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Last Day in Bergen: Day 7, Multigen Iceland/Norway Trip

a cruise ship with mountains in the background

If you book a cruise out of Bergen, you really only need to stay there 24 hours to see the major sights, like Bryggen and Mount Floyen. But if you have more time, like we did, there are lots of interesting secondary museums to visit. My favorite thing about our second Bergen day was just walking around the city, which I did solo in the morning, and with family in the afternoon. At the end of our second day, we boarded the Havila Castor for our seven-day coastal cruise, but I’ll write about boarding the ship in a separate post.

This seventh day of our trip was a Sunday. Since we had a plan to meet my parents in the lobby of the Moxy Bergen at 12:30, and I finished packing by 10 a.m., I had some time to explore on my own. Our room did not contain coffee supplies, nor was there free coffee in the lobby. I could have ordered coffee from the bar, or joined my parent for the $20 per person breakfast buffet, but instead I decided to strike out in search of coffee in the wild. I was still feeling my cold symptoms, especially sore throat, but I didn’t feel too tired for a walk.

I alway love to take some solo walks while traveling. While it’s really fun to walk and chat with friends or family, I’m able to observe more on my own. The air that morning was cool but pleasant. I crossed the Nygardsgaten (the bridge from our hotel area) and almost immediately found myself immersed in a mildly more urban Bergen.

I came to Smalungeren Park, and realized that the spurting fountain I’d seen from Mount Floyen is at the center of a lake, called Lille Lungegardsvannet. A few families and Sunday strollers were enjoying the park. I visited a bakery at the edge of the park, Godt Brod, which at 10:30 a.m. was already out of croissants. I skipped over the sweet pastries on offer and bought a tiny loaf of bread and a latte. I tucked the bread into my backpack and continued, sipping my delicious coffee and happily watching a sleepy city go about its Sunday morning.

An old building with four statues in front
One of the first interesting buildings I came across, the Bergen District Court.

I admired statues on a building that turned out to be the courthouse. Large grocery stores were closed, but I happened upon a small one where I bought a small container of beetroot salad, and added that to my backpack with the bread. I also bought Erik a small bar of Dove soap, since he doesn’t like showering with liquid soap and I had obstinately made him leave his family-sized bar at our Airbnb in Reykjavik.

a black cat
I met a cat.

A young man leaned his bicycle against the wall of a shop across the street and went in. I marveled that these people live in a modern city yet don’t have to lock up their bikes. It rained a little, but I had my raincoat tightly buttoned under my chin and didn’t mind at all. I came to the downtown area and passed modern, trendy-looking clothing stores, all closed.

I saw so many cool statues — although when I looked up famous statues in Bergen, it seems there were many more I didn’t see. Here’s a slideshow of a few I did capture:

  • A statue depicting a man's head.
  • statue of a woman with wings in front of a mountain

Less than an hour after leaving the hotel, I came to the waterfront — Bergen isn’t that big. From here, I could look across the harbor to the Bryggen Hanseatic wharf. Since I’d made it to the water, and still had an hour before I needed to be back at the Moxy, I figured I might as well find our boat and maybe do some recon for our afternoon boarding.

Walking to the Jektevic Terminal

Once I got my phone out and Googled the Jektevik Terminal, I realized that even though I was at the waterfront, it would still be at least a 15-minute walk. I decided to go for it. Being me, I ended up blundering around a bit, following the water out onto the peninsula between the harbors, instead of crossing through town directly to the terminal. So it took me twice as long as it should have to get there. But on the way I got to see the aquarium — it was open, with lots of families outside, and an employee with a megaphone telling them all something in Norwegian. Probably something like, “Look: fish!”

I enjoyed lots of little Bergen scenes — folks hiking a trail down to the water, a playground with the mountains looming in the background, another fort I didn’t know existed:

I saw adorble neighborhoods with cobblestone streets winding down toward the sea.

I finally arrived at Jektevik at about 11:40 a.m., and crossed a huge parking lot to the embarkation building.

The Jektevik Terminal building in Bergen, Norway.
At last I found the spot where we’d be embarking on our coastal cruise.

There were families here, sitting on piles of luggage. Inside, a couple of ladies in uniforms smiled when I asked if this was where we could check in for the Havila Castor. Yes, they said, but not until much later, because first they had to process the ferry from (or to?) Denmark. 1 p.m., right? I asked. No, they said, we could check in our bags at around 3. So whatever I had found online about checking in at 1 p.m. had been incorrect.

A change of plans

This was disconcerting to learn, since we had planned our whole day around bringing our luggage here at 1 p.m. The ladies pointed me to about 10 luggage lockers at the end of the building. I checked them out, but worried that our luggage might not all fit, especially if more of them were taken before my family could get the suitcases here. Besides, these lockers cost money, while I assumed that leaving our bags at the hotel would be free. So I texted Erik and Mom and proposed a new plan: Leave the bags at the hotel, go to Bryggen, and then send two people back to the hotel to fetch them at around 3 p.m. Erik confirmed that the hotel provided free lockers that would fit all our bags.

Now, I had to book it back to the hotel to get my stuff out of our room by the 12:30 checkout time. By the time I got there, I had peeled off my raincoat and fleece, and was sweating in my shirt sleeves, even under light rain. Although I had felt OK strolling aroud all morning, having to practically run back reminded me that I still had a cold.

When I arrived, my whole family was already in the lobby, their suitcases in the lockers. I jumped in the elevator, pulled out my key card, and … failed to get into the room. Even though the Moxy staff had promised us a late checkout, they had already deactivated my card. I texted Erik and he got a new card from the desk, which Toth brought up to me. By 12:40, all our suitcases were safely locked up, and we were off to the bus stop. Mom and Dad said the breakfast buffet had been delicious.

When we boarded the bus, the driver said there was a problem with his ticket machine, so we didn’t have to pay. We arrived in Bryggen with enough time to replace Mom’s postcards — the nice store owner, hearing her sad story, gave her more for free. I saw how nice they were and bought one myself to mail to Nutmeg at camp. We poked around Bryggen a little more, and I ate my bread and beet salad for lunch. Then it was time for the Theta Museum‘s 2 p.m. opening.

The Resistance Room

Two drawings depicting different views of a small room.
The museum curators set up the room to exactly reconstruct the headquarters as drawn here. We sat on that couch.

I was excited for Mom and Dad to see this museum because they’d recently read a book about the Norwegian resistance in WWII. The museum turned out to be one tiny room upstairs of one of the old wooden buildings. First you go up an outdoor stairway, then into a door and up a steeper stairway to the tiny room. Fortunately Dad was able to make it up both flights of stairs. This was the actual room used as a headquarters by the group of college student resistance fighters. By the time we got there, the curator, a thin woman with short gray hair and glasses, had already launched into the story of the place, for one single vistor. She had us pay about $8 for each adult and sit down on a couch and a couple of armchairs, around a coffee table with a world map on it.

The door of the room was rigged with an elaborate, homemade lock and alarm system. The small room held a desk with a typewriter, as well as some living supplies like a sink. The curator told the story softly with low-key inflection — how the young people composed messages and worked on breaking codes here, but sent wireless messages from a different location so as not to give away their position. How the room was reconstructed based on one of the student’s detailed drawings — also on display — and how the coffee table was original and had been somehow found after the war and put back here. The students would meet only in small groups or one at a time so as to avoid bringing attention to the nondescript door.

Eventually another couple joined us, and they said they had been to the “other” resistance museum, “just around the corner,” which had been even better than the resistance museum in Oslo. Since the curator was going to start her story over for the newcomers, we excused ourselves. Mom and Dad were very satisfied with our visit this little museum, which isn’t even open every day.

The “other resistance museum”

By now it was close to 3: time to fetch the bags. However, seeing that it was only about 1.5 miles back to the hotel, Mom, Erik and James decided they would walk back to get the suitcases, rather than take the bus. I would stay with Dad and go check out the “other Resistance Museum.” Dad and I kept everyone’s backpacks in order to make it easier for the three of them to haul five suitcases from the hotel to the dock. They figured they would take the suitcases on the bus from the hotel to the terminal, so we didn’t have to pay for another expensive Norwegian taxi.

If I had it to do over, I would have simply taken Dad straight to the terminal at this point. After all, I was hauling multiple backpacks, and it wouldn’t be long before the others would arrive to check in the bags. But we were curious about that “other” resistance museum.

After a little Googling, I figured the other museumgoers must have been referring to the free military museum in a corner of the fortress, the Bergenhus Festningsmuseum. It was only a quarter mile away, so we made our way over there, avoiding cobblestone as much as possible because of Dad’s walker. We walked through the ground floor of the museum, which featured lots of photos of the Norwegian military after WWII but nothing about the Resistance. Dad, a veteran himself, still found it interesting though.

a World War II era code machine
A code machine on display at Bergen’s Festningsmuseum.

I ran upstairs to see if the resistance exhibit was up there, and it was. Unlike downstairs, this exhibit included artifacts, not just photos. There were code machines and personal belongings on display. But the elevator was broken, and Dad didn’t want to tackle the stairs, so after I walked through the exhibit quickly, we left, at about 3:15 p.m.

To the terminal

Google Maps said the route to the Jektevik Terminal with the least walking at that time was on Flybussen, the same bus that goes to the airport. What Google Maps doesn’t tell you is the price of various bus options. We waited at the Flybussen stop near the Bryggens Museum, but when that bus arrived, the driver informed me that the short ride would cost a ridiculous fare, like $17 per person. I think myabe they charge the same fare from one city stop to another as they would from the airport? The driver advised us to go across the street and down the block to the public bus, which we did.

Dad was very patient through all this extra walking and waiting. When the city bus finally came, and the driver confirmed that he would go at least somewhat near the embarkation dock, he told us to get off after the tunnel. Then he said Dad’s fare would be free (or reduced?) because he was disabled, and I would get the same break for accompanying a disabled person. Great! We managed to get on the bus with all our bags and the walker, and we were off down the harborfront, past the Fish Market, through the tunnel, and off. The whole ride only took about five minutes.

When we emerged from the bus and looked around to get our bearings, a young man immediately asked if he could help, and pointed us toward the Jektevik Terminal. Since we were right near the University, he was probably a student. We basically had to retrace part of the bus route, walking a few long blocks (half a mile) to the terminal. After we had been walking awhile, Erik started texting and calling me, asking for our location. Then he sent me a map of their location, which I didn’t have time to look at, because we were trying not to be late. Dad impressed me by putting on a burst of speed with his walker. All the backpacks were starting to feel heavy, and the mild sunshine began to feel hot, as we hurried down the sidewalk.

shipping containers
We finally made it to the harbor, but there was still a little more walking to do!

Erik then called me. I answered and impatiently asked if he was lost, because his constantly pinging my phone was slowing us down. He said they were waiting to cross the street to get into the terminal and wanted to know if they should wait there to help us. I told him to go ahead and get in line to check in. It was already close to 4 p.m., so boarding was about to begin.

When Dad and I made it into the terminal, Erik, Mom and Toth were in the middle of a long line. We joined them. They reported that they had not only walked the 1.5 miles from the Bryggen area to the hotel, they had also pulled the luggage another 1.5 miles to the terminal! Dad and I were duly impressed.

So that was our final day in Bergen — nice, but rushed at the end! I’ll write a separate post about the embarkation process and our first evening on the Havila Castor.

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