Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Quick Weekend Checking out the Lysefjord in Norway

After a tough week at work for Matt, we found ourselves with a free long weekend for a last-minute trip.  We checked out for cheap tickets to any place in Europe and found a great fare to Stavanger, Norway.  Never heard of it?  Neither had we.  But we were excited to see what we could find.

We landed in Stavanger on a cold and rainy Thursday.
Natalie was most excited about all of the bus rides.  Her favorite song is The Wheels on the Bus.
Our first stop was the Norwegian Petroleum Museum.  Oil was discovered in the continental shelf off Norway in 1969 and now makes up nearly one quarter of Norway's economy. (I think of Norway as a progressive, wealthy country, but before the discovery of oil, it was one of the poorest countries in the world.)  The museum was an interesting look at both the technology that goes into oil exploration--including the drilling, helicopter transport to the rigs and SCUBA-assisted work--as well as the potential environmental impacts of drilling and oil use.  Natalie had fun climbing around the museum and we were excited for an indoor activity in not-so-great weather.

Natalie is in charge of the oil rig--watch out!
The next day we headed out for the highlight of our trip--the hike to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock).  Preikestolen is a 75 foot square flat plateau nearly 2,000 feet above the Lysefjord.  It was recently named one of the 12 most mesmerizing destinations by TripAdvisor.

After ferry and bus rides, we finally arrived at the base of the hike.  We stuffed Natalie into a snowsuit and headed out in the rain.   We wore waterproof hiking boots, although enough people have tried the hike in high heals and flip flops that it warrants a warning on the sign at the start of the hike.  The boots were definitely a good idea, since the trail was flooded in a few places.  Although we did see a number of suspect hikers--including a pair of women in tennis shoes with their Louis Vuitton purses shoved into plastic shopping bags. 
Not exactly a level or dry trail.

After two hours of hiking we finally arrived at the top. And it was completely clouded in.  We spoke to one couple who said that they waited at the top for about an hour with no breaks in the weather.  So we opened up our picnic lunch and hoped for the best.

Nothing to see here.  I wonder what a fjord looks like.
And then the clouds started to break!  Success!  The amazing view of the fjord started to reveal itself.

Finally -- a view!

Natalie wasn't impressed.  Or she was hungry.  Verdict?  Very hungry.
The German couple who took this photo for us asked us what possessed us to take our baby on this hike.  We have been so excited to take Natalie on all of our adventures--it has been great to explore with her and she has been a fantastic little traveler.  And we can't wait to take her on more hikes with amazing views like this one.
Worth the hike.
On our second day, we decided to see the Lysefjord from a different perspective -- from the water.  So we hopped on a boat and headed up the fjord.  The fjord is about 26 miles long, lined with cliffs that stretch up nearly 3,000 feet from the water.

Departing Stavanger

Still unclear why this house was on the water.

The weather was beautiful and we were able to enjoy the breathtaking waterfalls, mountains and cliffs.  Seeing Preikestolen was way more interesting from above than below though.  From below it just looks like a big, square rock.  With some very brave hikers poking their heads over its edge.

This big rock is way cooler from the top.

But waterfalls are pretty cool.

Once we were done on the high seas, we took a nice walk around the town of Stavanger.  The pedestrian old town was filled with small white 18th and 19th century houses, typical of Norway.

They sell a lot of white paint here.

We didn't know what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised by our trip to Stavanger.  The town was a little quiet, especially at the end of the tourist season, but the outdoor adventures were everything we had hoped for in visiting Norway for the first time.
P.S. Here's a great way to entertain a kid away from home


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