24 hours in Bergen with the Bergen Card

Being a local in Bergen I wanted to be tourist in my own town, experiencing what the city has to offer. With all the Bergen Card advantages, it was an easy choice. You get free or discounted admittance to most museums and attractions as well as many cultural events, various sightseeing tours, restaurants and parking. It also include free travel on Light Rail and buses in the city and the region. Depending on how much sightseeing you want to do (and how much time you have), the Bergen Card is available for either 24, 48 or 72 hours.

Beautiful view of Bergen from Mt. Fløyen. Norway

Beautiful view of Bergen from Mt. Fløyen.

Overview first! Taking the Fløibanen Funicular to the top of Mt. Fløyen gives a great view of the city. Being up on the mountain, you are also away from the city life, and can walk straight into the nature. Fløibanen Funicular has made some tour suggestions for the many hiking options in the area. You can download them for free on their website.

Downtown again, I went for the 10 o’ clock departure for the Fjord Cruise to Mostraumen. I was obviously not the only one that had figured this was the perfect day for a fjord cruise from Bergen. Gliding past Bryggen – the old Hanseatic Wharf, bathing in sun, made me love my hometown just a little bit more. Once outside the harbor, the boat picked up some speed. As it is autumn (even though the sun and temperature could easily fool anyone), I was prepared with warm clothes to be able to stay outside. Even though it is perfectly fine to sit inside as well, there is something special about getting the real full experience, feeling the sun in my eyes and the wind in my hair.

Bryggen in Bergen a beautiful autumn day! Norway

The water was completely flat, reflecting the trees dressed in magnificent autumn colors. Arriving at Mostraumen, the crew picked two persons to get water from the waterfall. I was one of them, together with a Spanish by the name Enrique. Why not stand under a waterfall when the sun is shining..? With that said, we got dressed in proper rain gear, and did not get wet at all. The bucket was filled quickly, and everyone that wanted to taste got a glass. Fresh and cold!

Reflecting water. Fjordcruise to Mostraumen outside Bergen. Norway Nice surroundings on the Fjordcruise to Mostraumen outside Bergen. Norway Beautiful waterfalls on the Fjordcruise to Mostraumen outside Bergen. Norway Water from a waterfall. Fjordcruise to Mostraumen outside Bergen. Norway Getting water from the waterfall. Fjordcruise to Mostraumen outside Bergen. Norway

On the way back I enjoyed a typical Norwegian “lefse” and a “Kvikk Lunsj” chocolate. Not the healthiest, but since I was being a tourist in my own town I pretend to be on holiday. Then everything is allowed, isn’t it?…

Back on shore, I walked passed the colorful, charming houses at Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The houses were originally built in the 11th century, but burned down many times. The oldest part of Bryggen was rebuilt after the great fire in 1702. In 1955 a new fire burned down a part of these remaining houses. Following this, the archaeological excavations at Bryggen started. I decided to go to Bryggens Museum to have a look at the findings. Luckily for the coming generations, the burned out ruins were not completely cleared out. The water was filled in by the remains of the burned houses and other trash, and the new houses were just built on top of them, causing the waterfront to move several meters throughout the time. The excavations therefore revealed houses from many different periods, the oldest burned in 1170. They also found ceramics, runic inscriptions and other artifacts witnessing the commerce with Europe and daily life in the Middle Ages.

Bryggen in Bergen a beautiful autumn day! Norway

Traces of many of the fires in Bergen can be seen at Bryggen  Museum. Bergen, Norway

Traces of many of the fires in Bergen can be seen at Bryggen Museum.

Being in the medieval mood, I went on to Bergenhus Fortress, dating back to the 13th century, when Bergen was the political center of Norway. The Håkon’s Hall was built between 1247 and 1261 by king Håkon Håkonsen as a royal residence and banquet hall. It was finished for the wedding between his son and a Danish princess. About 2000 guests were present for the wedding. However, only the men were allowed in the hall. The women, including the bride, were in another hall that is now destroyed.

The Håkon’s Hall. Bergen, Norway

The Rosenkrantz Tower right next to the Håkon’s Hall is a former royal residence. Climbing the steps all the way from Hell (aka the dungeon) to the rooftop may be steep, but the view was a reward in itself!
Rosenkrantz Tower in Bergen, Norway

On my way to the dungeon in the Rosenkrantz Tower in Bergen, Norway

On my way to the dungeon in the Rosenkrantz Tower.

A friend of mine had come to town with her son, so we decided to go to Bergen Science Center – VilVite. As it is located in the complete opposite side of the city, we took the bus and light rail to save time. Entering the exhibition, I felt like a child again. I went straight to the police motorbike to feel the wind in my hair for the second time today. Googles on. Bring on the speed! At least the wind, so you can pretend to drive fast and furious. Better keep it safe! Speaking of safe; next up was to bike in a 360 degree loop, with the result of hanging upside down a few meters above ground. It may sound a bit scary, but it is quite fun. And you learn about the G-Force at the same time. That is also the aim of Bergen Science Center – VilVite, to combine teaching with fun, making it amusing to learn about different aspects of science.

Science and fun at VilVite. Bergen, Norway.

Science and fun at VilVite!

It was time to calm down a bit, drilling for oil, “solve” the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, make a weather forecast and wrap ourselves in a giant soap bubble! Finishing off by reaching new heights, standing still and jumping straight up as high as you can. Or not so high in my case, as my bouncing skills are highly absent… As a bonus, it is filmed, so you can see it in slow motion afterwards. Great fun for children of all ages!

Playing around sure works up an appetite, so we got on the light rail back to the city center, and strolled over to Pingvinen for dinner. With the retro interior and traditional home cooking, it feels like visiting your grandmother. The perfect way to relax and digest all the impressions after an amazing day!

I amsterdam City Card

The I amsterdam City Card is a great way to explore everything the city has to offer. Including the things you did not expect to see.

Having only one day to discover the city, we figured the best way was to get the I amsterdam City Card to easily enter the sights. And it includes the public transport as well. For us that was especially useful, since we stayed outside the city centre.

Since we were in Amsterdam, we off course we had to do a canal cruise. You can choose between two canal cruise companies and get a free ticket. Sitting in a boat, floating passed the bricked houses of different shapes and colours is a very nice and relaxing way to see a lot of the city. And from a different angle.
Amsterdam canals1
Amsterdam canals2
Amsterdam canals3
Amsterdam canals4
Having passed quite a few houseboats, I got a bit curious what they looked like inside. Good thing then that there is a Houseboat Museum. The space inside the houseboat was carefully planned to make the most of the room available. Since it is a museum, they also had posters with general information about houseboats and the life in the canals.

Houseboat museum

Houseboat museum

Houseboat museum2
Our next city card stop was Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, or Our Lord in the Attic, for us none Dutch speaking. In the attic of a 17th century canal house, you will find a hidden Catholic church, dating back to the era when Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith in public. The church room in itself was very beautiful, and absolutely a hidden gem. Literally.

Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder. Or Our Lord in the Attic.

Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder. Or Our Lord in the Attic.

Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, or Our Lord in the Attic2

The museum has more to it than just the attic church, but since we were already running out of time, that was what we chose to focus on.

See all the advantages with the I amsterdam City Card 2014. In my opinion it is worth it!

Easy access to sights and activities with the Helsinki Card

Buying a city card is an easy way to get access to many sight, saving time, money and energy. By buying the Helsinki Card online in advance, you will save even more money.

If you have a plan what you want to see, you can easily compare what you would have to pay to get access, with the savings by buying the Helsinki Card. It will also give you the possibility to enter a sight or museum that you did not originally plan to, but since it is free or discounted with the city card, you might as well just have a look anyway.

We bought a 48 hour Helsinki Card, and got started with the sightseeing. All public transport is included as well, also the ferry to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.
Suomenlinna
At Suomenlinna there is a guided walk taking you to the main sights of the fortress, giving you an introduction to the fascinating history, and the life on the islands today. During high season (June-August) there are daily guided walks in several languages. The rest of the year the guiding is in English, and limited to once daily in the weekends.

At Suomenlinna Sea Fortress you will also find the Toy Museum. It presents toys from the beginning of the 19th century up to the 1960s, featuring hundreds of dolls, teddy bears and other old toys.

Collection of different toys at the Toy Museum.

Collection of different toys at the Toy Museum.

Dolls at the Toy Museum at Suomenlinna Off course they also had Moomin dolls at the Toy Museum at Suomenlinna

Barbie dolls, named after the daughter of the inventor, Barbara.

Barbie dolls, named after the daughter of the inventor, Barbara.

Augustin Ehrensvärd was the commandant of the fortress, and played a major role in building it. His house is made into a museum, showing both interior from that time, and also an exhibition about his life.

The house of the fortess commander Augustin Ehrensvärd.

The house of the fortess commander Augustin Ehrensvärd.

The submarine Vesikko, belonging to the Military Museum, is also possible to enter. This is the only remaining submarine in Finland after the peace treaty signed after World War 2.
Submarine Vesikko at Suomenlinna

Inside Submarine Vesikko.

Inside Submarine Vesikko.

Read more about our experience on Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

Being in the maritime mood, we also went on the cruise to see the shoreline and other islands surrounding Helsinki. The taped guiding told about the history of the area and about the Finnish culture, while we enjoyed the beautiful scenery passing by.
The archipelago of Helsinki
Helsinki seen from the seaside 1 Helsinki seen from the seaside 2
You get one of the sightseeing offers free, and you will have a discount on the others if you are eager to learn more about the sights in the city.

Time was running out, so we stopped for a quick look at the Ateneum art museum. It has the most extensive art collection in Finland, housing the most important classic art of the country. There is also a changing exhibition, and due to the 100 year anniversary for the birth of the Finnish artist Tove Jansson, her work is now exhibited there. She may be most famous for her books about the Moomins, but she has done so much more during her career.
Ateneum art museum. It has the most extensive art collection in Finland, housing the most important classic art of the country.
Finishing off with a little bit of shopping, we felt we had enjoyed the Helsinki Card to the fullest. The card gives you discount in several shops, including Iittala.

Get more information about the Helsinki Card, and the other inclusions.