Stepping off the plane in Bergen was a little bit like walking onto the Twilight Saga set; low-lying mist, constant rain, an abundance of attractive people...however, being fresh from a night shift, I did my best to not get distracted and focused my energy on getting to where I would be staying for the next couple of weeks: the little yellow wooden house.
Rather inevitably the language threw me almost immediately. Walking into the baggage claim hall I was greeted by posters and signs speaking words I didn't recognise at all; I couldn't remember the last time I'd travelled to a place where I didn't speak at least a little of the first language.
Despite my current lack of understanding (soon to be rectified!), Norwegian is a beautiful language. It has similarities to English but is more melodic. Possibly because the meaning eludes me at present, I focus more on the general sound of it; the way the 'K' of Knarvik is pronounced and the clipped and brisk way of saying thank you: takk!
Of course my journey into Bergen sentrum began with a conversation in perfect english with the bus driver, at which point I began to feel a little more relaxed; I would probably find my destination and if not at least I could ask for directions.
I always find that first drive exciting, the first impression of a new place, and my first taste of Norway whilst wet and heading towards dark was colourful, historical and very special.
The UNESCO world heritage site of Bryggen is the old wharf of Bergen. The Hanseatic league established a base in Bergen in the 14th century and controlled the trade in stockfish from Northern Norway. Despite multiple fires over the centuries, these beautiful buildings have been rebuilt and preserved using traditional techniques and materials. They truly are even more magical in real life.
Today the fishing trade is still active but looks very different...
The diverse colour pallet of Bergen is not limited to this site alone but runs through the city as houses and businesses emerge in the quirkiest of buildings at every corner.
Now I, even coming from the varied architecture of London, was pretty excited by all of this and on meeting my wonderful hostess couldn't help but exclaim ' All the houses! They're painted different colours! have you seen?' to which she replied 'Yes, they are wooden..all wooden houses are painted.' How wonderful :)
As I crossed large shopping streets, dragging my reluctant suitcase behind me (cobble streets + a broken wheel= disaster!), I became aware of nature at every edge seeping into the city boundaries.
After traversing the city I was glad to reach home, or at least home for the next few weeks...If you need me just look for the little yellow wooden house.