It was afternoon in Stavanger, the fourth largest city of Norway, and I was bundling up with layers of clothing. I was preparing to embark on a local sightseeing boat setting off into the Stavanger archipelago and entering Lysefjord with its magnificent granite rocks. Eventually we would set our sights on the famous 2000 foot Pulpit Rock in one of Norway’s most stunning fjords.
I had selected this scenic sailing for an excursion during my Viking Homelands cruise, compliments of Viking Ocean Cruises.* My lucky traveling companion for this journey through the Scandinavian countries was my sister N. We were both ready to be wowed by the breathtaking views.
Spending the morning in Old Town Stavanger
Before setting sail on the fjords, we spent the morning touring around Old Town Stavanger. It was within walking distance of the port and a lovely area to go exploring by foot. The architecture includes close to 250 buildings protected by a conservancy. Wooden houses range in date from the 18th to early 20th centuries. The pedestrian district has nice shops for Nordic wear and gifts and there are many restaurants and pubs to have a drink or bite of Nordic fare.
The New York Times ranked western Norway, specifically rural Vestlandet, #35 on it’s “52 Places To Go in 2019.” They say it is “a bucolic paradise for mountain-climbing beer lovers.” The ale in this area is made with kveik, a local yeast, that appeals to global beer enthusiasts for its fruity aromas. You can find this type of beer at the Cardinal pub in Stavanger.
The best part of walking the cobblestone streets of Old Town Stavanger is to view the street art. It’s fun to see the way artists have painted creative murals on buildings and even turned mailboxes into pieces of artwork. If we had more time it would have been nice to take an art tour of the city. Stavanger is also home to the annual Nuart Festival.
Sailing the Stavanger archipelago
It was time to board our sailboat for a tour through the fjords. Our guide Alex welcomed us aboard and provided an overview of the city. “Stavanger is the oil capital of Norway,” Alex said. “It was in 1969 that an American company found oil. It made Norway very rich. Beyond oil, Alex told us that the area is also known for its wool factories and salmon farming. Yum, I love Norwegian salmon!
Other types of fish are found in the fjords too. “It started in the early 19th century when fishermen found out there was an abundance of herring in the fjords,” Alex said. “Herring was salted and stored and sent to Russia. When herrings diminished in quantities, they found sardines. Canned sardines were very popular during WWII. Today, seamen go out every day in Norway to catch fish and seafood — salmon, halibut, and shrimp.”
As we sailed through the fjords, we passed holiday homes or hygge (there’s that word again, it means cozy) cabins on small inlets. “These are family homes and passed down from generation to generation,” Alex said.
We passed a mussel farm. Mussels are exported to Denmark, France, and Belgium. “Norwegians eat a lot of mussels,” Alex said. (Ooh, ooh, ooh, I like mussels too.)
The famous Pulpit Rock
We entered Lysefjord, which means light fjord. Its name comes from the lightly colored granite rock that rises from the waters. And there it was jutting out from the fjord, nearly 2000 feet high, the famous Pulpit Rock, one of Norway’s most visited attractions. Alex directed our sight to vagabond point where the vagabonds once climbed the steep rocks to escape. There are still hikers who climb the Pulpit Rock today.
We went under the towering waterfalls nearby and started our return. Before arriving back in Stavanger there was one more stop to make to pick up freshly-made warm waffles. Served with cream and jam, it made a sweet ending to a cool and scenic day on the stunning fjords of Norway.
There were only two more stops in Norway to go. Up next — Eidfjord and Bergen.
P.S.: In case you missed my first blog posts about my Viking Homelands cruise and my Berlin pre-trip, check them out here:
♥ All Aboard Viking Star: A Great Way To Discover Scandinavia
♥ A First Taste of Berlin’s Culture and Cosmopolitan Cuisine
♥ A Walking Tour of Berlin: Being in the Present, Remembering the Past
♥ Sightseeing in Copenhagen: A Charming Capital City
♥ Foodies Will Love This Culinary Tour of Copenhagen
♥ Visiting Aalborg: An Authentic Look Back at the Life of a Viking
(BTW, The New York Times also ranked Aalborg as #8 on its list!)
* Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip on the Viking Homelands Ocean Cruise. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.