Today we’re at Kristiansand, near the southern tip of Norway. Once again the weather is fantastic – blue skies, sunshine, and temperature somewhere around 25 degrees or just above. We have been very lucky with the weather in the second half of this cruise.
This is our first visit to anywhere in Norway, so it’s all new to us. We booked an excursion while on board, a walking trip of Kristiansand. This was scheduled to last 2 hours and cost £28 each, but it was over after a leisurely 90 minutes. Kristiansand is very pretty but to be truthful there’s not a lot here and not much has happened, so the excursion was along the lines of “here’s a traditional house painted white; look, there’s a traditional house painted yellow; some other traditional houses are painted ochre, just like that one….”. It’s entirely typical of the town that the fortress, which is built right on the sea to defend the port, has fired its guns just once in anger. Apparently, after the Royal Navy’s victory at the battle of Copenhagen, the only remaining Danish ships were in Kristiansand (Norway then being governed by Denmark). A Royal Navy squadron was dispatched to Kristiansand and made an attempt to capture the ships, the fortress fired one shot with its cannon, and the Royal Navy squadron sailed away.
This all sounds like I’m being critical, and I’m not.
It’s a very pretty town (especially today, in the sun); the harbours are gorgeous; it’s very clean and well laid-out in that Scandinavian fashion; and it must be a great place to live. But once you’ve admired the gorgeous harbours, the well laid-out town and the bustling market square, that’s pretty much it. When that moment arrives, you’re left with nothing else to do except drink beer and eat ice-cream and we bowed to the inevitable and did both. Val had a triple-scoop ice cream cup, and the Norwegian lass serving us must have decided she was in a competition for the most generous ice-cream scoops; Val ended up an enormous ice cream. Readers, I am pleased to tell you that she was up to the task of eating it. (Val thinks I’m being unduly negative about Kristiansand. She thinks it was a pleasant pretty town, the walking tour did take in all the main points tho’ more positively than I’m reporting, and after that there was the town centre to look at.)
Having got back we’ve had lunch in the Glasshouse. After the beer and the ice cream Val decided without prompting that she would go with a six-ounce steak (rather than the eight-ounce choice), and we also decided to forego dessert. Val had another glass of what is turning out to be our favourite wine this cruise (Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Planeta, Sicily), while I had some Malbec. All in all, very tasty. We now have to recover before the last formal dinner this evening, and Val has just suggested that we shall have to have at least one bottle of sparkling mineral water on the Terrace later on. But right now (mid-afternoon), a cup of tea is called-for.
Practicalities: in the first cafe we went to after the walk finished we asked if they took Euros and they didn’t. So we found a mini-bank and got 400 Norwegian Kroner (about £40). As in Copenhagen, things are expensive here. Our two cappuccinos cost 90NKK, the two small beers were 118NKK (at an outside table on the market square and with waitress service) and the ice creams were 96NKK. So we have a magnificent 96NKK left over, to go with the 240DKK left from yesterday. It’s a good job we’ll be back in both Denmark and Norway on our Christmas cruise in December. We got all our Kroner (Swedish, Danish & Norwegian) from ATMs, and this worked well. In each case, the ATM seemed to recognise my card as being issued by a UK bank, and as soon as it had read the card the the instructions ATM gave me were in English.