Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Fire and Ice: Stavanger, Norway

Monday 31 July 2017. After leaving the Port of Tyne, we spent Sunday at sea, crossing the North Sea. It was a little overcast and we spent the day inside the ship apart from a spell of walking round and round the Promenade Deck wrapped in warm hoodies, to make up for all the scrummy food that was available!

By the time we get up on Monday, however, we have docked in Stavanger, Norway. It's a little drizzly, but we get off of the ship anyway to have a look round Gamle, the Old Town.

Fran, showing that the drizzle had just about stopped so we were in hoodies rather than raincoats. Her hoodie matches the blue bit on the flag of Norway! Respectful, that's us...

The old town has around 173 wooden buildings dating from the 18th and early 19th centuries. They are all painted white and with the cobbled streets and lack of cars it makes an appealing community.

Once at risk of demolition they were saved as an, albeit run-down, conservation area after the second World War by the efforts of the City Architect, Einar Hedén. Now spruced up, the area has since had a reversal of fortune, now being a desirable area for the trendy or historically-minded.

The view down to Vågen, one of many harbour inlets of Stavanger. Our ship's distinctive blue funnel shows just how close to the old town we are moored.

A little further along towards town and the rooftops of Stavanger's shopping streets and business centre can be seen. We will wander through there before returning to the ship. It takes just half an hour to cover the Old Town area and as we come to the edge of the wooden buildings we can see that someone has a birthday as a bunch of balloons has been tied outside one house! Apart from the cottages the area houses craft shops and museums including a canning factory museum.

Vågen and a view of Thomson Celebration moored on the very edge of the Gamle Old Town. The Fisketorget (left) is the fish market. Behind us are other market stalls selling some of those chunky Norwegian sweaters. Lovely, but I'd be sweltering even in Blackpool's winter winds!

There are a few other ships and boats moored in the Vågen. The Sandnes is a training ship of 1432 tons and was built in 1950.

The Rogaland was built in 1929. Badly damaged by a mine in Oslofjord in September 1941, the ship had to be towed to Oslo for repairs. Back in commission, in 1944 she was caught in a huge explosion on April 20 whilst moored in Bergen. The Dutch ship Voorbode, carrying 120 tons of explosives blew up causing the deaths of some 150 people including 50 German soldiers and around 5000 wounded. Nearby houses were set alight and the Rogaland sank due to the damage. The Germans naturally assumed sabotage but an investigation proved the explosion to be accidental.

Our cruise ship Thomson Celebration. This is the sixth cruise we have taken on this ship, which was built in 1984 as MS Noordam and operated as such until 2005 when it was leased to Thomson and became Thomson Celebration.

Since leaving Gamle we have walked through the shopping area to another harbour and are now walking back and around Vågen back to the ship. The sky is starting to get a little dark and we decide to get back to the ship before we get a soaking. But the Vågen harbour has something else to show us yet...

It's a jellyfish. Sheesh, but these are hard to identify even using the Internet. A lion's mane jellyfish seemed to be the nearest description but on this specimen the mantle is around 24 inches in diameter and it has long tentacles below with lots of filaments floating around it. The lion's mane jellyfish was described as being up to 6 feet in diameter and as being found in somewhat warmer waters. So if anyone knows what this is please let me know via the comments section below!

This monster of a ship was quite a way away and I had to swap to the telephoto lens for this shot.

It rained a bit during the afternoon and we sat in the Showbar, which had huge windows overlooking Gamle whilst I did this sketch. Lots of nice comments from people who passed and came to look. The figure is a statue of Admiral Thore Horve, who in 1940 captured a German ship loaded with troops about to attack Norway.

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