Saturday, June 22, 2019
Guest Post by Isam
I remember being back in my home town of Granollers. I was 22 and was in a permanent state of melancholy. I had just spent a whole year living in Bergen, the most beautiful city in the world (fight me), and now I was back in place that was… familiar, to say the least.
I remember writing in my diary: Aquí las montañas están lejos [Here the mountains are far away]. Thirteen years later, right after returning for the first time, I think past-Isam nailed it.
Here, in Bergen, the mountains are close. This is a city that hasn’t fought its way against nature, sprawling outwards as a conquest of asphalt. Instead, Bergen sits cozily between the green softness of Løvstaken and Fløya, colorful houses sprouting among the mountainous curves like so many mushrooms.
We start our day feasting on the delicious local pastries from Godt Brød and home made coffee that MP insisted we get the previous day.
Once full of sugar and caffeine, we set to the Fishmarket, where Janel and I are immediately addressed in Spanish and offered to try a variety of smoked salmon (cold smoked, hot smoked, cured with cognac and dill) as well as… minke whale.
By the time it’s offered to us, the whole Torkington troupe has gathered around the stall, and all but Janel try the environmentally problematic meat. It has a strong taste and chewy texture, similar to beef (and even more similar to liver) with a fishy undertone. We all agree that it is good, but not good enough to justify the killing of such an intelligent, beautiful, majestic creature (should we, then, only eat dumb, ugly, derpy animals? Let’s just not go there).
At this point, we know that the fishmonger is from Barcelona, and Janel and I tell him (in Catalan) that we’ll be back for lunch after we visit the famous UNESCO world cultural heritage neighborhood: Bryggen.
We walk around the wooden houses spying on the several local craft shops, taking advantage of the unusually good weather while slowly but steadily building an appetite. After we’ve thoroughly explored the area, we decide to walk a bit further to the end of the pier and visit the Bergenhus Fortress.
We walk around the gardens for a while, until we decide that it’s time to take our relationship with the aforementioned fishmonger to the next level.
We head back to the Fish Market to pay our respects to the wondrous fruits of the sea that have been calling our names from the distance for a little while now.
We are hungry, and we are ready! Rich and I set ourselves in front of the stall and relentlessly order two of everything that looks good. Salmon (cooked and smoked), Cod, King Crab, Scallops, as well as rice and salad. Jesús, María y José, this is going to be obscene.
After the meal, we feel giddy and comatose. Time to get back to our charming bnb for a well deserved siesta.
We emerge from slumber late in the afternoon. Rich is feeling groggy from the sickness he’s been carrying for the last few days, and I need to finish some work for university. So Janel, Linda, and John head out to Apollon, a bar that had intrigued us since we saw last night’s server at Pingvinen wearing a t-shirt with the logo of the establishment.
When I join them an hour later, I’m delighted with the place: it’s a mixture of British pub and record store, with a wonderful assortment of local music: which means a lot of Trve Norwegian Black Metal, one of the most brutal (and silly) music genres in the history of modern music.
I find the girls and my brother immersed in a game of Coup, a deception card game that Janel and I got John as an early birthday present. John absolutely dominates (he is good at games, who would’ve said) winning a streak of 5 out of 6 rounds, with the last victory being claimed by my lovely wife and blue haired extraordinaire Janel.
After the game, we feel ready to head back, but the peckish monster rears its head and we decide there’s no better way to end the night than by ordering terrible pizza at a greasy spot that thrives on serving sludgy shawarmas to the masses of youngsters who are clubbing in the numerous dance halls of the area.
The thing is described by my American family as worse than Red Baron, but better than school cafeteria pizza. Better than Little Caesars, but worse than Pizza hut.
What a lovely day! Lots of eats and wandering around the city. No hot dogs, but we’ll fix that tomorrow. Tussen takk, Bergen, vi ses i morgen!
Hot Dog Count: 16