We spent the second half of August in Norway, after a quick, 48-hour passage from Orkney. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, and will let the following pictures tell the story.
Aylin, and her tangle of curls, in a tangle of moss. We do not find it surprising that folk who live among woods like this are inclined to believe in the existence of trolls. One half expected one of the little fellows to stroll out from behind a tree at any moment, as surprised to see us as we to see him.
Leander’s last stop in Orkney, here tied up at Pierwall Marina on the island of Westray, on 14 August. Does it look a bit cold, rainy, blowy, and dismal? It was! We figured that we’d missed summer. We could only hope that the weather would be better in Norway and Sweden.
A friend of ours from Orkney, Gerry Taylor, joined us on the crossing to Norway. Here he is looking quite comfortable astern. Gerry was a fine sailing mate. He hadn’t previously done much open-ocean sailing, but adjusted quite quickly to the rhythm of the sea.
We had good strong winds from aft of the beam during our crossing from Orkney to Norway, and so it was not an unpleasant trip. The seas were nonetheless rolly at times. It is always difficult to capture waves at sea, because everything flattens out before a camera lens. Here, though, one gets a good sense of Leander pitching in the seas.
This photo provides a better sense of the turbulent seas. This picture was taken at sunrises as we get our first glimpses of Norway. The wind and the sea were up, and the coast did not look comforting. Orkney certainly had its rocky bits, but one got the sense in most parts that if you ran into an island you would simply roll up onto some grassy knoll, after which a cow would meander over and lick your face. Norway, on the other hand, felt and looked like Mordor, waiting to swallow our boat whole upon what appeared from the distance to be rocky and uninviting shores.
The sun rose, a harbor opened up, and Leander eased into Egersund. Sighs of relief all around, and we took in the bright colors of Norway.
Though just a three-day sail away, Norway was not Orkney. The mountains were more dramatic, the greens a deeper and richer shade, the houses colorful and wooden, and the countryside covered was tree-covered.
There are so many simple, nice touches in this part of Norway. In Egersund, a wool sock carefully knitted and buttoned to a tree.
More civic art, here a simple horse by the waterfront in Stavern It was like this throughout the southwest of Norway. Countless overflowing flower pots hanging from lamp posts, wooden bus stops sculptured like wooden boats, streets of cobblestone, and the houses all well kempt and freshly painted.
And we HADN’T missed summer at all! Sunny days led to trips the beach. Aylin and Alexander weren’t quite yet ready to go fully nude, as was their Norwegian counterpart in the background. But they did graduate into bottomlessness.
We had decided not to sail any further north than Egersund, but still wanted to experience Norway’s Fjords. We rented a car for a few days and drove north through the mountains to Lysefjord. We passed this old bridge along the way, crossing a river in Rogaland Province. Norwegian roads were not much different than those in England, Scotland, and Ireland. They twisted up the sides of mountains and along the sides of rivers, often just barely two lanes wide, and sometimes less, with no center marking. You had to be on your toes.
Aylin is miffed here! She has picked up this over-the-shoulder, batman-looking-back-over- his-drawn-cape glare that she flashes when you have done something to irritate her. Such as this instance, when we had had the temerity to suggest that she stop playing in the open parking lot and come back to us.
Hiking with Aylin is a pleasure, unless you happen to pass by a rock. Or a small stone. Or a pebble. Or some sand. Or dirt. In the event of any such hazard, the parade stops. With rocks and pebbles, Aylin picks them up, carries them around, hands them to you, takes them back, and then starts all over again. If it is a big collection of rocks (say, anything more than a five) such as here, you better have packed a lunch.
We eventually reached Lysefjorden. It was reported to be a typical dramatic Norwegian fjord, and it lived up to its billing. This photo is taken from Lysebotn, at the bottom of the fjord, 23 miles away from its opening to the sea. Our particular goal was to hike up to Preikestolen (the “Preacher’s Seat”), a supposedly breathtaking ledge that hangs — like a pulpit — some two thousand feet up above the waters of the fjord.
On August 20, we headed up to Preikestolen! It was a challenging hike, made all the more so by the need to carry Alexander and Aylin in addition to our other supplies. This is Sima and Aylin making their way along a ledge. We ran into a lot of European tourists along the trail, many of whom had comments for us, some of which we were meant to understand (“Do you know how far you’ve got to go?!”), and some of which we weren’t (usually some version of “Crazy Americans.”) We did bump into another infant-toting couple on the trail, and we shared a good laugh with them.
Aylin takes a break during the climb.
We were cloud-bound for good amounts of time, which limited our view. But then the haze would momentarily blow away, providing us with a view out into the distance. It felt a bit like a curtain being raised and lowered for moments at time, revealing a secret depth of scene this way one moment, and some other way the next.
The drop at the top was precipitous! It is funny how, though one can sit in a chair without worry of falling off its edge, nearing Preikestolen’s edge required courage and concentration. As our friend Peter Andersson commented, “It’s as if gravity has suddenly turned partially vertical, and you can feel it trying to pull you the sideways!” The fellow in this picture had a bright idea — using a spectator extension to get a good picture without having to get too close. Notice the firm balance in his legs even though he’s three feet away!
Sima, Alexander, and Aylin at the top of Preikestolen.
We were soon back to sea, moving slowly south to get down around Norway’s southern tip on our way to Sweden. Here is dad at the wheel, talking to Alexander and Aylin about Leander’s course.
The sailing was great fun along much of Norway’s coast. A good part of it is done among the islands, rocks, and shoals that lie just offshore. Here is a snapshot of the chartplotter showing one of many tricky bits. When you look at the chart, its hard to see how the boat will make it through.
And the visual reality was not always much more reassuring. But we grew to trust the route after a while. Here, for example, the turn on the left opened up and Leander was able to continue along.
Traveling so close to shore allowed for day after day of postcard -like views.
One of many colorful cottages along the water’s edge, as Leander moves through a narrow passageway. Passing among the islands was somewhat like our trip through the rivers and canals of France, except here one was still in ocean water.
The kids are increasingly less troubled by seasickness. Aylin felt funny for short periods of time during the first few days out. Here Leander is moving through some bumpier waters offshore, and Aylin is not attacking her lunch with her usual gusto.
But loving older brother Alexander is always there to help — “Snap out of it Aylin!!”
And she did.
The citadel across the bay from the marina in Stavern.
Wooden boats in Stavern.
Some days were foggy, but picturesque in a different way.
The navy yard in Stavern, on a foggy morning.
The navy yard was extremely well preserved, and we enjoyed our strolls there. This old cart looked especially attractive with the dew dipped spider webs clinging to its structure and wheels.
Here, Leander passes a lighhouse on the southern tip of Norway, as the weather begins to change in skies above.
And sometimes the rain fell INSIDE the boat. Or at least it felt that way. This was a rather unfortunate engine accident. An oil filter had separated from its attachment, squirting oil under pressure all over the engine and engine room. It was a long and arduous clean up project.
Norwegians sailed in any kind of weather. Here, these two head out to sea in a torrential downpour. They had to be back to work, and so actually had some impetus to set sail this day.
Alexander and Aylin found other things to do on rainy days.
And all this work would often tire out Alexander. He’s transitioning away from the need to take afternoon naps, but he nonetheless sometimes begins to peter out at about that time.
And sometimes he falls asleep where he lies. Here, he had passed out in the midst of doing pushups next to his father. Another time was worse, as he was on the settee when the sleepies hit him, leaning over watching me play with Aylin, and he didn’t wake up until he hit the floor!
Another wonderful soccer pitch, carved into the small space provided in Sognalstrand, Norway. I wonder if the locals have learned to play it off the wall.