July 2, 2014
The rainiest city in Europe. Allegedly.
According to various sites on the Internet, Bergen is the wettest, rainiest city of the European continent. Don’t believe a word of it! Me and some pals were in the city just recently and in all the three days there not a single drop of rain fell on any of us. In its absence was a preponderance of sun – so much so that our cheeks became redder than the king prawns on offer in the Bergen fish market (see pic further below).
And probably up to 200 kilometers away there was nothing but clear sunny skies too, save for a few fluffy clouds. Only on the horizon did there sometimes appear something reminiscent of light rain. The locals were also fairly amazed too – they’ve never known such rain-free summery days here ever!
Bergen was once the largest city of Norway as well as the capital of the country, and also the main Hanseatic trading hub. Well, that may have been the case centuries ago, but not anymore. Now it’s a relatively quiet and peaceful little city, and a very picturesque one at that. It has a population of less than 300,000, which seems about the right size considering the whole population of Norway is a mere five million or so. Compare that with the UK across the North Sea: it’s smaller in size but has a population of more than 60 million.
Well, at least, there’s normally not that many folks milling about. It’s just that while we were there Iron Maiden were in town for a sell-out stadium concert! So naturally the place looked like a Sons of Anarchy convention with every eatery and bar full of those of the long-haired persuasion. The bar in our hotel got so full of the leather-jacketed that you could hardly move. There sure was a lively atmosphere in there. The piano player even played The Number of the Beast :).
Northern California? No – Bergen
One of the first things that struck me about Bergen was how brightly it was painted. Maybe they decided to spruce up the place to offset the habitually gray weather and endless winter nights… Thankfully we saw none of that gloominess. All we saw were bright – loooong – sunny days (the sun went down after midnight, only to rise again an hour later!), A-ha skies, and cotton-wool-ball clouds, while down below there was a quaint quayside lined with little wooden houses, plus yachts and boats in the port. There were also a few powerboats – specially for us!
Borgen? No – Bergen
Norwegian fishing – it’s really something else.
First of all we were really well motivated: “You don’t catch anything, there’s nothing for dinner!” Then we learned ‘it’s not the fishing season’! Eh? Anyway, after kitting us out with rods, reels and waterproof outerwear, the folks from the fishing excursion firm wished us luck and off we sped out onto the North Sea. Then something unexpected and fairly unbelievable happened: in just 15 minutes we caught more than what 20 hungry mouths could ever possibly eat in one sitting – maybe even two :). Just as well, as during the following 15 minutes we caught nothing, having drifted away from the best fishing waters a bit.
Back on shore, our fresh catch was transferred swiftly to the nearest kitchen. First the fishes were gutted leaving just the fillet; those were then lightly boiled; the fillets were then cut into little pieces and placed on thin rye toasts with salted butter; next came a sprinkling of pepper and other spices… and we were set. Simple. But oh so tasty. The first batch went down so well – i.e., quickly – that the chefs had trouble keeping up with the following batches…
Straight after this feast it turned out we needed to go… have dinner! Gulp! But we were no less impressed by dinner than we were with our hors d’oeuvres. We normally would have had no chance finishing everything – certainly not desert too – but I guess that’s just proof again of how delicious everything was. And not just the fish. There were also some world-beating* magical carrot, radish and potato dishes that were delightfully delectable too. And it was all wonderfully washed down with lashings of local akvavit :).
A few more pics, of Bergen’s fish market…
What our cheeks resembled after three days of unexpected, uninterrupted sun
Besides all the culinary delights Bergen has to offer, it’s also the capital of the famous Norwegian fjords. But I’ll tell you all about those in tomorrow’s post…
* Actually, I told a bit of a white lie here. The mostest tastiest vegetables I’ve ever eaten were those we tried in the village of Esso on Kamchatka. There the vegetable patches and greenhouses are watered with volcanic/thermal waters – so all the vegetables have a unique light salty taste to them. There quite simply are no tastier tomatoes or cucumbers on the planet than those from Kamchatka – in Kamchatka.
Pip-pip peoples. Till tomorrow!…