The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Bergen, Day 1: Snack, Nap, Burger

I visited Norway from February 12 to 19. Yup, that was a while ago. You'll be reading about it for...a while.

You know what I love just as much as eating? Sleeping. I'm one of those people who, if undisturbed by loud noises/responsibilities/the urge to pee, can sleep soundly until 1 p.m. My body is no longer programmed to wake up with the sun—my body runs on Internet Time. Unfortunately, Internet Time is forever.

Luckily, I know Kåre and I make a good match because he too can ignore the sun and occasionally sleep until the afternoon. And thus when I visited him in Norway, with flexible plans to eat lots of stuff and hang out with friends, we ended up allotting more time to sleep than anticipated. Not that we regret it—we got plenty done in the hours we were awake—but in case the subsequent posts about my trip make it seem like we didn't do much, there's my explanation. Sleep > food.

Oh, even though I can sleep like a dead log in bed, it's a different matter in an airplane. Airplane seats aren't built for ease of sleep, but to withstand rigorous pressure from a continuous stream of travelers' bottoms. During the 13 hours or so it took to get from New York City to Bergen by way of Frankfurt (there weren't any direct flights), with a nearly four-hour layover during which I became increasingly addicted with Angry Birds, I slept...[counts on fingers]...not much. I watched three movies (The Social Network: I think it was overhyped for me; Going the Distance: Meh; I only watched it to see Charlie Day; Easy A: The most enjoyable of the three, funnier than I expected), ate every foodstuff that came on a plastic tray or in a hermetically sealed plastic bag, and napped a smidge.

From the airplane
Norway below!

When we landed in Bergen, I was nervous. I couldn't tell you how many times I played the scene of seeing Kåre for the first time in my head. "WILL I SEE HIM AS SOON AS I GET THERE? OMG ARE WE GOING TO HAVE OUR FIRST KISS IN AN AIRPORT? IS THAT SOMETHING I WANT? IS IT GOING TO BE ALL LIKE SLOW-MOTION AND STUFF? BLUH BLA BLOOP BLEEPOO?" Answers to those questions: yes, he was waiting at the exit to the baggage claim; yes; didn't matter either way; nope, actually everything happened super fast; that's not English. Being excited and worrying about how things would unravel made everything unravel at warp speed.

snacky time Snacky time
Snacky time.

Life returned to normal speed when we got back to Kåre's place. First order of business: SNACK TIME. Kåre topped some buttered slices of bread with fenalår—smoked and cured lamb leg—and strips of raw red bell pepper. It was my first time eating fenalår and my first time eating cured meat with red pepper. Outcome: I like both. The red pepper seemed a bit funny at first, but it gave a nice little burst of crunch and freshness to foil the meat 'n bread.

Nice view
The view.

Here's the view from Kåre's balcony. Not too shabby, eh? If I look outside my window I see an unkempt backyard (only the basement apartment has access to it) strewn with brown and the mildly graffiti-ed brick backside of another building. That's what I get for living on the first floor. And for living in Bed-Stuy.

And then it was nap time. Nap time until dinner. Real activities could come later.

Walking down...
Oops, the sun went away.

We decided to head to the city center to walk around and scope out the restaurant possibilities. Although Kåre has a car, we went the public transportation route—that way he wouldn't have to deal with parking and could get as intoxicated as he pleased.

Bybanen waiting area
Waiting for the train.

Bybanen (sounds like "bee-bah-nen") is Bergen's light rail system, looking sparkly and new since it's only been in operation since June 2010. And light it is; so far it consists of 15 stations over 6.1 miles, but eventually the line will reach the airport. Kåre lives off the Sletten stop, about 15 minutes from the city center. Alas, it takes about 15 minutes to walk to the station (with Kåre's nice hilltop view comes the downside of walking down a hill), so it's not quite as convenient as I'd prefer (because I'm lazy and have a tendency to wheeze when faced with physical exertion), but it's certainly better than no train at all.

Bybanen info
Map, schedule, and train info.

25 kr ($4.60) buys you a single ride ticket that you validate with a scanning machine on the train. The ticket dispensing machine doesn't have directions in English, but the sign next to the machine does. If you're American, you'll want to use cash; when I tried to use my credit card the machine asked for a pin number, a bit of a problem since I'm pretty sure most American credit cards don't use them. I didn't even know Chip and PIN cards were standard in many countries until...just now when I Googled it. USA = keeping it real with 20th century credit card fraud prevention.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
On the train.

In 21st century Bergen, you can tweet photos photo from inside the trains—the trains are equipped with (sometimes spotty) Wi-Fi. Thank heavens for this glorious future where I can share information in real time that no one cares about while riding public transportation. (I can't imagine subways in New York City getting Wi-Fi in my lifetime; first, I just want those signs that tell you how many minutes until the next train is coming. I expect my subway station to get them in 2023. Anyhoo, even if we did have Wi-Fi to ensure that our lives retain seamless, never ending stimulation, I'd probably just play Angry Birds or take a nap. I'm super fond of my subway naps. Refer to paragraph one.) The ride was smooth; I could sleep like a baby on that train, but the ride is too short to get the most out of a nap.

When we plopped off in the city center, we didn't know where to eat. (We didn't discuss it on the train ride since I spent the whole time trying to figure out how to send a tweet. Yeeaaah.) Of course, I didn't know—I don't live there. Kåre didn't have any preference either. Two indecisive people = FOREVER HUNGRY.


Until we reached a sign that said, "Probably the best burgers east of Nashville" belonging to the metal and rock-themed Inside Live & Rock Cafe. Aw man, don't say stuff like that; you're just setting me up for disappointment. But I had to try it—burgers are my thing.

Burger menu

Burgers are the bulk of the menu at Inside. Most of the burgers have a heavy metal-themed name (similar to a certain Chicago burger joint) and come in three sizes: 100 grams (3.5 ounces), 160 grams (5.6 ounces), and 250 grams (8.8 ounces). Prices range from 114 kr (about $21) for the smallest, simplest burger, to 192 kr (about $35) for the large. All burgers come with a side of roasted potatoes. Yup, those prices are motherfuggin-crazy-expensive for a burger if you're American (at least, with the current exchange rate), but they're typical for Norway. Get used to that if you're eating out in Bergen. For my first night there, I had yet to adjust to weegie measurements and my inability to quickly grams to ounces and kroner to dollars meant I didn't know how much I was eating nor how much I was spending. Which was probably for the best.

To extend its HEAVY METAL ROCKER EXTREME theme, Inside offers a few gigantor burgers: the 320 gram (11.3 ounces) Bomber, the 666 gram (1.47 pounds—not quite as fun as its grams equivalent) Holy Diver, and the 1000 gram (2.2 pounds) Suicide Solution. The website features a sort of Hall of Fame for those who have eaten the burger showing how long it took them to eat it (no word on whether they threw up after they finished). That behemoth costs 419 kr, or $76.64. Sweet baby jesus.

Cheeseburger time
The Inside Burger.

But even if it cost a fourth of that, it wouldn't be worth it. I don't mean to verbally poop all over this burger, but when you make burgers your featured dish and advertise them clearly in a sign above your entrance, you're accountable for its deliciousness. And this burger (I went with the 160-gram) has one big problem:

Burger innards

The beef. It's not so beefy. Or meaty. Or fatty. Or juicy. ...On the bright side, it wasn't dry either. And it wasn't devoid of flavor, although I don't recall what the flavor was, exactly. It wasn't terrible, but it didn't taste like...burger. Morten said it more bluntly his review: "It is boring and dead." (That's from the Google translation; it may sound more lyrical in Norwegian.) Yeah, I can't argue with that—it could've been a protein patty borne from a petri dish. Although I wouldn't think to characterize a Shake Shack patty as being alive, compared to this thing, it's alive.

But that's just the meat. I'd agree with Morten that the toppings, bun, and condiments were all quite good. If not for that, the burger would be super-meh. The bun was pleasantly soft and not overwhelming, vegetable matter was fresh and crisp—there was that red pepper again!—and the slathering of Thousand Island-esque sauce on the bottom bun helped in the moisture department. I could've gone without the tomato chunk and cucumber slice on the bottom, though. I can always go without tomatoes, but in this case the slice was relegated to one side (or underside, rather) of the burger, while on the other side was a slice of cucumber. Not pickled cucumber—plain, unadulterated cucumber. Unlike the prices, plain cucumbers on burgers isn't a typical Norwegian thing, and the menu says you can ask for pickled cucumber instead. I don't know why they wouldn't just make that the default; plain cucumber doesn't add much to a burger.

Potatoes, mmm

Not knowing that the burgers came with roasted potatoes by default, we ordered a side of roasted potatoes—a side that seemed to have four potatoes' worth of roasted wedges in it. Oops. I forget what the price was, but I'm pretty sure that unlike the burgers the potatoes were reasonably priced. I guess because they're...potatoes. Good ones at that—they were nicely crisp on the outside and dusted in some sort of slightly spicy seasoning. Vague details, yeah. Overall message: I liked 'em.


I'm sad that the sign above the door was full of lies, but I'm glad I tried it. If Inside used better beef, their burger would be way better. Or they could make lamb burgers. Or mix in some pork. CROSS-SPECIES BURGER POWER.

Burger from the PAST (2006, specifically).

Morten and Kåre would probably say I already ate the best burger during my last visit to Norway in 2006 when I ate at Bolgen & Moi. I enjoyed it despite that it was more meatloaf-y than burger-y. Better than Inside, for sure, and at a similar price, but it was too unwieldy for me to want to eat it again.

After dinner we hobbled our burger and potato-laden selves (I ate way too many of those potatoes) around the mostly empty streets and very clean. A few snapshots:

Weegie words
Some parts of the sidewalk feature quotes in the tiles. "All sickness comes out of food and drink." ...Wait, I don't want to think about that.
Buildings McDonald's Walking around some backstreets
Buildings here and there. I like 'em. You'll see more in future posts.
Invisible Toy
Sign in a toy store: "Invisible Toy." Man, I don't need to buy an invisible toy; I've got one right here. [pats desk] Or is is here? [looks in drawer] Fffffuuuu—
Street sign
A street sign. Nice and simple. The name of this street is Upper Hamburger Alley. Hehehe.
Walking around some backstreets Walking around some backstreets
More backstreets and stuff. Quite cute and charming.
Let's all go to the Vaskoteque
A highly detailed map. My new favorite word is "vaskoteque."
Tada, it's Kåre
Tada, it's Kåre!

While I was taking a photo of the vaskoteque sign, a random unaccompanied young woman approached us. Friendly. Giddy. Fresh-faced. Eager to use her English. Probably very drunk. I couldn't tell if she was in high school or college—she looked pretty young. And I don't remember what our conversation consisted of (although me taking a photo of a sign for a laundromat probably had something to do with it). But she was surely the friendliest random drunk person I've ever encountered. Bless her. I hope she was able to safely stumble to her next Saturday night destination.

Ah, Bergen, giving me all the good memories.


Morte / April 8, 2011 6:00 AM

This was hillarious, and I agree with every point you made (about the movies, toys, signs, streets, the burger, Kåre).

Your burger review makes me want to cook you a really good burger, so you'll have one, then I remember you already have the best ones where you live. That's when I feel like serving you prego no pão or the last chinese emperor's favorite (according to a BBC Lifestyle show) ginger flavoured pork in a sesame roll!

Btw: Did you know Thomas Keller is a big fan of spoons? Apparently his two favorite things in a kitchen are spoons and eggs. I'm happy to agree about the egg, but I love knives more than spoons.

Angeline / April 8, 2011 8:28 PM

I agree the Social Network wasn't as good as everyone told me. It did however give me an appletini craving. My friend looks EXACTLY like Eduardo though, which was probably the best part of the movie.

I think I would enjoy living on Upper Hamburger Alley, you know as long as they have low crime, good schools, public transit and easy to find parking.

sophia / April 9, 2011 12:52 AM

Your life needs to be made into a drama/food travel sitcom.

Also, you have an obsession with burgers. Which is why I totally like you. :D

serena / April 9, 2011 11:30 PM

Loved reading about your visit; can't wait to hear more! That scenery is unreal, and the food looks DROOLWORTHY.

roboppy / April 10, 2011 2:05 AM

Morten: I do live in a prime burger area, but I appreciate you wanted to cook me a really good burger. :) WE CAN DO IT..TOGETHERRR? We can make sliders!

I didn't know Keller was a big fan of spoons. :O Now I feel like I'm missing out on some glorious world of spoons.

Eliza and Belinda: Thanks!

bionicgrrrl: HAHAHA, nice reaction. [VIRTUAL HIGH FIVE]

Angeline: My problem with the movie was that I didn't really care about...any of the characters. I guess they did as much as they could with the topic "HOW FACEBOOK WAS MADE" to get a movie out of it, though.

sophia: YAY BURGEROBSESSION! Admittedly the obsession was work-influenced, but man, when I eat not-so-good-burgers I just feel like meeeUUUH and think about all the things that could've easily made it better. ...I guess I'm a bit obsessed.

serena: Thanks! More unreal scenery is a-comin!

Bonnie / April 10, 2011 11:08 PM

Your photos of Bergen are fantastic. I've been to Oslo, Stavanger and Haugesund but not Bergen, it looks beautiful.

Norway sure isn't known for its cuisine. We subsisted on Italian and seafood. We dropped $90 on some fried egg sandwiches and drinks on an island in the Oslofjord. I got a diet coke for $7 at TusenFryd, the amusement park outside of Oslo. The food is expensive and bad, but it's one of the loveliest countries on earth.

Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip!

Noya / April 11, 2011 2:12 AM

You're photos are awesome - per usual. The cured meat + red bell pepper looks appetizing and I can imagine it was quite the nom-bomb.

Intercultural couple, ftw! Too cool that you get to visit him in Norway.

Mikey / April 11, 2011 1:45 PM

This post is laden with things i want on a t-shirt. "Burgers are my thing." "It is boring and dead." "Super-meh"

Also, I wouldnt want to eat a burger called Suicide Solution. Sounds more like some lame Emo band.

roboppy / April 14, 2011 2:19 AM

Bonnie: That's like the opposite of me: I haven't been to any other major city in Norway yet!..although I heard Bergen is one of the most charming, so I guess I started in the right place. ;) Lots of pretty cities, I want to see theeeem.

The prices are killer though, yeah. :( I had two pricey meals here that were more than some of the best restaurants in NYC, methinks. Restaurants I've never been to cos they're too expensive, haha. But at least those two meals were good. And I had some good inexpensive hot dogs and pastries.

Noya: Thanks! I'm surprised I haven't heard "nom-bomb" before. It just rolls off the tongue. Interestingly perhaps, Kåre's closest male friends in Bergen are also in interracial relationships. Not sure what that says about Norwegian women.. :O

Mikey: I like "It is boring and dead" too. Must think of a doodle to go with that. :)

Nicholas: NORWEGIAN SNACK TIME, IT IS...not so extreme. Someone should get on that. EXTREME OPEN FACE SANDWICHES. Yes.

Petterkopp / April 15, 2011 3:06 AM

What a wonderful start on my morning, alone in the office. Big pot of coffee all to myself (so far). And a wonderful read :) We miss you!! Come back soon you hear?

Rosebud / April 16, 2011 6:38 PM

My friend you should gather various posts and fashion a book. I absolutely love your voice. It's so funny, earnest and unpretentious that I don't even read for all the deliciousness you consume (always with great commentary). I read because you are a great writer. I have a feeling as well you would appreciate this:

I can't stop watching it, driving countless peers crazy.

Gretchen / April 21, 2011 5:51 PM

so I was flipping through my fav blogs, most of which are of the crafting variety and as such make me feel like the true underachiever that i am, when i said to myself "i need some giggles and no guilt" and yours was the first blog that came to mind. haven't visited in a while and, unlike the Inside burger, you did not fail to deliver, in fact, you made my day!!! thanks!

roboppy / April 25, 2011 11:28 PM

Gretchen: Aw, I'm so glad I could make your day. :) GIGGLES 4 EVER!

Anna: Thanks! Bergen photographs very well. Except for the burgers perhaps. ;) It was thicker than White Castle, I can say that for sure!

Jorid / May 3, 2011 3:03 PM

You've been in Bergen again! And you took the Bybanen!

Great that you tested the burgers on Inside, now I don't have to do it. Looking forward to read the rest of your opinions on this mini-city.

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