Saturday, June 04, 2011


We woke up in our grass-roofed cabin to fog, although I was sure I saw at least a glimmer of blue sky. The tops of the mountains (well, compared to the Rockies, a bit smaller, but mountainous nonetheless) were wreathed in clouds and by the time we finished breakfast, it had started drizzling. Not exactly drizzling, really, more like misting.

We drove up the coast to Stavanger and arrived in time to see the sun come out so we could walk along the harbor so Mark could stare at all the enormous ships and I could wander in the old town part of Stavanger. On the western side of the harbor is a narrow hilly stretch of whitewashed clapboard houses on steep, narrow, cobbled lanes. It's set back quite a bit from the harborside now, but at one time it was the original quay and the captains and traders build houses here. We went to the Canning Museum, which is dedicated to the history of smoking and canning sardines -- one of the primary industries in this fishing town. At one time, collecting the labels for the various companies was a huge fad here in Stavanger (to the point where newspaper articles decrying the moral failings of the town's youth for stealing them were common). There's a restored film from the turn-of-the-century cannery showing the aproned and capped women sorting and packing the cans and nattily dressed young men manning the can-making machines. It was quite interesting -- although the hundreds and hundreds of rubber fish used in the demonstrations were a bit funny.

It's Saturday, so the streets are absolutely packed, and the "downtown" area around the harbor is just street after street of shops and we managed to arrive in time for the rock music festival -- indy bands were on stages all over the town, with competing guitars and amps, in English and Norwegian (and possibly German). We did find a book store so i could find a better map of Western Norway (the one I have is not particularly helpful -- 1:800,000 is too large to really navigate around here), but then we headed to the museum guaranteed to keep Mark enthralled: The Norwegian Oil Museum.

It's fascinating; I'm not even particularly interested in oil rigs or boats and I found it really interesting. From the history of oil driling and the impact on Norway's economy, to the various technical achievements in each successive generation of oil rigs and drilling. There are scale models of the history of oil drilling rigs and actual drill bits showing the evolution of things, and outside are three of the "modules" that make up a modern drilling rig, with exhibits on deep sea diving and safety.

Of course, we're halfway through our vacation, so i'm (predictably) tryng to get sick -- headachy and feeling warm. We found our hotel and checked in pretty early, but then decided to make another try at finding the Swords in Stone sculpture right outside the city. It's a huge piece on the shore of the Hafrsfjord and we missed it entirely this morning, despite a few u-turns. This time, we found it on the third try and walked along the beach to take pictures.

There are dozens of jellyfish in the water -- I would have thought it would be too cold for them, but I'm glad I didn't decide to take off my shoes and wade into the fjord to get the right angle for a picture!

We indulged our "once per country" McDonalds -- it was quick and easy and got us back to the hotel so we could both go to bed. The pickles are odd and the ketchup is , but otherwise things are the same. We keep hoping that we'll find a truly weird McDonald's...perhaps in Russia?

Our room at the Myhregaaten Hotel is lovely -- a wee bit small, but very comfortable and we're lounging in the bed watching a norwegian-subtitled version of Overboard (and, obviously, blogging).

Tomorrow? We've got the day to get up to Bergen -- I think there are a half-dozen ferries involved, it ought to be fun!

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