Bergen, Norway

Bergen is the second biggest city in Norway but it really exudes medium-sized-town-charm – partly because it has a small town centre; partly because it is exceedingly pretty; and partly because it is dramatically surrounded by seven mountains.

Random troll!

One of the things to do while in Bergen is to visit the Fish Market down on Torget, which is part of the main tourist drag. Even though the market is a bit touristy, it was fun to visit because I got to take photos to add to my “Markets of the World” collection. (See earlier entries France and India for examples!)

But more to the point, I bought a bread roll stuffed with thick slices of smoked salmon with dill mayonnaise drizzled on top. Yum yum – or as the Norwegians would say, num num!

When I was talking to Ingrid about my plan to end my Norwegian stint in Bergen, I never expected her to go ahead and organise accommodation for me – but that’s exactly what she did, and I am forever grateful for her thoughtfulness. I had a great time in Bergen, and that is in no small part due to the exceptional hospitality of Ingrid’s friend Bodil and her boyfriend Jon.

Bodil and Ingrid originally met in the amateur orchestra in Levanger, and both have continued their playing (Ingrid still plays for the Levanger orchestra but is more heavily involved in the Norwegian folk music scene). Bodil passes most of her time as a student of Nordic literature, but she now plays the viola in the Collegiûm Mûsicûm (also amateur).

While I was staying with them, Bodil was going to rehearsals every day for the Collegiûm’s big Sunday night performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Fauré’s Requiem. Happily for me, I was able to sit in on their final rehearsal before I left for the airport.

Some months ago, I actually got into the Four Seasons in a big way. I mean everyone loves it, but it really appeals to me because I love ambitious works that try and explore a complete theme like the four seasons; what each season represents in actuality as well as figuratively. (I guess it’s no surprise that I ended up liking the Vigeland Park so much since it explored the cycle of life, also endlessly fascinating.)

Since this is the first time I’ve spent the colder months in the northern hemisphere, I’ve naturally been thinking a lot about seasons and the different ways in which they are experienced around the world, and how it affects you. And right now, the season I’m staying in is totally thrilling and brilliant – oh, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

So it felt fitting that the Four Seasons was being played because it has been near my thoughts so recently; both the music and the theme. And my journey to Norway was basically about a friendship that has gone through its first cycle and is about to start another one. So it’s Spring all over again.

The Collegiûm Mûsicûm rehearsing in the Johanneskirken, the pretty church where they would be performing later that night. It’s hard to make out but Bodil is basically right in the centre of the photograph. The violin soloist standing up – Adrian Goichoechea Selfjord – is something of a virtuoso at the age of 18. There was definitely something captivating about his effortless and charismatic way of playing…plus he was also really nice when I met him at the party I went to the night before. Actually, everyone at the party – mostly from the Collegiûm, all musicians – was really nice, and cool about speaking English to me which was something I initially felt awkward about. I love Norwegians!

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