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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

 

 

 

 

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We left Bergen at 10 pm and sailed off for Stavanger. This was an short unscheduled stop made possible by the change of route when we got permission to travel through the islands on the “inside route”.

En-route Bergen - Stavanger. Last chance to see the impressive sunset over Norway

We docked in Stavanger at 8am 22nd June. We decided that we would just wander around Gamle (old) Stavanger as we only had a few hours. I had had several short stopovers there before, as that was part of the route on the Bergen Line ferry service from Newcastle to Bergen.

We decided that we did not have time to visit any of the several museums, which cater for all tastes, and just walked up and down the steep cobbled streets of the old town. The wooden buildings there date from the 19c.

We came across a flower market in one of the squares. Most of the flowers there were indoor plants, which reminded me that most of the private houses  I had visited had a variety of indoor plants, no doubt to compensate gardeners  for the long winters and short summers. As usual there are many statues around, some of people I had heard of, but many I hadn’t.

Pigeons the world over have no respect for worthy citizens!

I’m afraid I don’t remember who this gentleman was and have lost the notes I made. Maybe someone out there can enlighten me.

When we arrived back on the Balmoral, the official from the tax office was there to refund the VAT we had paid on some of our purchases which was rather pleasant. 🙂

 We left at 1pm and waved our fond farewells to Norway.

I decided to treat myself to a spa treatment in the afternoon. The spa is staffed, mainly, by beautiful girls from Thailand. They are tiny, perfectly proportioned ladies with welcoming smiles and give the impression that their aim in life is to make you feel special.

My lady was called Lala and as I peered through the hole in the bed, when I was lying face down, I realised that her immaculate grooming even included beautifully pedicured feet with the nails  French varnished.

I had never visited a spa before but I  could see how addictive it could become, (for those with money to spare!), as I floated out of the salon to go and get ready for the Captain’s farewell cocktail party and gala dinner that evening.