What little of Bergen we were able to see only made us want to explore Norway’s second city more. However typically on cruises only a few hours are devoted to each stop. During the day we were able to briefly connect with and pay tribute to three of Norway’s true legends: Henrik Ibsen, Ole Bull and Edvard Grieg.
It seems that there is a revival of interest in the plays of Henrik Ibsen – four of his plays are receiving major productions in London at the moment including the monumental and oft cited as unproducible Peer Gynt. As with all true classics Ibsen has as much to say to audiences of the 21st century as he did to those of the 19th.
A walk around Den Nationale Scene, which is currently undergoing major renovation, revealed a rather startling memorial to the great playwright.
The National Theatre stands at the head of a long avenue lined with cafes, restaurants, theatrical venues, shops and an inviting pedestrian median. In a day that was constantly shifting from bright sunshine to stormy and rain-filled clouds it was a difficult to get photos in the ever changing light. The avenue ends in a park with a lovely 19th century gazebo and lake.
The pedestrian mall ends with a tribute to the great Norwegian violinist Ole Bull. He was instrumental (forgive the pun) in the creation of the theatre at the other end of the avenue. He had a fascinating life and as well as his musical accomplishments he bought land in Pennsylvania and founded a colony which exists to this day.
These days Bull is perhaps best remembered outside Norway as the one who recognized the genius of the 15 year old Edvard Grieg. Bull was related to the Grieg family by marriage and encouraged Edvard’s parents to send him to the Leipzig Conservatory.
Grieg was the next legend we were to encounter later in the day when we journeyed to his home at Troldhaugen in what was once the countryside outside of Bergen.
September 20th is Punch Day – I first I thought we were celebrating the puppet and wondered when Judy Day was but it turns out it’s punch as in “let’s have a glass of…”. Skål!