Last Christmas after we had decided on a date and cruise company for our family trip to Norway, my grandmother took one look at the itinerary and was instantly excited about Bergen. She said it had always been a dream of hers to travel the western coast of Norway, and one of her bucket list destinations was to see Bryggen in person.
Of course it should be no surprise that our first stop in Bergen was the famous wharf, Bryggen. Her smile was ear to ear that day, as were the rest of ours.
Bryggen has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979 and the buildings that make up the wharf are old. (Bergen was founded in 1070 and was a trading empire in the 14th and 15th centuries–so I’m talking OLD, old). A fresh coat of brightly colored paint helped to mask the buildings decrepit state, and they lean so much that at times it looked as though they were helping to hold each other up–kind of like a bunch of drunks. 😉 If these walls could talk… I’m sure the stories would be full of history, adventure, heartbreak, and reinvention.
Some of the stores along the waterfront were small, some of them were two stories, and most were full of Norwegian history, folklore, and heritage. While shopping, my grandma and I bought some Christmas decorations at the Julehuset (Christmas House) and then we all stopped for a break and for a quick snack. To my surprise, Bryggen was full of visitors that day, and I soon found out that every year close to one million lucky visitors come to experience Bryggen. (After our experience, I can definitely see why).
That afternoon my grandma admitted that while it had always been a dream to visit, she never thought that she’d actually be able to make it happen. This statement pulled at my heart-strings. I was honored to be there by her side looking at these famous buildings that she had dreamed about for so long.
After the wharf we jumped on the Hop On Hop Off bus and took a tour around the city. It was the same company that we used in Ålesund and during the one hour tour we learned about the interesting history of the city. So much of the Norwegian history includes devastating fires, and the will and determination of the people to rebuild, time and time again.
That afternoon we did some more shopping, lost grandma in the crowd of people at the market (don’t worry we found her, and then mentioned we should probably get a leash for her so she doesn’t wander off again), we explored the tiny walkways between the old crooked houses in the Wharf, and had some fun people watching.
I love feeling the excitement of checking off different items from my bucket list; the sense of accomplishment is pretty awesome. Being able to explore Bergen with my grandmother while she was able to check off this iconic destination from her very own bucket list made this whole trip worth it.
Until next time…