Kristiansand (formerly “Christianssand”) is a city, municipality and the county capital of Vest-Agder County in Southern Norway. The city was named after its founder King Christian IV in 1641.
Following what was a somewhat ‘damp’ arrival the first tour of the day to leave was the ‘Odderoya Hike’. Starting from the quayside on foot our passengers first passed Kilden, the new performing arts centre on their way to Odderoya. This island has a very interesting military history, having once been a naval base and remnants of the ramparts, a gunpowder store, an old quarantine hospital and other 18th century buildings can still be seen.
They took in the views of the eastern harbour, Christiansholm Fortress and the leisure boat marinas as they negotiated the somewhat undulating Kjaerlighetsstien (lovers track) around the island stopping for refreshments en-route. The cafeteria housed in the former residence of the garrison engineer, located on the southern tip of the island, offered a fantastic view of the fjord and two lighthouses. Suitably refreshed, our guests continued past the remains of Odderoya Fortress and made a leisurely trip back to the ship.
The second tour to leave today was the ‘City and Surroundings’ excursion. This tour begins with a coach tour of the city centre and an opportunity for our passengers to see the typical wooden houses contained within the modern parts of the city. Leaving Kristiansand behind, they travelled to the Vest Agder County Museum to begin a journey of discovery through the architectural and social history of the area.
Divided into four sections to reflect each of the different county districts, 30 houses have been moved and re-erected in the museum and date from the mid 17th century to the 1930’s. On the return to Kristiansand they enjoyed refreshments and traditional music in the splendid surroundings of the Ravnedalen Scenic Park.
‘Renaissance Kristiansand’ was our third tour to leave this morning. Founded by King Christian IV of Denmark in 1641 the central part of the city, the Quadrature, covers an area of one square kilometre and is made up of a series of rectangular blocks which our guests discovered on their guided walking tour.
Starting from the pier the passengers walked first to the sophisticated new Fish Market where they paused to sample a local speciality before continuing to the delightful Otterdals Park to admire the granite fountains created by sculptor Kjell Nupen. Close to the park is one of the city’s many marinas with restaurants and berths for visiting yachts overlooking Kristiansand’s fortress built in 1672 as well as the popular town beach.
Finally they headed to the old town and the area known locally as ‘Posebyen’ which comprises of the largest collection of low continuous wooden houses in northern Europe and as such are subject to preservation orders for their historical and architectural value. After having see the colourful stalls in the market square and some of the many green lawns and cheerful in the flowerbeds spreads throughout the city centre, our passengers began to understand why the city is often referred to as ‘Norway’s Floral City’.
‘Setesdal Steam Train’ was perhaps the most popular tour on offer today and this tour left a little later in the afternoon. Our passengers stepped back in time as they boarded a vintage train, powered by a 100 year old steam engine, and travelled along the picturesque Setesdal railway.
Built to link the city of Kristiansand to the Setesdal Valley, the railway was opened in 1896 and closed some 66 years later in 1962. Fortunately just over three miles of the line from Grovane was subsequently re-opened as a veteran railroad. Our passengers started the tour with a coach ride inland, passing forests and lakes, the industrial town of Vennelsa and the lake of Venneslafjord, and arrived at Grovane from where they joined the train.
A scenic journey then unfolded as they travelled along the narrow gauge railway enjoying the period atmosphere. They passed alongside the Otra River, over bridges and dams, through tunnels and avalanche shelters, to arrive at Royknes. A hop onto the coach for a scenic drive back to the Saga Pearl II was the perfect way to round of this wonderful tour.
As all of our passengers were onboard by 5.30pm we set sail shortly afterwards towards Halmstad in Sweden where we will remain in port overnight with the fabulous Tallships.
Following a sumptuous dinner our passengers could either join Resty, one of our Cruise Staff, for his fun Team Trivia Quiz in the Shackleton’s bar or there was a chance to dance with the Saga Pearl II Orchestra, in the Discovery Lounge. Guests could then enjoy our Cabaret Showtime this evening with The Gail Davies Production Company and ‘Musical Memories’.
As a special treat this evening after Cabaret Showtime lots of our passengers joined International Banjo Entertainer, Steve Galler “Down at the Old Bull & Bush” in the Shackleton’s bar for an informal performance and sing-a-long before retiring for the evening.