Almost Perfect: Norway

We awakened in Stavanger, Norway on Monday to a cityscape that was a cruise ship parking lot.  Yes, we were back to civilization! The following day, Kristiansand’s cruise ship crowd was such that our dock space was already occupied, and passengers had to “tender” (via the ship’s lifeboats) to shore.  Almost everything else about Norway was enough to turn us green with envy:

The Harbor in Stavanger: the 550-passenger Insignia, the 3300-passenger Aida, and the 5000-passenger Jewel of the Sea (I think) crammed together, unleashing nearly 10,000 tourists simultaneously.

Despite 2 hours of riding a bus around Stavanger, we hardly ever saw a stoplight or a traffic jam.  Traffic flowed through roundabouts, and there were merge lanes and totally separate roundabouts for bikes and pedestrians. 

Now one of the richest countries from its offshore oil, Norway deposited $1.7 trillion of oil income in investments in sustainable energy, schools (called “community centers”), roads, hospitals, etc.

The houses were architecturally interesting, had beautiful well-maintained flower gardens, all cars sold as of 2023 must be electric, etc etc etc.  You get the picture. 

Lovely little Norwegian houses…so perfect.

It was a relief to identify some issues facing Norway: for example, it was clear that all employed Norwegians gets free health insurance (after the first $300), but it was less clear how the unemployed and non-citizens fared. Virtually all food must be imported, making it expensive, and EU guidelines and sustainability issues limited the amount of income from fishing.  (Though we were told that Norway is the leader, and owner, of the best of the sustainable fish farms.) And clearly, the tourist industry is thriving. 

Meanwhile, Bob and I figured out that our various health issues were still impacting our energy levels, and made a conscious effort to cancel some planned excursions and take it a bit easier.  Out of concern for my stamina and total lack of pain pills for my knee and back, I decided to cancel my Copenhagen architectural tour.    

My friend, Pat, protested. I heard you, Pat.  We ended up with a plan to visit the Danish Museum of Design, making a very tough choice to ignore the piano design studio of Poul Henningsen, the Illums Bolighus Store, and the new Blox Denmark Architectural Museum. Please click on the links; they are each unbelievable! More on the Design Museum tomorrow.  A part of the issue is that Bob and I were in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm (and St Petersburg and Latvia) with the Semester at Sea cruise in 2013. Copenhagen did not leave a good taste: I remember hundreds of bikes, heart stopping near encounters of buses vs bikes in traffic, Karen Blixen (a depressed author), Hamlet’s depressing Kronberg Castle and not much design.  Maybe we’ll see a different, less depressing, side of Copenhagen tomorrow.

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Betty Warner

Married female, mother of two, grandmother of five. Living in a senior living community, where dinner, house maintenance, and continuing care are part of the contract. Residents in this community are actively engaged in our lifestyle here; I currently help produce Zoom programs, and help edit our webpage. Physically "healthy for your age" despite shortness of breath, two knee replacements, a cardiac murmur, various skin issues and an incipient back problem.

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