I’ve always wanted to travel to a Scandinavian country. Not for the food but for the history. Don’t get me wrong I love fish, but there’s just something about the Vikings that intrigues. And just a few weeks ago, as part of my fall vacation, I travelled to Norway. My long-time Canadian-Italian friend Fabio is at the International School in Haugesund. This town is north of Stavanger and very close to the Viking area of Karmoy, so I got to live like a local with Fabio for five days. Welcome to Norway!
This Norwegian town with its rocky coastline next to the sea was my destination after landing in Stavanger via a long overnight air travel, and a two hour car ride that included a ferry boat in fairly calm waters. I liked this town very much. It was easy to walk, had good (but expensive – everything is expensive in Norway) restaurants and was very close to Viking area of Avaldsnes. My fifth grade Viking project was surprisingly rushing back into my memory. Fabio lives directly on the channel. Living among the Norwegians who are stoic, hard-working, hardy and mostly blond, plus the view from the condo made me feel like a local for the short time I was there.
The weather was harsh for late September, wavering between 4 and 12°C with rain and strong variable winds. I didn’t go far without my hat (which I purchased in Norway), gloves and scarf! Interesting fact – Marilyn Monroe’s deadbeat father was supposed to hail from Haugesund. I found her statue on the boardwalk as I was exploring the town.
South of Haugesund is the Viking area of Visnes and Avaldsnes, plus the village of Skudeneshavn. Fabio and I did a couple of short day trips to both areas. Skudeneshavn with its traditional wooden houses has an extensive history of fishing herring. It’s a charming village that still presents like the 1800’s when the herring fishing was in its heyday. In one of the quaint shop combo restaurant is where I purchased my hat.
The historical landscape of Visnes and Avaldsnes is rich in history and Viking treasures. From the Church of St Olav and The Virgin Mary’s Sewing Needle to the Secret Passage and the Viking Farm, I was enthralled by it all. To think this area has been continuously settled for more than 10,000 years is incredible. By the Bronze Age, a powerful aristocracy had settled in Avaldsnes.
For 3000 years they reined here exacting tributes from vessels passing up and down the Karmsund channel. Following the Battle of Hafrsfjord in about 870 AD, Harald Fairhair moved his main estate to Avaldsnes. He was buried at Avaldsnes.
I needed to return to Stavanger for my early morning flight to Ireland (blog coming soon) after my stay in Norway. Bus ticket on my phone, another windy, rainy, extra moisturizer day in Norway, I made my way back to Stavanger including the Ferry boat in very choppy waters this journey.
My hotel in Stavanger was in the perfect location for me to walk around the city, get a tour by a fish monger, eat some delicious fresh mussels and white wine along the water and buy a few treats including the Danish Lakrids by Johan Bulow in Wild Blueberry Chocolate Coated Liquorice. I ate the Lakrids instead of gifting them. You know how I love texture and these Lakrids have it all – a chewy liquorice centre, a smooth chocolate coating and a crispy blueberry shell. Yum! Despite the weather and that is coming from a Canadian, I had a wonderful time in Norway. Coming soon – my blog about Ireland, part two of my fall vacation.
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