We disembarked from the ship at 9.00 am on Thursday 22nd, as it was to be turned around for another cruise starting in the afternoon. This meant waiting on the dock for an hour for our transfer to the airport and then another four hours for our flight to Oslo’s second airport at Sandefjord. Copenhagen airport was exceptionally busy as passengers from two cruise ships were heading out at the same time.
Our flight was on a little Dash 8 (50 passengers) flown by Air Wideroe, the regional service of SAS. Jill didn’t like it very much, but she survived the trip. We found the man from the RentaWreck company after we landed and we headed off to Kragero in heavy rain. We eventually found our hotel 90 minutes later at about 6.30 pm. Speed limits in Norway are quite low – maximum of 80 kmh. So are the alcohol limits – .02!
Kragero immediately struck us as being a delightfull little town. It has a population of 10,000 and is now the top holiday centre in Norway. Some houses are selling for over AUD $1.5 million. In Jill’s great grandfather’s day, it was one of the busiest harbours in Norway and a centre for exporting timber and ice. The town is situated on a broad fjord with hundreds of small granite islands between it and the sea. The streets ln the town are very narrow for cars, but just right for the horse and carts for which they were originally designed. When you stand on the quayside, you see a compact little harbour surrounded by hills and dotted with houses in the typical Norwegian colours of red, ochre, whlte and grey. The Victorla Hotel where we are staying is the only hotel in town and was built in 1901. Our room ls an attlc room on the third floor and overlooks a little square in front of the town hall.
On Friday, we began by exploring the shops in the maze of narrow streets. At the top of the hill behind the main town area, we found the library and a very helpful lady who helped us to look up some records of people who had left on sailing ships and this enabled us to find out that Rudolph Andersen was born on April 14, 1847. Before this, we only knew his year of birth and not his exact birthday. Knowing this, we were now able to look up the microfilm records of the Church Books with records of christenings. In those days, christenings were a very important event. Norwegians couldn’t get access to many government functions without being christened. (Even today, the constitution requires that a certain number of the people in government have been confirmed in the Lutheran church). Records of christenings, marriage and funerals were kept in each church by the pastor. After a lot of searching, we found Rudolph’s record of christening which was held about 3 weeks after his birth. The records were hard to read in old fashioned Norwegian, but fortunately the pastor at this church wrote very legibly.
Pleased with our historical work, we set off to find the doctor’s surgery. I had a very bad cold and a continually running nose from the day that we were in Berlin and my eyes had both become infected and were red ard sore. The drops that I had been able to buy across the counter at the Apotek weren’t really helping, so it was time to get some antibiotics fiom a doctor. I was prepared for a high fee, but the cost for the doctor and pharmacist weren’t really much different from what we would pay at home.
After lunch we explored the rest of the town and took the opportunity for an afternoon nap. The hotel had a Swedish chef who had created an excellent menu. Whilst on our first night we had been able to make sense of most of the menu, he had been kind enough to prepare an english translation for us. We thought “to hell wlth the expense, we are just going to enjoy this place”. After dinner we watched the second half of the soccer game in which Australia drew with Croatia.
Our second day in Kragero was very exciting as unbeknown to us they were holding a festival to celebrate mid-summers day. The town was buzzirg with a lot of people and we had a fun time looking at more shops and sitting in the town square having a coffee and people watching. We also walked through one of the older parts of town that hadn’t been destroyed in a large fire that occurred in the 1860’s. We tried to imagine the type of house in which Rudolph may have lived.
The main activity for the day was to be a ski race through the streets. At about 10.30 am trucks started arriving and dumped snow brought down from some local mountains. This was quickly spread out to a depth of about 12 inches and a width of about 8 feet in a circuit through the town of about 400 metres. We watched some of the events while having lunch in a café in the middle of the circuit. The youngest competitors were little kids as young as four who ski’d a distance of about 100 metres. Some were very competent and others needed a bit of help from mum or dad. They all received a medal for participating. The main events were a series of time trials by four of Norway’s elite skiers (includirg some olympians). They were greeted wlth great applause and appropriate recognition as local heros. What an exciting and unexpected day!
After lunch we drove about 3kms to the local museum. It was a real test of my driving along the narrow and steep back roads behind the village to avoid the town centre and in a car that stalled everytime that I took my foot off the accelerator. A true rentawreck indeed! The car had over 247,000 kms on the clock. The museum was all in Norwegian but it was interesting to see the displays of life in the old days. It also appears that until recently, there was quite a lot of shlp building actvity here.
Our final jaunt for the day was to take the local ferry to the island of Jomfruland. This is the most eastern island in the fjord. We didn’t have time to get off the ferry as thls was the last one for the day, however it was an interesting ride for a couple of hours. We were back at the hotel at about 8 pm for dinner which didn’t matter much as everyone here is out late enjoying the long daylight hours.
This has become a rather long epistle because as I finish this we are now back in Copenhagen (another flight on a Dash 8) and waiting to see which gate we need for our flight to Amsterdam. The airport seems just as busy as when we were here a few days ago.