bryggen bergen

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Angel of the shop by Tony
Via Flickr:
Bryggen was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Bryggen bears the traces of social organization and illustrates the use of space in a quarter of Hanseatic merchants that dates back to the 14th century. It is a type of northern “fondaco”, unequalled in the world, where the structures have remained within the cityscape and perpetuate the memory of one of the oldest large trading ports of Northern Europe.

In December last year I was able to visit the beautiful, rainy city of Bergen for a few days. It was actually my first time travelling on my own, but the nerves and various moments of panic were definitely worth it in order to visit this incredibly pretty place! Here are some of my favourite parts.

I arrived in Bergen on Thursday evening and, of course, it was already dark. The bus to Bryggen where my Airbnb host was going to pick me up was a bit of blur, as all I could think about was that I was actually in Norway surrounded by actual Norwegian people (this became a recurring theme during the trip)!

The next day was a lot more eventful! After a quick look around Julehuset (year-round christmas shop), I realised how extremely hungry I was and (to my shame) found a Starbucks to sit in and survey the area. I would have preferred a more Norwegian coffee shop, but I was feeling rather nervous about my Norwegian and just really wanted my coffee. One of the more useful things about Scandinavia is that almost everyone is fluent in English, which sometimes makes it difficult for us language learners, but other times is a lifesaver! 

One of my primary travel missions was to buy Norwegian books and Christmas decorations, so I then spent a long time looking around the bookshop Norli and the Kløverhuset shopping centre for some quintessentially Scandinavian bargains. This was actually a great place for language practice, and I’m sure I fooled a few shop assistants (though they may have just been being polite)!

The Bergen Card I bought earlier in the day gave me free access to the KODE art museums next to Byparken (you can see KODE 4 in the first picture, it’s the white building on the right of the christmas tree). The kind of art I find most interesting are more traditional paintings, so I visited KODE 3, home of Rasmus Myer’s collection. It was a Friday, so the museum was fairly empty and I spent a fascinating hour or two walking around in blissful silence. Afterwards I visited a more Norwegian coffee shop nearby called Brunello, which I won’t say much about except that I highly recommend it for tasty, wintery tea and cake.

I also couldn’t visit Bergen in December without visiting the world’s largest gingerbread town. It was a little walk from the main street Torgalmenningen, in what I think is a swimming pool during the year, and was a huge display of gingerbread houses, landmarks and even a quidditch pitch! It took about half an hour to walk around it, and at the end there was a little shop selling sweets and julebrus, which is a kind of christmas soda. Very cute!

On Saturday, I took the light rail to Fantoft to visit the stave church, which is only sparsely signposted, making for an interesting and longer than expected walk! Unfortunately I’m very dumb and forgot to charge my camera, so this is the best photo I got of it. Also, they close the actual church during the winter, so I could only walk around the outside, but it was still a lovely winter walk. You can also walk further down and see the fjord near Paradis.

I did plan to go on the Fløibanen up to Mount Fløyen on Sunday, but Bergen decided to impress me with some incredibly heavy and stormy rain. I suppose it had to happen at some point, and on the plus side I caught up with some prime Norwegian Netflix. I don’t mind too much, because I definitely want to go back!

I’m pretty sure I’m a little biased, as I love Norway endlessly and I could probably stay in a cardboard box and still have the time of my life there. But all the same, Bergen is a really welcoming and chilled out city, and the ‘kos’ (special Norwegian cosiness) is almost tangible. 

Have you been somewhere that inspired you recently?

// Rachel //

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Hér Ferr Hafdjarfr ~ Here sails the Sea-Brave.

Hand drawn by us, available here in our shop!

Bryggen, Bergen, Norway – Some time during the early middle ages an unknown master runer carefully carved a Juniper stick with outstanding and meaningful designs. Still incredibly evocative of that past, the stick represents a complete Viking war fleet in all its power and glory, probably ready to sail, with dragonheads and pennants dominating the scene. On the reverse side of the stick is written Hér ferr Hafdjarfr, which literally means ‘Here sails the Sea-Brave’, either meaning an entire fleet or referring to the particular name (Hafdjarfr) of a local sea bold.
Juniper itself was definitely not a random choice for the job. Part of the cypress family, it is one of the most widespread conifers and Vikings, being seamen and adventures who spread throughout Europe and beyond, would have found it everywhere. From warm and sunny Mediterranean places to the freezing landscapes of Norway, Greenland and Iceland, thus infusing a sense of longevity and immortality.
This worn out flag is the celebration of one of the most evocative archaeological findings in Scandinavian history and, in particular, of its Viking Age.

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Bryggen by Tony
Via Flickr:
Bryggen or dock. is a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the Vågen harbour in Bergen, Norway. Bryggen has since 1979 been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites. The city of Bergen was founded around 1070 within the original boundaries of Tyskebryggen. Around 1350 a Kontor of the Hanseatic League was established there, and Tyskebryggen became the centre of the Hanseatic commercial activities in Norway. Today, Bryggen houses museums, shops, restaurants and pubs. the waterfront originally came within a few yards of these buildings, many now renovated and reconstructed. After my visit to Lisbon and touring about using a segway.I am hooked. I booked a tour of Bergen befor I left on my cruise. Our guide (Italian) was full on=f knowledge and took the party to see some of the oldest parts of the city. up and down alleys and roads up hills and waterfronts. I think there is no better way to see a city.

Why Frozen is based on Norway / Not Denmark

Since I still see people believing that Frozen is taking place/inspired by Denmark, and that Elsa and Anna’s “native” language are therefore Danish, I just need you to correct you with this information. This is just what I found on Frozen’s wikipedia page, just because I’m lousy at formulating these things myself. There are LOTS of other sources connecting Frozen to Norway rather than Denmark, just google it and have fun. Yes, the story is LOOSELY based on H.C. Andersen’s the Snow Queen, but it’s very far from the original, and the movie couldn’t possibly take place in Denmark’s nature. While it’s a beautiful country on it’s own, it does not have the dramatic nature of fjords and mountains that Norway has to offer. 

Also, in the original story, the Snow Queen lives on Spitsbergen. A Norwegian Island. I’m starting to think that most of the people who claim it’s Danish based sorely on the fact that it’s slightly inspired by the Snow Queen, have never read the original story, or know much about it at all. It’s a completely different story, with only a few similar characteristics. 

OKAY, on to the movie facts: 

Norwegian and Sámi inspiration

The film contains elements specifically drawn from Norwegian culture and northern and central Norway’s indigenous Sámi culture. Several landmarks in Norway appear in the film, including the Akershus Fortress in Oslo, the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim and Bryggen in Bergen. Numerous other typical cultural Norwegian elements are also included in the film, such as a Stave church, trolls, Viking ships, Fjord horses, clothes and food such as lutefisk. A maypole is also present in the film, a tradition more common in Sweden and Denmark than Norway. The movie also contains several elements specifically drawn from Norway’s Sámi culture, such as the usage of reindeer for transportation and the equipment used to control these, clothing styles (the outfits of the ice cutters), and parts of the musical score. Decorations, such as those on the castle pillars and Kristoff’s sled are also in styles inspired by Sámi duodji decorations. During their field work in Norway, Disney’s team visited Rørosrein, a Sámi family-owned company in the village Plassje which produces reindeer meat and arranges tourist events, for inspiration. For Sven, Kristoff’s reindeer, the animators found inspirations in Roros, a former “mining town” in Norway, while Arendelle was inspired by Naeroyfjord, a branch of Norway’s longest fjord Sognefjorden, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The filmmakers’ trip to Norway provided essential knowledge for the animators to come up with the design aesthetic for the film in terms of color, light, and atmosphere. According to Giaimo, there were three important factors that they had acquired from this research trip: the fjords, which are the massive vertical rock formations, and serve as the setting for the secluded Arendelle kingdom; the medieval stave churches, whose rustic triangular rooflines and shingles inspired the castle compound; and the rosemaling folk art, whose distinctive paneling and grid patterns informed the architecture, decor, and costumes.

For the orchestral film score, composer Christophe Beck gave homage to the Norway- and Sápmi-inspired setting, employing regional instruments such as the bukkehorn and traditional vocal techniques, such as kulning. The music producers recruited a Norwegian linguist to assist with the lyrics for an Old Norse song written for Elsa’s coronation, and also traveled to Norway to record the all-female choir Cantus, for a piece inspired by traditional Sámi music. The score was recorded by an 80-piece orchestra, featuring 32 vocalists, including native Norwegian Christine Hals. Beck worked with Lopez and Anderson-Lopez on incorporating their songs into arrangements in the score. The trio’s goal “was to create a cohesive musical journey from beginning to end.”

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Country Setting in Frozen

Though it’s never stated in the film outright, there are many implications that Frozen is located in Scandinavia, a region made up of a few countries that includes Norway. But due to my own observations, I am fully convinced that the kingdom of Arendelle is set in Norway. Here are the clues found in the film that support my belief:

  • Like those shown in Arendelle, the geography of Norway is dominated by vast mountain ranges broken up by valleys and fjords. Even the word “fjord” comes to English from Norwegian.
  • Major buildings in Arendelle are inspired by real ones in Norway. The Arendelle castle is loosely based on Akershus Fortress in Oslo, the Arendelle town is inspired by Bryggen in Bergen, a west-coast Norwegian city, and the landscape around Arendelle is similar to the Nærøyfjord, also on the west side of Norway.
  • Kristoff works as an ice harvester, which involves cutting and harvesting ice from the frozen ponds in the mountains and then selling it. This was part of the ice trade, which was a real life 19th-century industry performed on the east coast of the United States and Norway. Harvested ice was sold for domestic consumption and commercial purposes.
  • All of the animals shown in the film are native to Norway:
  1. Sven is a reindeer, and those in Europe are found in portions of southern Norway. In southern Norway in the mountain ranges, there are about 30,000–35,000 reindeer with 23 different populations.
  2. The wolves shown are most likely Eurasian wolves, which is a subspecies of gray wolf that is largely found in Sweden. Since the late 1970s, they began to recolonize and populations have expanded to Norway.
  3. The horses featured are all Norwegian Fjords. They are known for the distinct dark stripe that runs through the center of the mane. Manes are typically cut to a mohawk-like crescent shape to emphasize this feature and the breed’s neck. Interestingly enough, while it’s never mentioned in the film, Hans’s horse is named Sitron. This would be appropriate due to his yellow color, because his name is Norwegian for “lemon.”
  • Foods shown or mentioned in the film are part of Norwegian cuisine:
  1. After Oaken throws out Kristoff, he offers Anna “lutefisk,” which appears to be fish in a jar. Lutefisk is whitefish soaked in lye and a traditional dish of Sweden, Norway, and Finland.
  2. The Essential Guide mentions that one of Anna’s favorite desserts is krumkake, a Norwegian, paper-thin, rolled cake filled with whipped cream. According to the novelization, this is what Hans is eating in the scene when she tells him, “Yeah, the whole thing! You got it!”
  3. When Hans is handing out the cloaks, he mentions the castle having soup and hot glögg. Glögg is a term used for mulled wine, which is served throughout Scandinavia, including Norway.
  • Trolls are supernatural beings in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In fact, when the King pulls the book off the shelf to figure out where to find the trolls, the book is written in Norse runes.
  • The names Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven, Kristoff and Hans are Norwegian or close to Norwegian or other Scandinavian names.
  • And last but certainly not least, Hans’s home kingdom of the Southern Isles is possibly located in Denmark. Denmark is located directly south of Norway, and Hans shares the first name of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the author of The Snow Queen, the fairy tale upon which Frozen is loosely based.
  • BONUS: everyone knows this, of course, but I just wanted to mention how, in quick sequence, “Hans Kristoff Anna Sven” sounds similar to “Hans Christian Andersen.”