Fitness wellness travel: Stavanger, Norway

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

A small holiday is also a holiday. And a holiday facilitates recovery and performance; this means fitness. If there is no time for a real holiday, you can create your own look-alike (e.g. transform a work trip or an extended weekend). In this case a mini-cruise to Norway.
Last weekend I took the super ferry MS Bergensfjord to a training event in Norway, and was able to energize – have a mini-holiday – for two days in Stavanger before the workshops in Sandnes.Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in the World (and one of the richest, too, because of the oil), unfortunately also one of the most expensive …

There are approx. 5 mio. Norwegians and in Greater Stavanger, the third city of Norway, there are about 130.000 inhabitants.Stavanger was founded in 1125, when the Stavangers cathedral was inaugurated. The city is a mix of buildings from many timeperiods and in the city centre, there are a lot of wooden houses from around 1800 and 1900.

Stavanger rosa hus Stavanger street and buildings foto Marina Aagaard Stavanger buildings foto Marina Aagaard Stavanger building foto Marina Aagaard Stavanger city Marina Aagaard fitness blogApart from old houses Stavanger, which is centre of the Norwegian oil industry has a lot of modern company buildings and exciting new housing as well as exciting art and progressive street art.
Norsk Oljemuseum Stavanger Norge Foto Henrik ElstrupStavanger Petrol Museum front foto Marina Aagaard Norsk Oljemuseum, The Norwegian Petroleum Museum (photos above), is an interesting structure and recommended, if you are interested in machinery, oil riggs, museums (I am).Stavanger Geoparken Norge foto Marina Aagaard

By the Olje Museum there is the Geopark (above); a different, experimental city park testing new forms of recycling of ideas and materials from the petroleum industry.

Stavanger bus skur

Stavanger bus shed ad. Is it just me or is this ad a little more cool than the usual bus shed toothpaste and shampoo ads?

Stavanger buildings:

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Stavanger Louis Poulsen lampVandalism or street art?
Danish Louis Poulsen Pullert street lamps by the museum
(and in the driveway at home).

Hotel: Scandic Stavanger City. Nice hotel with fine design details and a gym (but did bodyweight training in the room) … super nice food.
Stavanger Scandic hotel  IMG_4177Stavanger Scandic hotel stoleStavanger Scandic aftensmadStavanger Scandic hotel morgenbuffet totalStavanger Scandic hotel morgenbuffet større

Ordnung muss sein. Norwegian style.

Stavanger street art mural and more:
Stavanger mural and chairs foto Marina Aagaard

Old-school graffiti (calligraphy).
Stavanger calligraphy art

Animal life in Stavanger; whale, beavers and giraffe!

Stavanger murmaleri

Stavanger beavers

Stavanger giraffe

iPhone emergency room! Every city should have one …

Stavanger iphone klinikken

Dark art: Sverd i fjell (Swords in Rock) by Hafrsfjord fjord. Memorial outside Stavanger with free gigantic swords in the rock in memory of the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872. (Fritz Røed, 1983).

Sverd i fjell Stavanger Norge Foto Henrik Elstrup

Art on four wheels: An Electric car looking good: Tesla. There are a lot of those in Norway. Note license plate EL (seen on all the electric cars).Tesla el-bil i Norge EL nummerplade foto Marina Aagaard

Street art (PR) in a different way: Car on wall. Seen before,
but the wheel tracks are new.

Bil på mur ved Stavanger Norge foto Henrik Elstrup

Stavanger most popular attraction; Preikestolen. A rock overhang 600 m above Lysefjorden; requires a walk of 3-6 hours (return) (it is worth it).

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All this in just a couple of days. A small holiday IS also a holiday.

Think about it.

For your fitness and wellness: Collect new and different (exercise) experiences!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Ever since those slacklines appeared I have secretly wanted to try one. However, this has been ‘mission impossible’, because every time I have seen one, there has been lots of active ‘liners’ and onlookers. I admit: The fear of falling from the line to me (…) pales in comparison with the fear of ridicule and loud laughs from bystanders.  

Slacklines are quite popular in Norway and I have seen them before in public places. This is brilliant, I think, as easily accessible and tempting exercise equipment is smart nudging; a kind push to help you, consciously or unconsciously, towards a healthier way of living.

By chance – luckily – my husband Henrik (who knew nothing of my desire to try) spotted a slackline (over a reassuringly soft surface), when we were on an early morning photo outing this weekend in Stavanger, Norway.

Stavanger Norway Rampline photo Henrik Elstrup

Now I could – without spectators – try out slackline walking. No, it was not easy (it would probably have been a lot easier with tuition), however, it was less impossible, than I thought, so I managed a small shaky walk. A small step of the foot, a giant leap of the mind … and probably not for the last time, either.

Marina Aagaard motion på slackline foto Henrik Elstrup

My call to you: Try something new this week. Maybe something you have pondered upon for long; a new kind of training (or something completely different) – it is motivating and good for fitness as well as wellness.

It’s enlivening and stimulating to try out different physical and mental experiences … and sometimes you discover, that you are capable of much more, than you think.

Or what do you think? Comments (and experiences) are welcome.

Fitness wellness super hike: Preikestolen, Norway.

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Took a trip to Norway this weekend to do a group exercise workshop in Sandnes near Stavanger. Hubby suggested a morning photo outing, which turned out to be a bucket item list, which I did not know I had to have …

Preikestolen or Prekestolen, or Preacher’s Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, a steep
and massive cliff 604 m (1982 ft) above Lysefjorden in Ryfylke, Norway.
One of the most popular tourist attractions of Stavanger.

My husband had seen a picture of Preikestolen, which he wanted to photograph. I knew of it, but reckoned it to be out of our immediate way. However he persisted.
So at around 7:30 in the morning, right after we had gotten of the ferry from Denmark, we took the Norled ferry from Stavanger to Tau, 30-40 minutes of sailing (time tables at norled.no). From Tau we drove by car towards Sandnes along route 13 for 30 km. We followed the signs to the Preikestolen parking (expensive), which is 270 meters a.s.l.

My husband had read on the internet, that it was a 1 hour walk (2 hour return trip) to get to the Preikestolen. Seemed realistic enough for a 3.8 km (2.4 mile) walk.
However, as we found out ourselves – and from later reading other descriptions on the internet, surprise: The trip takes 2-3 hours out and 2-3 hours back.
A little less if you are very fit and a whole lot longer if you are unfit. The ‘walk’ is highly inadvisable, if you have any kind of disability or very short legs.

Preikestolen map Norge foto Marina Aagaard

The path is mostly gravel and rocks and some steps, which are really rugged rocks.  In a few places there is just the bare rock or in 3-4 places wooden paths. In some places it can be hard to see, where you are going, but look for red T’s painted on the rocks.

Preikestolen Norway foto Marina Aagaard

Preikestolen lake Norway foto Marina Aagaard

Outbound the walk is mostly up-hill by steep rock boulders interrupted by just a few flat parts. The ascent has a 330 m (1080 feet) height difference. And apart from one place only there are no railings. Going down is almost as difficult, because you have to watch your steps carefully in order not to slip on or step between the rocks.

P Path and tree  Photos of path and stairs …P Path   P Stairs P Sten i vand   P Top rocksidePreikestolen plateau Norway foto Marina Aagaard

You are strongly advised to 1) go out very early in order to get back before the dark), 2) wear proper hiking/climbing shoes and also 3) bring a snack and some water.

There are no bars or restaurants (or toilets) along the way … and there is no easy way down (no steps or escalators), so save some energy. In rainy weather (my luck), the rocks are very slippery, so extra attention is needed.

P Crevasse P Fjord View from top

It is a strenuous walk to the top, so some celebrate arrival in style: Champagne!
(Though I think it is unwise to go overboard, if you want a safe return …).

P Champagne

It is hard to see, but at least I know, that it is me … just a tiny bit uneasy … standing there close to the edge at Preikestolen, 600 m (1970 ft) straight above Lysefjorden:

Marina Aagaard at Preikestolen Norway foto Henrik Elstrup

There is a wonderful view of Lysefjorden and surrounding mountarins, but just as good: It is an absolutely magnificent and exciting hike, and excellent exercise – outdoor fitness – too!

This walk/hike is highly recommended, nature at its very best; dramatic and intense.
And if you can’t get to Preikestolen, then just take a walk and a big inhale.

What a wonderful world.

Driving Home from Work in Norway: Super Sightseeing

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

After work, a weekend workshop in Bergen, Norway, as there was no ferry leaving Bergen on that day, I opted for driving from Bergen to Langesund at the south coast in order to catch a ferry back to Hirtshals Denmark; almost a day of driving to catch a ferry … and some sights for sore eyes.

Norway, the longest European country, is not easy to drive in, though, due to the lovely landscape of mountains high, rivers deep and fjords, lakes and waterfalls.

What seems a short distance on the map, is a one- or two-day trip! The roads are long and winding and speed limits are (understandably) low … and rigidly enforced with radar controls everywhere.

It is a country-crawl to say the least; and it does not help, that you have to get out of the car every few miles to take photos of this and that …

Norge lille bro

Oh-oh, car weight is 3 tonnes plus, so this means ‘find another way’!
And that meant ‘going deeper underground’ …

Norway tunnel roundabout photo: Marina AagaardNorway is full of very long – and big – road tunnels (including the longest in the world, Lærdal Tunnel, 25.61 km/15.23 miles) like this one with a roundabout!

Norge Hardangerbroen tæt

Coming out from the tunnel: A surprise!

Norge Hardanger Bridge Norway photo: Marina Aagaard

No ferry? No, a brand new bridge: Hardanger Brua, at 1.380 meters one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, 30 meters longer than the Golden Gate Bridge,
officially inaugurated 17th of august 2013.

Norge Norway Vøringsfossen photo: Marina Aagaard

Norway’s most famous waterfall: Vøringsfossen in Måbødalen.
A fall of 182 metres; 143 metres a direct drop. It is mesmerizing …
and scary standing on the edge (right side of photo), no railings! 

Norge Norway Hardangervidda rainy day photo: Marina Aagaard

Norway in a nutshell, spectacular landscapes of rocks, water and ice – here Hardangervidda National Park – and ever-changing weather; Fog and rain … again.

Norge Lampeland Hotel photo: Henrik Elstrup

At last! After driving for many hours without seeing a proper hotel and restaurant, only campsites without amenities, it was a bliss finding Lampeland Hotel, Lampeland,
nice food, comfy bed and big healthy breakfast, too!
Note: In the Norwegian countryside you cannot expect to find accommodation and food easily: Come prepared and bring money, prices are high even in the ‘outback’.

Norge Norway Kongsberg water photo: Henrik Elstrup

From the wild into the silver-mining city of Kongsberg, home of The Mint of Norway.

Norge Kongsberg climbing club klatre klub photo: Marina Aagaard

With ‘outdoor fitness’ next to the city centre … rock building climbing … 

Norge Norway Kongsberg slackline in park photo: Marina Aagaard

… or balancing on slacklines (or the edge of a bench) in the park.

Geopark river Norway photo: Marina AagaardYes, this day almost at the end of the journey,
the sun came out … by the Gea Norvegica Geopark
(Scandinavia’s first UNESCO recognized geopark).

A tourist board trick?

Never mind.
I’ll be back!

The B-Side of Bergen and 50 Shades of Grey

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Nice. Back in Bergen for a weekend; a work weekend that is, if you can call group exercise instructor instruction work?
Sailing into Bergen harbour, excitement is building; interesting views of mixed old and new buildings and ships complete with a mountainous  backdrop.

Norway Bergen port. Photo: Marina Aagaard

Bergen and Ulriken at a distance Photo: Marina Aagaard

Bergen, the city of the seven mountains, is the second-largest city in Norway, an international aquaculture, subsea tech, shipping and petroleum industry centre and the street-art capital of the country. The city has a population of approx. 270,100; a population, that looks outgoing, easygoing, arty and fit.

Bergen old city houses Photo: Marina Aagaard

Bergen is flooded, not only by rain – it rains during 235 out of 365 days the year, e.g. around New Year 2007 Bergen received 85 consecutive days of rain (!) – but also by tourists from all over the world.

This is only natural: It really is an exciting city, not only Bryggen, the Hanseatic Warf, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but the rest of the city, too, is well worth a visit; the port (Norway’s busiest), the old parts of the city and the mountains, too.

Bergen Bryggen view Photo: Henrik Elstrup

Norway Norge Bergen Bryggen Foto: Henrik Elstrup

A fraction of the photogenic Bryggen, UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bergen B side

Bergen photos usually means Bryggen photos. For balance here is the ‘B-side’,
the other side: Your harbour view, when you stand on the Bryggen side.

Norge Bergen architecture Photo: Marina Aagaard

Bergen boasts buildings of more modern achitecture, too.

Bergen fish market

Healthy fast food dinner at one of the numerous stalls at the popular Fish Market.

From the city centre you can go to the top of Fløyen (425 m) with a funicular and a little farther away you can take the aerial tramway to Ulriken (643 m). On the top there are several hiking routes, from easy to challenging.
The view, the mountains, sea and city, is impressive when the weather is bright, so say a prayer. Rain is one thing, but fog frequently spoils the fun.

Norge Ulriken tåge sti

A fierce and foggy Ulriken path; hard to find and not made to please tourists;
pay attention or get lost.

Norway Bergen Ulriken Photo: Henrik Elstrup

Summer in Bergen. 50 shades of grey (at least)
You a tourist? Bring a dictionary.
For starters: Fare means Danger!

Hungry? That’s just too bad. If you want to dine at the Ulriken restaurant, sky:skraperen, you have to book a day in advance. In spite of their poster at street level saying you can have something to eat, even if you have not booked, they won’t even serve coffee, beverages or snacks, when you get to the top/restaurant … how about that?

Stay ‘low’ for dinner. If you have money (lots of money) to spare, you can dine in one of the many nice restaurants.
I can say only one bad thing about Bergen, but it is bad; (Norwegian) prices are horrendous, and this is coming from a native of a country, where the prices are horrendous, too: Bergen price: A salat NOK 160-170 (USD 30).

Maybe the solution:

Norge McDonalds

McDonald’s restaurant design Scandinavian style (anno 1710).

Norge Bergen fortovskunst

Pavement art about the power of thought, more powerful than medicine:
If you think you are well, you will be.

To your health.

Going to Work by Ferry: A Nordic Cruise

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Hi-ho hi-ho it’s off to work I go: Thanks to an invitation from colleagues in Bergen, Hordaland county, last weekend I was sailing from Hirtshals, Denmark, to Bergen via Stavanger, Norway, to present group exercise workshops. A 16-hour ferry trip, from mid-evening to midday next day … with a nice surprise.

In Denmark going on a ferry trip is no big deal; Denmark consists of Jutland, a peninsula ‘on top’ of Germany, and 1,419 islands above 100 square metres; 443 named islands, 73 of which are inhabited (Zealand and Funen are the largest). So most Danes have spent (a lot of) time on ferries – also on trips to our neighbours Norway and Sweden.

Scandinavian ferries are okay, fine, functional and ‘mature’. This time, however, the ferry was a bit different. The ferry carrying me to Norway was MS Stavangerfjord (fanfare):

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MS Stavangerfjord (photo: Esben Gees for Fjordline) is the world’s first and largest cruise-ferry powered fully by environmentally-friendly Liquified Natural Gas, “a giant leap towards cleaner shipping” – and a giant leap towards travelling with a clean(er) conscience!

MS Stavangerfjord powered by LNG funnels

At 170 m, 557 foot, in length, 25.000 tonnes, with room for 1500 passengers and 600 cars, MS Stavangerfjord is not your everyday ferry, it is big, brand new and with a touch of true cruise luxury.
Travelling to work suddenly became a Nordic mini-cruise.

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Brass, wood and lush carpets; the ‘smell’ of ships and cruising.

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A sneak peek into the gourmet restaurant … on the way to the buffet restaurant.

Norge MS SF buffet restaurant

Buffet restaurant and …

Lobster cracker and lobster fork

… buffet cutlery a little less ordinary:
Lobster cracker and lobster fork!

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Lounge is ready to party, but the night – and guests – is still young.

Norge MS S F sejlads i gråvejr

The truth about Nordic cruises; often grey and foggy (cool!) …

Norge MS SF dæk og regn

… and rainy too (not a problem, when you like rain, though).

Being at sea is a bliss. This is wellness, come rain or come shine.

P.s.: It is quite possible, though, to get (very) seasick on a Nordic cruise,
as the going often gets tough in the North Sea, but this time the waves were friendly. 

Travelling Moments: Indie Images of Oslo

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Do you know the feeling? Forgot the camera … %¤#!@£$€”%=)?!”&%£@$€£!
You are reminded at the exact time, you spot something, you would like to save.

Well never mind. I grab the phone and take a few snapshots. Very arty and ‘Dogme 95’ like and better than nothing. Or is it?
I am not in doubt; this had better not be a recurring incidence. Terrible quality. I miss the camera. But wanted to collect and share these three images of some Oslo, Norway, art; free art to be enjoyed on the road.
Other free Oslo art includes awesome architecture of all ages as well as park art in Vigelandsparken, an art-lover must-see over with 212 sculptures!

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Escalators at National Theatre train station. Choose a lilac or red ride. Light art. 

IMG_0896Poetry and drama embedded in pavement around National Theatre. Word art.

IMG_0890Naive mural in Thon Europe Hotel back yard. Art?
What is art? Something that touches your heart?