2. Picture Book Travels: Bergen and the Grieg Home|
The Scandinavian Airlines' in-flight drinking water was labeled "Norwater- Natural water springing from Norway's farthest region".
For Norwegians, the greatest pleasure in life is to go away on the weekends, out to remote mountain cabins to go skiing, hiking, fishing and nut and mushroom picking. If you ask them, they'll tell you it is a necessary evil of urban living.
Surrounded by seven mountains, it is the world's most northern ice-free port (60 latitude) and it rains there for 300 days out of the year.
Founded as a commercial city in 1070 by King Olav, Bergen prospered as a Hanseatic league city in the Middle Ages.
During those times, many foreign merchants lived in its Bryggen quarter and their row houses still line the streets with tall, sharp, wooden gabled walls. These houses were rebuilt after the fires the town repeatedly experienced and have now been declared world heritage site by UNESCO.
As with most prosperous port towns, the view from the ocean is beautiful.
Perhaps because many people from foreign countries have come to this city over the years, it has a very open and warm-hearted feeling. In fact, the driver of the taxi I got into was originally from Krakow, Poland and was a member of Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, a group which holds much tradition and pride. He tells me that driving a taxi is just his side job to compliment his income. After I returned to Japan, I received a concert ticket in the mail and when I went to Suntory Hall, he was playing the second violin.
Now the house is a museum. As a souvenir, I bought CD with a collection of Norway's melodies. Each song is a short piano piece, less than a minute or two long. As I listen to each, the scenery of Norway appears before me and then disappears. The still lakes, transparent fjords, mountain torrents, waterfalls, deep forests, fields, chilling winds, burning fires in pechka (Russian stoves)- and I feel the lyric sentiment overflowing in the simplicity and warmth of the music. As for souvenirs from Norway, this one CD is more than enough.
Copyright1998 Setsuko Watanabe