We’ve been in Stavanger today, and it’s been very hot and sunny.
We did an excursion this morning – a walking tour of Stavanger. This was supposed to last for two hours but in fact was just about finished in under 90 minutes. To be honest, I’m not sure how much there is in Stavanger, but it could also have been our guide, who was Italian. Her English was ok, but no better, and she didn’t say a lot about the things we were seeing. It was also noisy and that may have been a factor. We had been expecting one of those Norwegians with impeccable English who could talk colloquially to us all day, but it didn’t happen. (I thought it had on Wednesday on the coach section of the railway excursion that we did, but it turned out that our guide was originally from Ipswich and therefore he wasn’t Norwegian either. He did speak excellent Norwegian, however, as he’d lived in Norway for about 45 years.)
So after the end of the walk we went shopping, and we found a shop selling the knitwear that Val had been looking at yesterday. They had a top in her size so a purchase was made, and later we were even able to reclaim some tax on it.
After returning to the ship to drop off cameras, shopping bags, etc, we went back into town for some lunch and an ice-cream. Then after another stroll round town we were back on board at about 3 o’clock. At 3:30 the officials from the Norwegian tax department opened a tax refund desk in the Atrium, and we were able to get £25 back from our purchases. I was hoping to have a NKr refund to my card, but it turned out that they were only doing GBP cash refunds.
I suppose if I was being really critical I’d have to say that there didn’t seem to be that much in Stavanger. We walked round the old town, Gamle Stavanger, but it did seem very reminiscent of the old part of Kristiansand which we visited a couple of years ago and where we also did a walking tour (which also finished early). The rest of the town gave the impression of being a smart and busy working town. The inner harbour was very pretty, but Britannia dominated it, of course. In the afternoon she was joined by Astoria, sailing for a French cruising company. (We also saw Astoria yesterday at Flam; I don’t think I mentioned that.) I suppose my lasting impression of Stavanger is that it’s a town with a museum of fish canning….
Tonight is the second, and final, black tie night. Then tomorrow is a sea day and our last full day of the cruise. Then on Sunday morning we’ll be back in Southampton and the U.K., where I gather the weather has been distinctly un-summery.