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

28 July, 2010

Tuesday 27 August at Bergen

It has been raining in Bergen this evening. That is not unusual in a city in which it allegedly rains 267 days a year. What is unusual is that it's the first rain I have seen here since arriving last Saturday afternoon. Furthermore, when I was here two years ago it didn't rain.

Today I had a list of possible touristy things to do, and managed to do three of them before giving up in an exhausted heap at about 2pm. I am getting too old and decrepit.

Firstly visited the Hanseatic Museum, which is a very well presented museum illustrating the lives of Hanseatic merchants in Bergen between 1360 and 1754. They were at the centre of commercial activity in Bergen at that time, exporting fish and cod liver oil, and importing grain, flour and beer.

The building dates from 1702 when it was built following a great fire. It displays storage rooms, private living space, and administration rooms, with furniture and fittings dating from that period. I took a lot of photographs, mostly in challenging conditions, adjusting the ISO ratings between 800 and 6400 depending on lighting conditions. Whether the 6400 ones will be useable remains to be seen, they might need to be converted to black and white to give an acceptable image. Most of these pictures were taken with the 16-46mm zoom lens at 16mm, but would have been much better if it went down to 14 or 12mm.

Apart from furniture and fittings also included in the display were artifacts like original account books, and paintings and other artwork which decorated the walls.

The second place I visited also dates from the same period, and was the communal hall where the Hanseatic merchants had all their hot meals, celebrations and ceremonies. There were fire places and iron stoves to keep them warm. In their living quarters there was no heating, because of the risk of fire, so it must have been very cold in winter - hence the attractiveness of the heated communal hall. Again there is original furniture and fittings, including a model of a ship suspended from the ceiling, light fittings, artwork. And I discovered that the concept of roller-towels goes back hundreds of years. The kitchen here was vast and very different to a modern kitchen. It included much of the cooking equipment. Following my experience at the Hanseatic Museum, most of the pictures here were taken with the 10-17mm fisheye zoom lens, and will need to be defished. Just about the only thing I don't like about digital photography is the risk of getting dust on the sensor, and the only time that could happen is when changing lenses. As a result I take a lot of care when lens changing, and change them much less often than I did in the dim dark ages of 35mm film photography.

The third place I visited was the Bryggens Museum, which is a modern museum built around the site of an archaeological dig at the site of Bergin's oldest known buildings, dating from the 12th century. It is very interesting, very well done, and very well explained. This museum also had the attractive feature of a cafe where lunch could be obtained, coffee was free, and there was plenty of space to sit down, relax, and recuperate, which I needed.

There are now trams again in Bergen, using modern 5-unit articulated trams on a route from Bergin city centre to Nesttun, where there is a tram/bus interchange. Most of the route is on it's own right-of-way, and there are a number of tunnels. I did not get to ride on it. Nor did I get to ride on the Ulriksbanen funicular. The other funicular - Fløibanen I travelled on on my previous visit in 2008.

So, tomorrow I return to Oslo by train.

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