Stavanger and the waterfall highway

So it’s another birthday away from home, so far I’ve had my 20th on an island in Thailand, my 21st on a pub crawl in Toronto, 22nd in Buenos Aires, Argentina with an old friend, my 23rd snowboarding in New Zealand, 24th finally reunited with my family, and now my 25th in Norway. I’ve just worked out that I’ve been travelling for almost a quarter of my life, not bad ay!

When we realised my birthday would fall in Norway we bought a cake and 4 mini bottles of spirit for 99 cents while in Germany. Good job too, as a 6 pack of beers, from a supermarket here costs about Β£20, holy moly!

After two tough hikes it was quite a nice change to visit a city for the day. So we got the passenger ferry from Tau into Stavanger. We wondered around the city centre, popping into all the quirky shops. There was even a vintage clothes shop for children. It wasn’t fancy dress, it was genuine flared trousers, dungarees and flower power t-shirts – it was amazing, but by god you put your kid in that and they’ll never forgive you.

We checked out the popular Ovre Holmegate which is a street designed by an artist, each wooden shop front has been painted a different colour, and cafΓ©s spill out onto the street.

Stavanger is said to be the largest wooden city in Europe. So we headed to the Gamle (old) town which is where the lovely whitewashed wooden houses were. Most of them had immaculate flower boxes and a few adorned their beloved Norwegian flag. It was so peaceful walking around the cobbled streets, if we got to a tour group we’d detour uphill and be on our own again. A couple of houses put a little table out front selling coffee and waffles with rustic benches and stools to sit on. We had a look in the restored workers cottage which was 1920’s theme downstairs and my dream home upstairs, in 1960’s era, huge lamps, yellow sofas and red pans with hearts on them.

We’re now travelling on the tourist route north on hwy 13. We have never driven through so many tunnels, Norway seems to build them like it’s some sort of national sport. They’re long tunnels too and some even wind up and around like a corkscrew. The mountain sides that line the road and lakes are inundated with waterfalls – not piddly trickles but ferocious, gushing ones. Latefossen was a double sided waterfall that seemed to receive more water than it could handle; we had to close our windows as we drove past to avoid getting wet.

We’re planning on checking out some glaciers in the Odda area so camped in a wonky spot near a trailhead. We could see the glacier from the van, high up on a mountain, and to our left was a white water river. No houses around, so it seemed an odd place to see a cat walk past. It was soaking wet, it’s fur a complete mess, but I love animals so I made that annoying squeaky noise one makes when they want an animal to come closer. It was more of an experiment to see if it was feral or a pet. She turned around and came towards us, I was sat in the front and Craig cooking in the back. I lost track of where she went so I figured she was probably under the van. Then Craig shouted “SHIT, IT’S IN THE VAN!!” And there she was inside the back of Pablo, looking scruffier up close and ready to pounce her mucky paws on our sofa. We both started scowling at her, I was doing an inventory of the van and looking at how messy this could get: Craig had the table up with the stove on it, boiling rice and Thai green curry cooking away. Thankfully though, she reluctantly stepped out and then I felt a bit guilty. God knows how Craig didn’t see her sneak inside, all he said was “I just turned around and there was a rank cats arse hole looking at me”.

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