Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Wednesday 2 August - Hjelmeland and Stavanger

Where's Bertie? He's in a car park about 1.5km away from the centre of Stavanger (exact location: 58.95927, 5.72337).

After another night of considerable rainfall, we opted not to spend another night in Sand, but to move towards Stavanger, where the forecast was better.
The motorhome parking, which had been almost empty when we arrived, had been overfull since Monday night, with no vacated slot staying that way for more than twenty seconds. I'm sure our slot would have been taken with equal speed, if it hadn't been that, when we left, the blinds were still drawn in all of the vans which weren't within marked bays. Some chap times his arrival perfectly, though, driving in just as we were driving out. It was a Brit too - very much a rarity.

The Turistveg which took us south ventured upwards into the hills for a while, through trees steaming in the sunshine. Then it dumped us back down at sea level, which is a good place to be when you have a ferry to catch.

The rain started whilst we were in the queue (excellent timing, mind, as we were on board and underway within five minutes of arriving) and by the time we settled into a car park on the other side of the water it had turned into a bouncing thunderstorm. I double checked the forecast, which was quite sure we were enjoying sunny intervals with 0mm of rain.

Mick sensibly sat out the walk up Hjelmen, the local standalone pimple of a hill (sensible - the bouncing rain didn't hold off for me!).

No view from the top of the hill due to trees, but plenty of view from a picnic area and sculpture site a little way down

Back down in the village, Little Mick sat on another Big Chair...

...before we headed south once more.

Our intention to stop short of the next ferry, and to make our way to Stavanger in the morning, was modified when we realised that the afternoon was turning into a fine one after all. Past our intended turn we sailed and past more spectacular scenery we drove, to the ferry at Tau.

At 40 minutes, this was the longest crossing we've had for a while - long enough for the ferry to actually have a passenger lounge (most ferries have been stay-in-your-vehicle jobs with no views to be had). It also stood out as the only ferry where loading was a free for all, rather than the usual strict organisation, and where the ticket man didn't come to our vehicle - we had to go to the ticket office (and once we had done so, nobody checked that we had in fact paid).

4pm is not an hour at which we would usually be just setting out to walk into a town, but having settled Bertie into our chosen car park, we reckoned it was better to go in sunshine today than in rain tomorrow.

It was all happening in the main square, with queues of kids with inflatables waiting their turn to go down the water slide and into the pool of foam at the bottom... well as half a dozen other such attractions. It all looked like good fun, but, being a bit old to join in, we did the growed-up thing and took a brief stroll around the cobbled streets and white wooden houses of the old town:

Crowds of people - there was a cruise ship in harbour

More colourful on t'other side of the harbour

Our guide book suggested an hour or two could be spent walking the old town, but there is only so long that cobbles and white wooden houses can hold our interest, so into the new town we went, stumbling across the penultimate Anthony Gormley sculpture on our way (the final one of the sizeable installation is in the harbour but we couldn't see it):

Another was spotted half hidden by a hedge on our walk back out of town:

Our impressions of Stavanger, based on today's brief visit, were good. In the unlikely event of good weather in the morning we might do more here.

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