The Reluctant Traveller visits Norway

Diogenes's picture
NorwayStreet3x (14K)

The Relunctant Traveller found himself in Norway for reasons that were, like the weather, never very clear. We saw about six hours of sunshine in the six days we were there.

We stayed in Stavanger, a pretty little town on the west coast that is a service port for North Sea oil production.

Stavanger is much farther north (N59°) than where most Canadians live. Nevertheless, it enjoys an average temperature some 20° warmer than similar latitudes in Canada because of the warm Gulf Stream current. The landscape is lush, with large coniferous and deciduous trees; rolling hills, big rocks and verdant pastures.

Stavanger, Norway

The scenery, when it was visible, was beautiful. Stavanger combines the charm of a Canadian east coast fishing village with the mountain vista of Canada's west coast.

Norway is a country where they blend socialism with oil wealth.

Norwegian Petroleum Museum (10K)

The Norwegian Petroleum Museum is excellent and worth the visit.

The oil platform workers typically spend a 2 week shift on the platform, followed by a 3 week break. On board, they have their own bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. They also get paid vast sums of money, which is necessary if you live in Norway.

The sales tax here, detailed on every cash register receipt you get, is 14% on normal items like food, and 25% on luxury items like wine and Kleenex. MLW has future viking, Stavanger, Norway (46K) suggested that Kleenex falls into the latter category because, after all, you can always blow your nose into your sleeve.

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when we arrived, about 20°C or so. There was a garden market happening in the town square.

We had a furbished company apartment to stay in, so we planned to prepare most of the meals ourselves. After locating the apartment and dropping off the luggage, we set off for a walk and to buy some food.

sodd (22K)

Most every shop was closed by 6 pm, with almost nothing open on Sunday. Some shops are open only 4 hours a day, on the days they are open at all. This must be Norway.

We eventually did locate a convenience store that was open. The food selection was, uh, rather curious. A popular item in the coolers was some kind of fish pudding: a mixture of fish, milk and tapioca. It was a creamy white and packaged in a cellophane tube crimped at each end, like liver sausage. Neither of us had the courage to try it.

signage in Stavanger (41K)

Another charming feature of the grocery stores was the steel barricades that lowered from the ceiling over the beer selection. This occured about 6 pm on Saturday. It remained in lockdown mode until Monday.

Wine and other liquors were only available from the state(?) liquor store, which, of course, was also closed.

The Norwegians are very clever when it comes to their currency, the Kroner.

Nobody really knows what a kroner is worth and the Norwegians set the conversion rate to make it as difficult as possible to figure out what things really cost in any other currency. It kind of feels like India that way. You just shrug your shoulders and pay whatever; maybe it's a good deal, maybe not.

kaker (19K)

I eventually figured out that the six pack of Carlsberg cost me almost C$30.00 or €20 (149.00 kroners). The banner on the bottom of the label on a can of Carlsberg says "Probably the best beer in the world". I can think of a much more suitable superlative to apply here.

Another curiousity were the community recycling containers. You need this key-fob thingy (that looks like a garage door opener) to unlock the door on the recycling containers! It remains a mystery to me why this is - perhaps at one time there was rampant recycling taking place by tourists and non residents.

the crowds in the market (16K)

I have to say it was a bit strange compared to Holland. You did not see many people milling about, only the occasional car zipping to its destination. Otherwise, it was eerily quiet. Even the offices seemed vacant and void of any activity.

Of course, many Norwegians were on vacation at the time.

Antartica Expedition Banner (40K)

A cruise ship in the harbour displayed an Antartica Expedition banner. Since this was in early July, I could only assume one of two possibilities: either this was a six month cruise, whereupon it would be summer in Antartica on arrival; or that Norwegians really do like cold dark nights in barren wastelands. I digress.

preikestolen (7K)

After waiting for four days for the weather to break, I decided to take a boat trip anyway, to Pulpit rock. We traveled up a fjord to this magnificent slab of rock perched 600 meters directly above the water.

I only know this from the pictures I have seen on Google Earth and in tourist brochures. Apparently, they do have sunny days in Norway, and when they do, WOW is the scenery ever spectacular!

We arrived at Pulpit Rock with a complete cloud canopy floating no more than 150 meters above us. And it was raining and cold. The pictures you see here have been copied from the internet.

The fjords in Norway are amazing. There is one that travels more than 200km inland. A very popular activity is sailing up the fjords.

ready to leave (15K)

Many tourists from Europe bring their boats here by ferry (apparently not that expensive) to spend 2 or 3 weeks exploring the fjords of Norway.

If you do this, you are guaranteed 2 or 3 days of spectacular scenery. Just bring your own beer.

stavanger panorma(25K)