Sunday, 5 February 2017

Experience: New Year on Stavangerfjord

Although 2017 has barely started, one thing is for sure - I will remember it as a year I got to welcome on a wonderful cruise. This time it was a special New Year cruise organized by Fjord Line; both the Bergensfjord and the Stavangerfjord were put to do these special cruises, and our choice ended up being the Stavangerfjord from Bergen to Copenhagen via Stavanger, and back. For practical reasons we decided to disembark in Stavanger instead of Bergen, which gave me an additional city to discover.
But before I got to embark on the Stavangerfjord, I had to get to Norway.

And as I did not want to fly, mainly due to the condition of my old shabby suitcase, the trip started with taking the lovely Viking Grace - the ferry where I welcomed 2015 - to Stockholm.

My delicious dinner on the Viking Grace
Fortunately, unlike the previous time in August, my wait in Stockholm before the train to Oslo was much shorter this time; I spent all of it in the train station, which definitely deserves 10 points for free WiFi and charging plugs.
In late afternoon, just shortly after it had got dark, I arrived in Oslo and was greeted by Sverre. We spent the first night at his mother's place and he showed me the places where he grew up. 

Central Oslo seen from Tveita
The following  morning was a rather early wakeup as we had to rush back to the Oslo Central station to get on the train to Bergen, a journey I remember fondly from spring as a very beautiful one. And once again, I certainly wasn't disappointed; our journey just exactly covered the period of daylight, and my new camera was put to a nice test.


Avalanche fences near Finse

Back down on the lower altitudes as we near Bergen
Testing my new camera continued as soon as we arrived in Bergen, after checking in to Clarion hotel Admiral. It was dark, but we went for a walk and even took the funicular up on top of the Fløyen mountain, where I got some shots I'm very proud of.

View of the city and Fløyen viewpoint on top
View southeast from Fløyen, with Ulriken mountain 
View down from Fløyen, with the funicular railway in the bottom right corner
A sign seen from the window as the funicular train as it stopped in the middle of nowhere
St John's Church
Finally, the next morning it was time to board the lovely Stavangerfjord. She is quite new, having started service in July 2013. She is also somewhat small compared to what I'm used to seeing here in the Baltic Sea, however, for a ship that is used primarily for transportation, she is very lovely.

Stavangerfjord sailing into Bergen
Our cabin 8202. Note that it is a 4 person cabin, with two more beds stowed in the ceiling...
... like this.
Passing under the Askøy bridge
Builder's plate
Mandatory Funnel Photo
Mandatory Staircase Photo
A model of Stavangerfjord - there was at least three of those on board.
Pier 42 sports bar
Fjord Lounge, the main entertainment venue
A smaller, separate piano bar part of the Fjord Lounge
Mandatory Funnel Photo II
Mandatory Staircase Photo II
Oasis Garden Cafe
The most notable thing from the first evening was our dinner at Grieg Steakhouse, being one of the lifetime top experiences regarding both the food and service, for both of us.

Grieg Steakhouse
Sverre and our waiter, who was a very
professional and funny guy
Our main courses, with Sverre's fried cod on the foreground
 and my crazy-delicious rib eye steak on the background.

The following afternoon we arrived in Copenhagen. As the crowds immediately started to flow off the ship and ashore, it gave us a wonderful opportunity to take the above interior photos; after a nice long tour of the ship, we also packed up and headed to the center, namely, to Tivoli, where we looked at the beautiful light decorations and fireworks, and had a nice dinner before heading back to the ship for the night.

Promenaden, the dining place we ended up choosing, out of tens, if not hundreds of various choices Tivoli has to offer.

The following day, the 31st of December, we woke up and headed back to the center, to take the most of our time there before our ship was due to depart again in the afternoon. Meanwhile, sistership Bergensfjord had arrived and docked right next to us. Neither of the ships ever visit Copenhagen during their routine trading; So, the first thing we did was taking a canal sightseeing tour, with the aim of getting a good view of the two ships and take photos. And we got a nice guided tour as a bonus.

The Little Mermaid statue we passed as we walked to the center
St. Alban's Church
Bergensfjord and Stavangerfjord

A tight fit

Stavangerfjord seen from Langelinie, where she is docked.
After the nice trip ashore, it was time to return to the ship and get ready for the New Year celebrations. For us, it started with a nice buffet dinner, where we were seated with a nice older couple who were a wonderful company throughout the dinner. Soon after that it was time for the countdown at the Fjord Lounge, and in what seemed like mere minutes later, it was already almost 4 hours into 2017 and the ship was starting to look empty when we finally decided to hit the bed. 

The buffet restaurant on New Year's Eve moments before running very full

The morning of the 1st of January was a little more peaceful, but nonetheless a lot of fun. Inbetween other activities we slowly packed up as we were due to disembark already in Stavanger. 

In the morning, there was a medical emergency on board and we were visited by a helicopter. I could only hope it ended well, and catch a photo of the helicopter leaving.
Sverre, me, and our 10 bingo tickets - in his best "Fuck it, it's New Year's Day!" attitude, Sverre sent me to the bar with a bill and told me to get as much as that buys. Little did we know that would end up being much, much more than we could ever hope to keep track of. We ended up sending quite a few tickets forward to others. 
And here's me in a good party mood like a minute or so before disembarking. I did return the glass just before leaving the ship, in case anyone's wondering. 

After disembarking we walked to a nearby bus stop, took a bus to the center, checked in to our hotel and afterwards, went to meet up with a friend of Sverre's.
We had one more full day in Stavanger after that, and we spent it walking around, visiting the Stavanger Oil Museum which I found very interesting, and later on, after a lunch, we took a local ferry out to Tau and back.

Stavangerfjord in Stavanger
The well-lit pub where we met up with Sverre's friend

Departing Stavanger for Tau
Meeting the other ferry, Hardanger, shortly after passing under the Stavanger City Bridge
A heavily zoomed view of a distant shore 
Houses in Tau seen as we arrived 
Stord, the ferry we came with, on her way out and back to Stavanger 
Small bulker Linnau in Tau

Sandnes and Rogaland
On the morning of the 3rd of January, it was time for Sverre to return to work and for me to start my long journey back home. First, I took the everlasting train journey from Stavanger to Oslo, stayed in Oslo for the night, then took a train to Stockholm and boarded the Amorella for an overnight crossing back to Turku.

The train journey from Stavanger to Oslo includes a reverse in Kristiansand (which is a terminus station); here the locomotive is about to be reconnected to what is now about to become the front of the train.
Stena Saga departing Oslo for Frederikshavn
The nicely lit Aker Brygge in Oslo

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