Stavanger, Norway

Trip Start Jul 05, 2008
Trip End Jul 24, 2008

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Flag of Norway  , Western Fjords,
Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday the 19th
Stavanger, Norway
At around 6am we entered the fjord that leads into Stavanger, the 4th largest city in Norway.  Stavanger sits among a bunch of islands and a whole series of fjords.  We were up and at breakfast early since we had an excursion planned.  We were back on the Verandah as the ship pulled into the port at the end of the channel right in the center of Stavanger.  Right next to the cruise pier, directly outside our room, was the old section of Stavanger.  There are over a hundred small buildings that have been preserved from the 1800s.  The city grew up around this old section of town.
Our boat ride was to tour the Lysefjord.  The boat was a big flat thing that reminded me of the water shuttles that the "T" uses around Boston Harbor - inside the boat were about 120 seats with big windows on each side.  There was an outside observation deck upstairs, where I spent most of the ride - when it wasn't raining (shocker).  We stopped at a little visitors center designed to take boat traffic.  They gave us waffles with jam and whipped cream.  The visitors center sat right at the mouth of the fjord.  When getting back on the boat, I secured a spot on the nose with some other daring souls.  We toured beneath Pulpit Rock, a square rock that seems to stick out over the fjord, 1000 meters up.  Again, it is impossible to get the scale of these things.  Pulpit Rock is a popular hiking destination - maybe on our next time to Stavanger.  Further up the fjord we came to a water fall.  The captain maneuvered the boat so that the nose went practically under the water fall.  Yes, those of us on the front got a little wet - I took pics and then shoved the camera in my coat.  One of the ship's crew collected some of the water from the falls and distributed it as little drinks - very nice cold mountain run-off.
After returning to dock, we had lunch on the ship and then ventured out.  We passed a gaggle of Norge teens all prepping to depart on a windjammer type ship - some type of working summer camp, maybe.  At the very point of the bay is a neat building that looks like it might be an Info Center.  Nope - it was a fish market, with all sorts of fresh fish available.  We walked around the Pedestrian sections of town.  There were not too many touristy shops - lots of regular stores.  In fact, this Saturday had many locals out shopping and eating in the restaurants.  Unfortunately, it rained steady while we walked around, so we went into a mall that spans a bunch of buildings on different blocks, passing over streets in shop lined bridges.  We found a nice park with an exhibit of a photographers work.  We saw a local boy nearly take a header over a short fence into a pond - his mother caught the back of his jacket before he went over.  Certainly it was the most people we had seen since leaving Boston.  Stavanger is a pleasant small city, one worth returning to.
We dressed for Formal Night, and did open seating in the Rotterdam Dining Room.  Luckily, we were seated with a very nice pair of couples - yet another pair that cruise together regularly.  This couple was actually on the Prinsendam that was taken out by the big wave - yes, they are still cruising HAL.  I guess that they are still cruising at all is somewhat impressive.  Teresa and I chose not to ask any questions about the Prisendam..  The food at dinner this particular night was excellent.  I had a hummus plate - three kinds, two of which were great, but not enough Pita,  a Strawberry bisque - good, but it tasted more like a dessert, and Rigatoni - I was not feeling daring for the main course.  Teresa had a lobster tail and a crab chunk, both of which she enjoyed.  We drank bottle 6 of our wine package - we still have one left.
After dinner, we were invited to a Reception with the Captain.  Our guess is that everyone who is getting off in Rotterdam was invited.  They were giving free champagne.  While we were chatting with a nice youngish couple from Lauderdale, the Captain joined us.  HAL service requires 3 months on and then 3 off for its Captains and most senior crew.  He has his wife on board with him.  He retired from a Harbor Master Job in Holland before joining HAL.  Not a bad gig, and he said so, since he can spend time with his wife while working.
We caught the tail end of the show and then finished the evening in the Piano Bar.  Some of the other regulars gave me grief when we left fairly early...
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