If you were in a generous mood, you could call Kristiansand the Orlando of Norway. This southern coast city has a climate so mild that some winters they can’t get the ice rink frozen even though it is on a latitude comparable to Siberia or Alaska. God bless the Gulf Stream. Just outside of town a large amusement park drew a parking lot full of families enjoying a sunny Saturday. Those who came from a distance away could stay in a hotel shaped like Noah’s Ark. Nearby an animal park where most of the animals were not confined to cages was also a major attraction.
In the morning we wandered around town, a short walk from where the ship was docked. We are berthed next to a wonderful new glass building, covered with a curved oak roof. It houses the opera, theater, and other performance venues all in one place. Very efficient. We were the only ship here today, probably because there was only room for us. The pedestrian mall buzzed with sidewalk sale shoppers, grabbing end-of-season bargains. Our calculator told us they were no bargains here for the likes of us. We were told that Norwegians head to Denmark for bargain shopping. The Danes go to Holland and the Dutch go to Germany. They would all do much better in the US.
In the afternoon we took a tour to Lillesand, a seaside town which has managed to preserve many traditional looking wooden homes, mostly painted white. The harbor was full of pleasure craft and ringed with restaurants where you could relax with an ice cream cone or a glass of wine and watch the world go by. The town is named for a little sandy beach. The air temperature was balmy today, but I would have to wear a wet suit to go in that water!
Then we boarded a boat for a scenic sail back to the ship. This two hour cruise took us past numerous islands dotted wth homes, mostly used only in the summer. If there was a flat spot, someone had built a home on it. The guide commented on the fact that in the old days, people looked for a low spot protected from the weather, but these days people build as high as possible to take advantage of the views. The coast line reminded us of scenery we have enjoyed in Maine. In addition to the summer homes, campgrounds were clearly evident. The brisk breeze off the water had us wearing everything we brought, but we could see campers on shore with nothing on but shorts, enjoying the sunny day.
Back on the ship, all but 180 of us were packing suitcases and getting ready to leave tomorrow. Most of the Americans onboard are staying on just as we are. Much better to sail back to the US than to deal with a seven hour flight.