Friday June 20th – Stavanger, Norway
Stavanger is our last port of call before we return to England. We are well south of the Arctic circle and dock on a peninsula on the southwestern coast of Norway. Once again we are visiting a settlement that dates back centuries. There are signs of human settlement as far back as 10,000 years. Stavanger itself was officially founded in 1125 and has a population of 118,000.
The language is Norwegian and due to the gulf stream, the temperature here is fairly stable ranging from 32 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Outright warm by comparison of other cities farther north. This might be considered the banana belt of Scandinavia if it was actually warm enough to grow bananas.
The locals are dressed in short sleeve t-shirts and shorts while we are still bundled up four layers thick.
This is Norway’s fourth largest city. Besides the Viking seagoing and fishing traditions, they also have a robust oil industry. But we are here to soak up more of the natural beauty so after disembarking our floating home, we hop right onto a smaller vessel (Rodne Fjord Cruise) for a three-hour ride to explore Lysefjord and catch a view of the famous Pulpit Rock from far below.
The safety instructions on how to put on the life jacket left me both scratching my head and laughing at the same time.
A mixture of small islands, bridges, and the remains of both salmon and muscle farms, lead us into the steep rock walls of the fjord.
We spotted three “wild” goats on the rocks, but shortly afterwards they scampered down the hill for the much-anticipated “lunch” provided by the boat crew. I won’t go so far as to say they are “planted” there for the tourists to see, but I doubt they roam very far in anticipation of an easy meal.
Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)
There are many pictures on the Internet taken from the top of this flat rock that showcase spectacular views. It takes about 2 hours to hike up the backside and if we had more time in this port I might have been tempted to give it a go. It was described as a “hike” not a “climb” and is supposed to have a well-marked and decent pathway to the top. The view from 1800 feet below was impressive, but from the pictures I have seen that were taken from on high, I fear it paled by comparison.
We were treated to a waffle and coffee stop and a chance to touch the Norwegian Sea before heading back to the ship.
After lunch on board, Tim and I decided to explore more of the town on foot. This town is literally “on the water”, so like many other Norwegian cities we are able to dock right in the heart of things. Walk off the ship, cross the street, walk one block and you are “there”.
For a view of town, we stopped in an old tower, paid our admission and climbed the 48 stairs to the top to take a look.
After walking around town we came to Stavanger Cathedral, also known as Stavanger Domdirke or St. Svithun’s Cathedral.
“… built between 1100 and 1150 by the English bishop Reinald it’s the only Norwegian cathedral that is almost unchanged since the 14th century.” ~ Princess Cruises port guide
The church has been in continuous use for 900 years and the Middle Age look and feel is still intact. It is simple in decoration if you are to compare it to the huge mega churches we have visited over the years, and many in the past few months. Yet, this had a warmth and an appeal in its simplicity that I found warm and welcoming. A hand carved pulpit done by the Scottish craftsman, Andrew Smith as well as the five epitaphs date back to the 17th century.
Just past the church is a lake, complete with fountain and the obligatory swan pair. This time we were treated to see four swan hatchlings with their ugly ducking feathers still in place.
People sat on the bank of the lake and visited, a couple of hungry people checked out the garbage cans in search of a meal, a mother fed her child biscuits, and others fed the pigeons and seagulls. Looking back at these events makes me sad. In hindsight, I wish people had been giving their offerings to the hungry instead of the birds, but I too was blind and too caught up in the moment of our exploring to realize the superficialness and how unconscious we can be.
Finally back on board for a 5:30ish departure. We decided to sit in the Tahitian Lounge up forward on the 10th deck to watch the islands, farms, lighthouses and rocks pass by as we head toward Dover, England.
We will be at sea all day Saturday and dock very early Sunday morning. We still do not have a clue what we are going to do for the following six days. We know we need to get from Dover to Southampton to board our next cruise, “12 day British Isles” on the 28th of June.
Stay tuned to see what we figure out…
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for an amazing cruise to Norway and the land of the midnight sun. When we left home, we had no idea that this opportunity would present itself. I drifted off to sleep thinking about how blessed we are to be able to experience, see, visit, photograph, and then write about and share such wonders around the world. I’m thankful that you are sharing this with us!