Dave tried to prepare us for what lay ahead. Little did we know: 13 twisty, windy, steep, hairpin turns leading up to Stalheim. It turned out that one reason we had a shorter-than-usual bus was to negotiate these very turns. Sue and Jerry, being thrill seekers, sat in front as if on a roller coaster. Wheeeee!


And, as a reward for our fortitude in braving the Stalheim ascent, we got shots of aquavit (or apple juice, depending on taste). It was interesting to learn about a special kind of aquavit called linie. Supposedly, it acquires an exotic flavor by being shipped across the equator (the "line").


A scenic stop on the way to Bergen:

Tvinde Falls.

On the drive to Bergen, we got to hear about the rainy weather we should expect. We were pleasantly surprised to find sunny skies and mild temperatures. Sven deserves a raise!



Dave released us to explore the harborside town. First stop for many was the fish market (fisketorget), which had an amazing variety of fresh seafood as well as other delights. We perused reindeer sausages, Sami gear, and hats, hats, hats.


Tom would have loved this Sami drum, but alas - at 1,000 kroner, it was not to be...


Later, the rains arrived. Out came the Gore-Tex and umbrellas. Our tour through the historic area of Bryggen was, mercifully, mostly indoors. We learned about the Hanseatic League, an alliance of trading guilds. Bergen was an important port at one time. The focus was on dried cod (stockfish). Over the centuries, many of the wooden buildings have burned down. Luckily, there are still dozens left, ready to be explored with the help of our plucky guide.

The room where cod was dried

was kind of stinky...


After the tour, we found ourselves in the midst of an open-air food fair, the Matfestival. The food was all produced locally. There were fruits and vegetables, but this was definitely not a vegetarian event. The "Mat" in "Matfestival" stands for meat. We availed ourselves of free samples - merchants and farmers handed out tastes of apples, sausages, fish, and some unidentified delights. For a few kroner, a hearty lunch could be assembled. This was better than some of the fancy restaurants (especially for the budget minded).


Food wasn't the only attraction. There were all different kinds of performers on the stage around the corner, near our hotel.



Our last afternoon in Scandinavia. We just couldn't get enough of wandering around, peering in windows, breathing in the fresh air...


Jerry's wife Sally would have liked the antiques shops


Eventually, we took the Fløibanen (funicular train) up the local hill. Our timing wasn't very good, because we arrived at the top to find it encased in fog. We caught brief glimpses of the harbor below, but nothing photo-worthy. Guess we'll have to go back sometime!





The last supper.

We gathered together to reminisce a little and to share our "Wow Moments." It was kind of emotional. You won't get this sort of experience traveling on your own.