"Powellite" Bagnall 3ft gauge locomotive at Black Sands, Victoria - 1938. Photograph: P.G. Dow

27 July, 2010

To Ole Bull's modest cottage - 26 July

My destination today was the residence of Ole Bull, on the island of Lysøen, about 25km south of Bergen. To get there unfortunately involved a bus journey. This meant finding my way to and through the Bergen bus terminal, finding the right information counter (which is a long way from where the buses actually depart from) and finding the right bus. This became so frustratingly complicated that I was inclined to give up on several occasions, as Bergen has much else to offer, without needing the involvement of buses.

However, I am glad I persevered, for the visit turned out to be very interesting. The bus journey included a section up and over a mountain, with winding narrow road, natural bush and rock formations towering above the road. Then followed a short journey in a boat to get to the island.

Ole Bull was a nineteenth-century Norwegian musician, a virtuoso violinist, who travelled through Europe and America giving performances. He was also a strong promoter of Norwegian folk music, and a mentor for Edvard Grieg.

Ole Bull must have done very well from his musical activities, for he built a summer residence on the island of Lysøen, about 25 km south of Bergen, and laid out about 13km of tracks crisscrossing the natural bush on the island.

Bull died in 1880 and his house and the island has become a museum piece. The house is timber and lined with pine. It includes a lot of intricate fretwork and carved timber features. The main room of the house is a performance hall, of very large proportions with a very high cathedral ceiling, and ten elaborately carved columns supporting the roof.

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