Bergen: former capital of an ’empire’.
Hard to believe that in the 11th century Bergen was the capital of a region that included Iceland, Greenland and parts of Scotland. For many centuries it was the largest city in Norway, and its importance as a centre of trade was established by its membership of the Hanseatic League, a powerful network of cities that combined forces to promote and protect trade.
Take the funicular railway up to the top of the mountain, and you can linger over fine views of the harbour or go walking along the network of tracks away from the hustle and bustle of visitors. Or drop into the Domkirken (Cathedral) and watch a dress rehearsal for a
forthcoming wedding or listen to the organist practise on the huge Rieger organ which has 61 stops and its sound reverberates in the almost perfect acoustic.
On the way back to the ship, we witnessed preparations for a city-centre cycle time trial (which we missed by only two hours!) and saw this ingeniously designed three-wheeled motorbike full equipped with cameras. If you have ever wondered how sports photographers get such good close-ups of cyclists as they are speeding downhill at over 50 mph, the answer lies with machines like this one.