Kayaking in Nærøyfjord on August 21, 2014


Norway 2014

Last updated February 16, 2015



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Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Day Six | Day Seven | Day Eight

In 2013, Suzanne and Jenn B. did a multi-day kayak trip in Norway. After they returned, Norma and I were invited over to see the photos they took. The pictures were truly breathtaking and left an impression on me.

Norma was scheduled to do a business trip in Germany in 2014. She wanted to do some sightseeing after. At first, I was not so interested in joining her so I suggested she ask Carmen, which she did. Carmen suggested they go to Norway. By this time, I had forgotten that Suzanne and Jenn's trip was to Norway...I only remembered it was someplace in northern Europe. Then Carmen sent me a link and a video to a hike called Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen). The views were simply amazing. It is like nothing I had ever seen before. Then Norma reminded me of Suzanne's fabulous photos of Norway. It was just a matter of time before I changed my mind and decided to go.

Norma and I met with Suzanne who loaned us a book about Norway and reiterated about how great the place is. My one requirement to going was that I wanted at least a full day of kayaking.

Norma and Carmen planned the whole trip. Since they decided not to rent a car, the logistics were very complicated. Lots of trains, buses, ferries, and a few taxis.

Norway is very expensive so to try and save money, we never stayed in a hotel...just hostels, AirBnBs, or sleeping on the train. An additional complication was that we would all be flying in separately and leaving separately. But through all their hard work and coordination, they pulled it all together and made this a most memorable Team SNaCk (Saki, Norma, and Carmen) trip.

The Norwegian language has a lot of funny characters that we don't have in English. If you use Internet Explorer 10.0 and are having problems viewing these characters, select "View/Encoding/Western European (Windows)." I didn't have any problems viewing Norwegian characters with the default settings in Mozilla Firefox 32.0.

Day One, Wednesday, August 20, 2014

After an overnight flight from Dulles, I landed in Bergen, Norway, gateway to the fjords. Here I met up with Carmen and then Norma. The three of us took a bus to the fish market.

I tried some smoked minke whale on a bagel. I usually don't care much for smoked meat so if I eat it again I should try some that is fully cooked. It was very dark and chewy. Not very tasty but not terrible.

I'm not very good when it comes to buying souvenirs or gifts so I like to buy things that people can eat. I purchased a gift set of whale sausage, goat cheese, goat sausage, reindeer sausage, and moose sausage. Much of this would be for my chicken sitter.

Bergen was cool, cloudy, charming, and clean. See first photo, first column. Many of the roads were cobblestone and all the rooftops were made of terra cotta or stone shingles. I'm guessing that roofers don't often get work but when they do, they charge a lot.

The fish market area was pretty busy and appeared to be the downtown center. Nearby, I saw a sign for Louisiana Creole Cafe and Restaurant. See second photo, first column.

I saw grey and black crows called hooded crows. See third photo, first column. I had never seen them before. Except for their color, they seemed exactly like our American crows.

We checked in at the YMCA Hostel. The three of us would stay in a room with about 20 bunk beds with lots of other travelers. We dropped off our luggage and carried our valuables in backpacks.

Back at the fish market, I saw antlers for sale.

I looked at the cars. There were lots of very small cars but also plenty of standard-sized cars. Quite a few Ford Focuses. No pickup trucks.

I was warned that Bergen has a lot of pickpockets. Fortunately, the only thing I lost was my water bottle which fell out of the side pouch of my backpack.

The three of us walked around town, exploring all the little side streets along the way (fourth photo, first column).

We visited the Bergenhus Castle which didn't seem all that castle-like compared to ones I'd seen in Scotland, Germany, or Italy. See fifth photo, first column and first photo, second column.
This is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. The fortress contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II.
- from Wikipedia - Bergenhus Fortress

From a different vantage point in town, we had a nice view both above (second photo, second column) and below (third photo, second column).

We passed by Saint Mary's Church (Mariakirken). See fourth photo, second column.
Mariakirken was established in the 12th century and is the oldest standing building in Bergen. The church was built in the Roman style and has some Gothic additions which were added after the fire of 1248.
- from information sign
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

I was pretty exhausted after the flight over while Norma and Carmen were not. Norma had flown in from Germany while Carmen arrived from Finland so they both had relatively short flights and were already adjusted to the time zone. I went back to the YMCA to sleep while they took the Fløibanen funicular to see a great view of the city after climbing 1050 feet above sea level to the top of Fløyen. See first photo, first column.

In addition to having a great view of the city down below, they also found a children's park with trolls and witches. See second photo, first column, first photo, second column, and second photo, second column.

They also saw a very nice sunset (third photo, second column). Summer sunsets in Norway occur pretty late in the day. Conversely, their winters are very dark. I suppose all that darkness might be some of the inspiration for their black metal, which I read is their biggest cultural export.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Day Two, Thursday, August 21, 2014

After checking out of the YMCA bright and early, we walked to the train station (first photo, first column). On a bench, we saw a sign which read "Mating av duer forbudt!" I originally thought this translates as "Mating is not forbidden." Supposedly, the Norwegian population can stand some growth so I imagine they are trying to encourage this by any means possible. But it turns out the actual translation is "Feeding the pigeons prohibited."

We (Team SNaCk) took a 2 hour train ride to Voss.

Then we boarded a bus. We saw some scenic views (second photo, first column) and waterfalls (first photo and second photo, second column) along the way. It was on this ride that we were glad we did not rent a car. The roads were big enough for one car, yet traffic was not one way. Occassionally, another vehicle would approach. One would simply have to back up and pull over along the side of the road to let the other vehicle pass. Drivers were courteous and very skilled. Backing up on such narrow mountain roads was not our cup of tea. We'll leave that for the natives.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Norma, Carmen, and I arrived at our destination for what would be my favorite day of the trip. For the next few hours, we would be kayaking in Nærøyfjord with Nordic Ventures, an outfitter.

There were 9 in our group. Some of the other tourists were from England, Germany, Italy, and France. Our guide was from New Zealand.

After a brief introduction to kayaking, we launched. See first and second photos, first column.

I paddled an Eclipse Perception kayak (third photo, first column) while Norma and Carmen were in a Necky tandem (fourth photo, first column).

There was one other group of kayakers out and a few large ferries (fifth photo, first column) and tour boats (sixth photo, first column) but otherwise, it was pretty quiet. As beautiful as the place was, I'm surprised there weren't kayakers all over the place.

The water and wind were calm (see seventh and eighth photo, first column). With such big mountains all around (ninth photo, first column), I expect that would normally be the case. So it seems like standup paddleboards (SUPs) would be ideal, yet there were none.

Norma and Carmen did just fine in their kayak with Norma controling the rudder and Carmen providing additional muscle.
  • Tenth photo, first column: Shortly after launching.
  • Eleventh photo, first column: Wardrobe adjustment for Carmen.
  • Twelfth photo, first column: Foggy skies.

  • Meanwhile, I was having fun in my kayak, racing around and playing chicken with Norma and Carmen.
  • Thirteenth photo, first column: A kayaker's paradise.
  • Fourteenth photo, first column: Happy as a pig in mud.
  • Fifteenth photo, first column: Let's see how fast this thing goes.

  • At the turnaround point, we pulled over for lunch. Our guide had us put up a canopy. Then he prepared a tasty meal of pork, pasta, and sausage. The two vegetarians in our group ate bell pepper with cheese.
  • Sixteenth photo, first column: Good place for a break.
  • Seventeenth photo, first column: Fantastic view.
  • Eighteenth photo, first column: Big mountains with kayakers from another group down below. Can you see them?
  • Nineteenth photo, first column: Our group, minus our guide who is taking the photo.

  • I think we might have seen a few seals sticking their heads out of the water in the distance but we had no encounters on the water. The only wildlife I remember that day was a few seagulls.

    The water was a little cold but not as cold as I would have expected given that it is melted snow. See twentieth photo, first column and first photos, second column. Can you see the snow?

    The morning was a mix of sun and clouds (see second and third photos, second column) and it rained a little in the afternoon.

    If one was to ask me what I like most about the scenery, I would say it is the way the steep, rugged landscape leaps out of the water. See fourth photo, second column and fifth photo, second column. That reminded me of Antalya, Turkey, where I visited back in 1988 or 1989.

    On the return trip, we saw several beautiful waterfalls.
  • Sixth photo, second column: Lone kayaker.
  • Seventh photo, second column: Euro-kayakers.
  • Eighth photo, second column: Maybe the grass is so green because it is being watered with super-fresh water.
  • Ninth photo, second column: Can you see the sheep?
  • Tenth photo, second column: I don't need no stinking rudder!

  • A trail ran along the fjord. See eleventh photo, second column. Had we more time, I would have liked to have explored it.

    Norma and I took a lot of other photos worthy of display.
  • Twelfth photo, second column: Three boats, all going different directions.
  • Thirteenth photo, second column: Carmen sees something point-worthy.
  • Fourteenth photo, second column: Frenchy is catching up.
  • Fifteenth photo, second column: Norma stretches to get the overhead view.
  • Sixteenth photo, second column: Some of the fjord is in a shadow and some is not.
  • Seventeenth photo, second column: A tour boat passes by.
  • Eighteenth photo, second column: How many kayaks can you find? I see at least 3.

  • I'm guessing we paddled a total of about 7 miles.

    Afterwards, we posed for a final group photo. See nineteenth photo, second column.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    After leaving the area by bus, we continued to see more beautiful waterfalls. See first photo, first column.

    We took a ferry ride to Sogndal and then to our final destination, Eplet bed and apple at the head of Sognefjord. Along the way, we saw more nice scenery. See second photo, first column and first photo, second column.

    On the ferry, Carmen is smiling on the ferry because she is standing uphill of me. She really is taller than me but not by as much as it looks in the photo. See second photo, second column.

    At Eplet, Carmen had a squadbay-style room (like at the YMCA) while Norma and I had one just barely big enough to fit 2 beds. That was the only night the team was split up.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Three, Friday, August 22, 2014

    Norma and I awoke to a beautiful view of the town. See first photo, first column.

    Sticking my head out the window, I saw the only solar panels we would see in Norway. These were part of a solar thermal system. Being so far north, they get a lot of darkness 6 months out of the year so I don't know if it make sense to harness solar energy. They certainly have plenty of other options. See second photo, second column.

    The tent campers were set up below our window.

    One thing I noticed about Norway is that quite a few people fly the Norwegian flag. I admire that they are not hesitant to show pride in their country.

    We borrowed bicycles from Eplet and pushed them through an apple orchard to the water (third photo, first column). Then we took a ferry across Sognefjord.
  • Fourth photo, first column: Crystal clear water.
  • Fifth photo, first column: Steep, rugged cliffs.
  • Sixth photo, first column: On the ferry.

  • The three of us landed at Ørnes.

    Norma, Carmen, and I biked and walked up a steep hill to Urnes Stave Church where we had a guided tour.
    A stave church has been built three times on the same site here at Orneset. A hundred years would pass between the first and the third, the one we can visit today. The timber was felled in the years 1129-1130. On the long northern wall, original decorated sections from the demolished church have been used: the portal, wall planks and a corner post. The decorated gables from the same church are now covered to prevent wear and tear.
    The stave churches are Norway’s unique contribution to the world’s cultural heritage. Most were built between approx. 1130 and 1350, when the Black Death brought all new building to an end. Similar churches existed elsewhere in Europe, but only the Norwegian ones have survived. Of the original approx. 1,000 churches, 28 remain. Urnes stave church is the eldest and most highly decorated of them. In 1979 it was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In this description, we delve back to the time when the church was built, approx. 20 years before catholic Norway became a separate province under the Pope in Rome.

    - from Urnes Stave Church

    I was amazed at how well preserved the church was. The shingles were made of wood yet there was no sign of decay.
  • First photo, second column: The south side was less preserved so we could see the wood.
  • Second photo, second column: The north side was more heavily treated with creosote.
  • Third photo, second column: Some of the church displayed ornate carvings.
  • Fourth photo, second column: A road ran by the church and cemetary.

  • We had a light snack (living up to our team name) in the cemetary (fifth photo, second column).
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Norma, Carmen, and I pushed our bikes back downhill and prepared for our ride. We met Chi-son of South Korea who joined us. The four of us rode on the Romantic Road.

    The road was easy and well-maintained.
  • First photo, first column: Carmen getting all fancy.
  • Second photo, first column: Norma and Chi-son with Carmen leading the way.
  • Third photo, first column: Norma and Chi-son stop near a small orchard.
  • Fourth photo, first column: Not much traffic.
  • Fifth photo, first column: Seals sticking their heads out of the water.
  • Sixth photo, first column: Norma and me with Sognefjord behind.
  • Seventh photo, first column: Lotsa snow in those hills.
  • Eighth photo, first column: Carmen contemplates doing an Evel Knievel stunt...jumping her bike across the fjord.
  • Ninth photo, first column: About midway was a refrigerator where one could purchase refreshments on the honor system.
  • Tenth photo, first column: Colorful home.
  • First photo, second column: We had to dismount and walk our bikes around the vehicle tunnel.
  • Second photo, second column: The trail around the tunnel.
  • Third photo, second column: Norma races by.

  • We parked the bikes at a trailhead and then hiked up a short trail. See fourth and fifth photos, second column. Eventually, we reached our destination, Feigefossen, a waterfall.
    The Feigefossen Waterfall has a drop of 218 meters [715 feet]. It is the second highest unregulated waterfall in Norway.
    - from Feigefossen waterfall

    The view was well worth the effort.
  • Sixth photo, second column: A majestic unregulated waterfall. Not sure what that means.
  • Seventh photo, second column: Go Team SNaCk!

  • It looked like they have mayapples there...or some plant very similar to them.

    Much of the return ride was towards the setting sun. See eighth photo, second column. Norway summer sun is very intense. When I saw Suzanne's photos of the country, at first I thought they were Photoshopped. Later, I realized that the angle and brightness of the sun are what produces such vibrant colors and clarity. But it can be blinding if you are driving or biking into it.

    I reckon we biked about 18 miles.

    Back at Eplet, Carmen and I tried slacklining. She did much better than I (ninth photo, second column).

    We said hello to the three small sheep that live at Eplet (tenth photo, second column).

    Tonight we had a different room at Eplet that accommodated all three of us.

    The three of us ate dinner back at Eplet, the Norwegian word for "apple." We have been living mostly off groceries since it is so expensive to eat out. Everything seems to be expensive in Norway. Even the Brits and Germans say so. It didn't make sense to me. They have lots of oil and not many people. They have socialized medicine which is expensive but so do a lot of other European countries.

    Every day so far has been very overcast and cool. But when the sun comes out, things warm up. We find ourselves constantly putting on and taking off layers to stay comfortable. It seems to rain often but very lightly and not for long.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Four, Saturday, August 23, 2014

    A taxi picked us up early at Eplet and then took us to the train. See first photo, first column. Our experience is that the taxis, trains, buses, and ferries are reliable and prompt.

    The train took us to Fretheimshaugane (second photo, first column), just north of Flåm. Like many of the small towns in Norway, Fretheimshaugane was nestled between big mountains at the tip of a fjord (third photo, first column). I think they actually refer to the town as Flåm when talking to outsiders...much like folks refer to Elkridge as being part of Baltimore even though it isn't. As I expected, the place had very clean water (fourth photo, first column).

    We took a little walk (fifth photo, first column) to a farm called Otternes that dates back to 1700. Here we ate a pancake that Norma really liked. The view from Otternes was really nice. See sixth photo, first column.

    We saw a lot of interesting old buildings. Some had green roofs.
  • First photo, second column: House on mushroom stilts.
  • Second photo, second column: That is one healthy-looking lawn.
  • Third photo, second column: Rock foundation.
  • Fourth photo, second column: Great view!

  • Like Eplet, sheep were walking around.

    Along the way, there were supposedly rock carvings from between 6000 and 11,000 years ago. We saw markers for them but not the actual carvings.

    There were wild roses in bloom.

    We took a very scenic train ride on the Flåm Railway to Myrdal. We stopped at the Myrdalsfossen waterfall. There was music and a couple of dancers on rocks near the falls to entertain us. See fifth photo, second column. Can you see the dancer?

    After waiting at the train station, we boarded another train for a longer trip. Outside, the temperature dropped to as low as one degree Celcius (34 degrees Fahrenheit). Somehow, one degree Celcius sounds a lot colder than 34 Fahrenheit.

    Team SNaCk arrived in Oslo at an AirBnB in the house of a very blonde woman by the name of Hanne.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Five, Sunday, August 24, 2014

    Oslo is the capital of Norway and the most populated city in the country. It was founded around 1000.

    The three of us set out to explore the city.

    I saw a Tesla car. This was the only American car I saw besides Fords.

    We watched an outdoor beach volleyball game. See first photo, first column. As I watched lots of tall, blonde Norwegians walking around, I never felt so short. There are very few fat people in Norway. Also not many ethnic minorities but more than I expected.

    Carmen, Norma, and I walked by the Oslo Cathedral (second photo, first column).

    Like San Francisco, Oslo has trolleys. See third photo, first column.

    A fountain statue of chickens reminded me of home. See fourth photo, first column.

    There were public toilets that were fully automated (fifth photo, first column). I paid with a coin to use one. Like the ones I remember in France back in 1989, they were incredibly clean. After using one later, Norma tried to beat the system by going in once the door opened to let me out. She soon found her shoes being flooded with cleaning fluid as she scrambled to get out.

    There was a guy making really big (8 feet long) bubbles that kept the kids entertained. See sixth photo, first column.

    We walked past the National Theatre of Oslo (first photo, second column).

    I saw a Buddy electric car. These are made in Norway. Beauty in being small. There is hope for me yet. See second photo, second column.

    We went into City Hall and saw numerous friezes. Most of them depice some events in the old Norse mythology. There were also several paintings and sculptures.
  • Third photo, second column: Front of building.
  • Fourth photo, second column: Carillon towers.
  • Fifth photo, second column: Frieze, a wood carving.
  • Sixth photo, second column: City hall painting.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Norma and I got on a ferry while Carmen went off to do her own thing. Our boat passed a small lighthouse. I looked for kayakers but saw none.

    The two of us went to the Viking Ship Museum.
    The Viking Ship Museum houses the four Viking ship burials from the Oslo Fjord area; those found at Oseberg, Gokstad, Tune, and Borre. All four were excavated between 1854 and 1904. Three of the graves contained ships that have survived to this day. The Oseberg ship built in 820, the Gokstad ship built shortly before 900, and the Tune ship from 910.
    The three ships had been at sea for several years before they were pulled ashore and used as burial ships. The dead were placed in burial chambers built onboard the ships. The dead were buried with generous supplies of food and drink, various animals, and a large number of objects, both functional and decorative.

    - from sign in museum

    The time of the Vikings was from about 750 to 1066 AD. The Viking homeland was Scandinavia - an area of great diversity with varying landscapes, climates, and agricultural conditions. In good farming regions, field crops and animal husbandry were the main means of livelihood. In other places, people relied more on hunting and fishing, also profitable activities.
    Waterways were important everywhere in Scandinavia. The Vikings were excellent ship builders and sailors. Their ships were fast-moving and well-built, and suitable for long sea voyages. From Scandinavia, the Vikings sailed west across the North Sea to the British Isles and across the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland, and North America. Others sailed south along the coast of Europe and entered the Mediterranean. Still others travelled east along the great rivers of Russia to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
    The Vikings plundered churches, monasteries, villages, and cities. But they were also merchants and craftsmen. They sold their goods in towns and marketplaces, and established trading colonies in Ireland and Russia. Many Norsemen settled down in the lands they had invaded. They settled in Iceland and Greenland and were the first Europeans in North America.

    - from sign at museum

    The ships were very well preserved.
  • First photo: Me and one bad ass boat.
  • Second photo: These aren't just boats, they are works of art.
  • Third photo: Modern boat design hasn't changed much in 1000 years.
  • Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Our next stop was the Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Museum of Cultural History) which showcased many historic buildings from the country. Several had "green roofs." See first photo, first column. Many were elevated on mushroom-shaped platforms. See second photo, first column. I really liked this place.

    There was a stave church that strongly resembled the one we saw on day three. See third photo, first column.

    The craftsmanship that went into making these buildings was impressive (fourth photo, first column). So was the level of effort to move them all to this location.

    I saw Eurasian magpies that reminded me of ones from Sacramento. See first photo, second column.

    Some buildings had perfectly shaped slate roof shingles. See second photo, second column.

    There were chickens on display at the Folkemuseum that made me feel homesick (third photo, second column). Can you spot the rooster?.

    Even the cobblestone roads were laid with great care. See fourth photo, second column.

    A subset of the Museum of Cultural History included the Norwegian Pharmacy Museum (fifth photo, second column).
    The Herbal Garden at Norsk Farmasihistorisk Museum was opened in 1982. It has a selection of the most usual medicinal plants mentioned in ancient Norse medical textbooks, old legends, and traditional remedies. Altogether there are 160 different herbs, trees, and shrubs. The garden combines elements from old monastic, original botanical, and pharmacy gardens.
    - from sign at museum
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Norma and I caught the ferry (first photo) for the return trip. We saw a guy in a rowing shell and two standup paddleboarders but no kayakers.

    There were various boats in the area made to look like old sailing ships.

    We passed the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. See second photo.

    Norma and I visited The Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park, the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist.
  • Third photo: The sculpture park is actually part of Frogner Park.
  • Fourth photo: The Monolith Plateau is a platform in the north of Frogner Park made of steps that houses the Monolith totem itself. 36 figure groups reside on the elevation bringing with them the “circle of life” message.
    - from Frogner Park

  • There was an international festival going on where food was being sold. Norma bought some Thai food while I had Filipino. She found the food too mild but figured Norwegians might find authentic Thai food too spicy.

    We met back with Carmen who spent some time at the National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design and the modern art museum that Norma and I saw on the ferry ride.

    The three of us boarded a bus to the train station then took an overnight train to Stavanger. Not the best sleeping conditions but at least we didn't have to pay for lodging.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Six, Monday, August 25, 2014

    Team SNaCk arrived in Stavanger. We stored our luggage in a locker at the airport.

    We took a ferry to a bus which then took us to the trailhead of Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen). It was a 4.7 mile round trip hike to a point with a 0.375 mile (1982 feet) vertical drop.
    Preikestolen was most likely formed with the melting frost 10,000 years ago, just after the Lysefjord glacier melted. This flat mountain plateau protrudes approximately 30 meters from the mountain side, and gives you an amazing view over the fjord and the mountains.
    - from sign at trailhead

    This was the hike that initially hooked me into coming along. I was hoping for views as spectacular as the videos I watched on-line. Unfortunately, the day was very overcast.

    The trail was very well maintained (first photo, first column) and very much used. It seems we were almost always part of a crowd (second photo, first column).

    I was hoping the weather would clear up but it remained mostly foggy, misty, raining, or just dark and damp for much of the time. See third photo, first column.

    Except for a few common birds, we saw no wildlife.

    A lot of work went into making the trail which was often comprised of stone or boardwalk (fourth photo, first column).

    Some boggy areas reminded me of Dolly Sods, West Virginia. See fifth photo, first column.

    Keeping with our namesake, we stopped for a snack. See sixth photo, first column.

    Off in the distance, we could see tiny people standing on a rock. Can you see them in the seventh photo, first column?

    I never ceased to be amazed at all the work that went into making the trail and the rocky stairs (eighth photo, first column). There certainly was a lot of elevation change and these stairs made the climb pretty easy. See ninth photo, first column.

    We passed a dark lake (tenth photo, first column).

    There were some really nice views along the way where we saw the fjord and the mountains off in the distance.
  • First photo, second column: Lots of rocks with a fjord in the distance.
  • Second photo, second column: A better view of the fjord.
  • Third photo, second column: A good place for an ambush.
  • Fourth photo, second column: A little pond.
  • Fifth photo, second column: The rocks are all layered up like a Smith Island Cake.
  • Sixth photo, second column: Can you find the waterfall?

  • Eventually, we reached Pulpit Rock. Sadly, visibility was worse here than any other part of the trail. We waited around (along with everyone else), hoping it would clear up but it did not. Looking down from the rock, all we saw was fog. I suppose we were in a cloud. Standing just 50 feet away, we could only see an outline of each other. Not quite the view we had hoped for.
  • Seventh photo, second column: Quite a busy place.
  • Eighth photo, second column: Carmen at the edge of the world.

  • We posed for a photo on the return trip. See ninth photo, second column.

    It drizzled most of the way back down the mountain.

    The rain wasn't all bad. It did give us a very faint rainbow (tenth photo, second column).
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    We took a bus back to the ferry and a ferry into Stavanger (first photo). Along the way, we saw some wooden sculptures (second photo). Finally, we boarded a bus that took us outside the urban area. Then we walked the rest of the way to our AirBnB destination. Nobody said getting around in Norway would be easy.

    Our AirBnB hosts were a very friendly family from India. They had a nice house and drove a Nissan Leaf electric car. We spoke with them for awhile. It was interesting getting an immigrant's view of Norway.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Seven, Tuesday, August 26, 2014

    The original plan was to hike Kjerag, which is 3642 feet above sea level. This is a much more strenuous hike than Pulpit Rock and the bus ride to get there is also significantly longer (2+ hours each way). We were feeling a little burnt out with all the bus, ferry, and train rides so we opted to just stick around and explore Stavanger.

    After sleeping in for a bit, Team SNaCk took the bus out into town.

    There was a conference for the oil and gas industry so there were a lot of suits out.
    The Stavanger region is Norway's third largest region with more than 300,000 inhabitants. Stavanger's oil adventure began in 1969 with the discovery of oil in the southern North Sea field, Ekofisk. Since then, the town has transformed from an industrial trading town with a rich agricultural hinterland into an energy centre.
    As Europe's oil and gas capital, Stavanger now houses all major international operators, around 280 oil service companies, all the main suppliers along with Norway's official administrative centre for the petroleum industry. Both the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway are located here. This convergence of industry players has resulted in one of the strongest energy clusters in the world.

    - from Stavanger, Norway - The European Oil and Gas Capital (a broken link as of 2016)

    Stavenger has been compared to Houston, Texas in that it is an oil epicenter. But while oil contributes largely to the financial success of Norway, it isn't their only large export.
    The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country's gross domestic product. The country has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world. Norway is also the world's 2nd-largest exporter of fish. It is the 6th-largest arms exporter in the world.
    - from Wikipedia - Norway

    One of our stops was Stavanger Cathedral, Norway's oldest cathedral. I noticed how the doors and gates at the cathedral and many places in Norway use the pintle hinge lift-off design that I recently used in a gate that I made.

    Carmen had a chance to play at the Geopark. See first and second photos, first column.

    We saw the world's largest drill bit at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum (third photo, first column). This is the Varel bit which weighs 3748 pounds. See fourth photo, first column. It resembled the bit used to dig a hole for my geothermal heating and cooling system. Of course the Varel bit was much larger.

    I saw a couple of colorful jellyfish in the water. See fifth photo, first column. I was surprised at how little other aquatic animal life I saw in the water.

    We did a guided walking tour of downtown Stavanger. Our guide was from Ecuador. See sixth photo, first column. She took us on a walk that included some colorful streets (seventh photo, first column).

    I saw a Reva electric vehicle. See eighth photo, first column. These are made in India.

    There were a few really nice classic bicycles. See ninth photo, first column.

    Lots of expensive boats dotted the waterways. See tenth photo, first column. Clearly, there were a lot of wealthy people in Stavanger.

    Norma and I ate our only meal in a restaurant while Carmen was off doing her own thing. We had cod (first photo, second column), which was very delicious although I still found the catfish sandwich I ate in Texas on April 4, 2014 to be the best fish I'd ever eaten. We also had a small appetizer sampler consisting of smoked salmon, ham, sausage, and other local specialties. See second photo, second column. It was a great meal, but definitely overpriced.

    At another restaurant, they displayed what they called their "Houston Menu." It showed traditional American food including pulled pork with barbecue sauce, baked beans, potato salad, etc. But what I found amusing is that under "Drinks" it listed "Texas bear and wine" (they misspelled "beer"). See third photo, second column.

    Walking away from the waterfront, we had a slightly different view of the city. See fourth photo, second column.

    Carmen, Norma, and I checked out the Stavanger Konserthus (concert hall). See fifth photo, second column.

    We walked around some neighborhoods (sixth photo, second column), away from the downtown area, making sure to try out the playground equipment along the way (seventh photo, second column).

    There were numerous wooden sculptures. See eighth photo, second column.

    There appeared to be a meetup group of small dog owners gathering near the lake (ninth photo, second column).

    This turned out to be our only day without rain. The weather was cool, but otherwise ideal.

    The three of us took the bus back to our AirBnB house. Our hostess made us a fabulous Indian dinner that was every bit as delicious as a restaurant meal. Over dinner, our host mentioned that Norway has a big surplus of money but is saving it to drill for oil off the coast of Tunisia. Mystery solved as to why things are so expensive.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Eight, Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    At 0440, a taxi picked me up and took me to the Stavenger Airport. Check-in with Scandanavian Airlines (SAS) was fast and easy. I flew to Copenhagen, Denmark where I met up with Carmen. I don't much like the airport in Copenhagen. It seems to just have lots of foo foo ritzy stores selling stuff I don't need or want (e.g. perfume, handbags, chocolate, alcohol, electronics). I slept and played a lot of Tetris on the plane. I got up to 16,900 which I thought was pretty good considering I'm not a gamer.

    The two of us flew to Dulles Airport where we met up with Norma.

    Customs took my sausages which cost me $56. They're pretty strict about meat entering the country.

    Carmen took the Metro while Norma and I drove home in rush hour traffic. It was good to be home.

    When people at work asked how my trip went, I said it was cold, rainy, and expensive, but the views were lovely and that I had a very good time. Undoubtedly it would have been much better had the weather been more cooperative but that is something we have no control over so we made the best of the situation. Most of the time, it really wasn't a problem...just a minor inconvenience.

    I can definitely see why people love Norway. When the sun shone, the place was absolutely gorgeous. The rugged landscape makes for very vertical scenery that I describe as being like Yosemite but even moreso.

    Would I return? Perhaps. Maybe for some overnight kayaking and to paddle to the glaciers.

    It was good to be home. I missed my chickens. Did they miss me? Maybe. They welcomed me with their first egg, laid on their 20 week birthday, August 27, 2014.

    A few months later, Norma forwarded me Stop the Scandimania: Nordic nations aren't the utopias they're made out to be. It is an interesting read. Basically, Norway and the other Scandanavian countries have a lot going for them. But no place is perfect.