|Practical Information on Your Stay in Bergen|
Norway is NOT a member of the European Union. However it is part of the European Schengen Agreement, so individuals travelling within that area are free to pass the borders without control of passport. Formal passport control is only applied to travellers arriving and departing from/to countries outside the Schengen area. Nonetheless, Norwegian border authorities in practice exercise a discretionary right to request identification of individual travellers.
The national currency is Norwegian Krona (NOK), equal to 7.5 NOK to the Euro (February 2012). Cash in NOK can be retrieved at most ATM’s which are plentiful in the city. International credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, larger stores and tourism associated shops. However, smaller shops and eating places often do not accept such international cards, even if they have MasterCard and Visa stickers on the door. These stickers refer to cards issued in Norway only. If you are in doubt, do ask before ordering.
Visa for Entry to Norway
For bona fide participants in need of visas the organisers of the ECM27 will assist in providing the necessary attestation to assist the application process. The policy of the European Crystallographic Association (ECA) is that the applicant must register with the conference before requesting a visa support letter from the organiser; cf. http://ecm27.ecanews.org/contact.html. Any problems during the visa application process after all documentation has been provided can be reported to the organisers of the ECM27 for further assistance. Further important official information on visa issues is given here: http://www.udi.no/templates/tema.aspx?id=4477
Norway exercises a strong customs border control. Please study the rules in details here: http://www.toll.no/default.aspx?epslanguage=en
Here is a quote from the above web page:
One litre of an alcoholic beverage containing more than 22% and up to 60% alcohol by volume and one and a half litres containing more than 2.5% up to 22% alcohol by volume, or three litres of beverages containing more than 2.5% and up to 22% alcohol by volume
Two litres of beer containing more than 2.5% alcohol by volume, or other beverage containing more than 2.5% and up to 4.7% alcohol by volume. This means, for example, that you can import five litres of beer if you do not have other alcoholic beverages with you
200 cigarettes or 250 grams of other tobacco products, and
200 sheets of cigarette papers
You must be over 18 years old to import alcoholic beverages. To import alcoholic beverages containing more than 22% alcohol by volume, you must be over 20 years old.
You must be over 18 years old to import tobacco products.
For your information a package of 20 cigarettes of an international brand costs ~98 NOK in Norway. Half a litre of beer costs a minimum of 25 NOK in a grocery shop, and normally between 50 and 80 NOK in a hotel, pub or restaurant. A glass of a simple wine typically costs 50-85 NOK. Other than at licensed places, liquor, wine and beer (above 4.5% alcohol by volume) are only sold in monopoly stores.
Wining and Dining
Bergen has a large number of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. As everywhere else these widely vary in terms of price. Most of the upmarket restaurants and pubs cater to tourists during the summer season and are located in the vicinity of the town square and the fish market. For people that seek food at low cost (apart from fast food), this is mostly found at smaller ethnic food restaurants - mostly Asian fusion. These restaurants normally do not accept international credit cards.
Climate and Weather
Bergen has a typical west coast climate, without extreme heat in summer or cold in winter, relative to inland Scandinavia. Instead the mild and humid Atlantic air brings a lot of precipitation all year around as it hits land, albeit with the lowest numbers during the summer months. There is more or less continually a wind mostly from a SE/S/SW direction. In 2011, August gave 109 mm of rain (normal 190 mm) with an average wind of 2.7 m/s and a maximum observation of 10.1 m/s. The average temperature was 15.1 degrees C (normal 14.1). The highest value observed in August 2011 was 25.8, and the lowest 7.3 degrees C.
You can study the Bergen weather forecast at this page: http://www.yr.no/place/Norway/Hordaland/Bergen/Bergen/
By air - You will arrive at the Bergen (Flesland) airport situated 20 km south of the city centre. The airport is small and handy with some 25 meters to walk from the customs exit to reach the outside. Directly by the exit, stands the airport bus that brings you to Bergen city in about 30 minutes, depending on traffic. These buses depart every 15 minutes during most of the day, and every 30 minutes early mornings and late evenings. The bus stops at several places in the city centre, the first being the bus&train station, only some three minutes’ walk from the conference venue. The current price for a return ticket (valid 30 days) is 160 NOK (21.3 Euro) and a single journey is 100 NOK (13.3 Euro). This can be paid in cash (NOK only) or with MasterCard or Visa cards. Payment can only be made to the bus driver.
Students and senior citizens (+67) are eligible for a discount, for students upon presentation of student identification. Only an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is accepted. For senior citizen a normal and valid proof of identification is required.
Behind the airport bus is the taxi stand. There are four companies in Bergen, two of which are dominating (Bergen Taxi and Norges Taxi). The price for a ride to the city centre depends on the number of persons, the day of the week and the time of day. As an indication only, a day-fare would amount to about 350-400 NOK for a car with up to 4 persons. Payment can be made with international cards or in cash. Bergen Taxi requires that the credit card be given to the driver before the drive starts. Read more here: http://www.avinor.no/en/airport/bergen/tofromairport
By boat – The ‘proper’ way to arrive in Bergen is by boat as this approach is the most scenic possible, as is the journey along the coastline. There is a regular ferry link with Denmark, please follow this link: http://fjordline.com/ For extended information please read here: http://www.visitbergen.com/en/TRANSPORT/
By train – The train station is located at the city centre. Most passengers will be able to walk to the hotel, given good weather. Please study the map given under http://ecm27.ecanews.org/conference-venue.html
By car – Parking in the city centre is best done in parking houses as parking fines are substantial and the official politics is against cars in the city. During the summer season there is however no shortage of such parking space. The closest garage is under the conference venue, and the second closest is by the bus station, within a walk of some 3 minutes. The latter garage charges 10 NOK per 30 minutes or 130 NOK per 24 hours. A weekly card costs 600 NOK, then allowing an unlimited number of passages in and out of the garage during that period. Entering Bergen with a car is subject to a toll (from the registration plate by automatic camera). Rental cars normally have automatic toll transponders. Gasoline is 15.2 NOK and diesel 14.2 NOK per litre (February 2012).
Driving in Norway
With few exceptions the maximum speed limit in Norway is 80 km/h. Speed controls are frequent and enforced via manual controls and numerous road cameras. Please note that also the average speed between two cameras will be calculated and a fine issued if the allowed average speed has been violated. Speed fines are high and payable on site. As an example: If you overspeed by 25 km/h on a 60 km/h road you pay 6.500 NOK. An excess speed above 30 km/h costs you your drivers’ license in addition to a fine. There are also many parts that are subject to bridge/city/road/tunnel tolls. Entering Bergen with a car is subject to a toll (from the registration plate by automatic camera). Rental cars normally have automatic toll transponders. Be aware that it is not uncommon to find cows or sheep on the roads in rural parts. Driving and drinking is a serious offence and the legal limit is 0.2o/oo (20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood). Please read more about driving a car in Norway here: http://www.visitnorway.com/driving-in-norway