Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Last month I was offered a trip to one of Bergen, Berlin, Cairo, Edinburgh, Marrakech, or Venice. Bergen was the only city that I hadn’t been to, but the flights didn’t work out with my schedule. Instead I went to Edinburgh. Then last Thursday I was asked if I was available to go to Bergen and Stavanger for three days to check out the two cities in Norway.
I said yes, and a friend and I headed to Heathrow to travel to Stavanger yesterday morning. After enjoying a quick breakfast in the lounge, we boarded our 1.5 hour flight from London to Norway.
We arrived in Stavanger just before noon, and took a 20-minute bus ride to the city. Once there, we checked into the Myhregaarden Hotel, at which Visit Stavanger had arranged a complimentary stay for us. The hotel was in a great location in the heart of the city’s pedestrianized shopping area, and the friendly woman at reception welcomed us and gave us keys to our room.
There was some slight confusion when we opened the door and our room hadn’t been made up, but back at reception we were given another room to use temporarily until ours was ready.
When we came back later, we moved into our original room, which was decorated in pretty purples and grays, and had expansive windows on two sides. It even had a sofa and chairs for us to relax in, and the ensuite bathroom had nice amenities and fluffy towels. The free Wi-Fi was a great bonus, too.
After checking into the hotel, we set off to do some Stavanger sightseeing. Visit Norway had put together a comprehensive list of suggestions for things to do in Stavanger, and we followed their advice and headed first to Ovre Holmegate.
The street was full of the most colorful buildings I have ever seen. Pinks, greens, blues, and yellows adorned the traditional wooden buildings along the cobbled walkway. Shops and boutiques were punctuated by buzzing cafes with outdoor tables. These included one called Boker og Borst, which was a literary cafe, and one called Sjokoladepiken, which sold all things chocolate.
From Ovre Holmegate, we headed to Stavanger harbor. There we passed by a row of bustling restaurants with terraces that were packed with sun worshipping Norwegians enjoying drinks on an unseasonably warm day. We wound around the water and up some steps, and found ourselves in Old Stavanger.
Old Stavanger was a picturesque historic area with 173 white wooden cottages dating back to the early 18th century. Each one was adorned with beautiful flower boxes and blue doors that splashed color along the narrow streets. At the end was the Canning Museum, a former factory that had exhibits detailing Stavanger’s main industry from the 1890′s to the 1960′s.
Back at the harbor, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Hansen Hjornet. I had a delicious piece of fresh salmon and my friend ate a club sandwich as we soaked up the sun by the waterfront.
After lunch we continued our Stavanger sightseeing tour by following a path along the water until we reached the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. The museum was housed in a contemporary building and had interactive exhibits about Norway’s oil industry.
From there we continued along the water, past the ferry port, and over to a park by a lake called Breiavatnet. In the park we visited the Stavanger cathedral, a pretty Gothic building famous for being the oldest cathedral in Norway. The highlight was the pulpit, which was carved with hundreds of figures and painted in bright colors.
After visiting the cathedral we walked back to Sjokoladepiken for some sumptuous hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.
A bit later we decided to look for a restaurant for dinner. It being Sunday, most things were closed, so we had a bit of a tough time finding a place to eat. Eventually we returned to Breiavatnet and found a table on the sunny terrace of a restaurant called Kiellands.
We spent several hours there enjoying heaping plates full of vegetable risotto and marvelling at how late it stayed light outside. At 11pm we made our way back to the hotel and turned in for the night.
The next morning we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Myhregaarden Hotel before checking out. We had an hour before our ferry from Stavanger to Bergen, so we took another of the Stavanger sightseeing recommendations from the tourism board and got a coffee at Bolgen & Moi Stavanger restaurant on the pier of the Norwegian Petroleum Museum.
After finishing our cappuccinos, we walked the short distance over to the ferry port and boarded our four-hour ferry to Bergen. As the boat pulled away from Stavanger, we watched the petroleum capital of Norway recede into the distance.
Despite having only stayed in the city for 24 hours, we got a great overview of the Stavanger sightseeing highlights, and a welcome dose of summer sunshine in Norway. We couldn’t wait to continue our Nordic adventure in Bergen.