Reading material for those who love the camping life

By: Arne Lunde
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 4, 2014 September

Herring and oil gave prosperity and growth: oil town Stavanger

It fluctuates in Stavanger. From being one of the country's poorest cities in the 60's when the canning industry declined, it has swung up to become the country's oil - shining capital - a quantum leap in development. A visit to the oil capital can provide an exciting insight into the adventure.

It fluctuates yes, in so many ways. During the Happy Food Festival, for example, when during four days in July, 200.000 visitors flock to the city to supply themselves with plenty of food and culture. Stalls on stalls along the pier in Vågen offer everything from crisp French cheeses to locally produced sausages from the farms on Jæren. Slowly, the queue of curious people moves along the stalls to taste all kinds of delicacies. Many find a vacant table at one of the many eateries that have pulled out onto the street to catch guests. A little chaos, a lot of fun and a good mood characterize the festival. And usually beautiful weather. There is otherwise no matter of course in the city at the far end of the North Sea.

Feel Free

Happy food is fun, of course. But if you were to arrive in the city outside of these festival days in July, there is no reason to get bored for that reason. "Feel free" is the name of the tourist advertisement for the Stavanger region. But in other words, it's just a matter of dealing with experiences from the top shelf. The offer is wide and varied whether you are looking for nature, culture or history. Or shopping, for that matter. 

Canning town

Museums are abundant. You hardly reach everyone but should we recommend two, it must be the Hermetikk Museum and the Oil Museum. No other cities in Norway have something similar. Of course, it's not a coincidence that it's just in Stavanger you'll find them. 

The Norwegian Canning Museum, which is the official name, is located on the premises of an ancient canning factory in Øvre Strandgate, in the middle of the Old Stavanger district, which in itself appears as a museum consisting of 173 old wooden houses. 70 per cent of Norwegian canned fish exports came from Stavanger for a period and at most there were 58 factories in the city. That was in the interwar period. "The smoked Norwegian sardines" was the new product that was to put Stavanger on the map as the canned city before anyone else. In the museum you can experience the whole story through tableaux and texts, and not least, by recreating a complete factory environment as it was around 1920.

Oljemuseum Fawlty Towers

The Norwegian Petroleum Museum shows the history of another of the city's commercial pillars. In the early 60s, foreign oil companies began exploring for oil and gas in the North Sea. On Christmas Eve in 1969, Esso's Ocean Viking found oil in the well at Ekofisk. Norway became an oil nation overnight and Stavanger became Norway's oil capital with the establishment of Statoil's headquarters in the city. The city had already by then become international with all the foreign companies that had established themselves. At the oil museum, the whole story is told in a very lively way by showing original objects, models, films and interactive exhibitions. The latest addition to the museum is a model of the Troll A platform in a scale of 1: 100. It was the world's largest mobile structure with a height of 472 meters and a weight of 1.05 million tonnes when it was towed out to the Troll field in 1995. The price tag of eight billion kroner should probably indicate that it was the most expensive plant, too…

The design of the museum building clearly refers to its content, as it resembles an oil installation at sea. It was designed by the architects Lunde & Løvseth and was opened by King Harald in 1999.

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