Helsinki day 1 | Helsinki day 2 | Helsinki day 3 | Stockholm | Stockholm to Kosta | Kosta to Kalmar
Kalmar to Copenhagen | Copenhagen | Copenhagen to the Ship | Aalborg, Denmark | Flam, Norway
Alesund, Norway | Molde, Norway | Geiranger, Norway | Olden, Norway | Bergen, Norway
Eidfjord, Norway | Stavanger, Norway
August 2, 2016
At last, a real city. It was raining.
And so the pictures taken from the bus were, again, through the rain. We are getting good at photographic Impressionism and are finding we quite like the effect.
The guide was from London originally and great fun. She introduced herself as speaking three languages; English, gibberish, and rubbish, and promised to speak all three during the tour.
The first official stop was at a monument to the consolidation of Norway into one nation in 872. The stone sculptures of three Viking swords represented the eastern, western and northern portions of Norway that were joined together. In Viking tradition, peace was demonstrated by breaking off the tip of one's sword and putting it in the ground. That is what the artist represented here: peace and the uniting of three parts of Norway. The artist used very tall carved stone pillars (at least 25 feet high) whose figurative broken tip was "buried" in this granite hill located on the fjord shoreline. We slipped and slid up to the top since the path was muddy from the morning's rain; grass was sparse and turned all shoes into sleds.
The Petroleum Museum was a place I wasn't particularly interested in seeing. I am not a museum buff. So I broke away from the group and went to a nearby shopping street to try to find some Nordic trekking poles. (Would you believe that I've looked for those trekking poles in at least three of our last stops and just cannot find them.) On the way back I passed by a children's playground (the photos below). It's part of the Museum and the playground "equipment" is cleaned-up and repurposed scrap parts from oil drilling rigs. In addition to the imaginative use of the materials, graffiti artists were encouraged to paint the pieces in bright colors. The children loved it all and were using this playground even in the rain. I returned in time to join the tour through part of the Museum, which I must confess was more interesting than I expected. The building, exhibits and interactive displays, videos, etc., are testimony to what can be done if money is no object. Starting in the 1070's Norway became very wealthy from oil and this Museum shows it.
We returned to the ship, had lunch, and decided to take a chance that the sunshine that had broken through in the late morning. would last for a trip around the old town. The most famous part of the area was a collection of 100+ old wooden structures that were the slums of the City but were saved by gentrification and public action. Like many urban areas throughout the Western World, including Georgetown and Capitol Hill in D.C. and Greenwich Village in New York, these houses have become very desirable places to live. The care of the houses is strictly controlled by the City. All are painted white (except, note the one small blue and red ones).
The remainder of the downtown is wrapped around a small harbor in a fjord. The whole harbor area is home to the ships and storage facilities that support the North Sea oil rigs. The downtown shopping area is larger than most we have seen on this tour but the shopping for the locals is done, as it is everywhere, away from here in suburban areas. (And that's probably where my trekking poles are too.) Because they support both the locals and a large tourist trade, restaurants and cafes are everywhere.
Stavanger is a nicely laid out, comfortable, midsize affluent city. Regarding affluence, however, there's been a recent turn of events. Over the last 18 months or so, falling oil prices around the world led to reduced oil production resulting in lower revenues and the loss of jobs for about 30,000 workers in the Norwegian oil industry (who are considered very well paid in this country). Many of those workers live in and around Stavanger.
We have pulled away from port and are at sea for the next two nights and the day in between. We dock at Dover, England and begin our journey home. We just passed one of the oil rigs. Big things. And it wasn't even in the North Sea.
It has been a pleasant trip. We are getting better at traveling, packing less and planning more carefully. Although Carol did not see a Viking (as far as I know) we both had a good time visiting the places she has long wanted to see.
Legendary Cultures 2011 | Greece & Turkey 2012 | Circle The Arctic | France-Denmark 2016 | Helsinki-Norway 2016