|The Plan: Jim and Gene will travel by commercial air from Omaha, NE to Stavenger, Norway via Chicago and Frankfurt.|
Our Trip to Stavanger, Norway by Gene and Jim
Jimmy Maassen and I were invited by Karl (our foreign exchange student back in 1969) to visit him and his wife Kirsten in Stavanger, Norway. It all started when our class invited Karl Maeland to attend our "class of 69" 40th class reunion in July of 2009. He accepted and spent a few days with Jim in Omaha, NE. Karl's visit was a big hit with all of the classmates.
Karl invited Jim and Gene and wives to visit Norway, They said maybe in a couple of years. Karl said," No way, make it next summer." Jim and Gene made it a priority and started planning when the snow was still flying in Iowa. We originally included our wives Marcy and Janet in the plans, but they decided not to come (for various reasons), so Jim and I plodded on without them. We will miss them and in the end, will regret that they did not come along, I'm sure.
The trip to Norway: We started in Omaha. Our itinerary included flying on United from Omaha to Chicago to Frankfurt and changing planes to go on to Stavanger, Norway. The plan started well, but fell apart in Chicago when our 747 arrived late and put us 2 hrs behind. Our plane to Stavanger had departed already when we arrived in Frankfurt. It took us a while and a fair amount of walking around to find the proper ticket counter to rebook for our later flight to Stavanger. Karl deduced from our non-arrival that we had missed our flight, so he went home and looked up the next flight and assumed we would be on it. He was there waiting for us when we finally arrived at 6 PM.
Boeing 747-400 On our way to Frankfurt
Day One: We traveled by car to Karl's house in downtown Stavanger. It is a renovated house that was originally built in 1834. Karl and Kirsten bought it to be closer to downtown and updated it with modern facilities and efficient windows, etc. It is a very impressive and comfortable home. It is small but quite adequate for the two of them. Kirsten is a very good cook and we have already had some wonderful meals. After our meal, Karl, Jim and Gene took a walk down to the harbor area and the restaurants and pubs were humming with activity because it was Friday night. Back home again we capped the night with conversation and a night cap and off to bed for a much needed rest.
Karl and Kirsten Maeland
Day Two: Up by 8 AM and somewhat rested, we enjoyed a breakfast of boiled egg, bread, pickled herring, jam, juice and coffee. Time for another walk through the downtown shops and a few hours checking out the Oil Museum near the harbor. Norway is very rich in the off-shore oil. The oil rigs are very big and complex. Very interesting. We had a beer in one of the outdoor pubs and went home for a nap to catch-up on our rest after the long trip. We awoke and Kirsten had prepared another delicious meal. Karl's son Oyvind and his new bride Sanae came for dinner also. She is Japanese and they are moving to Oslo soon. We had meat pudding (like meat loaf) and steamed vegetables with wine and fresh strawberries and ice cream for dessert. After dinner, Jim, Karl, Kirsten and Gene traveled by car across town to visit Karl's Mother, Hjordis (pronounced Yordis). She is 83 and has a very nice apartment. We had coffee and coffee cake and good conversation. Back home again to converse and relax.
Day Three (Sunday): Breakfast at 8 AM and packed and on our way to the ferry. We took the ferry to the town of Tau to start our adventure climbing up to Pulpit Rock. It is a 1850 ft cliff over-looking the Lyse fjord. It is a popular tourist destination. We can attest to that by observing the hundreds of climbers that accompanied us up the tortuous trail to the top. The view and experience was worth the effort. The pictures don't capture completely the adventure. Kirsten packed a lunch which we desperately needed when we reached the top. When we had expended our drinking water, we filled the empty bottles in one of the many clear mountain springs along the way. The water had excellent taste. It took 2 1/2 hours to climb up and 1 1/2 hours to come back down.
Once we were safely down, we piled into the car and off we were on the one hour drive to Jelsa and the summer house. We had to wait and cross the fjord by another ferry along the way. The ferries run like buses in the fjord, going from side to side, from island to island, up and down the fjord. They even have passenger boats that run like regular scheduled buses in the fjord. Crossing the fjord and using boats are much quicker than using the roads that must go around and up and down the steep hills and small mountains that seem to rise straight up out of the sea.
Once we were at the summer house, we had a wonderful meal including salmon sushi, cheese, bread and wine. The house has enough bedrooms that we each had our own room. This house is 150 years old, but again, modernized in the kitchen and bath. The heat and electrical system are also updated for function and efficiency.
Day Four (Monday): Being at the summer house and being so tired from our extremely exhausting climb up and down the mountain to Pulpit Rock, we took it fairly easy on Monday. After another fine breakfast prepared by Kirsten, Karl, Jim and I took a walk around town. We checked out Karl's boat and the whole marina area. We went downtown and got a few groceries and batteries for my camera. After lunch, Jim and I put Karl's new Weber grill together and tried it out for dinner. Kirsten's friend, Inger who lives down the beach, came over for dinner on the beach patio. Then we went for a short boat ride out into the fjord. Inger invited us over to her house for wine and visiting around her outdoor fireplace. Inger's family owns a house on the beach that is 300 years old. We got a short tour of the house. Most of the older houses in Jelsa are over 100 years old. Inger and her family are in the process of upgrading some of the rooms in the house. We then walked home. It was after midnight, but it was not completely dark. the sun had been down below the horizon less than an hour and would come up again by 1:30 AM. It is very strange to do most of our sleeping with the sun shining brightly through the windows.
Day Five (Tuesday): We wake up to a light drizzle or rain. Today, we will go fishing. Karl located the fishing tackle, extra coats for Jim and I and a bucket to hold any fish we may catch. Out of the marina we go out into the fjord. We fished a couple of spots that have been good in the past. Jim caught an "ugly" fish first and then I caught a type of fish that is called a pollick. After catching what we needed for dinner, we headed into shore. That night, we filleted the fish and fried them up. They were quite tasty. Kirsten had to leave for Stavanger to help Oyvind and Sanae move out of their apartment and off to Oslo, so us guys were on our own. She may get back on Thursday.
Day Six (Wednesday): Still baching it, us boys made breakfast and then drove to the city of Sand to get groceries and find an internet hot spot so I could catch-up with my email and upload this website and about a hundred pictures that are linked to this website. The day started out cool and cloudy with some fog and mist. As the day progressed, it turned partly cloudy but remained cool with the high only near 65. On the way to Sand, we stopped at the Salmon Studio. It is a place where you can watch the salmon and Sea Trout through an underwater window as they swim up the river to spawn. (Only Sea Trout were swimming today.) While in Sand, I found a Wifi spot at the library. Jim and Karl went downtown to look around and I met back up with them at the bakery where we had cake and coffee. After going to the supermarket for more food, we headed back home. We grilled some pork ribs on the new grill for dinner, watched some TV and talked for a while before heading off to bed.
Karl brought a game back from Chili, South America the last time he was there. He's not sure what they call it, but we call it Liar's Dice. It plays kind of like Yatzee and kind of like Liar's Poker. We play it now when we have some time to spare.
Day Seven (Thursday): Thursday was spent "on the water". After breakfast, we packed some fruit, chips, beer and water, took the fishing tackle and headed up the fjord. We stopped at an abandoned salmon farm where all that was left was a boat house and dock just to experience the serenity and quiet of the cove. While sitting there a swan swam over to us and we fed it some potato chips. It was a lone swan that was hanging around that cove. We left and ventured on up the fjord. We stopped at Marvik to get some gas and discovered they had just run out and expected a tanker tomorrow. We went on to Sand where Karl was sure they had gas. Jim and I took turns being the deck hand to tie off the bow when docking. We went on to Vanvik. We just looked at the small village, checked out a small orchard and a stream with small trout. on the way back to Jelsa, we stopped at a small village with some new houses built on the dock. These were very well built houses that could withstand the severe winter comfortably. Check the pictures for Day seven. When we got back to Jelsa, Karl scratch made two pizzas. Pizza and beer for supper. Great!
Day Eight (Friday): On Friday, Kirsten is still in Stavanger. She had to go to the dentist for some emergency dental work. Us guys are on our own for one more day. We packed some lunch and snacks and water and away we went in Karl's Fiat. We traveled north through Sand and on to Roldol. At Roldol, we toured an old church that was originally built in the year 1275. The church was remodeled in 1860 and restored to original in 1980.
Stave Church Snow in July
We traveled on north and east in search of a glacier. Norway doesn't seem to have any "drive-up" glaciers. There are many glaciers but they are rather difficult to get to. Many miles of walking and climbing are required to get to a glacier it seems. We had spent some time stopped and checking scenic stops and so, by the time we discovered what it would take to get to a glacier, we didn't have time or the energy to pursue a glacier. We had to settle for standing in some snow along the road. Check the pictures. The scenery is spectacular in all directions everywhere.
Day Nine (Saturday): We decided to have a "lazy" day as Karl puts it, on Saturday. After breakfast, Jim and I went for a walk over the hill to the ferry dock. Karl came a bit latter in the car and we all met Kirsten when she returned from Stavanger. She was glad to be back. It seems that Karl and Kirsten spend much of their time here as do many others, so they have many friends here. Today we met Kirsten's friend, Jrete (pr. Greta) from Stavanger. She helped Kirsten after her dentist appointment so she was invited to come to the summer house for the weekend. There is plenty of room for one more.
We took a tour of the town Lutheran church guided by a student who works for the county museum system in the area. The local church was originally built in 1275, burned down and rebuilt in the late 1800's. The style was similar to the Stave churches that were built as national churches all over Norway. We also toured the house that served as the town school. Check the pictures. Most of the buildings and houses in the neighbor where Karl lives are from 150 - 300 years old. They are protected and are restricted when rebuilt. Karl and Kirsten live in a similar type neighborhood in Stavanger.
We had small pancakes with sour cream and jam and coffee for lunch. I took a nap in the afternoon while Karl and Jim watched soccer on the TV. For dinner, Karl grilled some chicken breasts and Kirsten prepared salad and white rice. Wine was served with the meal. We had the meal in the formal dining room on the 15 foot table with candles and everything.
After dinner, we had visitors, a woman named Torunn stopped in for a chat. We moved out to the beach patio and two couples stopped by for wine and conversation. Heidi and Harold who have a 200+ year old house down the beach and Ellen and her husband (all neighbors) were walking on the beach and stopped by for a short visit. It is hard to get used to the sun not going down. Before we knew it, it was almost midnight and time for bed.
Day ten (Sunday): Sunday was church day. Kirsten, Jrete and I (Gene) went to church. I didn't understand a word that was said, but I recognized the tune of every hymn. I even sang the Alleluia parts of one hymn. It was interesting. The minister was a woman from originally from Iceland. All of the Lutheran churches in Norway were originally state churches. Now all churches are supported by the state.
After church, we had a quick lunch and Jim and I packed up for the ferry ride back to Stavanger. Karl, Jim and I boarded the 3 PM ferry. The ferry is a fast, twin hull model made of fiberglass and carbon fiber powered by 2 - 12 cylinder Mercedes marine diesels. Karl asked the crew chief if we could see the engines and he agreed to give Jim and I a guided tour of the ship. We went up to the pilot's cabin and talked to the pilot and co-pilot and then went down to the engine compartment. It was so loud in the engine room that we needed ear protection. I was so excited that I plum forgot to take pictures of the engine or the pilot cabin. I got plenty of pics of the rest of the boat and many of the fjord and islands on the way back. This was strictly a passenger ferry and cruised at 32 knots. We made 3 more stops to pick up people on the way to Stavanger.
Once we were back, we made supper and took a walk around Stavanger before having drinks and conversation before bed.
Day Eleven (Monday): Monday was shopping day. We explored the many shops looking for souvenirs for the grandkids and wives we left at home. While shopping we stopped at a bakery for treats and cappuccino. Having found a few items they may like, we had to stop at an outdoor pub for a brew on the way home. Karl made some shrimp soup and white rice for supper (delicious). We spent some time going over the 1969 Walnut Annual with Karl to renew all of our knowledge of what schoolmates had done and what they were doing now. Jim and I discovered some gaps in our knowledge of classmates history since High School. Stories of the old HS days were exchanged.
Day Twelve (Tuesday): Tuesday is travel day. Up early, quick breakfast and off to the airport in a taxi, since we left the car in Jelsa and took the passenger boat. Karl will take the ferry back to Jelsa today, spend a couple of more days with Kirsten and then they will drive from there to Sweden to celebrate Karl's brother's 50th birthday. More holiday for the Maelands.
Jim and I ran the gauntlet of security lines, customs, waiting for flights/planes and cramped economy seating once again. We took a small jet from Stavanger to Copenhagen and a much larger Airbus 330 across the water to Newark, NJ. The A 330 is the most comfortable we have experienced so far. Eight hours in any plane though is too much. The customs and security again in NJ and we are waiting for the Omaha plane to show up as I write this. (9 PM EDT). It will be very late getting home tonight. The heat here doesn't help either. (102 degrees)
See the pics of:
9th Day in Norway
10th Day in Norway