Being from Bergen I tend to stick to my usual places and not really “re-discover” my city whenever I am here. But seeing as I have been here for a few months without knowing whether or not I would be staying for much longer I decided to take the opportunity to check out new sites and re-visit a few places I haven´t been to since my childhood. One of those places is the open air Old Bergen museum, which is supposed to portray an old neighborhood of Bergen.
The idea to visit this place came up my during a walk through Bryggen one day. Walking down one of the tiny little alleys of this UNESCO sight I started to think about the movie “the witches”, based on the book by Roal Dahl, as some of the scenes in the beginning of the movie were actually shot in that very spot in Bergen.
When I mentioned it to my friend she responded that she had never seen this movie. So we decided to watch it together. I hadn´t watched that movie since I was a kid but I have to admit I still find it kind of scary. I can´t believe I actually managed to watch the entire film when I was so little. Anyways, as the movie was also shot in Gamle Bergen we decided to make a little visit here a few days later.
Gamle Bergen is really beautiful although slightly creepy. The little wooden houses in different colors from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries are lined up along a hilly little street with old looking signs too indicate where you´ll find everything from the tailor to the baker. The houses were originally standing in the center of Bergen but were moved sometime between 1945 and 1981 to be centered around the summerhouse and property of shipbuilder Rasmus Rolfsen built for his wife Elsebe.
You are also welcome to take a walk inside and see the houses from within and check out what the interior style was like 150 years ago. In some of the houses you´ll also come across actors at specific times of the day initiating conversations and talking to you, all around time appropriate topics. So we were not too offended when one of them started to babble on about how science has proven that men are the intellectually superior gender and that women are not to be trusted with important matters such as voting.
Along the route we were given by the visitor´s center we also passed by the classroom, which was an interesting experience. Looking through the window we saw rustic school desks (to say the least) as well as little black boards for the students to write on. It makes you really think about how much we have developed in this world in terms of education. Black boards have been replaced with computers and you would have to look long and hard to find wooden desks of this kind, at least in Norway. The progress we have made and how easily we access information these days is definitely something to be grateful for. Physical punishment in Norwegian schools just doesn´t happen anymore and I hope it never will again. But looking at these rustic, worn out wooden desks made my heart melt a bit. And that view…..that´s a tough one to beat. The biggest impact was definitely the dentist office though. I used to have a serious fear of dentist and to this day I am not a big fan of somebody using sharp instruments of metal on my precious teeth. Still, I endure what I have to endure to keep my teeth healthy. But the guided tour of the dental office from the eighteen hundred century was a bit too much for me. The actor went seriously into character and explained to his audience about dental health at the time; about the awful procedures that were carried out, the tools used and what really made me sick to my stomach; a presentation of dentures made from original teeth of fallen soldiers. These dentures were usually given to teenagers around age 15 when they had lost most of their teeth. In many cases the dentures were also passed around in the family (YUK) from father to son, mother to daughter. At one point I couldn´t stand around and listen to more gross dental stories and from the looks of my friend´s face she shared that exact sentiment. So we silently stepped aside and left extremely grateful for the major developments in dental hygiene.
I don´t know if it was my mind playing triks on me or if this really was the case but I did feel a strange energy in the air in and around the area. I´d like to think that there are more to this world than what meets the eye and if spirits really do exist this place would be an excellent place to start looking for them. Creepy dolls in the play room, dark rooms with the furniture intact, the smell of old interior with too much history and too many memories, the empty neighbourhood. Very fascinating but creepy indeed I would say. I would not want to spend a night in that area, that´s for sure. My friend, who is a sworn atheist, said the same thing.
The trip was definitely worth it though, it´s such a fascinating experience to be walking in and around the museum and get a peak into life hundreds of years ago. We finished the tour and ended our little excursion with a snack break in one of the lush parks in the area to reflect on how damn lucky we are to be living in 2017.
On our way home we got a pleasant surprise. We randomly met a guy on the street on our way to the bus stop and quickly made his acquaintance when we saw what he was carrying. I mean, aren´t they just the cutest things you have ever seen in your life? After a somewhat unsettling feeling in my body and soul after time spent in a vaguely spooky place these little cuties completely melted my heart. Just what we needed.