The brightly coloured houses of Bryggen dominate as you take in a view of Bergen from the ship's deck. The old wharf has for centuries been an important hub on the Hanseatic trade routes and Norway's second city has benefited from the wealth this has brought. Unfortunately, the riches have not reached beyond the city's boundaries and people in the valleys further east are struggling to get by.
In Voss, Ola's home district, stories of the Promised Land have been luring people across the Atlantic since the mid-1830s. Now, some 50 years later, an emigration fever is sweeping across most of Norway and the departure of whole families, whole 'bygder' (farmsteads or small villages) even, has now become an everyday occurrence for bystanders here in Bergen. They might think that leaving Norway is no big deal, but we must not forget that it was still an extraordinary journey for every single individual who embarked upon it for the first time.
After the 1860s, the Wilson Line of Hull's steam ships came to dominate the feeder routes from Scandinavia to England. Prior to this most emigrants would sail directly to New York or Quebec on arduous journeys that could last a couple of months.
For those expecting to travel across the North Sea above deck watching the waves, the reality of the journey hit them as soon as they boarded the ship in Bergen.
Up to 300 passengers were packed like sardines at the bottom of the ship with limited sanitary facilities and restricted access to the outside deck.
This area is also referred to as 'tween decks, because it is occupying the, and for passengers highly unsuitable, storage space between the hold and the main deck. As people enter steerage they are segregated into three groups: single men, single women and families. This is done to protect decency and offer a basic level of security for women and children.
The wooden bunks are close together and it's impossible to sit up straight in them. All luggage is to be stored with the passengers themselves, making the lack of space even more acute. A makeshift wooden table usually runs down the middle which is where the meals included in the ticket price are served. The food is of poor quality, and those who have succumbed to sea sickness almost think themselves lucky as the nausea takes away their appetite.