The final stop of our week-long cruise on the Crown Princess to Norway was at Stavanger. We were up in plenty of time to see the ship’s approach to the port, taking in views of the houses and other buildings as well as a number of bridges connecting islands around the city.

As with everywhere else during our Norwegian vacation we’d booked an excursion that would first take us outside Stavanger city centre to a couple of points of interest, both very different from one another.

Iron Age Farm

Our first stop was at an iron age farm on a hillside. Here we were given a talk outside the buildings by a local guide dressed in clothing appropriate to the farm’s period before being taken inside a farm building for a further talk about life in iron age times in Norway. The building entrance was incredibly small – it was that way because of the priority given to keeping heat in the building due to the climate and not because Norwegians used to be tiny if, like me, that’s where your mind first went – and as a tour group we had to assist one another with stooping under the low beams and shuffling inside. While there wasn’t a huge amount to variety in things to see, the actual talks were very interesting and gave a good insight into iron age life in northern Europe.

Ullandhaug Telecoms Tower

From an iron age settlement to something a little more modern next with a short visit to the Ullandhaug Tower. Built for telecommunications purposes in 1964 and featuring some lovely brutal design elements of the time this particular stop didn’t suit everyone on the tour with a number of people electing to stay on the coach. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the architecture (like me) or not (like people with no taste), though, the views from the tower over Stavanger were well worth experiencing and on a cloudless day would probably have been quite stunning. In addition there were some better-than-average pieces of graffiti and a few stone markers with ancient Viking designs on them.


We then hit Stavanger itself. From our coach we took a short walk outside the cathedral for a bit of a history lesson of the city as well as an explanation as to what we would see inside. I took some photos of the area (naturally) although the modern part of the city that we saw wasn’t particularly interesting. It was fascinating to see Crown Princess docked so close to the city, though, appearing to be a modern-looking residential block recently added to Stavanger, which, in a way, she was.

Stavanger Cathedral was more impressive inside than out and featured some interesting designs featuring skulls that we took a liking to as well as some rather phallic-looking pieces of sculpture. Europe does seem far more at home with this sort of thing than Britain. It’s an odd thing being British and growing up in Europe in times of modernity and liberalism and discovering despite all that you feel you’re a worldly-wise, global society it turns out you’ve been living in a nation of prudes your whole life, doubtless the result of the backwards-looking, cowardly, older strata afraid to let go of the reins of power that they feel they deserve despite such bullying grabs having been completed by generations past. That’s right: I went political on the back of a mention of dicks in a church. That’s where my mind goes.

Gamle Stavanger

Our final visit was to the old part of the city, the more photogenic area of Gamle Stavanger with its buildings almost universally covered in white wooden slats. It was a very attractive place and after a short guided walk through part of it we were free to wander on our own and make our own way back to the cruise ship docked very close by.


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