Our first proper foray onto Norwegian roads- it was actually quite exciting/ interesting taking the coastal route from Stavanger to Bergen. Over the 250km approx distance we managed to take 3 car ferries and 3 undersea tunnels between islands including one tunnel of several km and one ferry trip of about 30km. The ferries gave Richard lots of breaks from driving. The actual drive was beautiful, often following the coast. We started to realise just how complicated Norway’s coastline is. So many islands with their own small fjords.
Richard had found a campground on the Internet to the west of Bergen on an island connected by – you guessed it- tunnels and bridges to Bergen. He had checked it on Google Earth and it looked great and not too busy. So we got there and found the campground, such as it was, was made up of odd little spaces between rocks on a steep site going down to the sea. My first reaction was ‘we are never going to fit ‘ but we managed negotiate our way down a very narrow access and to take off Twiggy and the trailer, before going up a steep narrow access to this small level area with an amazing view over the sea. R managed to get the van into the small space. He was in heaven as you could fish off the rocks (lots of mackerel were caught). Unfortunately the facilities were a bit weird- like a bathroom under construction with no light, wires sticking out and big gaps around the door frame which they assured us was fine to use ( because there was only one other shower for which you had to go into a building that looked like someone’s house with lounge, TV etc). The washing machine had to be connected to the light so if someone used the bathroom while the machine was going and switched on the light you were out of luck as the machine would stop. Needless to say the shower in the van was well used. To compensate we had 2 lots of lovely neighbours with whom we were invited to drink schnapps one evening.
We spent one day in Bergen, about 30 minutes drive. The centre of town is lovely, particularly the Bryggen area by the port but, as the guide book said, it is exhausting if a cruise ship is in town or there are lots of tour buses. Well we hit the jackpot- 5 cruise ships in town including 2 huge ones, and quite a few tour buses too. It reminded us of Florence with the hundreds of tour groups criss crossing one another, flocks of sheep aka tourists following the raised umbrella. It made exploring the old quarter a bit of a challenge. We left it until late in the day when the queues had reduced to take the Floibanen funicular up to the top of the local peak ( Bergen is built around 7 hills and 7 fjords) and walk down into town.
A chance encounter in a bookshop while buying a huge book of Norway maps (very essential) led us to a great restaurant for dinner Bare Vestland which is very innovative and has similar philosophies and style of food to Tom’s restaurant Orphans Kitchen – organic or locally produced/ foraged ingredients, great service with a casual atmosphere. We had a superb meal – our best since leaving France. Tapas Norwegian style – crab soup, seared fish marinated with seaweed etc etc.