Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Norwegian Experience: Day 9

After speaking with Judy it sounds like she had another awesome day in Norway! Yesterday was her 9th day in Norway and even though her trip is coming to a close, there's no sign of slowing for this year's Norwegian Experience winner!

The first half of the day consisted of a guided walking tour of Bergen. According to Judy, her guide, Solveig Mohr, was one of the best she's encountered in her time in Norway. The walking tour included visits to tourist mainstays, Haakenshallen, Mariakirken, Koengen (where Bruce Springsteen recently played an outdoor concert), the Bryggens Museum, and some more off-the-beaten-path locations.

Haakonshallen (Haakon's Hall) is the Royal Hall of Bergenhus Fortress and is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The hall has played a significant role in Norwegiuan history. In addition to being the center of Norwegian politics in the 1300's, it was also the location of King Magnus Lagabøte's marriage to a Danish princess, which thrust Norway into years of conflict with Denmark (but that was more due to Magnus' kidnapping of said princess than the marriage itself). Judy told me that the sheer size of the structure was unbelievable and awe-inspiring.

Next Judy and her guest/sister were taken to Mariakirken (St. Mary's Church), a 12th century church that is the last remaining of 12 that were built between the reign of Olav Kyrre (1066–93, traditionally 1070) and the end of the twelfth century. It played a part in the story of the famous Birkebeiners because Mariakirkien was also where the Berkebein party sought refuge when under attack from a peasant army in the late 12th century. Had Mariakirken not played this role, the Birkebeiners may not have been in a position to preserve the course of Norwegian history by saving the child-king Haakon Haakonson. Who knows?

One of the things that Judy enjoyed most was a tour of the Bryggens Museum of Bergen. This museum display archealogical finds from the remains of a series of fires that ravaged this part of Bergen at different times throughout history.

From there, Judy's tour guide took our Norwegian Experience winner off the beaten track and into some lesser visited areas of Bergen. According to Judy, "these included some back-alleys and hidden areas where one can find some of the most interesting shops!" The tour guide, Solveig "shared many stories about the locale that really added to the local flavor and made the trip so fun!"

After their walking tour it was time to visit Mt Floyen. When I asked Judy to give me a one-word description of her trip to Mt. Floyen, she immediately responded with "Spectacular!" Judy and her sister stayed for lunch and ate fresh seafood at the Floyen Folkerestaurant, which has one of the most breath-taking views in all of Norway.

The afternoon was spent back in the Bryggen area, where Judy and her sister retraced their steps back to some of the boutiques and shops they's eyed earlier in the day. Judy shared with me that she was on a quest for trolls. "REAL trolls," she said, "not those cheap plastic ones they try to pawn off on tourists." Judy was looking for, and found, real Henning family trolls. She said she found the matching pair of old man and old woman trolls she was looking for.

Judy and her sister finished off their day with a nice dinner and then it was back to the hotel for some rest. Sounds like they had a full day, huh? I can't wait to hear about what they've done today. Check back later for more updates!

The Norwegian Experience Recruitment Contest is a joint venture between Sons of Norway International and its partner Borton Overseas. The contest is open to all Sons of Norway members who sign up a new, dues-paying member between January 1 and December 31, 2009. A winner will be drawn at random in January of 2010. For more information about this year's contest, visit or click here.

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