Leaving Sandvika Beach, we returned over the headland and overnighted in a car-park near to Egersund, in torrential rain that battered Benny until 7am the next morning. We had one five minute window when the rain abated and we quickly popped out to look at the local coastline, but we soon returned to the dry safety of inside while the storm raged on. Norway’s weather had taken a turn for the worse, and the future forecast was not looking much better.
We decided to use the time to make some distance, so we could have more time to linger and enjoy good weather days later. We moved north to nearby Bryne, on the road to Stavanger, where we knew of a Benimar dealership where we could stay overnight for free. We had a few small jobs to be completed on Benny so this proved a very useful and successful stop, and it included free electricity, servicing and Wi-Fi too – perfect.
The persistent rain had followed us here, but late afternoon brought with it a narrow window of clear, dry brightness, so we walked into Bryne town where we found a pretty, leafy local park on the shores of a large lake. We followed the trails a short way around the water’s edge where we passed a large, loud gathering of playing kids and barbecuing adults. It looked like a large, well-planned gathering; they were either very lucky with the sudden break in the weather, or they organised the entire event in a very short time after the rain clouds dissipated. Either way this was a great example of Scandinavians enjoying the outdoors life.
The following morning I rose early and jogged back to the same park, to complete a longer loop. I covered a half loop clockwise around lake Frøylandsvatnet, crossing a beautifully formed timber bridge, Midgardsormen, built across the lake’s narrowest waist at a pretty picnic area. The sky stayed bright and the air fresh and clean as I ran, and there was no one else around this early on the well-marked paths; a lovely, easy exploratory way to kick-start a day in an unfamiliar place. With the run into town and the lakeside loop I covered 15km in total. I returned to Benny to find Nicky had completed her Pilates, tidied the van, had cups of tea just made and the bacon on, so all was good in the world.
We headed north, along busy highways with many tolls, to stop next in the port of Stavanger. The heavy, deafening rain had returned on our arrival in town and as we parked on the north coast road near the ferry port we were still thinking twice about even getting out. We ensured we fitted fully within a marked bay, as a sign clearly noted that we would need to buy two tickets if not, and readied to leave. On return we noted the motorhome behind us had not been so careful with their in-bay parking and had received a yellow parking ticket for the infringement. We were surprised any parking wardens had been committed enough to check so diligently, or pedantically, in the midst of such torrential downpours.
The heavy rain dampened the colours and our initial impressions of the town, but we still enjoyed our look around. The buildings were mostly slatted timber, neatly maintained and attractive, with larger grand stone buildings lining the harbour and marina. We passed along one particularly colourful street lined with the brightly painted facades of busy cafes and restaurants, all sensibly providing covered seating areas to keep their clients dry. For the first time in Norway we passed similar shops to those on any high street at home; H&M, Starbucks, The Body Shop, Zara, Burger King and many familiar others, both the convenience and the curse of globalisation on show.
We saw tall sailing ships in the harbour, and sleek speedboats moored near the metallic Norsk Oljemuseum, the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. We passed the Maritime Museum, dodging tourists with careless umbrellas and not a small amount of big-nosed trolls on the pavements outside stores. We walked, dripping wet, into Stavanger domkirke, the central cathedral, where we stood out of the rain in the porch for a short while, but didn’t enter due to our tight policy on paying entry fees. We walked up a small hill to circle the Valbergtårnet, the Watchmen’s tower, a circular stone building that now houses a small museum, but this was closed during our brief visit.
Returning to the marina, we spent some time dripping on the floor of the wonderfully warm tourist office, waiting for the current deluge to subside. We collected some useful information for our upcoming days as we dried off, occasionally staring out the windows hoping for a change in the weather. With a brief reduction in the volume of rain, we reluctantly returned back outside and rushed back to Benny for cover, our short Stavanger visit at a close.
We drove back along the busy highway through miles of roadworks and diversions, before cutting east to catch our first Norwegian ferry, from Lauvvik to Oanes. It was a ten minute hop across the fjord, costing around £10 for Benny and two passengers, although the sign suggested this would have doubled had we been >6m long, not that anyone was checking. There were five other motorhomes in front of us on the ferry, and we were slightly nervous about gaining one of the six available spots at our target aire, but when we rolled off all five vans drove straight on. We ducked right, into the picnic spot at Oanes, where we very fortuitously sneaked into the last designated space overlooking the fjord.
We spent the rest of the day warm and dry inside, keeping one eye on the brightening view. The rain finally ceased later and we had a walk back to the ferry terminal to look around and a few shorter walks locally along the front of the fjord. Even with the dull grey cloud hanging low on the mountains, everything looked moody and interesting.