A loving salute to Seattle’s sister city in Norway
LORI ANN REINHALL
The Norwegian American
Dear readers and friends,
By now, it is probably no secret to any of our readers that I really love Bergen. It is my adopted home in Norway, and I can say that it’s been an ongoing love affair for many years now, a love that seems to deepen as time goes on.
The first time I was in Bergen, I was only 18 years old, traveling through Scandinavia with a rail pass on a voyage of discovery. As I left the train and headed toward the center of town, I remember thinking to myself that things felt so familiar. The fresh saltwater air reminded me of Seattle, and when it started to cloud over and rain, I really did feel at home. Already then, I knew Seattle and Bergen were sister cities, and looking at the mountains, water, and forest, I could understand why the pairing made sense.
As a young person traveling alone, I got to experience the city from an innocent perspective. I was naïve and fearless—and in retrospect, I really believe there was nothing to be afraid of. The city had felt so peaceful and safe. I checked into a little hotel up on the hillside behind the beloved old houses of Bryggen. The woman working the front desk first asked me if I was old enough to be traveling alone and then took it upon herself to make sure I would be happy for my three days there. For the first time, I experienced the openness and friendliness of Bergensers, along with the extraordinary pride they have in sharing their city with its visitors.
An innocent abroad, I had much fun taking in the sights and meeting other young people, both locals and others out on adventures much like my own. My first ride up the Fløien funicular left a deep impression and made me want to see everything. Each morning, I remember jumping out of bed excited to go, and perhaps a little strangely, I remember just how much I liked the hotel’s breakfast with its delicious pickled herring. I have associated the taste of good herring with Bergen for many years now, and it is has become a staple of my diet, although never quite the same as in my memory. I always dreamed about going back.
And then my dream came true. Serving as president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister Association since 2016 has allowed me to get to know Bergen on a much more meaningful level, albeit with the same sense of wonderment. Each time I visit the city, I again feel so at home and so welcomed by everyone I meet. The city is always more beautiful than I remember it from the previous time, and there is always more to discover.
With the 950th anniversary of Bergen in 2020, The Norwegian American wants to celebrate with our friends on the other side of the Atlantic at a time when travel is so restricted for us all. And with this special issue, it is our wish that you, too, can experience some of the beauty and wonders of Bergen. Of course, we are only able to offer you a glimpse of what this amazing city has to offer, but we hope our insights will inspire you to dream about Bergen the way I do. I simply can’t wait to go back.
Wishing you joy and a very happy birthday to Bergen!
Lori Ann Reinhall
Editor-in-chief, The Norwegian American
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.