Lovely Goes Only So Far

Weather so governs a trip such as this.  We planned the trip to sidestep the cold, Norway in July, Tierra del Fuego the day after New Year’s. Heat is impossible to avoid. Rain is both probabilistically foreseeable and haphazard. 20 days a month (the mean also for July) in Bergen (said to be 25 by our exaggerating host), 15 days in July on Lofoton, yet we’ve had brilliant sun (mixed in with a bit of rain and clouds on Lofoton). Ordinarily, I shirk from discussing or even exulting or lamenting the weather, that verbal social elixir par excellence and topic of apparent genuine interest and concern for legions of people (whose livelihoods don’t depend on it, such as farmers and snowplow operators). With minimal clothing, we managed to survive well enough what should be the coldest temperature (or, rather, real-feel) of this leg of the trip, the fifty degrees and cold ocean wind of Lofoton.

Bergen is a startlingly beautiful small city of 250,000, made so by its urban planning and design and its vernacular architecture and touches, such as flowers, rather than by great or monumental buildings or squares. DSC00519_DxOGrace, scale, detail, and color all contribute to the built environmental nobility which Bergen confers on its every inhabitant, permanent or itinerant. DSC00489After the small human footprints on the experientially vast landscape of Lofoton, Bergen probably appears even more robust an installation of civilization than it is.

For us, Bergen invites walking and walking, and not the usual visits to sites of note or interest. DSC00501_DxOEach cobblestoned-step holds attention.DSC00541_DxO Each house, or at least many, invites inspection, offering some reward in form, surface, or color, which is deployed without hesitation yet with a sense of composition and palatal restraint. DSC00511_DxOIt is also bustling, because the day and a half we are there are the warmest (mid seventy) and sunniest, so we are told by several people, yet of the summer.

We wanted to see a city in Norway other than Oslo, and thought that Bergen, Norway’s second city, offered the most. Lovely it is. Yet a day and a half was just right, as the flip-side to its small and non-marqueed profile is that the sights and arts institutions don’t attract us, particularly as the artistic and architectural glories of (Oslo and) the Low Countries beckon around the corner.

— Danny, 24 July 2017


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