Bergen Survival Tips

Late last month to early this month, I went on a trip to Bergen, Noway for a conference (you can check out my posts on Bergen here, here and here). And here are some of the things I learned from my recent trip to Bergen:

  1. It pays to do research before boarding a plane to a city you are not familiar with. A lot of people, myself included, put too much trust on Google Maps and smart phone data to help me find the way. Traveling from Bergen Airport to wherever your Bergen hotel is, however, one of the instances where the smart phone data/Google Maps fail. According to Google Maps, there are no public transportation available; so it recommends taking a renting a car, taking a cab, or walking. Online research, however, shows that an airport shuttle exists. And, if you flew SAS, an SAS shuttle for cheaper is also available. You can check out details for Flybussen here. If you download the Flybussen app, you can get your tickets for cheaper. Round trip tickets are also cheaper than one way tickets. If you have an international student card or a senior citizen card, you can get a discount.
  2. In fact, unless you’re driving or walking, skip Google Maps altogether. A guide to Bergen’s public transportation can be found here. When you click on “Timetables and Maps”, you can input your origin and destination and find the timetables for busses.
  3. IT RAINS IN BERGEN! 200 days in a year, according to rumors. And when it rains, it pours. So bring a sturdy rain jacket. Bring umbrellas too (even when Norwegians in Bergen do not use umbrellas!). And make sure you packed your rain boots. Bergen is pretty up north; wind-chill factor + getting rained on is definitely, definitely, definitely not ideal.
  4. According to Trip Advisor, there are only 5 cheap awesome places to eat in Bergen. I’ve checked out three of these places and two of the three I checked out were not cheap at all! So if you’re on a budget, I recommend going to Inside Burger Rock Café (@ Vaskerelvsmauet 7, 5014 Bergen). It’s average Scandinavian food price, at least for someone who has lived in Copenhagen for 11 months.
  5. If you’re from Scandinavia, this last tip will not work for you; but if you’re not, hooray! Non-Scandinavian citizens can get tax rebates. So if by any chance you buy yourself a Norwegian rain jacket or a woolen blanket, fear not and ask the the saleslady if you can get tax rebates. You’ll have to hand-carry your item (or have them checked before checking them in; the person checking in should make some sort of mark on your receipt that the item has been checked in) because they usually look for it before giving you the rebate. I got a $22.41 rebate from a woolen Norwegian blanket. It helps make the shopping spree less guilt-inducing.

September 25, 2016 | Copenhagen, Denmark

To Hven

I’m going to Hven for a faculty excursion in a few days; and other than the information provided by the excursion organizers in my department, I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this little island off the coast of Denmark, right on the Øresund Strait. Hven is a contested territory (still is, according to my Danish colleagues), despite legally belonging to Sweden. The Swedes took control of the island in 1658 when Scania was ceded to Sweden under the Treaty of Roskilde. However, many Danes at that time claim that Hven was in fact not part of Scania but of Zealand and therefore, was still under Danish rule. On May 6, 1658, Swedish troops were sent to the island to defend it against the Danes and on 1660,  the official transfer of Hven to Sweden was made under the Treaty of Copenhagen. My Danish colleagues seem to enjoy calling Hven “technically” a Swedish territory.

According to Google Maps, this small, 7.5 square km island with just 715 inhabitants is closer to Denmark than to Sweden. Other than national pride, I cannot think of any other reason why Sweden wanted it enough to send troops. Neither can I think of any other reason why Denmark wanted it enough to reject Sweden’s ownership of it after signing the Treaty of Roskilde. It makes for a good historical site though. Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, built two observatories here – Uraniborg and Stjerneborg. Many also think that Johannes Kepler spent time on the island.

SO. Being the mastermind planner that I am, I have made a list of interesting things to see and do in Hven. There won’t much personal time during this trip, but we do get a few hours in the afternoon to do whatever it is that we want to do. So, while my colleagues go for a swim on warm summer waters [ahem!], maybe I can do a mini-historical/cultural tour of my own. Here’s my list:

  1. Tycho Brahe Museum which houses a Rennaisance garden where Brahe’s reconstructing the garden at Brahe’s Uraniborg Castle, the Stjerneborg Observatory, and an interactive weather station from the 16th century.
  2. Church of Saint Ibb, a 13th century church whose front altar was designed by Tobias Gemperlin and donated by Tycho Brahe
  3. Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn for food and drinks 🙂
  4. Beaches and the yellowish limestone cliffs the island is famous for.

I also created a Pinterest board for Hven (click here). We shall see how much I can see and do from this list, shall we? It’s not a long list, but I don’t have enough time either. And it’s a small island. I must remember though to bring sun block and withdraw a couple of Swedish crowns. Until the next update. 🙂

August 24, 2016 | Copenhagen, Denmark