Bergen Maritime Museum: boys becoming men on a training ship

Remember our visit to the Bergen Maritime Museum in mid July? Life has been a full, busy, and ever-evolving adventure since then, including a quick vacation in Spain, a trip on the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, another adventure I’m getting thoughts together to share this weekend (hint: it involves a visit to the view outside my front windows), and family time … but I thought it was time to share another important exhibit from the museum about the initial purpose of the Statsraad Lehmkuhl as a training ship.

Discipline – Independence – Cooperation

Training ships under sail

First, a couple images and background from the museum’s website and brochure:

Bergens Sjøfartsmuseum brochure

from the Bergens Maritime Museum’s brochure


I took a few photos of the exhibit’s photographic display, thinking it wouldn’t be captured well through a camera lens. Are they enough to help you visualize the exhibit?


But what really personalized this exhibit for me was listening to my husband’s thoughts. He recognized one of the young boys pictured as an acquaintance from his early 1950’s Bergen neighborhood, and also remembers his parents and grandparents sharing the stories of their part of this living history. His words:

Using Statsraad Lemkuhl as a training ship for young boys to become sailors is to institutionalize an age old tradition in Bergen, and other sea faring cities along the West Coast of Norway.

But Bergen was by far the biggest city and for hundreds of years the most important and busy harbor in Northern Europe.

So, Bergen, already a melting pot of Norwegians, Germans, Dutch, English and other Scandinavians, attracted sailors from all over Europe to find a ship.

The “Immigrant sailors” were mostly grown men, but locally, boys from Bergen and the area around it, were sent on board a ship at the age between 12 to 15 years. They started as “Førstereisgutt”, which means “First Trip Boy”, and they sailed throughout the world; Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe.

The other part of this tradition we can date back to the Viking age. Up until the late fifties, sailors were gone for three to four years. In the old days, when the men folk went “a viking”, they were gone for years and many did not come back, either lost at sea or settled somewhere else.

The main point is that either as vikings or sailors, when they were gone, the women had to take care of everything. Housing, food, children, protecting their family; it was the responsibility of the women.

That is an important part of the Norwegian culture.

I come from such a family. Both on my mother’s and father’s side, I am the first man NOT to be a sailor. For hundreds of years all the men in my family, both sides, have been sent to sea at a very young age. My father was 12 when he sailed to Asia, my mother was married when she was 17 and a widow at the age of 18 and my grandmother was alone with four children for five years …

That really expands on the exhibit, doesn’t it?

That was then. And now? As I shared before, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl is still introducing civilians to sailing. But she’s also giving cadets and school children specific opportunities to learn. Visit her Facebook page to see her most recent “sailors”!

the Northern Lights … so close, yet so far

Conditions were right for the Northern Lights to appear in the Bergen area last night. We kept checking from our position 100 meters up above the fjord in Lyskloster, looking north over the mountains that separate us from Bergen. We could see a slight glow, but no specific lights or colors.

Darn it.

But they did put on a beautiful show! Local residents shared their images with Bergens Tidende, the local newspaper. I enjoy the way they paint the night sky with transparent color!

Norwegian commercials: Gilde grillpølser

(Commercials on TV can be considered a necessary evil. So many are annoying, but every now and then one comes along that is the perfect combination of product, marketing, humor, and local culture. In my seven years here in Norway there have been several that have captured my attention. I thought it would be fun to occasionally share some of my favorites.)

A couple weeks ago I shared a sweet Gilde commercial that was also a peek into another time.

Today’s is also a Gilde commercial. This one is about their grillpølser/hot dogs, and it too is a peek: a glimpse into the culture of this country and her active, outdoor-loving people … no matter the weather. The voice over is in Norwegian, but the music and scenery don’t need any translation for you to enjoy the experience.

GILDE grillpølser — du merker det når noe mangler

Gilde hot dogs — you notice it when something is missing

Anyone want to join me for a hike?

weather, planes, water, introspection: the journey home

It’s been nice to have you traveling with me on our recent sailing/motoring trip on Bergen’s Statsraad Lehmkuhl. It’s time to finish the journey!

August 20, 2014 - the journey home


As you’ve seen in my earlier posts, the clouds and sky seemed to play tag throughout the three and a half hour journey. Sometimes we had warm sun, and other times the clouds covered that sun. Looking at the sky from our perspective was intriguing; the texture enhanced the Norwegian landscape and waters.

We could see the rain clouds moving in as we journeyed south on one side of the island of Bjorøyna, and especially as we turned to begin the journey north back to the Bergen Harbor. Passing Flesland (the Bergen airport) was fascinating for me. We’d just landed there a few days earlier after our trip home from Spain; seeing the planes land and take off from the perspective of the water, especially with the clouds, rain, and wind, gave me a whole new appreciation for the steady hands of the pilots!

August 20, 2014 - the journey home


As my “sneak peek” showed, the combination of sun and rain created a special moment: a rainbow, its top hidden in the clouds but the other side seeming to end at, appropriately, Lysekloster. Home! The rainbow hung in the air for quite a while: fading, getting more intense, fading again. Isn’t weather engaging and intriguing?


I captured a few images over the side of the ship. The look of the fairly smooth waters being disturbed by the ship’s passing was mesmerizing.

August 20, 2014 - the journey home

August 20, 2014 - the journey home


The bow had been full of other passengers while Jan and I were sitting on the stern, but I noticed it had cleared out a bit … and so, after turning north and passing Flesland again (which you’ll see in the video), I made my way up the steep stairs and discovered that, except for the sailor watching over that part of the ship, I was the only one there. According to the time stamps on my images I stood there for about thirty minutes, but it could have been five minutes or five hours; I lost complete track of everything and just lived in the moment.

I watched the play of setting sun and clouds, the wind and seas, the rain drops and sunbeams. It was an introspective time: just me, the wind-chased clouds playing tag with the sun and then covering its light almost completely, the rain clouds and wind enthusiastically pelting raindrops against my face and speckling my glasses and camera lens, and the smooth motoring below me.


I hate being on “the other” side of a lens and don’t normally take (much less share) real selfies, but I had to capture the moment of me at the bow with the masts of the Statsraad Lehmkuhl rising behind me. The sun’s light was amplified by the cloud, but I had to hang onto my hood as the rain driven wind was beginning to hit me — it was refreshing and invigorating and I really wanted to shout “I’m King of the World” (except we couldn’t get quite that close to the bow as portrayed in the Titanic movie).

But I was shouting it in my head!

August 20, 2014 - the journey home


We approached the Askøy bridge, and of course I captured it, craning my neck up and around, then turning around, to take it all in. Raindrops dotted the camera lens, and added an authentic watery look to the images.


Finally, figuring that my husband was probably beginning to worry I’d fallen overboard, I made way back to mid-ship. As my drenched self was walking up to him, ready to explain my absence, Jan smiled and said, “I *knew* where you were!”

Well, actually he burst out laughing; I think my “drenched self” looked quite amusing, probably like the proverbial drowned rat!

I had a difficult time sitting still. We next passed under the bridge to Sotra; I jumped up to capture that perspective from mid-ship on the starboard side. (These images were taken with a musical accompaniment — a gently-rowdy group who’d enjoyed several pints of Hansa beer began singing “… like a bridge over troubled waters …” to the amusement and delight of everyone.)


And finally, we were back in Byfjorden. I went back up to the bow — more crowded with people now, anticipating the return to the harbor — and looked back towards the Sotra bridge, with the ship’s masts and forward-bell centered in the image …

August 20, 2014 - the journey home

… and then forward towards Bergen and her familiar mountain silhouettes.


We entered the harbor. Almost back in port!

August 20, 2014 - the journey home


My camera’s rechargeable batteries almost at their end, I captured a few images of the crew throwing out the anchoring ropes as we moved carefully into port.


The gangplank was set in place.


And finally, reluctantly, it was time to disembark.

August 20, 2014 - the journey home


What wonderful memories I took with me as I walked back onto solid land! Here’s a short compilation of those shared in this post.

If you’re ever in Bergen during the summer and want to experience an evening trip, visit the Statsraad Lehmkuhl’s website to see what Fjord cruises are available. You can also take part in a longer sailing cruise where you learn how to operate the ship and experience a little real life sailing! (It looks as if they also have Pirate tours … wouldn’t THAT be a fun time with your kids?! :) )

NOT from my Archives: “9 Reasons I Don’t Read Lonely Planet”

This week I read an insightful post by a new blogging connection, Hanne. A Norwegian living in Bolivia, she has traveled to over fifty countries and has the focus and philosophy that Jan and I share: Get your nose out of a dated and not so authentic guidebook. Look for wonder and amazement around you. Enhance and support the local economy. MEET THE PEOPLE.

She’s just had a lot more experience in putting that in action than I have! :)

Instead of sharing one of my earlier posts in my occasional “Flashback Friday” format, I thought this was much more appropriate — especially since we recently returned from a trip where we didn’t have the opportunity to meet too many new people, and as wonderful as the trip was, I feel I missed out a bit on beginning to understand that area of the world.

I invite you to click over to visit Hanne and read her thoughts, and let her know what you think!

“9 Reasons I Don’t Read Lonely Planet” by Hanne Hellvik
September 2, 2014

Many travellers see Lonely Planet as their bible. I don’t! Here are nine reasons why I don’t rely on Lonely Planet when I travel.

1. I don’t want to be a Lonely Planet Zombie

You have probably seen them. The Lonely Planet Zombies. They are everywhere. Walking around in the touristy streets of destinations all around the world. They almost run over people or get hit by cars due to that they refuse to look up from their Lonely Planet book. The travellers so dedicated and obsessed with this book that they refuse to sleep or eat anywhere that is not mentioned in it.

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