Northern Lights Cruise with Saga – Chapter 9


It is always a pleasure visiting Stavanger. It is beautiful. Gateway to the fjords. There is a free spirit about this place. Shorter working hours than in the UK and a work-life balance to die for has made Norway a happy country. An average working week is just over 28 hours. 

Stavanger Charming as ever. Lovely to walk around and so compact. Clapboard old buildings and new build built to look old. The old and new parts of the city integrate perfectly creating a vibrancy that is infectious. 

We have visited here many times before. The first time we arrived the shops and museums were closed for the day, so we didn’t spend much. Today all shops were open but the museums closed. 

The inventor of the sardine can key came from Stavanger. The Norwegian Canning Museum does exactly what it says on the tin. Situated in the old town, a few minutes stroll from the ship. The city was once the country’s herring capital and this is celebrated in the museum. Unfortunately the museum was advertised as being shut. Fortunately SAGA contacted the guy who runs it and he kindly opened it for our ship. Many of our fellow passengers flocked to see it. It is very small and soon became very busy. Probably packed in like sardines? 

Our first stop today was a visit to The Norwegian Petroleum Museum which we had missed last year. Oil was discovered off the Norwegian coast in 1969. And so began Stavanger’s rise in wealth. It was absolutely fascinating. Great for all ages with a wonderful play area for the youngest explorers amongst us. The museum explained how gas and oil are created, discovered and produced. Film, video, models and hands on exhibits are all fun and thought provoking. It will make me think every time I fill up the car and never take oil for granted anymore. 

Stavanger Ovre Holmegate is Stavanger’s Notting Hill. Home to shops and cafes. All the houses are painted in different colours and follow a colour scheme devised by the artist Craig Flannagan. It makes for a wonderfully uplifting shopping experience. Is it the most colourful street in Norway? Probably. The colours do look at home here yet in the UK it would probably look tacky. 

Excursions today included a panoramic tour of Stavanger stopping at a cemetery home to 45 British war casualties. And then onto the Three Swords Monument on t’hill. It was here that Viking king Harald fought a battle that united Norway into one kingdom in 872 AD. Onto a Stone Age circle and a stop at Sola to see the 1150 church. A whistle stop tour which was enjoyed by everyone. Another popular choice was a visit to a Norwegian Home in the old city. Many oldies decided to learn about the part Stavanger played in WW2 after the German occupation in 1940. This included a fascinating visit to the Historic Fly museum which housed 32 vintage planes in an authentic German hangar. 

Stavanger We decided to do our own thing having visited most things in the city region before. We love to shop and find the household and furniture shops great places to explore. Scandinavian design is so cool. Seen in one shop two signs which amused. ‘You don’t know what there is in a man till you have hit him on the nose’ and ‘Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot’ . No wonder they discovered oil with a wisdom like that.  

Off into the old city now. More than 170 perfectly preserved white timber houses are here – the largest concentration of wooden buildings in Northern Europe. As always it was nice just to walk and talk and meander through the narrow undulating streets, peaking into gardens and windows as we passed. 

A bite to eat, cake and coffee was followed by another bite to eat and then an ice cream – even in this cold climate. This cruising lark does make you hungry. 

Saga Pearl II A final flurry of souvenir shops and spending our last currency before we set sail back to Dover. It had been a great day and once again Stavanger never ever disappoints. 

Formal night tonight, our third of the cruise. A chance to dress up and party. The food once again was amazing. We had the pleasure of being invited to sit on the table of Eddy Denaeghel, Hotel Director, and Stacy Conway Crew Purser. A nice surprise and we were delighted to spend time in their company learning about their roles and how the ship operates. 

Our last night in Norwegian waters was spent eating, drinking, laughing, dancing, more laughing and watching a wonderful show by the resident showtime crew. Tonight ‘I Got Rhythm’ featuring the music of Cole Porter, Irvin Berlin and Gershwin. A last waltz and then into the bar for our daily fix of Stuart Anderson. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Saga Holidays

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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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