Port of Stavanger
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Stavanger is Norway's fourth most populous city, but it won't seem like a bustling metropolis when you set foot off your ship. The harbor area where ships dock is easily walkable, with the small white cottages of Old Stavanger immediately to the west, a tangle of pedestrian shopping streets to the east and restaurants housed in old warehouses lining the harbor itself. Most major attractions, such as the Canning and Petroleum museums, are a quick stroll away.
If you came to Norway to immerse yourself in fjords, Stavanger is the jumping off point for boat trips into the Lysefjord, with its dramatic cliffs (including the towering Pulpit Rock) and gushing waterfalls. However, if you want to learn a bit about what makes Norway tick, Stavanger can offer unique museums not typically found in other destinations. Sardines and petroleum might not be your first loves, but Stavanger's museums find ways to make the seemingly mundane fascinating.
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Where You're Docked
Ships dock right in town, at the Port of Stavanger. There are four berths, two in the inner harbor and two in the outer harbor. No matter your location, you'll be a five- to 10-minute walk from most downtown attractions.
Good to Know
Norway is very expensive; crewmembers report buying a Big Mac, fries and a milkshake for $40! Be prepared for sticker shock if you're planning on dining in town or doing any shopping.
Also, the weather in Norway can be changeable. On a July day in Stavanger, bright sun and downpours switched off throughout our visit. Wear layers and bring rain gear -- even if it seems nice when you're preparing to disembark.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Currency is the Norwegian krone (NOK). For updated currency-conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. Most shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but there are ATM's (called minibanks) throughout the harbor area if you need to withdraw cash. There are two by the tourist office, on either side of the Spare Bank building. You can also change bills only at the tourist office.
Norwegian is a varied language, with two written forms -- Nynorsk and Bokmal. When speaking, Norwegians use their own regional dialects but generally can understand each other. Most people speak excellent English, as kids learn it in school from an early age.
A few key phrases to know include: hallo (hello); tak (thank you); ja (yes); and nei (no).
Sweaters and knitwear with Norwegian designs make beautiful souvenirs but can be quite expensive. For true quality, try Dale of Norway (one of the largest producers of traditional Norwegian sweaters; Skagen 4) or Oleana (women's fashions in a variety of local wools; Kirkegate 31). Both have shops in the warren of shopping streets between the tourist office and Petroleum Museum, and sweaters will run you hundreds of dollars.
For more affordable souvenirs, look for troll figurines and cheese slicers (apparently invented in Norway), often with a moose or other decoration on the handle. A large souvenir shop is located in the Stavanger Port Authority building along the harborfront.