Those of you who have followed my blogs for a while will know that my husband Olley and I love to make the most of our weekends, especially during the time after Christmas when everything can seem grey and miserable. Last year we enjoyed a couple of days in Paris but this year we fancied a rather more exotic trip to St Petersburg. However, after discovering that we would need costly visas we decided on slightly closer to home and settled on a cut price (return flights for just £35!!) visit to the west coast of Norway, beautiful Bergen.
The airline offered a package with accommodation in an apartment hotel, so we had a kitchenette, and there was a sofa bed allowing a third person to sleep for an extra £10 a night. Such a bargain is hard to resist so Bex, our medical student daughter, opted to join us.
I was lucky enough to go to Bergen many years ago to make a film for the BBC Holiday programme. We got there by boat from Harwich across an extremely rough North Sea and all suffered dreadful seasickness – not fun as I was also pregnant at the time. Flying was far less painful, and we arrived to cold, dry weather with a few breaks in the clouds – more good fortune, we were told later, it had been raining almost constantly since November!
Bergen is a lovely city. Small enough to walk around and lots to do and see. We wandered around the ancient Bryggan area, the original heart of the city with beautiful timber houses painted gorgeous colours, and shops selling arts, crafts, and warm Norwegian jumpers. The fish and flower market on the quay is famous for its vibrancy and is now housed undercover so we were able to explore in comfort. Then we took the funicular railway up to Floyen, one of the seven mountains surrounding the city, and enjoyed panoramic views, icy winds, and hot chocolate in the hilltop cafe!
We also took the local train on a beautiful journey following the fiords into the mountains to Voss, a ski resort, where we took the gondola up to the nursery slopes and stopped for lunch. The countryside is stunning, even with dull skies, and travelling by rail is a great way to enjoy the view – I took loads of photos though the window, but had to dodge the many tunnels we passed through.
It was a short break but one which did a great job of recharging my depleted batteries (after fighting a chest infection.) Olley and I loved spending the time away with Bex – I think it's important to do things with our children one at a time as well as having family time all together.
I would love to return to explore more of Norway, maybe further north to witness the Northern Lights, or in summer to experience the midnight sun. I would relish the chance to cruise the fiords by boat, but I think we may look into taking our motorhome so that we can spend a few weeks there – my short weekend there has certainly whet my appetite for a longer visit.
I wonder whether you have managed to get away, even if just for a day. Having something to look forward to can make the short days and long nights of winter pass a little faster. Let me know your favourite place for a speedy pick me up – I'd love to hear and it may give me inspiration for my next trip!
I hope you're well and avoiding too many winter bugs.