Stavanger

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Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger was our first stop after crossing from Sweden to Norway. It's on the southwestern coast of the country. It's generally believed that Stavanger was an economic and military base as early as the ninth and tenth centuries. Though Stavanger was a religious center, its importance declined with the Reformation, and the bishopric was moved to Kristiansand in the early seventeenth century.

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Stavanger harbor
Stavanger is the fourth-largest city in Norway, and has been designated the 2008 European Capital of Culture, sharing the title with Liverpool, England.
old town
Old Town comprises nearly 200 wooden structures from the 18th and 19th centuries, beautifully preserved, and now filled with shops and galleries.
Broken Column
We'd already seen a public-television show about the Broken Column sculpture in Stavanger. The work by Antony Gormley consists of 23 cast-iron bodies, cast from the artist himself, that are scattered around a representative array of locations in Stavanger. They're in shops, in the harbor, in a museum, and even in a private home. Each is 1.95 meters high and separated from the next body by 1.95 meters of height. Thus combined, they make up a "broken column".
camper art
There's a lot of public art in Scandinavia, and Stavanger is no exception. These campers are decorated in concrete in bizarre female forms.
oil
Stavanger has been called the "petroleum capital of Norway", though oil drives the economies of most of the western coast. A fine oil museum resides in Stavanger, explaining the formation of oil, exploration and extraction of oil, and the issues surrounding our worldwide dependency on fossil fuels. This rig, by the way, approached us at sea at a speed of nine knots, which was faster than we were going.
cathedral
This cathedral was probably built in 1125, and was damaged by fire in 1272. For some time the arm of its patron saint St. Svithun was in residence, according to local legend. Stavanger Cathedral is the only medieval Norwegian cathedral that has retained its original appearance and been in constant use.
sardine cannery
Before Stavanger's economy was fueled by oil, it thrived on sardines. Stavanger had more than half of Norway's canning factories. One of them was turned into a museum. Here you can see the sardines being smoked in the large oven. Thankfully, these are plastic sardines and not fish left over from 1960.
sardine labels
As Stavanger became a bustling canner of brisling sardines and fish balls, competition arose among the various canneries as to whose label was the most appealing. The artwork depicted animals, people, buildings, and sports -- apparently anything but sardines. People began to collect the labels from the cans, and children traded them like baseball cards or Pokemon cards.
high school
From the 30th of April until Constitution Day (also called the National Day) on May 17, high school students go a little crazy. The phenomenon is called "russ". They all wear overalls and get them signed by their friends. The students also make up business cards with their photos and a personal phrase of their choice.
walking a fish
Students wear different colored overalls depending on their course of study. One of the traditions of russ, and a rite of passage into adulthood, is to perform daring pranks or just silly pranks. It's common, for example, to take your fish for a walk, as these young women are doing. These aren't plastic fish, either. My guess is that the fish don't enjoy russ as much as the students do.