I arrived to Stavanger via the overnight train from Oslo, at 7:05am, bleary eyed and very bitter at the man who decided to sit next to me (despite the mostly empty train car) and speak on the phone throughout the long cross country night. Once in Stavanger, I dragged myself to the station bathroom and made a feeble attempt at cleaning my teeth and changing into somewhat clean clothes. Luckily, my friend who lives in Stavanger picked up my luggage on her way to work (although there are lockers available at the station). Then commenced my day in Stavanger!
^Opposite the train station I was greeted with this gorgeous view. Breiavatnet is the name of the beautiful pond and fountain, framed by classic Norwegian architecture, that you must circle to get to the city center.
^ walking toward the city center it was clear how Stavanger is influenced by its location as a port city. The city center circles the harbor. At 7am it was mostly empty of people, with still deep blue water. Stavanger has one of the deepest harbors in the world.
^another way Stavanger is influenced by the sea is the oil industry. The Petroleum Museum is a famous museum in Stavanger all about how the oil industry has influenced Norway. This early in the morning, though, I opted for the more entertaining (and free!) version: Geopark. This is a big park set up in Stavanger with pieces of equipment from oil drilling sites.
^ A very colorful street in Stavanger, this is known as Øvre Holmegate. Not all Norwegian buildings are plain white like us tourists are led to believe!
At this point, around 8:30/9am, I realized that I was essentially a walking carcass. Here I was in Stavanger, a beautiful coastal city in freaking Norway, and I was just aimlessly dragging myself through the streets like a zombie. So, lucky me, I found Coffeeberry, and settled into a comfy couch (with a huge mug of coffee in my hand) and recovered from my train journey….for about 4 hours.
I emerged from my coffee shop, slightly more caffeinated but still arguably delirious, around noon. As I walked back to the harbor I noticed a huge increase in people, and all speaking English! This was explained by the new presence of a huge cruise ship in the harbor. Stavanger is a very popular stop for cruise ships due to its deep harbor and location close to so many of Norway’s wonders (such as Preikestolen…stay tuned for my post on that hike!).
^ I wandered through the center and found Valberget Utsiktspunkt, a hill near the harbor with decent views over the tops of the red roofs of Stavanger.
^At this point it got a little overwhelming with tourists everywhere, so I veered to the west side of the harbor along the blue promenade (a walking path around Stavanger’s whole harbor). After a few minutes I found the Stavanger Konserthus, a beautiful and huge glass building by the sea that symphonies play at.
I’d saved the best for last, and as I walked back toward the city center I walked through Old Stavanger, a small neighborhood (really just a few rows of streets) with very old, peeling white paint houses. These are the houses from before World War II that survived the bombing!
Finally it was time to circle back to Breiavatnet and the train station, where my friend picked me up and took me to Tananger, an outlying neighborhood of Stavanger where she lives and I would be staying for the next few days!
It was such an incredible home, with the most kind and welcoming family, with their own stories of traveling the world. We had a barbecue the first night, complete with gluten free rhubarb crumble, topped with strawberries, custard, and Belgian chocolate truffles!
And finally, as it’s June in Norway, we sat out on the sun porch and watched the 11pm sunset over the North Sea, wine in hand. The sky doesn’t go completely dark until around 1am!
^ my friend using the binoculars to look out to sea…whale, dolphin, or kayak?
The weekend is Stavanger was lovely, sunny and relaxing, full of nearby hikes (Pulpit Rock/Preikestolen!!) and a journey into the mountains. We also took a side trip to Sverd I fjell, perhaps the most recognizable image of Stavanger: three giant swords stuck into the headland in honor of a king’s battle to win Norway for himself. It’s a drive (or bus) from the actual city, but well worth it, especially as on a nice day you can relax on the beach!
My time in Stavanger was lovely, even in spite of my sleep deprived state. It’s a cute harbor town, a little sleepy and quaint compared to Oslo, but that’s just what I needed! It’s a relaxing base for the amazing hikes in the Rogaland area… Stay tuned!!
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