City Guide: Bergen
Bergen is the hometown of Kings of Convenience, and was the only reason why I picked that city to visit during my maiden European trip almost 10 years ago. Still one of my favourite singer-songwriter bands, I love the simplicity of their music and their set-up - listening to them is good for the soul. Watching them performed live when they came to Singapore a couple of years back, was a fan girl dream come true.
It is not hard to envision where their inspiration come from having witnessed the beauty of their city and country, and in fact, that could probably be said of some of the music that came out of Nordics like Sigur Ros, with sounds that instantly transport you to somewhere idyllic.
Situated on the southwestern coast of Norway, Bergen is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes and sea, and used to be the Norwegian capital, until 1299.
Walking is the best way to explore the city of Bergen. You will need a good pair of shoes to deal with the cobble-stoned streets, and possibly arm yourself with a brolly in case it rains - which happens very often. Soak in the scenery from the hilltops and peek at the secret gardens. Most of the wooden houses are gorgeous, and often decorated with flowers, a lot of flowers. Spend a day out at sea and try out deep sea fishing, where it goes as deep as 120-meters and takes a good 5-min to reel a fish in. Do an easy trek up Mount Floyen to get a nice view of Bergen. Who knows, you might spot Eirik from Kings of Convenience (as I did, really! I almost died.). Settle at a cafe for a drink or coffee over board games and good music. Check out some of the small live music venues and get a taste of the local music scene. Food-wise, Norway is an expensive country to eat out. Check out the local grocery stores - always a good idea. Fresh market stands offer fresh open sandwiches (shrimps, smoked salmon), mussels, fishcakes. Lots of seafood. Drink Hansa, the local brewery, and most importantly, drink the tap water, it's one of the best I've had.
And to stay. The one recommendation I have, is Skuteviken Guesthouse, which is owned by Solveig and Elvind, who are artists by profession and set this up a few years ago. Located just 5-10min walk away from city centre and just across the pier, it has a great views of the neighbouring houses on a hill, as well as a gorgeous view of the horizon. It’s a small charming guesthouse on a narrow cobble-stoned street, with just 5 small apartments, each individually designed by Solveig and Elvind, and decorated with some of their own artwork. All the apartments were extremely clean and even have kitchenettes with utensils and some complimentary dry goods such as tea, coffee, pasta, which came in really handy. Great apartment, great location. Great owners too, who were more than happy to have conversations around the Norwegian culture, the Bergen-Oslo ‘rivalry’, music, life in Bergen. We ended up checking out some local music at this local bar called Logen (it's still around!) together - local musicians get together every Monday night for performances. A fantastic spot to stay in all in all.
Address: Skutevikens Smalgang 11, 5032 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 934 67 163