It’s fine I guess?

I’ve been putting off writing this review because I’m not sure what to say about Norse Mythology. It’s…. fine? I neither especially loved or hated it. Thor is more of an idiot than in the Marvel movies and Loki is just as chaotic but less deliberately evil/angry. It’s short stories, and they were probably told around a campfire whilst drinking back in the year 1000. You can’t get too long of a story in that circumstance.

It’s a sold three stars: enjoyable, but I’d be surprised if I’ll remember it in six months.

Norway is pretty

These are the last of my photos of Norway. We took a cruise to see all the fjords; it is a lovely, lovely place. I recommend going.

fjord boat
I’ve forgotten which particular fjord this one is. The huge cruise ship is on the left.

 

fjord camping
This is Geiranger. There’s a big campground there and it was full. I can totally see why. There’s also a small town with all the amenities, including many cafes and a chocolatier. It’s civilized camping.

 

fjord views
A view down the fjord from a mountaintop.

 

fjord waterfall
One of the bigger waterfalls.

 

fjord waterfalls
So, so many waterfalls.

 

geiranger grass roof
We walked over to town from the dock. They’ve left up this old cottage with a robust sod/grass roof. The Scandinavians are big on the garden roofs; one of our tour guides pointed out that this is at least partially explained by the fact that the old houses all had sod roofs. It was the best way to keep the rain out.

 

geiranger pews
This was inside a church in Olden. Each pew was closed off by a door and had these decorations on the end. I thought they were unique.

 

molde garden
A park in Molde. It was a lovely place to sit and rest.

 

mountain stream
A mountain stream, possibly back in Geiranger.

 

nordfjord bench
This was in a town called Norddal. There’s a row of boathouses along the fjord, across the street from the town. People still use them (and the boats) to get around. I liked the blue of the bench against the dark wood. Pretty.

 

nordfjord boat
The boathouses at Norddal. I like boat in between the boat houses.

 

nordfjord church
The (well-maintained) church in Norddal. It’s octagonal.

 

stavanger boat
The cathedral tower in Stavanger. Those are hotels along the fjord for all the tourists.

 

troll eggs
There’s a lot of animal husbandry on the western edge of Norway; it’s not flat enough for a lot of farming. But goats? Goats do great. Goats also have to eat during the long snowy winters. During the summer, they let the grass grow. Then they mow and harvest the clippings, saving them in these giant white bags. You see them everywhere in the Norwegian countryside; they’re called troll eggs.

That is it for the Norway photos. Next (and last) is Stockholm.

Other Norwegian Cities

The cruise stopped at other ports too – we explored a number of towns. I’ve narrowed the photos down to a couple of the larger cities: Stavanger and Molde. Molde was the furthest north we went, and we were there only a day or two after the summer solstice. The sun rose at 3:30am and set at 11:30pm. How did we sleep? Blackout curtains.

old stavanger
This is the view of old Stavanger from the port (I took this from the balcony of our room on the ship). There are strict regulations about the buildings in this section of town, obviously. Including: only very small signs for stores are allowed. So there’s little in the way of tourist schlock available for sale. It was lovely.

 

old stavanger anchor
This giant anchor was outside of the maritime museum. It’s HUGE.

 

old stavanger flowers
Have I mentioned that there were flowers everywhere in Norway? People definitely take advantage of summer to make everything prettier.

 

old stavanger stairway
This was a little alleyway in Stavanger’s old town. I like the flowers and the lamppost.

 

cathedral
Stavanger’s cathedral. It was closed to repair the organ – and had been for more than a year – and was going to be re-opened the week after we were there. Le sigh.

 

bright street
Stavanger had a regular shopping district, too. This was clearly the shopping center for the town, full of locals and tourists alike. This one street, though, is the brightly colored hipster center for Stavanger.

 

bright street - hipster
See? Hipster center. Look at the bunting and the deer and the colors. You could buy everything on Etsy, I’m sure of it.

 

bright street - manic pixie dream troll
There’s even a manic pixie dream troll. Where else but Norway would you find one?

 

bright street - mural
This mural – women supporting each other and looking cute – tickles me.

 

brigth street - bookstore
I couldn’t *not* get a picture of the local bookstore, could I?

 

statue
The rest of Stavanger’s¬†shopping district looked more like this: cobblestone streets, white buildings, colorful windows. This is a statue of an old seaman or viking. He has personality.

 

molde - statue
Then it was on to Molde. They love flowers so much, they’ve got their own rose variety. She’s celebrating that.

 

molde - torget
The town center of Molde – the torget. Molde is fairly small and very modern. The King of Norway hid here for a bit during WWII, so the Nazis destroyed the city. It’s all been rebuilt.

 

We also visited Alesund, which has lovely art nouveau buildings. Wilhem II used to vacation there with his family; there was a fire in the early 1900s that burned down about half the town. So Wilhelm foot the bill for rebuilding it, hiring the best European architects. The result is a fabulous art nouveau city. But I was sick during that port visit, so I didn’t get to see it. My husband and daughter tell me it was very pretty.

A day in Bergen, Norway

Bergen is a lovely town of about 200,000 people on the coast of Norway. It’s the second biggest city (after Oslo), and we had a great time exploring it.

Funicular

funicular
There’s a funicular that takes you to the top of the surrounding hills. There are tons of hiking trails across these hills – we saw at least two big groups of people with packs on getting ready for a multi-day hike. There’s also a restaurant and gift shop at the top. So you can go up for an hour or two as well.

 

troll
There’s also a troll garden at the top of the funicular, hidden in the forest. This hipster troll is the one who greets you at the entrance. (You can see other trolls in the background.)

 

troll
Sometimes, the trolls are hiding. (This one feels very Wallace & Gromit-y to me. I think it’s the hands.)


Hanseatic League
Remember your history lessons, where you learned that the Black Plague killed 1/3 of the European population? Well, the disease had a 50% fatality rate in Norway and 80% in Bergen. That’s right, after the Black Plague came through, only 20% of Bergen was left standing. That’s when the Hanseatic League came in to take over the business side of things.

d stockfish
This is a dried stockfish. I was told they keep forever, and to eat them, you just need to soak it in water for 24 hours. This is what the Hansa were trading.

 

e teapot
We took a tour of the Hanseatic Museum – this is one of the teapots.

 

f hansa buildings
This is a view across the harbor to the Hansa buildings. We were grabbing lunch and plotting out our afternoon. Note that the outdoor seating in Norwegian restaurants comes with blankets.


City Center

Bergen isn’t big, but we did leave the harbor for a bit to walk around the city center. There’s a nice pedestrian shopping district (I bought a sweater from Moods of Norway) and some lovely buildings from the 1800s-ish.

g grieg
A statue of Edward Grieg. He’s from Bergen and they’re very proud of him. If we’d had another day, we’d’ve gone to his house (it’s a museum now).

 

h gazebo
A gazebo in a park. I don’t remember much about it, except for the fact that I thought it was pretty.

 

i statue
This isn’t anyone in particular, just a violinist looking very intense. His intensity is mitigated by the tranquil sounds of the water.

 

j boulevard
Just beyond the previous statue, there’s a lovely boulevard leading to some governmental building.¬†

Old Town
Then it was time to head back. We went back through the old part of the town, exploring some of the twistier streets.

k husband daughter
My husband and daughter walking down one of the wider old twisty streets.

 

l manhole cover
My feet and shopping bag along with an interesting manhole cover.

 

m hansa buildings
More old Hansa buildings. Fun fact: because the Norwegians always built with wood, they had a fire problem. After a big fire, they’d dump all the burnt wood into the harbor and then build the new houses on the landfill. Then the landfill would settle. These might have been built straight, but they aren’t anymore.

 

n stag
Doesn’t every building need a golden stag head?

 

o alley
An alleyway between some of those buildings. Right angles, schmight angles.

 

p ladder
After you go down the alleyway, it opens up into a little courtyard full of cafes and giftshops. I imagine that ladder was important back in the day before this was the tourist section of town. Was that the front door?

 

q cafe
I didn’t manage to get any good photos of Rosenkrantz Tower or Hakonshall – the two big medieval buildings in Bergen. But they did have this lovely little minimalist cafe where I had a cup of tea and my daughter had a frozen snickers bar. (Ice cream is HUGE in Norway. HUGE. It felt a little like being back in Wisconsin – where I grew up – but with more ice cream shops.)

If you’re spending time in Scandinavia, I’d definitely recommend a day or two in Bergen if you can fit it in.