I recently went to Bergen, in Norway. And holy cow is it cold in Bergen! In this land of mountains and snow I felt completely out of my depth, if I’m honest, and not only because out of all the shoes I could have taken I chose my Harley Davidson Grinders biker boots instead of snow shoes, but also, because Bergen, and Norway in general, is a completely different world.
EFFICIENCY AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Do you want to know why, in British airports, they don’t have staff members riding around on scooters? It’s because the average British staff member cannot be trusted to walk on flat ground, let alone to zoom along an airport promenade on wheels. In Norway, they do. And you know what? It’s really increased the efficiency of the airport, by giving the staff members a speedy, economic method of getting around. It’s a simple solution that puts the responsibility of not breaking one’s own neck into the hands of the people using the scooter.
In Britain and America, there is a growing ‘suing’ culture; made easy by ‘no-win-no-fee’ lawyers constantly peddling accident claims in every work environment but in Norway, there isn’t such a culture. People are expected to take responsibility for themselves and this means they just get on with it. No wonder they’re one of the wealthiest countries out there.
You cannot talk about Norwegian efficiency without touching on how dark Bergen gets at night. Norwich, in Britain, where I’m based, is a small city with only 160,000 people, but the light pollution is appalling. Streetlights, shop lights, walkway lights; the city paints the night sky with harsh wasteful light. In Bergen, if the light is not essential it is switched off, which means that when travelling through the city at night, which lasts forever, it is black and you forget how big the city actually is.
HISTORY IS EVERYWHERE.
There is a deep love and appreciation for the history of this city. As deep and beautiful as their history is the artistry that depicts it and represents it is even more sublime.
Everywhere has Wi-Fi. Everywhere takes cards. From the restaurants, to the deli counters, to the tiny coffee and trinket shops at the top of a mountain in the middle of winter, the entire city of Bergen and, as far as I’ve been told, all of Norway, accepts and relishes the idea of going cashless.
We stayed at the Scandic Hotel Bergen City. This was where I was introduced to the intelligence of Norwegian hotel heating. In Britain, the warmest places tend to be the bedrooms, where the heating is kept on, while the bathrooms are as cold as ice. In Norway, it is the other way around. The room’s heating is okay, but low, encouraging one to dress up in pajamas and drink hot chocolate (yes, I am a 6’6 man and I wear pajamas and drink hot chocolate). The bathroom had under-floor heating.
It makes a lot of sense, because where else are you going to be barefoot, if not in the bathroom?
I spent three days in Bergen, on business, before going up one of the seven mountains Mt. Fløyen.
Put simply, the views are spectacular and if not for the surrounding cities, could almost have been taken from the pages of a Tolkien novel. The temperature was exceptionally low and with recent snowfalls, the water in the bay was thick with ice but the sky was a beautiful; a vast, blue dome.
Beautiful, gorgeous, sublime and entirely unsuited to walking around in biker boots, I’m quite lucky I didn’t break my neck in Bergen.