Stavanger, Norway, Land of Misty Fjords

We’re nearing the end of our DNA trip, only a couple more stops to make.  Today, we find ourselves in Stavanger Norway, enjoying her misty fjords.

Today is our only day in Norway, and we were determined to have fun regardless of the rain.  The harbor is right in the town and is a beautiful mixture of old and new.  Very clean, and Norway is a very wealthy country.  Prices in the one open shop (it’s Sunday) attest to that.  I know this is a first, and rather unbelievable, especially to my husband, but I bought nothing.

stavanger port

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One of the first things that struck me is how different the houses and city looks as compared to the rest of Europe.  The houses are almost entirely white, are not connected, and are kind of scattered about in a quaint mixture of haphazard and planned.

stavanger city

It was raining of course.  Rain seemed to be the theme of the DNA trip.

When selecting “side trips,” in advance, you, of course, have no idea if it’s going to be raining on a given day.  We had selected a boat trip into the fjords.  I know, I know, another boat trip for someone who gets motion sick.  However, they have drugs for that, AND, this is the opportunity of a lifetime and I wasn’t about to miss it.

Having said that, upon arrival, I had some serious doubts about the choice, but we discovered that they get rain here about 150 days a year, so it seems authentic and fitting.

Norway is confusing to me.  I don’t know whether this is an ancient homeland to me or not.

scandinavian mtdna

Looking at my mitochondrial DNA matches, you can see that my closest full sequence matches are indeed in Norway.  One, in fact, is located right on a fjord.

mtdna fjord

Given that my closest matches are Scandinavian, in Norway and Sweden, does this mean that my maternal line is ancestral TO that location, meaning my line came FROM there, or does it mean that the Scandinavian matches are descended from a common ancestor with my ancestor, Elisabetha Mehlheimer who lived in Goppsmannbuhl, Germany?  In other words, did the Scandinavian matches come FROM Germany, originally?  I don’t know the answer to this, hence, my confusion.  But rest assured, I’m working on this.

So, for today, I’m going to make the assumption that indeed, my line does descend from this beautiful country – and I’m making the journey into the fjords as if they hold my family history.  I don’t know whether my ancestors saw these fjords or not, of if it’s only my cousins, descendants of a common ancestor who saw and see these – but one thing is for sure – my family, maybe distant, but family all the same, is here today.

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This land speaks of contrasts and conflicts.  People versus the elements – both the land, the rocky mountainous land, and the sea.  It also speaks not of conquest, but of compromise – finding the soft spots and making a life there – not in conflict with nature – but in harmony.  There seems to be a place for everyone in this tiny village nestled snugly on the edge of the sea, but always in the shadow of the mountain.

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Sheltered, or trapped here?  I guess that would be a matter of perspective relative to the time in history.  And whether or not you had a boat.

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All along the fjord are summer homes nestled wherever they can find any flat or semi-flat place to put them.

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In addition, they have boat garages which are often stone combined with some bright paint, and partly underwater because the fjords, of course, are tidal.

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The red one, above, is actually on an island.  In the photo below, you can barely see it, but it’s there.

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This is assuredly the land of rocks and islands, some inhabited, some not.

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All stunning in their misty beauty.

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Can you see the boat garage nestled in the photo below?

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Some islands have no trees, some just one lone tree, growing either in peril or triumphantly, one or the other.

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I particularly like the photo below, even if it is a bit tilted – so was the boat.  (I had to wedge myself between things and in corners to be “steady” enough take photos.)  You can clearly see the layers of bedrock as it has been pushed up from the sea over millennia.  The forces of earth at work.

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As we moved on down or up the Lysefjord, named for the Norse word for light, further from the sea, we began to see much taller walls and waterfalls  Now had it not been raining, these falls probably wouldn’t have been carrying water – so the rain was a gift in this way.

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Each set of falls was different.

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It was difficult to get photos of these.  First of all, I was on the very top of the boat where it was extremely wet.  My lens kept getting water spots and I was running out of dry spots on my clothes to wipe the lens.  Finally the woman beside me and I came up with an innovative compromise.  We couldn’t reach the dry backs of our own t-shirts, so we traded off and used each other’s.  In addition, the boat was rocking of course, and there were a few other diehards up there too.  Plus, we were actually too close to get much of a composite photo.  These falls are a couple thousand feet and in many ways, remind me of the tropics, well, except for how cold it is.

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This is what I call the definition of opportunity, and perhaps optimism as well.

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At one location, the crew hand jumped onto land and put some food into a feeding trough for the mountain goats  Here’s a photo of the goats beside the falls.

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One entire massive wall was a series of bridal veils falls, the tops entirely hidden in the mists, gives the entire scene an unreal, ghostly, ethereal quality.

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The tops of the mountains seems lost in the clouds.  By afternoon, the sun may peek through in some places.

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The boat was extremely close to the wall as we neared the end of the fjord where we approached the granddaddy of fjord waterfalls.

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This was no small falls – the closer we got – the more we realized just how massive this falls was.  And the noise was almost deafening.  It reminded me of the awe I felt at Niagara Falls when I was 12 years old.

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But wait until we get even closer.

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And closer…

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At this point, the boat passed so close that we got a fjord shower.

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Most of the sane people had gone downstairs between the driving rain and the temperature, but there were a few diehards upstairs, me and 2 or 3 other women.  Jim and the other man, below went below.  You can see the waterfalls in the photo, at right.

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We shot pictures until we couldn’t and as the water hit us, we all screamed Woo-Hoo together.  Jim said they could hear us downstairs even above the roar of the water.  It was definitely a “living life to the fullest,” “once in a lifetime” moment.  What an unforgettable opportunity.  Laughing and freezing with my sisters of heart.  Makes me wonder, are they connected there too?  Do these ancestral places speak to our spirits in ways we don’t understand?

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My husband stuck his head out from below deck and got this great shot leaving the falls.  My camera was too wet and my hands were too slippery and numb.  But I was exceptionally happy and joyful!  I hated to see the falls disappear into the distance. What an unexpected gift!

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We sailed back to Stavanger and stopped on the way to have hot coffee, waffles, “cream,” which is like a very thick whipped cream and jam.  It’s a Norwegian thing.  If you’d like to give it a try, here’s a great recipe.  They taste just as good as they look, too.

Back to the ship and to dry clothes.  I had on a raincoat and hat, but they can only do so much and I was soaked to the skin.  I was grateful for warm, dry clothes, but certainly wouldn’t have traded the experience!

No towel guy picture today, because we didn’t buy one thing today and towel guy doesn’t want wet clothes:)

What an adventure today – but I’m STILL hoping for sunshine and dry weather for our last port – the gateway to Paris, in two days.

8 thoughts on “Stavanger, Norway, Land of Misty Fjords

  1. Roberta- I cannot tell you how excited I get every time I open up one of your messages. I am getting to go places and see things that in reality would be impossible for me…except for your wonderful blog of your travels. Your photos are fantastic, I love your descriptions and your adventures. You are like having a best friend who writes back personal letters to me of your adventures. Thank you so much for sharing all this with your readers.

  2. Roberta, my uncle was a Canadian pilot with the RAF during the war, seconded to the Norwegian Air Force. His plane was shot down near Stavangar, and he and his fellow servicemen are buried in the cemetery in Stavangar. I understand that there was a funeral of sorts but that the Nazis wouldn’t allow the local people to pay their respects. I’ve since visited the cemetery and have to say that the people of Stavangar really look after the graves beautifully. I think their kindness is very touching.

  3. Roberta,

    Thanks for these spectacular photos. I have Norwegian ancestry, so these photos are especially interesting to me. My 2nd great-grandfather was born in Buskerud, Norway and came to the United States before the American Civil War, and then fought in the Civil War.

    Have a great time on your trip!

  4. Pingback: Elisabetha Mehlheimer (c1800-c1851) and Her Scandinavian Mito-Cousins, 52 Ancestors #24 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  5. Pingback: Visiting Deal, Kent, UK – The Estes Homelands | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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