"" Writer's Wanderings: First Stop In Norway, Stavanger

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

First Stop In Norway, Stavanger

The sun was shining brightly as we dressed for breakfast. It was a pleasant change from the day before that had been so foggy the ship had used its fog horn in several places. As the captain reported, that meant visibility was less than 2 km which is not quite a mile and a half. Sky and sea looked the same, gray.

But that was behind us and I was excited for the port day. On shore we found two bus canopies advertising hop on hop off buses. I'd read that the cost was around $43 each but with my ankle still tender and the prospect of some hills, we decided it was worth it. 

We stopped at the first canopy and were told the tickets were discounted this day and it would only be around $35 USD. We didn't question it and purchased our tickets. I wondered a bit why she would tell us to board the second bus and not the first but I figured the first must already be full. We would find out later that we weren't really on the Hop Off Hop On but on the City Sightseeing bus which let you hop on and off too. 

Old town across from our ship.

The bus route was completed in about 45 minutes and we felt we'd seen a good deal of the different areas of Stavanger. There is a contrast between the old and the new and the old that has been restored. We passed an area that was described as the more expensive houses that were owned in the past by important people in the shipping industry or ship captains. 

Domkirke (Cathedral)

Once all the way around the route, we opted to stay on and see the cathedral. On the map, it looked like it sat up a ways on a hill and I figured we wouldn't have to climb. In reality it wasn't much of a hill. We got off the bus and headed for the front of the cathedral. The back and side appeared to be under extreme renovation and sure enough a sign that we couldn't really read indicated the year 2025. About that time we heard someone say the church was closed. 

Disappointed, we walked to the front and got a picture of what wasn't covered in construction cloth. When we turned around we realized we weren't very far from the harbor and the ship and the walk down wasn't much of a walk.

At the bottom of the slight hill, we found a supermarket and went in thinking perhaps they would have playing cards. We still have sea days ahead of us and needed something to do that we like. They didn't have cards but the nice clerk at the register spoke very good English and directed us to a store that did. We found them for about $3.20/deck and felt like we'd scored a bargain compared to the $9 on the ship.

It was close to lunchtime and we decided to head back to the ship, refresh. sit for a bit, eat and strike out again. My ankle was not feeling too bad and the area where the old town was across the harbor from the ship didn't looking too daunting to traverse. 

There were two things on our map that looked interesting. One was an old watchtower. Now I should have known it would be on a hill. One way up was stairs but we opted for a more gradual climb around the base. 

Note the blankets for customer
use when it's cold

The watch tower, called the Valberg Tower, played an important part in the fire in March of 1860 that destroyed 250 buildings and 2,000 people lost their homes. While it broke out while the weather was calm before they could extinguish it a storm blew up causing the fire to spread further. It took nine hours before they could bring it under control. 

The tower was originally built in 1658 and a watchman would keep watch from the top as well as occasionally walk the streets to be sure of the citizens' safety. The present tower was built in 1853 and it was from this point that three cannons fired to warn the townspeople of the fire that night in 1860. 

We ambled back down another street or two to find the second point of interest to us. It was a street said to be full of colorful buildings. Now in my estimation most of the buildings surrounding the harbor that housed restaurants and bars looked colorful but we searched for the street named Holmegate. The locals call it Fargegata or street of colors. It's a small street and yes, very colorful. The buildings that house mostly cafes and little shops are painted in yellows, blues, greens, oranges, etc. and have lots of flower boxes that line the outdoor patios and decks. 

I was pretty much done by the time we got to the old wharf warehouse that sits opposite where our ship is docked. Bob however had spied a store that sold Apple products and decided he wanted to go find some ear buds for his phone since the gym had no TVs to watch other than one with only sports. He likes to watch the news programs while he exercises. I guess that pumps more adrenaline.

Well, we parted company and I went back to the ship to ice my ankle and he went off to find the Apple store. As I write this, he is sitting and searching for directions in English. The buds he bought didn't have an English translation. *smile*

Our sail out of the fjord to the ocean was nice but once we hit the open sea, a strong wind was blowing and we spent a few hours walking like drunken sailors until just  after midnight when we entered another fjord. Of course by then we were in bed and had been rocked to sleep by the ship's motion. Just like being in a cradle.

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