Friday, 15 May 2015

A design lovers travel guide to Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Bryggen, all dressed up for national day, Image by Reidar Tomte on Instagram
For those of you who doesn't already know...I am Norwegian!
But more than that: I am from Bergen....the most beautiful town in the world!
And May is a pretty special month there....
You see : The 17th of May is the Norwegian National day, and the city and all its people get dressed in their best, and have a huge Party....flags and national costumes, parades and good food, beer and is truly the epitome of nationalistic pride (In the best way possible!!).
So this time of year I get a bit extra nostalgic, and homesick!
So I've put together this little guide to my beautiful hometown, from a design lover perspective, as a homage to Bergen on its national day!

Norwegians, as most Scandinavians, take pride in their beautiful country, and their surroundings....and good design is at the forefront of the peoples consciousness, along with a quality of life unlike no other place in the world...So today I am sharing where to stay, where to eat, what to see and where to shop should you ever be so lucky as to visit Bergen!

Where to stay

Bergen is a small city, and you can easily walk from one place to another, so pretty much any central accommodation is ideal...If you are on a tight budget try the quaint, but chic klosterhagen hotell, situated in the historic and picturesque area of Nordnes.
Or if you'd prefer, you can rent a real Bergen apartment, with all the Scandinavian style you could want by searching airbnb, for a truly authentic experience!

Clarion hotel Admiral
If you are treating yourself to a luxury stay, I can recommend the stylish Clarion Hotel Admiral that's situated right on the Bergen Marina with stunning views of the fjord.
Or the Clarion Hotel no13 ,a unique gem of a hotel in the heart of the city where breakfast, mid afternoon snack and evening meal is included in the room rate!!
Hotel no 13
Which brings us nicely on to:

Where to eat and play

I'm not going to lie: Eating out in Norway is expensive, but definitely worth it!
Being a coastal city, yet close to local farms, fresh produce, like fish and meat is premium, and Bergen center is full of gorgeous restaurants and cafes with beautiful food...

Bare pa 13, which is a self proclaimed avant garde Norwegian street food restaurant, is actually situated on the ground floor of Hotel no 13, and describes itself like this:
 "We serve the best we can cook, from the best we can get, from day to day. No menu, no choice. Simple, quick and delicious!!"
Intriguing, no??

Bare Vestland is slightly less avant garde, but non the less unusual: With focus on local, organic ingredients of high quality, they offer you exciting dishes in tapas format, Western Norwegian style Tapas...Served in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, with good drinks!

Bien Bar
Bien Bar, is a "must visit destination" for an atmospheric dining experience: with its french/Italian inspired menu served in the unusual interior of a former 1930's Art Deco pharmacy, often with musical entertainment come night time.

Lysverket (photography: Cecilie Bannow)
Another great culinary experience can be found at Lysverket, highly acclaimed for their neo-fjordic cuisine....and do stick around for an amazing party atmosphere at night with superstar dj's , like Bjorn Torske (pictured above) and a comprehensive cocktail menu!

Daytime is also playtime

Lysverket (above) is situated smack bang in the center of Bergen , in the multi-building KODE art museum, which houses a comprehensive Edward Munch collection, as well as more modern exhibitions worth checking out...So this is also a "must visit" part of Bergen during the day time. 

This is also a great place to visit with kids, whilst keeping the design interested parents amused as well.... and the belonging Cafe Smakverket is a great place to stop for lunch and picking up some great art prints in the adjoining Art shop!

If you want some more art and culture, in a child friendly environment, why not visit Urdihuset for exhibitions and a spot of lunch in the cafe....

...or for a more grown up experience, visit USF verftet , the home of cultural Bergen...
 with artists studios as well as a Cinema, a concert venue, an art gallery and regular jazz clubs this is the place to be.... And the 
Kafe Kippers is the rallying point of artists and the public, located on the pier accommodating Bergen's largest outdoor restaurant in the summertime, where 500 quests can enjoy the most beautiful fjord views as well as the sunset. Set in an old Cannery factory , it's another must visit, come day or come night!

Kafe Kippers
Of course, you must not visit Bergen without taking the The Fløibanen Funicular to the top of  Mount Fløyen  for the best view of Bergen town and beautiful woodland for kids and adults alike there are often events held here and there is also a very good (but a little over priced ) restaurant.

view from mount Floyen

And just taking a couple of hours strolling around the gorgeously quaint cobbled back streets of Bergen is another thing I'd recommend:

The slightly bohemian and lively Area Skostrædet must also be visited both in terms of shops, galleries and  nightlife:

Another great , child friendly lunchtime spot for interior lovers, is the KANEL coffee and home decor shop. where you can feed the kids a cake whilst indulging in a spot of home ware shopping from brands like housedoctor and bloomingville

Kanel Cafe and interior shop
And that brings us to....


In the fashionable Galleriet shopping center  in the heart of Bergen, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to interior shopping: Galleriet boasts no less than 6 interior/homeware shops: Christiania Glasmagasin, herskap og tjenere, hjerteholm, Kitch'n, Kremmerhuset and Tilbords.
And the toy shop on the 5th floor is heaven for kids!

And I always make a point out of popping into  BOLIA whenever I'm "back home".
Bolia is a design company with an ever-growing stable of young award-winning designers that puts their heart and soul into creating unique collections, brimming with originality, personality and innovation.from Furniture to home accessories, Bolia is a budget friendly dream shop for anyone as interior obsessed as me!!

But in terms of Design heaven, the Illums Bolighus Bergen is a MUST!!!
A HUGE interior design shop with a selection of the greatest design classics as well as new innovative brands in design, lighting, gastronomy, bathrooms, wellness and fashion.
 Illums Bolighus is one of Scandinavia's leading locations for design and home furnishings. A business that has an inspiring environment and a wide range of appropriate quality products in a great design that inspires customers.

There are of course also lots of little gems, when it comes to shopping for design and interiors in's a few worth mentioning:

Nordiske Rom (situated in OS, outside Bergen, but oh so stylish!!) Sostrene Grene , Kremmerhuset ,Mondur, Mogs , Drommehuset, hjem kjaere hjem and ROST....I could go on and on, but I will leave it there....

Lastly I want to mention The Interior and housing fair that takes place in the stylish music hall Grieghallen, Bergen 16th-18th October, where this years theme is HANDMADE IS THE NEW BLACK...promoting traditional and modern craftmanship.....a topic I can truly resonate with....
This years inspirator is the fabulously creative AnoukB Studio so I am definitely hoping to personally attend this fair and it's design talks!

I hope you find my guide to Bergen useful should you ever decide to go there....which you SO should!
I am lucky enough to be heading back to Bergen the last week of this month, and hope to be visiting many of the places I've just told you about!

And if you've ever been yourself, and feel like I've missed out your favorite spot, please feel free to mention it by commenting below!

Now all that's left for me to say is:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NORWAY (which is customary on National day)
and I'll see you soon Bergen!!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

summer garden....

Boho Scandinavian style

Oh May...
I love this month!
The sun comes out and temperatures soar....
It's the beginning of summer and outdoor living!

And this year I've made an extra effort to set myself up for enjoying our garden!
New lawn has been laid....I've weeded and replanted the flowerbed, made a little potted herb garden at the back, new gravel for the walkway and my DIY pallet sofa has had a lick of paint....hey: I've even repainted the back of the house!!

So I thought it was well earned when I splashed out on some new garden furniture....and I love the retro feel of my new blue-tones table and chairs....from Asda of all places!!

And today was such a beautiful day...perfect for styling my new look garden, and set up for some al-fresco snacking in the sun!

A bowl full of olives, some smelly french cheese with a french loaf and a jug full of cold water....
...keeping it simple in the heat!

I adore these minty green geometric ceramic bowls from House Doctor I got a few months back, and the bread basket and wooden pot is from H&M.

My recycled glasses and carafe is from Sainsbury's....

A few sprigs of cow parsley in an old jam jar for a quick and pretty table decoration...

And I adore my piraty Thomas Paul melamine plates from Not Another Bill!

Nice, simple food + sunshine....

In my lovely "new" surroundings...

I still love the seating area I made a couple of years ago out of pallets...and although it was looking worse for ware, it was nothing a quick lick of paint couldn't sort out!

My sun-parasol is also an Asda bargain...I've just jazzed it up a little with some black fringing...

And for those barmy summer evenings , I've added some battery powered string  lights from Robert Dyasfor an extra cosy feel...

And a couple of my old lanterns has had an update courtesy of Mr. Spray paint!

Of course the star of this little bohemian garden set up is that beautiful rattan chair that the lovely people from Out there interiors was kind enough to send me....I love the shape and the natural rattan and the fantastic Danish craftsmanship..
....perfect for relaxing in the sun with a good book....

...some strawberries and a glass of rose!

The cushion on the chair is from Handicraft palace and the light woven blanket is from H&M

That lovely blue hexagon tray was a bargain find in TK Maxx.

As was the large minty blue floor cushion...

I love the bohemian feel of using rugs outdoors to create lovely areas for chilling out:

And the jute rug is another bargain from Asda, and the tribal patterned rug is from H&M, as is the tasseled cushion:

So it looks like I'm all set for summer in the garden this year....Bring on the sunshine!