24 hours in Bergen
Saturday 26 November, 4.00am, and the alarm sounds. It’s time to get up and head to Heathrow for an overnight break to Bergen, Norway. Although a quick trip, it’s one that I am rather looking forward to. It’s only my second visit to Scandinavia and a first time visit to Norway. With a couple of months having passed since my last overseas trip, it’s exciting just to be getting away again.
Despite only setting off for one night, I choose not to carry hand baggage. Yes, it means a bit of a wait at the other end but it also means that I can carry all the liquids I like. I haven’t the patience to carry little bottles of everything.
Today’s flight to Bergen is with British Airways – and it’s in Club Europe – so not only a comfortable 1 hour 45 minute flight but also a couple of pre-flight hours in the lounge at terminal 5. By 6.00am, we are seated in the lounge and enjoying the endless breakfast rolls, cookies, pastries, tea, coffee and more, and all are not more than a few steps away.
The flight too was rather comfortable. A half full Club Europe cabin, a really friendly and attentive service and plenty of food and drink. I had ordered a low fat meal, which comprised an omlette, some potatoes and half a tomato, served with a plate of fruit.
Landing in Bergen shortly after 11.00am, we took advantage of the ‘Flybussen’ – a regular coach service linking the airport and various points of interest in the city centre. The last stop on the journey was the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Bergen and it was here that we would spend our one night. The bus is around £17.00 return and tickets can be bought online in advance or from the driver.
In the mad dash to beat the dozens of others leaving the bus and heading to check-in, we briskly walked towards the hotel entrance. After all, when you’ve got a little over 24 hours in a city, you don’t want to be spending more time than is necessary in a queue. The inclement conditions made the wooden surface underfoot a little slippery, as I quickly found out. I fell to the floor almost as soon as I left the bus – apparently falling to the floor in a ‘crumpled heap’. Not my words.
The hotel, apparently a 4-star, was acceptable. At close to £150/night for a room, value for money is pretty typical of this part of the world. The Radisson Blu that I stayed in three years before in Gothenburg was a similar price. The room was acceptable (except it’s location – which appeared to be directly above a night club) and the complimentary breakfast was satisfactory, although there were enormous queues for just about everything. The hot breakfast items were a little disappointing and the only pastry option was a croissant. Again, disappointing.
Location-wise, the hotel was perfect, situated right on the wharf and only steps away from a good selection of shops, restaurants and the Fløibanen funicular, which transports visitors to the top of Mount Fløyen in minutes.
Four stars above the door did seem a little generous to me – even with a snazzy Nespresso machine in the room. It was worthy of three stars, definitely, but the facilities were lacking, the breakfast wasn’t half as good as I had hoped for and the hotel staircase looked like something I would expect to find in a 1970s block of flats – bare metal railings and the most hideous brown tiles covering the floors and lining the walls.
For around £9.00 return, the Fløibanen funicular is a quick and easy way of getting to the top of the mountain, from where visitors can look out over the city, enjoy nature trails, eating, shopping etc. Walking up and down is a possibility but it’s quite a hike and with the limited time available to us and the drizzly weather, a warm train ride was a much preferred option!
After returning back to sea level, we boarded a tram and headed for Fantoft Stavkirke (Fantoft Stave Church). Being out of the season, it was closed, but it was still possible to walk around at a distance. The church was built in around 1150 in Sognefjord but faced with demolition it was relocated to Bergen in the late 1800s.
Heading back into the city, we explored the shops and walked up the hill to the old Bergen fire station.
After sheltering from the rain and having a cup of tea, it was time for dinner, and we headed to the Bergen Fish Market. Sat right on the North Sea, seafood dominates the menus here, and it was a cod and bacon burger that I opted for. There was no batter. Just a generous chunk of fish with some very smoky bacon inside. A meal with a half litre bottle of sparkling water was around £22.00.
Dessert on the way back to the hotel was a McDonald’s McFlurry priced at £2.50.
I unfortunately didn’t wake feeling fresh the next morning having had very little sleep. The sound of music and the feel of bass into the early hours kept me awake for a lot of the night.
After breakfast, we explored the wharf and the local shops for a little while before returning to the airport for the flight home. With no lounge access available at the airport, we arrived there a little under an hour before the flight was due to depart.
This was a quick but enjoyable trip, allowing sufficient time to see the best that Bergen has to offer. Whilst I would love to see more of Norway and Scandinavia, it’s unlikely that I will return to Bergen.