it. But then on a tour like this single grams count, so who knows how much more we would have suffered later on if we hadn’t send that package. :D
The hours passed much faster than I would have expected and sooner than I thought we got our bikes ready for a short ride to the Hurtigruten Ferry Terminal.

It turned out that our timing was just perfect as the checkin-queue was not that long when we arrived. Since we could not just leave our bikes unattended with all the luggage on them outside the building, we had no chance but to stand inline with our bikes. Which probably was a weird sign for everybody else, but then I had not seen any car-checkin, so there seemed to be no other option.
During the checkin process we were told that we would have to go upstairs and participate in a security briefing before we would be given our keys to our cabin. When I asked what to do about the bikes in the meantime we were told to leave them outside the building. I have heard better ideas.
Well for once we did not follow their procedures. We found the spot where we would wait until boarding the boat outside the Terminal building, but were soon told that where we were standing we could not stay as the area was needed for the luggage of those who would arrive by buss. Sure enough the busses soon started rolling in and the checkin queue got longer and longer. While we were advised to wait in another spot. I could sense Solo’s rising frustration at the time, but there was nothing to do about it. After the last bus had arrived and the luggage had been sorted and brought on the ferry we returned to our original spot — again we were advised to wait somewhere else until someone of the crew would pick us up. This time a little closer to the loading entry.
Time passed and no one came…
Until one of the employees from the ground crew, who must have understood Solo’s cursing and dissatisfaction, took matters in his own hands and got someone from the ship’s crew to take us on board.
 But we had no boarding cards yet. We had been told that we would get those after the security briefing, which we could not participate in. This time though things got simplified. The ship’s crew made sure to get us visiting cards, which we were to change at the reception into our boarding cards which then would double as keys for our cabin.
So after fastening our bike to the ship’s wall we made our way toward the reception. The receptionist looked at us in awe and asked where we were coming from. Well what to answer to this one but „from the car deck“.
We got our boarding cards and made our way to the cabin. It seemed we would not get a security briefing after all, as it was now far too late to go back into the Terminal building and take part in this briefing. Instead we stored our luggage in our cabin and from there made it onto the outside deck of the Polarlys, so that we could watch the ship leaving Bergen.

Looking back toward Bergen
Looking back toward Bergen

The journey on the Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes counts as the world’s finest boat journey. The entire journey from Bergen to Kirkenes and back to Bergen takes 12 days, during which the boat will stop several times to take on new passengers and to leave others from board, but depending on the season various fjords will be visited as well.
In June 2011 the Norwegian State’s television channel NRK published a series of uninterrupted continuous filming of this journey, 134 hours 42 minutes and 45 seconds long — called Hurtigruten minutt for minutt — which you might have heard about before, and Norwegians got hooked to it immediately. Either watching the show on their TVs or — if they lived along the route of the Hurtigruten — coming up with greetings of the boat during its journey toward Kirkenes.
I read at some point that they showed this series even on the television screens of the South Korean subways…
For Norway it was the beginning of something called „slow television“. 
But more than that: it was not only shown on television — since then they have repeated it often during the days of Christmas — but later that year they also offered a free download of the entire show…some 120-140 4GB DVDs full of material…
Since this was such a huge success, later on NRK also broadcasted a similar journey, this time on the Bergensbanen from Oslo toward Bergen, the journey of the Nordlandsbanen and a 24hour show where they showed choirs singing the entire hymn-book…

The Norwegian coastline

But back to the Hurtigruten and its history.
Prior to the establishment of the Hurtigruten a letter from Trondheim to Hammerfest would take up to three weeks before being delivered during the summer, during the winter the delivery time was up to five weeks. So in 1891 the consultant in charge for the Norwegian steam navigation, A. K. Gran, developed the idea to establish a faster boat connection between Hammerfest and Trondheim. At this time there were only two existing sea maps and 28 lighthouses north of Trondheim, so the first two shipping companies that were asked to take on the challenge denied, because they thought the journey during the dark and stormy winter season would be impossible.
The reasonable new ship owning company Rederi Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskap decided to take on this challenge. Their captain Richard With and his pilots had already made notes about the route, the speed and the durations on this route, so they felt comfortable of being able to do it.
When on June 2nd 1893 the steamboat Vesteraalen for the first time left Trondheim on this route toward Hammerfest a revolution of the communication capabilities was started. Now a letter would no longer need weeks to travel between Trondheim and Hammerfest but days.
The traffic along the route was continuously extended and in 1898 Bergen was added as the most southern stop, in 1907 Vadsø and in 1914 Kirkenes followed.
Except for the war-periods the Hurtigruten has traveled this route every day of the year since 1936.
Today the route from Bergen to Kirkenes is 1460 nautical miles or 2920 kilometers long, that is as long as the distance between Oslo and Tunisia.

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean

You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Leikanger — Bergen

(Tuesday, June 24th 2014)

Today we took the early ferry, leaving Leikanger at 7:30 a.m., toward Bergen. When I planned this leg of our journey I thought of cycling it, but I was unable to find a route that would not lead through at least one tunnel which we wouldn’t be allowed on bikes or would have us taken several days, days we would be missing on our way north up to the Lofoten. So I figured it would be better to take a rest day from cycling and take the boat to Bergen. This way we were also able to travel on the longest (207 kilometers) and deepest (1,308 meters) of the Norwegian fjords, the Sognefjorden. With this boat trip as well as the boat trip on Sunday and yesterday’s bike ride we almost traveled along the entire length of the fjord.

Since the temperatures in the early morning weren’t that high — I would think maybe at around 15˚C — I was going forth and back between the outside deck to take photos and the inside of the boat to warm up again. While Solo stayed inside for most of the boat trip to write his notes.
The boat stops at several smaller places on the way toward Bergen, among others Balestrand a rather famous place as this is the area the former emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany — accompanied by up to 2000 people — would spend his summer holidays between 1889 and the beginning of the WWI in 1914, which started the tourism industry in Norway.
As much as can be said against this particular emperor, there is one thing that will always be valued very highly by most Norwegians: when in January 1904 850 homes in Ålesund were destroyed by a large city fire making 10,000 people homeless over night, the German emperor sent craftsmen and money to help rebuild the city.
On the opposite side of Balestrand in Vangsnes you can find one of the biggest curiosities in statues placed in Norway: A statue of Fritjof the Viking, or rather how Kaiser Wilhelm II imagined a viking to look like, as this is a gift to the Norwegian people by the emperor. As a Norwegian at the time so nicely put it: „The figure is the greatest curiosity which this country has ever seen, except from the emperor himself in all his glory.“
I have taken a trip up to this statue in 1993 and I must admit I do agree with that quote.

But this time we were not to disembark in Balestrand and go to see the statue or spend some time at a glacier museum in Fjærland. This time we had to stay on the boat and continue our journey toward Bergen, with a brief stop to let people on and off the boat in Vikøri, where the early morning fog hadn’t quite risen.

Traveling from Leikanger by boat to Bergen in the early morning we arrived in Vik, where the clouds still hang low in the mountains. Soon the sun will have them evaporate too. This photo is published in Lille Ulven Photography's Norway calendars.
Vik on shore of the Sognefjorden

After almost 4:30 hours we arrived in Bergen, elected World Heritage City in 2000. The first task — as always — was to find a place for the night. We thought it shouldn’t be a big issue to find a free hotel room for a night, considering Bergen has plenty of hotels, but somehow every single tourist visiting Norway must have arrived on the very same day. The city was crowded of tourists. The first hotel where I asked for a room for a night they told me the only one they had left was the holiday suite…well not within our budget. It took three tries to find a hotel that could offer us a room — more expensive than we would have wanted it, but still better than staying at the campground ten kilometers out of Bergen and riding our bikes in and out of town all day long.
Our first task after securing our room was not to find lunch or enjoy the city, but to ensure that we would get on to the Hurtigruten the day after. So I had to give them a call and see if there was a cabin left for us. Thankfully not all tourists we had seen in the city had the same idea for the very same day. So we got our tickets sorted.

After that it was time to enjoy a stroll through the city, or so we thought. The temperatures had risen significantly since we had embarked on the boat earlier in the morning, so we had a chance to enjoy ourselves in summer clothes without freezing.
But just a short walk into town and we found the crowds just being too big to make this an enjoyable sightseeing tour, so we returned to our room and rather took a nap to go back into the city later in the evening when the crowds hopefully would have left.

The city of Bergen from Fløyen

During my studies of computer science I had spent half a year in Bergen, so I knew that going up to Mount Fløyen with the Floibanen would be a nice trip with a nice view across the town.
If you take the trip up the mountain you will find many hiking routes starting or ending here, after all Norwegians are as fond of their mountains as they are of their brown goats cheese, called brunost.

There are a couple of possibly odd things to know about Bergen: 
First of all in other parts of Norway they often consider Bergen to be a country of its own, if that is due to the dialect I do not know. But then yes, Bergensk — as the dialect is called — is a little different from other Norwegian dialects that I know about. Not only did they not implement the female article in their grammar, when it was first implemented during the 1970s in other parts of Norway, but they also have a couple of words that are closely related to German, as Bergen once was an important trading point for the merchants of the Hanse, a German society of merchants, that controlled the trade between the North-East and North-West of Europe from the 13th to the mid-15th century.
There is also another rule: you won't be considered a true Bergenser if you and your ancestors aren’t born in either Nordnes, Stranden or Marken — the parts of town opposite of the Hanse-quarters seen in the following photo. So occasionally when you read a comment from someone who moved to Bergen some 40 years ago in the local paper of Bergen others will answer it and ask that person how he could dare to write this since he is not a true Bergenser. Quite funny to watch sometimes…

(Tyske) Bryggen in Bergen
Bryggen in Bergen

After our visit to Mount Fløyen, one of the seven mountains that surround Bergen, we took a short walk into the town, which now in the evening was less crowded with tourists.
It was then that I had a chance to take a photo of the Hanse-quarters called Bryggen — formerly officially known as Tyske Bryggen (German Bryggen). 
The area had suffered from some city fires due to which some of the original wooden houses had burned down. In the early 1950s a larger fire destroyed parts of Bryggen and it arose a controversial discussion if the area should be rebuilt to its former style or not. This shortly after WWII, when of course the memory of the latest cruelties of Nazi-Germany was fresh. But eventually the decision was made to restore the buildings in their old style.

Bergen had a close relation with the Hansas, a German guild of merchants, who set up one of their headquarters by the harbor in Bryggen in 1360. From here they were close to the North Norwegian fish grounds and Europe’s source for dried cod fish, the Lofoten, as well as close to their continental market. The Hansas were to dominate the trade for the next 400 years, as they had been granted the monopoly on trading the dried cod fish in exchange for bringing grains from the continent into Norway, which was suffering badly from mis-harvests after just starting to recover from the black death.
The German offices of the Hansas in Bryggen were replaced by the Norwegian office as late as 1754, but the Norwegian office had the same members of the merchants of Bergen, who to a huge degree where Germans as well. So the old system, including German as a daily language in Bryggen and its rules of old still in place, continued until the discontinuation of the Norwegian office in 1899. This was when the name of Tyske Bryggen was also officially changed to Bryggen.

Now with all the other tourists gone it was actually fun to stroll through the town and pay a closer look to some of the biggest tourist attractions.
But of course you get thirsty from strolling around, so we ended our evening in a Hotel Bar having both our drinks reflecting over our day and the plans of tomorrow, when we’ll leave this place of history on the Hurtigruten’s ship called Polarlys, a sister ship to the Finnmarken in the photo below.

Finnmarken - a vessel of the Hurtigruten
The Finnmarken a vessel of the Hurtigruten

You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Calendar photo of the month: July 2016

The calendar photo of this month is from my German Norwegen (Norway) calendars and planners it shows Bryggen in Bergen.
Bryggen is the old quarter of the Hanse merchants - the Hanse was a German based merchants guilt who got the monopoly on selling the dried cod of the Lofoten in continental Europe in exchange for rye and wheat.

The story behind this photo is going to be published on this blog no later than next week, on July 8th 2016.

Bryggen in Bergen, Norway
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