This year, on August 19th, Kosherica Cruises has a week long trip to some of the prettiest places anywhere…fresh clean air, nature at it’s best, combined with a rich history which dates back to the middle ages.
In a previous blogs I wrote profusely about Scandinavia, but the Eurodam of Holland America, one of the most elegant ships at sea, takes a route worthy of several blogs.
Though it boards in Copenhagen, of which I intend to write, I’d like to start with a place many of the Orthodox Jewish passengers may miss out on visiting, since the boat arrives there on Shabbat. Nevertheless, just getting off the ship and giving the town a perfunctory look, is definitely a joy to behold, after the Cholet lunch on board.
First time I went to Stavanger, the boat boarded there and I was mesmerized. Truthfully, it being a few short hours post a long flight from the US, and pre boarding (while babysitting the cutest little baby girl on the planet,) spent much of the time we had on shore, in a quest to replace my white cotton blouse and skirt, both stained by regurgitated milk curds, courtesy of the babe in my arms).
The town located on the waterfront, was charming, the water crystal clear and teeming with fish, seemed like a typical, sparklingly pretty but tiny small town, with colourful buildings and cobble-stoned streets. I wanted something inexpensive and temporary, since our luggage was already checked and I had a sincere desire to feel and smell as fresh as the town did. We walked thru streets, abundant with arts and crafts, with clothes that looked perfect, made of natural fabrics, and cut long and flowing. We must have visited a handful of shops, tried on many dresses (lots on the sales racks), and though I looked like a nice Jewish girl and loved my reflection in the mirrors, I ended up boarding the ship with a baby on my arms and no change of clothing.
This was when I realized that Stavanger was not simply expensive, but rather one of the most expensive places I’ve ever been to.
Later on I found out that the city, which is the fourth largest in Norway (go figure, this is happens if you judge by first sight), and one of, or even possibly the most expensive town in the world.
The currency confused me at first but when I asked to translate prices to dollars or euros, I smiled politely and spent a few crones (far too many) on a baby book with pictures and their name in Norwegian. Clothes were more expensive than designer boutiques in NYC, so I had to pass and use a public bathroom to clean my clothes from baby throw up.
All is well that ends well, and it was and did. I dried off thoroughly in the brilliant sunshine, looked upon the clearest sky where the air smells like air, then read about how enormous Stavanger really was, being the third largest Metropolis in Norway, dating back to the Ice Age, a vast history of Viking conquest and rule, being a petroleum monarchy and amazing history countryside with astonishing mountains and majestic rocks, Pulpit Rock being one of the most photographed and visited marvels with blue water fjords and a relatively temperate climate. The old town, where we walked has 173 buildings dating back to the 18th century and one of the best preserved and cleanest of places, looking like it popped out of a story book.
Museums abound, with the Petroleum museum being most famous, and the population is denser than in most places in Norway (120,000). So if you must stay on the boat in observation of Shabbat, make sure to read up on this majestic place, with all the wonders it contains within it.