Helsinki day 1 | Helsinki day 2 | Helsinki day 3 | Stockholm | Stockholm to Kosta | Kosta to Kalmar
Kalmar to Copenhagen | Copenhagen | Copenhagen to the Ship | Aalborg, Denmark | Flam, Norway
Alesund, Norway | Molde, Norway | Geiranger, Norway | Olden, Norway | Bergen, Norway
Eidfjord, Norway | Stavanger, Norway
July 31, 2016
It was a rain/sun tag race today. Rain then fine drizzle then 5 minutes of spotty sunshine then back to drizzle and rain all morning.
We've been lucky so far in the trip. However, now that we're in a large city that's really walkable, the weather's not fully cooperating.
This morning we took a gondola ride to the top of the highest peak, one of seven hills that surround the city. The fog was thick and got thicker the higher we went. The views were peek-a-boo as the sun came in and out.
After that, we were driven around Bergen. Almost all of the pictures we took today were through rain-streaked bus windows. The guide told the story that when God created Bergen He was so pleased with the results that He decided to clean the city at least 4 days a week. It rains, on average, 260 days per year. Guess who Bergen's sister city in the U.S. is (true, it could be Portland, Or., but it's actually Seattle).
Downtown turned out to be very explorable. So much so that after finishing the tour we went back in the afternoon to walk through the City Center. Again, intermittent rain drove us back to the ship sooner than we would have liked, but in between the showers we managed to get some pictures. The City Center was mobbed. Six cruise ships were in port today.
The guides in each of the cities we've visited so far tell the story of early cities made of wood that burned down and were reconstructed, often out of non-flammable material. They also tell of the destruction caused as collateral damage or by direct bombing raids during WWII. It was the discovery of gas and oil that allowed Norway to help rebuild its cities. Although post-war reconstruction started in the 1950's before Norway's oil revenues started rolling in, there was still a concerted effort in most places to rebuild at least some buildings to look like they did in the past. Interspersed among these reconstructions are a few original buildings that served as the model for the existing city cores.
One of the styles that appears with some frequency in these cities is the row-house type construction of residences (or converted warehouses) that are almost all alike but are painted different colors - usually fairly bright colors. Thinking back to the cities we have visited around the world, two polar opposite practices are evident in exterior color selection. Painting houses in different and fairly strong colors is evident in Scandinavia but we also saw that in Ushuaia, Patagonia and in Longyearbyen, Svalbard Islands. Mediterranean colors tend to be much softer. In the Greek and Aegean islands, on the other hand, houses mostly seem to be all white. I seem to remember a number of grey homes in Istanbul. Then there's that city in Tunisia where the town government requires everyone to paint their homes white with sapphire blue trim around the windows and on the doors. That town is very striking in the sunshine.
We ended the bus trip with a visit to an old wooden church. It was built in the 900's, removed and placed on land belonging to a rich merchant, burned down in 1992 (arson is suspected), and then reconstructed using the patterns and methods of the old traditional Norway stave churches.
Legendary Cultures 2011 | Greece & Turkey 2012 | Circle The Arctic | France-Denmark 2016 | Helsinki-Norway 2016