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The last day of a cruise always seems to be busy.
Packing is easier from a cabin than from home where you are agonising about what to pack, or more importantly what not to pack! You see people busily finding their new friends to exchange addresses and telephone numbers. Those who have taken one of the courses offered are finishing off their projects,others are doing last minute shopping in the boutiques or snapping up bargains on the Sales stalls.
The usual programme of activities is available and we took advantage of this to go to a couple of talks in the morning. The first was from an English woman who has lived in Norway many years. She gave a humorous talk about life in Norway. The second talk was from the Gemmologist about Tanzanite. I only heard about this gemstone recently from one of Jennie’s friends. It is a beautiful clear blue stone which was discovered in Tanzania in recent decades whilst they were searching for sapphires. It is the only place it has been discovered so is quite rare. Much of it was bought by Tiffanys New York and there are doubts about how much more will be available.
After lunch we went to a talk about future cruises, which even tempted JW my usually reticent traveller husband.:)
After the talk there was a tea dance, where those who had been learning, or improving, could show off their new skills. The highlight of the tea dance was the afternoon tea where there was a most tempting array of dainty sandwiches and cakes plus a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit kebabs. Wicked temptation which few had the will power to resist! (I did manage to resist second helpings!!)
Most people gave generously to the raffles and sweepstake in aid of the RNLR which was held after this.
After dinner we watched the beautiful sunset and then later tried to work out where we were passing on the South East coastline.

 

Sunset over the North Sea

Sunset over the North Sea

This had been a short but memorable cruise . We had travelled 2,030N.M., learned a lot about the history of the West coast of Norway and made more new friends.

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I had not seen much of Stavanger on previous visits, a couple of times when I was working in Oslo (in the 60s) I had taken the little local plane from Stavanger and I had meandered around the area near the docks a few times, so we decided to go on an organised tour this time.
Our guide was Donald, a Scotsman who has lived in Norway for over 40 years. Once again we had a guide who was a mine of information about the history of the area and kept us interested between sights.
First we drove around the old town and admired the wooden buidings.

Old town

Old town

We saw the statue of a sea captain who had captured a German ship and then sailed across to join the Norwegian Royal Navy.

 

Statue of the sea captain

Statue of the sea captain

 

We crossed the long bridge and had a wonderful views both of the city and the fjords.

Stavanger Cathedral was built in 1125 by monks from Winchester, in particular Reinard. The king then was Sigurd who wanted to divorce his wife and marry a younger woman. His request had been refused by the Bishop of Bergen, so he told Reinard he could finish his cathedral if he would grant his divorce, so Sigurd got his new wife and Reinard got his cathedral! The cathedral is dedicated to St. Swithun ( the saint of my birthday!)

We drove around the outskirts past many large villas and the airport, (which looked rather more sophisticated than the field I remembered!) to the “Three Swords” monument. This is a monument where Harald Fairhair defeated the last of the regional princes and formed the Kingdom of Norway in 872.

 

Three Swords monument

Three Swords monument

 

Three Swords Monument

Three Swords Monument

 

The next stop was at Sola church which dates back to 1150. This little church was dismantled during the war, because the Germans thought it was a landmark for the airport, but the stones had been preserved and it has now been fully rebuilt and restored.

 

Story of Sola Church

Story of Sola Church

 

Sola Church

Sola Church

 

We drove back to the ships passing some beautiful beaches and Donald told us about the recent history of Stavanger, how the oil bonanza had allowed the government to improve the infrastucture, and propects for the people.  They had not lowered taxes, but had invested in good secure jobs, the national pension scheme, free education from six years old right through to university, excellent maternity and childcare benefits and the health service.

In the evening it was the Captain’s farewell party and then the dinner had its traditional culmination when the waiters paraded with the flaming “baked Alaskas”

 

photography by JW

 

 

 

 

Whilst we were in Haugesund the weather was dull, but mild and dry. Once we were back on board the rain started and continued, off and on through the night. It was still raining when we arrived in Olden and the clouds had descende almost to sea level. This gave a magical atmospheric look to the mountains, so that you could believe in the myths of the Trolls(bad) and the Nisses (good)

Season of Mists

Season of Mists

We had not booked any tours for Olden as we had been a few times before, so we decided to have lunch aboard ship and see what the weather was like later.

Before lunch there was a boat drill exercise for the crew and it was both interesting and reassuring to see how thorough and efficient it was.

Two ladies behind me on deck were discussing the mist and decided that there must be a foundry or something to make so much “smoke”. I suddenly realised that those who spent all their lives in towns had probably never seen low clouds drifting across their lawns, which had been a common sight when we lived in West Wales!

 

Olden-mist starting to lift

Olden-mist starting to lift

 

After lunch the clouds ascended and the sun came out so we decided to take one of the new sightseeing buses from the pier out to the glacier.

Quayside Olden

Quayside Olden

Balmoral in Olden

Balmoral in Olden

The tour lasted just over an hour. We drove out through the village past the old church and the new church alongside the beautiful Olden Lake to the end of the Nordfjord. By some trick of the light the lake was a glowing turquoise blue.

We saw the glacier from afar but did not make the hour long trek to cross it 🙂

On the way back we stopped to take photographs of the waterfall.

waterfall

waterfall

 

We returned to the quayside and bought a few presents in the souvenir shop and then back home to the Balmoral!