Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Travel Notes, Chapter#9, Stavanger&surroundings

Located in the south-western corner of Norway, the Stavanger region is indeed the shortcut to the Norwegian fjords.  In our second day there, we started our round tour by car. 
The ferry from Stavanger to Tau is a car ferry running all year, we selected that option to start our round tour. 
 The ferry leaves from Fiskepiren in Stavanger, and the crossing takes around 35-40 minutes. New part of the city which is close to Fiskepiren have new style with elegant homes. They have private marines, lux conditions.
When we left Stavanger, the weather was cloudy but afterwords the sky was so clear. 

I though there was a submarine there, but, after zooming I noticed that it is a rocky place!

The ferry is mostly one of the starting points to Preikestolen  when travelling from Stavanger. From Tau you go to Preikestolen Mountain Lodge,  directly or visiting other small villages, too. I believe that they are worth to visit but if you have time limitation, you need a precise time management to see everything in a day! Otherwise, you may skip most of those amazing landscape scenery. 
Jorpeland is the administrative centre of Strand municipality, and a commercial and service hub for southern Ryfylke. Jorpeland is often referred to as “the Ryfylke town”. It was established early in the 20th century, as local waterfalls were being exploited for hydroelectric power, and the steelworks were founded. The National Tourist Route Ryfylke, Rv13, passes Jørpeland, so, it is worth to visit that lovely place.
We had some snacks at Rosehagen Cafe and got a change to visit its gallery section, the exhibition of ceramic and paintings were a real surprise for me, I paid a long time there.  Also, all those  modern steel sculptures in their large garden is worth to visit if you’re in that area as well as the other sculptures around the town center. 

In a lovely sun shine to have a break there and review wonderful view was so enjoyable part of our tour. I believe that Jorpeland is an excellent base for excursions to Preikestolen, Oanes, as well as other scenic highlights.  

There are  many  shops including a wine shop, cafés, a guest harbor with a popular promenade, golf course and camping center, too. 
By the way, if you like flea markets or thrift stores, there are two of them here. Especially one of them were carrying lovely pieces with unbelievable cheap prices. I have an antique coffee cup set from circa 40’s and several vintage wall plates,  now. 
Preikestolen, in English known as Preacher's Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, is a cliff that hangs 600 meters above Lysefjorden, East of Stavanger. Even though a two-hour hike is required to get there, but we didn’t have well dressed for that activity and also our time was limited just hang around its valley. 
It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Norway. 
Those building with green grasses on their roofs were so typical and neat in that beautiful scenery. 
Green grasses, may be a newer phenomenon in many places, but Norwegians have been planting greenery a top their houses for hundreds of years. Some have flowers mixed in with grass, creating a lush garden that just happens to keep the house below well insulated. The verdant roofs have many advantages, from maintaining regular temperatures within the dwellings to actually stabilizing the houses themselves.

After our short tour and taking photos we had to go to  Oanes  for the  Hogsfjord ferry which  is ferry connection the whole year across the Hogsfjord between Lauvvik and Oanes. The crossing time is  just 8 minutes and departure is 2 times per hour in each direction. After this mentioned short ferry crossing we reached to Hole
It was so quiet place with so nice houses.
 We passed through so many little villages, most of them wonderful fjords views. Especially there were several peninsulas with adorable, nice houses. I couldn’t figure out if they were summer houses or people were lives there whole year. It looks so nice but I wonder how is the life during cold and dark winter time.
According to my observations, Norwegians pay a special attention to their front doors and windows, they like to decorate their windows with various items, such as lovely candles, vases and nightshades and other decorative objects. 
So we completed another long tour between, Stavanger-Tau-Jorpeland-Preikestolen-Oanes-Lauvvik-Hole-Stavanger during  a Norwegian long summer day. 
I'll share details our next destination Kristiansand, later. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Travel Notes, Chapter#8, Stavanger

We left  Bergen with our rented car and arrived Stavanger in a few hours. It is estimated 210 km but due to speed limit it takes longer time.
It is , located on the Stavanger Peninsula on the southwest coast of Norway . The municipality is the fourth most populous in Norway with 120,000. After our megapol city Istanbul, everywhere looks me so quiet. The climate is maritime mild temperate, with all monthly temperature averages above freezing. Summers are pleasant however, summer temperatures are much cooler than those found further inland on the Scandinavian peninsula, even in more northerly areas. I’ve learned that, in contrast, winter temperatures are much milder than those in Oslo and Stockholm.
In 1969, when oil was first discovered in the North Sea, Stavanger was chosen to be the on-shore center for the oil industry on the  Norwegian sector of the North Sea, and the city is widely referred to as the Oil Capital of Norway. 
Domestic and international military installations are located in Stavanger, the NATO’s Joint Warfare Center is one of them. It is also an university city. 
Stavanger is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer. The hotels in the city have good occupancy year round due to a lot of commuters who travel to work and meetings in Stavanger. In recent years, Stavanger has also become one of the most popular ports of call for cruise ships, with the number of cruise ships increasing steadily, making Stavanger one of Europe's fastest growing ports of call for cruise ships north of the Mediterranean. I searched some records, in 2009, 99 ships and 146,000 passengers passed through the town, and in 2010, a total of 111 cruise ships with about 175,000 passengers visited the city. I believe that  it is much more now!
 cruise ships dock in the very city center near the oldest part of the town, Old Stavanger.  It is just a short stroll away is the nice, well protected Stavanger Cathedral, and the city center with its cobbled pedestrian streets. 

U-shape pier area have lots of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, just a few hundred meters walking distance from the dock!
If you're sea-food lover, Stavanger is a perfect address to taste delicious seafoods. I'll share them as another topic, too.
Old Stavanger  that cruises boards it offers Europe's best preserved wooden house settlement, 
consisting of more than 170 white wooden houses.  
This  adorable cat looks so happy, living in that preserved wooden house settlement in old town, he posed us.
I shared my opinions related with cruise trip before. I just want to repeat that, we would like to have more independent tours...Maybe, one day, we do realize a cruise trip for a specific destination.
I was always wondering the daily life in a petroleum platform. I think, several movies that I’ve watched and some tragic accidents occurred at the platforms caused my  this curiosity. We passed through platforms by ferry on the way of Bergen. 
Glad that we managed to visit Norwegian Petroleum Museum, of course, I focused on the petroleum platform, drilling and its logistic support activities. All museum looks informative and it covers the Norwegian oil history and its development and economical influences of oil incomes for the Norwegian people.  
On 27 March 1980, due to fatigue crack, and some other weld and material disorders one of the bracing failed and afterward the platform, Alexander Lange Kielland  Platform collapsed. I still remember that tragedy!

Failed bracing part of the drilling platform is on display in the museum. Details related with accidents were so touchy, especially that steel debris of a tragic accident is an awesome evidence!!!  
As I said before,  I was wondering petroleum platforms, I learned a lot, now.
More details about Lauvvik - Oanes later!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Travel Notes, Chapter#7, Back to Bergen

We completed the round trip Sognefjord in a nutshell and came back to Bergen.  Now, let me give some brief information about Bergen as I promised in my previous post, before we left for Flam.
The city center of Bergen is located west in the municipality, facing the fjord of Byfjorden. It is situated among a group of mountains known as the Seven Mountains, although the number is a matter of definition. My beautiful city Istanbul is known with its seven hills, too.

Bergen experiences plentiful rainfall in all seasons, this is because the city is surrounded by mountains that cause moist North Atlantic air to undergo orographic lift, yielding abundant rainfall. 
This photo taken in July! The weather conditions change so fast, but it was mostly cloudy and heavy rainy when we were there.
I hope this photo is so meaningful with the general weather conditions in Bergen! A boat with the name of  "Sunseeker"!
However,, Bergen is well known for having the mildest winter climate, though with a lot of precipitation, of all cities in the Nordic countries.  The Gulf Stream keeps the sea relatively warm, considering the latitude, and the mountains protect the city from cold winds from the north, north-east and east.
Due to weather conditions we've had to postpone our Mount Floyen tour next day.
We went to Floibanen funicular queue next day, early in the morning, however it was crowded, waited for a while. It was a breathtaking view from top. 

Glad it was sunny when we reached there, afterwords rain started but we took good photos in that short period of time.   

In that heavy rain, we enjoyed to follow-up the synchronized model funicular wagons on the roof of the old station building. We also liked those lovely  goats, they were in nature and looking happy with the high attention of the visitors. They 
The funicular was too crowded, especially in our return, it  was completely full, the door closed hardly, it was impossible to move. Maybe it could be better to have a limitation for each chamber during high season periods. Anyway, it was so nice experience, worth to visit to see that wonderful panoramic view.

I would like to share one interesting place which is Gamle Bergen Museum, it is worth to visit, especially if you are a history, antique, vintage staff lover like me, this is perfect address for you. 
But, visit before 14:00 to complete tour and join actors performances.
It was really an enjoyable tour wandering around the historic buildings which have been restored and filled with original items from past eras.

This photo shows the decorations style of little girl room from past era! I really enjoyed this museum, I wish we could go there earlier to visit more places like this one. They close at 16:00 p.m.
Its garden is so nice too. We went there by bus from Fish Market, an easy transportation, indeed.
By the way, Fish Market is one of the famous place in Bergen. I'll write details about it later in foods chapter.
There are so many statues, monuments in Bergen, one of the is Seamen’s Monument,  located at Torgallmenningen.
created by the sculptor Dyre Vaa, was unveiled on 1950 in honor of Norwegian seamen’s achievements through the ages, their contribution at the ocean since the Vikings.
It is so obvious that, sea, seamen and ships are a part of their life in Norway.  
They precisely protect their past, this an old vessel still works in good conditions as a sight-seeing tour boat.
This photo is from our hotel room!

As I've explained  before, after completing a round fjord tour we arrived back to Bergen by ferry from Balestrand and reached to hotel in a few minutes from ferry dock, Hotel  Augustin  was a good choice, indeed.  It is just a short walk from the harbor and the old town. Our room's panoramic harbor view was so nice, I wish we could stay longer, I could watch daily routine of the harbor life!  I come from a naval family, sea&ships have a special place in my life. 
Lille Lungegardsvannet is a small artificial lake in Bergen.

A view against to Mount Floyen at dusk during white nights in July 2016.
So, I hope these are enough to tell Bergen shortly. I still have lots of details, the next chapter will be Stavanger!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Travel Notes, Chapter#6, The Fjaerland fjord and Boyabreen glacier

Our tour started from Balestrand pier, it was a connected tour, we should catch our Bergen connection right after we arrive the Balestrand.  Our round-trip on the Fjaerland fjord package tour were including  visits of Norwegian Glacier Museum and the glacier Boyabreen.  It was a fantastic half day!

In a cloudy and cool day our tour started in time. We were a small group of people but from different places of the world such as;  Australia, Spain, USA, UK and  we were from Turkey among other local people.  
We passed through the amazing places, lonely fjords with wonderful colors, wonderful shades,  seagulls, little towns, little houses....
The weather conditions were  changeable even though it was first week of July. 
I wonder winter time in these fjords, how they provide their daily requirements? They must be so much isolated during winter time, indeed.
 We have noticed a tunnel construction, most probably they will connect two sides. 

They are familiar and experienced to drill the tunnel, and suspension bridges between islands, and sides of fjords, where the geography is suitable, we saw different applications during our round trip.
When we arrived to Fjaerland, the glacier bus  was waiting us. Our guide was a lovely young lady who is a student in Bergen. She told detailed information about the museum and glacier, including some other important stories related with the area.
We’ve visited  the Norwegian Glacier Museum. It is a small museum but visual exhibits are well organized, you get to see how the glaciers have influenced us and the climate throughout history. The museum's stated purpose is to "collect, create and disseminate knowledge about glaciers and climate".
It provides information about the glacier Jostedalsbreen and the Jostedalsbreen National Park and also houses the Ulltveit-Moe Climate Centre.

The Fjaerland fjord is a tributary of the Sognefjord and is also known as "The green fjord". Fjaerland is the village where fjords meet glaciers and you can get up close to Jostedalen glacier, the largest glacier in continental Europe.
By the way, let me define what is a glacier! A glacier is snow and ice in motion. Glaciers form at those localities where more snow falls in winter than melts in summer. An ice mass build up over time and will start to move gravity when it is more than 20 meters thick.  
It is so obvious that, the land shape has been shaped by glaciers. Towering mountains and U-shaped valleys surround large delta areas formed by the accumulation of sediment supplied by the glacier rivers. Several thousand years old of deltas formed at a time of higher sea level can now be seen as terraces in the valleys.
It will be better to give a short information for Jostedal Glacier has a total area of 487 square kilometers. The highest point is Høgste Breakulen at 1,957 meters above sea level. Branches of the glacier reach down into the valleys, for instance Bøyabreen in Fjærland and Nigardsbreen, both at 300 metres  above sea level. The thickest part of the glacier is 600 meters.
The glacier is maintained by the high snowfall rates in the region, not the cold temperatures. This means the glacier has high melting rates. The Jostedalsbreen has around 50 glacier arms such as the Nigardsbreen and Tunsbergdalsbreen in Jostedal, the Briksdalsbreennear Olden, the Bøyabreen by Fjærland
Boyabreen is one of about 25 glacier tongues branching off from the plateau of Jostedalsbreen. The main glacier feed Boyabreen. Whether Boyabreen grows or retracts depends on the surplus of snow and ice at the top of the plateau. The glaciers will grow if more snow is falling during winter than what is melting away in the summer. The response time from the main glacier down to Boyabreen is approximately 3 years!

Ice breaks loose from the front of Boyabreen all though summer. Chunks of ice falling into the glacier river may be carried into the lake below.  We were lucky to be able to see even though big pieces of ice floatings in the water. We’ve learned that a big ice block crashed down just before our arrival.  We couldn’t get a chance to see amazing crashing activity  but ice floatings were swimming on the surface.
This is “living” ice which is different from the kind of ice we produce by deep freezing water. From the outset, the glacier ice is composed of many snow crystals which have been fused and grown larger. For this reason, living ice contains air filled channels. 
Another important info is that in 2012, the glacier arm Briksdalsbreen lost 50 meters of ice in a few months. More recent measurements now show that Briksdalsbreen retreated 146 meters  in 2006, and could be in danger of breaking away from the upper ice field. Ice climbing has now been terminated because of this event. One of the serious remedy of global warming!
As I’ve  learned a sad story that something hiding in the glacier; in 1972 a small airplane crashed on Jostedalsbreen. The pilot was killed, and his body was removed from the aircraft. The plane was gradually covered by snow and became embedded in the glacier during winter. Since the glacier  moves slowly there is a possibility that the remnants of the aircraft will be transported downhill and reappear when the ice melts. Calculations based on available data indicate that the wreck will some day will appear near the top of Boyabreen!
After visiting this amazing places and learned much more details for the global warming causes and its effects, I realized once again that we have to protect our old world as much as we can. At least, there are lots of things  that we can do, individually!
So, we said good bye to this lovely small village to go back to Balestrand to catch our ferry for Bergen.
This photo reminds me a stanza I've read 
"Seagulls fly high overhead, 
Seagulls fly high as  if near the ocean"
I believe that these beautiful seagulls are always escort sailors!