Beautiful Bergen – Part 2

While staying in Bergen we managed to see quite a lot of sites in the few days that we stayed there, and tried to make the most of the long days and various attractions. One of the things which really struck my husband and myself was how well-spoken the Norwegian citizens are, and also how healthy and fit they seem – we spoke to several inhabitants who told us about regular walks up and down the mountain, the beautiful fresh air and various fresh fish they had for meals which was caught by the wharf.

There’s quite a few things which stood out for me in Bergen, so I’ll list some of my favourite below – let me know what you think of these!

Bergenhus Fortress, Rosenkrantz Tower & Haakon’s Hall
One of the things I was looking forward to seeing in Bergen was the historical sites, which were medieval buildings which go back as far as the 13th century. Begenhus Fortress is mainly the hall (Haakon’s Hall) and the Rosenkrant Tower (which is an old keep which used to have dungeons), which ares apparently a throwback to the Viking days, although the Hall was properly used for weddings and feasts from the 13th century. We didn’t get to see inside the Hall because we arrived too late, but we did get to wander around the grounds which we loved (and you can see the inside of the Hall here), where there were plenty of old structures, statues and large walkways to explore.

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Statues
There are several statues around the city of Bergen, which can be found in various spots, some of which are a commentary on society, with a certain message from the artist. The most memorable one was this hidden away, nameless statue of a homeless person below, which is apparently the most photographed statue in the city – it is meant to make the viewer think about why it is there and what it means. There are also several statue tributes to Norwegian historical figures – generals, presidents and well-loved figures whose images are around the city with plaques and scripts. There was one which always made me jump every time I saw it, because I kept thinking it was a real person – it was a statue of a young girl (below) at the corner of a doorway to a McDonalds restaurant – it catches your attention from the corner of your eye and makes you think there is someone standing there waiting for a friend!

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The Bookcafe
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know how much I love quirky libraries and bookshops – I make it a point to look out for beautiful bookstores while abroad and haven’t been disappointed yet! It took me a while to find a pretty bookstore like this one, as I saw a few scattered in different areas but some were shut, and the others were not very memorable. I found this one the day before we left Bergen, with beautiful decoration, hanging books, scripts on walls and seating inside which showed it was a cafe for people to read and relax.

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Town square
I’ve already written about the town square, which is surrounded by colourful hotels and restaurants, and further along the high street you come to the more modern part of the street, which is a street lined with designer shops, and has a giant water-feature with a sort of stone obelisk in the middle, with carvings and statues on it. I loved the carvings along the stone faces of this landmark, it seems to show the story of settlers and Viking boats travelling to new places, as well as various religious pictures which seem to be a big feature with Norwegian history. Similarly, the statues were all dressed in different eras to reflect the different centuries, which looked great.

Anne Madam
One of the biggest problems my husband and I found was the expense of the food – a lot of the normal restaurants ended up costing around £30-40 per person for a normal meal, and even the usual burger-chains like Burger King and McDonalds were pricier than we expected – more than they cost in the UK! Luckily, we managed to find a new restaurant which had opened a few days after our arrival, and which was offering traditional Norwegian food at a discounted price. The traditional food in Bergen is mainly various types of fish, since it is a fishing town, so naturally we wanted to try some, and managed to get some at Anne Madame, which is in the heart of the city opposite the wharf. This plate is a traditional hake and potato pieces which were given with a light tartar sauce and coleslaw, and which was delicious – we loved it enough to come back here again before we left!

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Things to look out for
We went to Bergen in the first week of May, which is  one of the warmest months to visit, and the start of the tourist season – so there is plenty of things happening for tourists to see. We were lucky enough to see a drummer’s parade going through the town (I love the sound of loud drums, it always makes me want to dance!), and found plenty of quirky shops like a moose shop (below), a troll shop (the trolls are not the cute 90s kind but uglier ones!) and shops with beautiful hand-crafted goods and clothes. We also saw a lot of beautiful buildings, mixed against a backdrop of green mountains and beautiful lakes, which made it a really peaceful place to spend the day.

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All in all, my husband and I loved the beauty of Bergen – it is one of those places where you feel like there is every natural beautiful landscape to be found. A friend of mine visited Oslo recently, and complained that it was less beautiful than Bergen – there are most commercial buildings, more lights and less colour, and I certainly agree – there is a lot of beautiful colour and nature to be found in this city.

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Weekend Pretty…Tick Tock

This is a huge clock sculpture I saw at the wonderful Harry Potter Land (otherwise known to muggles as the Warner Brother studios) which I thought was apt for the whimsical mood I’m in today. I love huge sculptures (as well as miniature things too!) and thought this was pretty symbolic of the beautiful things I’ve seen lately. I’ve had a lot of things going on lately (hence the sporadic blogging, which I’m still trying to resolve!) and feel a little stretched for time – trying to make arrangement for a wedding, my potential living situation and also all the nitty-gritty things which come up at work, home and my own hobbies.

Not to mention finding enough time to read all those books I want to read (next on the list is the highly acclaimed ‘The Fault in our Stars‘, which I’m looking forward to!)

Nevertheless, weekends are my favourite times right now (okay, they always have been, but not more than ever they’re my favourite days of the week!) – it’s the time I get to spend with family, to reflect on myself and to have some ‘me’ time, even if it’s just to sit in peace and re-arrange all of my lipsticks : )

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Knights and Proud Horses

I visited Liverpool Street to have a meal at a pretty restaurant recently, and saw this in one of the Squares around the restaurant which I really liked. Created by English sculptor Denis Mitchell, this is a huge piece of metal work of a beautifully embellished horse with a knight sat atop it. It represents, apparently, King Edgar’s gift of land to his knights, which was measured “the distance a horseman could throw his lance.”

So pretty beneficial for the darts-players, really.

The blue stones in this are my favourite bit, they’re beautifully bright and really accentuate the whole piece to make it an almost romantic piece – makes me think of French courtly tales and knights from the middle ages almost. The statue itself is pretty big, standing next to it we could it was at least twice the height of one of us (if not more) but that just makes it look more majestic. It’s situated in a quiet area too, so you get plenty of people wandering around in the peace and taking pictures : )

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A Goat…on some crates.

I saw this a while back being displayed at Spitalsfield (it’s recently been taken down since though, perhaps it’s being penned in with other artistic goats) – a sculpture of a goat on top of a few crates.

Apparently this piece, I Goat by artist Kenny Hunter, was the winner of this competition which beat out several other artistic pieces to be displayed in Spitalfield, to signify the area’s rich history, relationship with immigrants and to reflect the struggles and conflicts they have had to endure.

But in other ways, it’s also just a cute little goat staring out on top of a few boxes.

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Paul Friedlander’s Beautiful Kinetic Light Sculptures

Paul Friedlander is a scientist, artist and extraordinaire – just look at his beautiful light sculptures to see how he has managed to merge science into beautiful art. Friedlander focuses on kinetic light art, which primarily uses spinning strings and something called chromastrobic light, which is light that changes colour faster than the eye can see, so that it creates moving shapes.

The best (and perhaps simplest) way to explain the way the science works would  probably be this: “The vibrating string becomes invisible, but the white light that’s being reflected off the rope becomes visible in an exchange that lets our eyes see magic, as real as science can make it.”

The end results are beautiful, giant rays of lights which become beautiful sculptures. Friedlander has taken this further over the years by manipulating the colours, shapes and sizes over the years, in his exhibitions and tours to various countries. I love how spectacular these sculptures look, and how fluid and colourful they are. I’m waiting for Friedlander to announce an exhibition in London so I can visit and ooh-and-ahh at them, but in the meantime I suppose I’ll have to swing some ropes around and see if any sparks come off them!

You can visit his website for more images from his various tours and exhibitions in the last 14 years, or otherwise have a look at some of his videos to see how the light sculptures look like in motion – or read his bio and more about Paul Friedlander on his page here.

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All images belong to Paul Friedlander

Harlequin Oddities Found About Town: Crouching Robot, Hidden Wooden Giant

I saw this giant hidden away in Canning Town area, hidden behind some very high fences, which made it slightly easy to overlook unless you happen to look up (or through the fences and boards like I did). The Canning Town Giant, as it’s known is a giant art sculpture made from re-used wood, and made by a group of artists known as ROBOTS>>>>,who created this with a team of sculptures, set builders and art directors.

The purpose of this sculpture is to draw attention to nature, to highlight the idea of recyling and and to transform ugly areas into beautiful ones. This certainly makes sense, as Canning Town is a regeneration area which has been worked on for several years as a project to re-build, re-beautify and bring up the standards of the area – so something like this would make a great attraction.

When I saw this giant, I was quite charmed – I like the idea of a crouching gentle giant bending down to pick flowers (or trees, more like) and peeking at you from over the high fences and billboards. Think of it as East London’s very own BFG.

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Indian Puppets & Wooden Carvings

I love looking at random, quirky pieces of art from other cultures, and Indian art is one which has always fascinated me, particularly because of the overlaps it has with my own culture. This is a antique, wood sculpture (or perhaps toys, they remind me of puppets in a way) of a scene from history – I’m thinking a meeting between powerful Indian figures and British delegates (I see a top hat on the table!), but it’s likely that I could be wrong!

Even so, I like the earthy, warm colours here, and the quirky styles of these little men – they remind me a little of some of the folk stories I read as a child, and immediately make you feel as if they’re part of a puppet show that have just frozen for a little while, and will start moving again when you look away : )

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The French Kiss Statue at King’s Cross Station

The French Kiss/Lover’s Embrace statue at King’s Cross Station is a huge piece of bronze art created by sculpture Paul Day (although I have to admit, the Valentine’s handbag is the best bit about it). Although it’s been there for a few years, I haven’t seen it before, and the smaller engravings at the base was added more recently to the giant model.

I like that there’s a commuters theme to the statue, of trains and travelling, and of French meeting English, especially as the King’s Cross Station is the train station to get a direct train from London to Paris. There’s plenty of other art/pieces in this station (like the 9 and ¾ platform, which I have yet to gain access into), but I like this one because of how much it stands out (and because of the handbag).

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