When we opened our drapes this morning we were surprised to see that we already were in Stavanger. The ship docked so silently; if only the hotels we stayed in recently had been as quiet. We docked right down town along with two other ships. Although Stavanger is the third largest town in Norway, it is likely the ships’ passengers outnumbered the locals. We were sad to see low clouds and a soft mist.
Sadly this weather continued on our planned tour of the Lysefjord. One of the major sights on the fjord is Pulpit Rock, a five hour hike from the dock and a shore excursion we were glad we did not take, especially with the clouded in views. Fjords were carved by glaciers and are so narrow at times, you feel like you are on a river. But there are few rivers that are 750 feet deep and have 750 foot hills towering above them. It can take ten years for the water in the fjord to seep back into the sea, because its entrance is so narrow.
At times the views reminded us of the inland passage on the route to Alaska, but there were many more buildings here. These days most folks live in town and the buildings deeper into the fjord which may have been farm houses are now summer homes. The Norwegians are trying to preserve nature and feel the views should be for everyone, so no newly built houses are allowed. Many of the homes on the fjord do not have running water or indoor plumbing. It gives the owners a feeling that they are out in nature just to be there. As demand exceeds the restricted supply, you can get a small fortune if you do decide to sell yours.
Our guide said there are 150,00 islands in Norway. It was such an unbelievable number I wrote it down. Probably she was counting the little chunks of rock that have one pine tree growing on them. Those near the cities are linked to the mainland by bridges. Those a bit farther out have ferry service. The latest way to tie the country together is to built floating tunnels under the sea. They float so they can respond to the ebb and flow of the sea and impact the coastline less. All you need is money which the Norwegians have in great supply. I imagine the inflow has been reduced recently with the fall of the price of a barrel of oil, but the gas has been flowing since the off shore fields were discovered in 1969 leading to lots of innovative construction and ever higher prices.
After the tour we wandered around in town. Near the ship is an old town area. We were encourage to sight see there, but wondered how the residents like cruisers peering into their windows. The homes were quaint and in good repair, but many would fit into the tiny house category. The beautiful flowers growing in pots, window boxes and their tiny back yards confirmed what we were told about the climate here. God bless the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, which makes the climate here much less extreme than our own. The tourist shops all sell beautiful products made from wool. I would be sorely tempted if our current philosophy to follow the great weather throughout the year were not in effect. No additional sweaters needed in our closets!