There’s only one reason to go to Stavanger, Norway. To hike Pulpit Rock. The point is to see one of the loveliest fjords in Norway from on high. You don’t go to Stavanger for modern museums or great architecture or the food. You go there for the fjord.
We had two days in Stavanger, an oil rich North Sea town. It rained intermittently the first day so we ambled around the harbor and old town and hoped for better weather on day 2. It’s chillier up there, lots of mist and fog from the fjords and open water all around. After that we had a laughably awful Italian dinner. Like I said, you don’t go to Stavanger for the food. Just the fjord.
The next morning rose gray again but with no threat of rain. We quickly packed up a picnic and water, dressed in many layers and drove 40 minutes to the Pulpit Rock park entry.
And then we started hiking. They say it takes about 2 hours to climb. It’s a steep, rocky and damp trek plus it was slick and misty from the rains. It took us 3 hours to climb. Sometimes we were rock hopping, sometimes climbing low and slow and sometimes wishing the top would finally come into view. It was cold to start but we quickly doffed layers as our exertions demanded. It’s a long way up.
When we finally made it to the jaw-dropping top where Pulpit Rock jutted out against sheer walls with dark blue waters below, we were elated and so damn proud of ourselves. And the sun popped out briefly for what we were told is a rare occurrence. It was crystal clear for minutes at a time. We were the champions!
And did I mention, this was my birthday! And if you knew how old I am, how bad our collective knees and feet are, you would be proud of us, too. We were “studly” to the max. I made Andy sing Happy Birthday to me and record it!
But after a euphoric 20 minutes including lunch, we had to climb back down! Btw- there are no facilities up there. We made sure to drink just a sip of water frequently. Going back, our knees groaned at the high and treacherous stone steps. We hugged rocks and tree trunks as we made the long, steep descent. It took us 21/2 hours to get back down. We could barely move. But there were toilets at the bottom!
We made it! We did about 6 miles of mountain climbing, 26,500 steps and hiked 51/2 hours.
I should let you know that Scandinavians of all ages and sizes clambered up and down Pulpit Rock like mountain goats. Young parents with infants tucked in their back and front packs, kids scampering, older folks with walking sticks and three Tibetan monks! But we still take our accomplishment as a major achievement.
We drove back late to Stavanger for an excellent fish dinner at Fishtorget. An epic birthday.
Our home for three nights in Stavanger was an Airbnb 15 minutes from town. It was a spectacular, glass-clad 10th floor apartment facing onto a fjord and harbor. The picture windows offered ever changing views of the sea as the light changed. The days in Norway in June are bright till midnight and we saw sunsets at around 10:30.
Truly, if you didn’t want to see a fjord from the top, you could experience it from our apartment window or take a fjord cruise ferry for an afternoon. But I wouldn’t give up our experience. It restored our souls.
You could say “I’ve looked at fjords from both sides now!