Here the rarity of the sun’s visits
Is like a miracle,
Coloring shores and harbors bright blue,
And that Summer sea seems to turn
Us cold-beaten Northerners back into ourselves
Making us yearn for human companionship.
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway. It is located on the West coast and is popularly known as “The gateway to the fjords” as it is situated in the heart of Fjord county. This means that Bergen is, especially in Summer, bustling with tourists from all over the world. Cruise ships are always docked in the harbor during the Summer months and you will almost be lucky if you hear Norwegian being spoken in the streets! 😄
Bergen is known as a university city and this was also the city where I went to university to study psychology. This was a very challenging time in my life. I had just come back from working as a volunteer in the slums and villages of India and I was mentally exhausted. I was very young and needed to be around friends, family and feel loved and safe after the challenges of being in India for so long. But I chose instead to move to a city where I had never been, all by myself without knowing anyone there.
I have always felt like going back to Bergen because I felt that I couldn’t really appreciate the city when I lived there. I was too absorbed in my own challenges and homesickness to actually see the beauty of Bergen and truly experience the city.
So this summer I made the decision to actually go through with my long awaited plans and jumped on a bus from Stavanger to the city of my college days. And I am so happy I did!
Bergen is a stunning city! Perhaps even the most exciting city in Norway. It is a lot smaller than the capital city, Oslo, but big enough to feel like you are actually in a metropolitan city with an urban culture. Yet, you will still feel its soul right away.
Bergen has a long and exciting history which you can see proof of in the beautiful architecture. It is also the home to some of Norway’s most famous cultural personalities like the composer Edvard Grieg. His house has been turned into a museum and is popular with tourists from all over the world.
Bergen is a cozy city with lot of parks scattered all over town. There is the famous City Park and the lesser known University Park. Here you will find locals soaking up the sun whenever it is out. Bergen is known by Norwegians as being the rainiest city in Norway so the sun is a very rare but welcome guest here.
Cafes, restaurants and pubs fill the streets and dot the entire harbor line. Norwegians prefer doing everything outside in summer as the weather is just too cold the rest of the year, so you will not find many people sitting inside the different eateries in the summer months.
When I lived in Bergen I loved walking around a very particular neighborhood called “Fjellveien” meaning “Mountain Street”. It is a cluster of houses hanging tight to the steep hillside from the mountain called “Fløyen” down to the harbor. This neighborhood is known for its small wooden houses painted in white, red, yellow and blue. The little lanes are always cobbled and narrow, often with stone staircases taking you to the next terrace of homes.
I love hiding away here just watching life go by. Most tourists are attracted to the famous warf and city park and few find their way to the more hidden gems of Bergen where you can breathe and really feel the soul of the city.
In Summer there are flowers everywhere in Norway. When Norwegians want to beautify a city they use flowers. And Bergen is a perfect example of this. Everything is in full bloom. It is lovely to just sit down on a park bench and smell the roses 😊.
The University Park is a lot less crowded than the City Park. It is a little oasis where you can sit by the water lily pond and rest and dream. I can’t believe this magical place is just next door to my college! And I never saw it. It says a lot about my mental state at the time.
The area around the university is filled with the colorful trace of Bergen’s rich history. Mansions from the 1800s dominate this part of the city. I can never have enough of these gorgeous houses and quiet, often empty streets, just right next to the bustling city.
I can walk here for hours just imagining life as it once was. Children of rich prominent shipping lords playing in their Sunday best while suited men smoke cigars in their luxurious sitting rooms and ladies in white dresses and parasols strolling up and down the street.
Bergen is really a magical city and it has now lent its magic to me too. I no longer get a slight cringe inside when I think of this beautiful city. It rather makes me smile! I will never forget this time in my life and how I felt because it helped make me who I am today, but now I will no longer associate that pain with Bergen, and I can rather say: I ❤️ Bergen!
Arendal is an idyllic lazy seaside town by the south coast of Norway. It is a city commercial tourism has completely neglected, but this only proves as a benefit for its laid back citizens.
Arendal is one of those towns with a very distinct soul. It is small enough to get a feel of in a day, yet diverse enough to provide a busy cultural life and lazy but happy nightlife.
The harbor is the focal point of the town. All bars, cafes and restaurants are scattered along the bay and people often move from one side of the bay to the other according to the movement of the sun to enjoy their beers or coffees.
Arendal has beautiful summer weather as it is located in the warmest part of Norway.
It also has stunning architecture, which it is also known for. Especially the little wooden houses dotted around every cobbled street and hill.
Shopping in Arendal is pure joy! It is refreshingly free of huge commercial malls and mostly consists of little quaint shops with local owners. There are also many local run art galleries and even a tiny chocolate factory!
Shipping used to be the main source of income for the town and its inhabitants. Therefore you will find boats of all kinds and sizes everywhere in Arendal. In Arendal it is more common to own a boat than a car!
You will also find sailors on holiday docking by the guest harbor contributing to the vibrant life of the town. But however vibrant, Arendal is and will probably always be,a laid back town refusing to take part in the modern jet set life.
Arendal is in many ways a perfect town. Culturally rich, friendly, full of soul and entrepreneurship. It is neither too big nor too small. You will understand its heart and learn to love it fast.
And now for the big reveal! Arendal will soon be my new hometown! That is to say, I will continue traveling between India and Norway. But when I am in Norway I will no longer live in Stavanger, but in Arendal! And I am super excited about that!
Hope you are all having a wonderful summer! 💖☀️🏄🏼♀️
Lots of love to you all! 💖💖💖