The beginning of the hike was the most intense stretch, with the first 20 minutes or so consisting entirely uphill. This took the form of well-maintained rock steps, although I’m not sure that was preferable to dirt switchbacks, given that it was drizzling and the rocks were slick.
Nevertheless, we stopped a few times along the way to catch our breath, look for trolls, and fend off anorexic polar bears. It was fairly slow going at first given said impediments. Anorexic polar bears are shockingly resilient, so this took some time.
At some point after this first stretch, we reached our first clearing, which offered a beautiful view of the landscape below. I think this provided everyone with a shot of adrenaline at this early hour, and that coupled with a series of mostly-flat boardwalks made the next hour of the hike significantly easier than the first 20 minutes.
The final 30 minutes of the hike were again on the more intense, and mostly uphill side. I think we noticed this far less because the scenery was also spectacular. We were stopping not because we were out of breath, but because there was landscape begging to be photographed.
It was a really lovely hike, and on the way up we benefited from our early start which meant relatively light crowds. There were still plenty of people on the trail, but not many bottleneck points.
Personally, I prefer hikes that can go hours without seeing anyone else on the trail (I doubt anyone prefers crowded hikes), so I like to start hikes early or late whenever possible.
After a little under two hours, we made it into the final uphill stretch, which was absolutely beautiful. We had almost decided against this hike at the last minute due to weather (we didn’t purchase our Tide tickets in advance in case the weather was bad and we wanted to call a last minute audible), and I’m thankful we did not.
Arriving at Pulpit Rock was simultaneously stunning. The view from the top was breathtaking, with a panorama of mountains ahead and Lysefjord snaking past the mountain plateau. It was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever witnessed, and it’s easy to see why this is such a popular hike.
To my surprise, Sarah is afraid of heights. Or, perhaps invisible trolls? I’m not really sure. We’ve been on edgeless observation platforms that have made me squeamish in the past, and she was perfectly fine then.
Just getting her somewhere near the edge of Pulpit Rock was like trying to coax our cat to get into the bathtub. She was not having any of it, and at one time I think she even might’ve hissed at me!
In her defense, very few people were going near the edge. On this particular day, it was incredibly windy at Pulpit Rock, to the point that a strong gust could literally knock you back a bit.
As important as a legit “mountain serenity” selfie might be, it seemed most people actually had the good sense to stay away from the edge.
I have no such sense. I’d probably mindlessly walk off a cliff like a lemming if I thought it’d offer a better perspective for a photo, and I was willing to get really close to “the shot.”
I like to call this attitude a willingness to take ‘calculated risks’ but I suppose an argument could be made that it’s just dumb.
Unfortunately, the sky was overcast on this particular day, so my photos from Preikestolen look fairly flat. Just imagine how pretty this scene could look with a blue sky and some puffy clouds.
While you’re imagining, also picture that I captured this with a rainbow and flock of puffins flying around at the edge of the cliff. Wow, what a beautiful photo!
Nevertheless, I think we spent nearly an hour at the top. Even though Pulpit Rock was quite crowded, it was not nearly as busy as I’d seen it in photos. I think our early hour coupled with the weather had kept the crowd level manageable.
My one regret was that we had not packed a lunch to have a picnic at the top. We were able to take food (minus fruit) off the ship, so it would’ve been easy to prepare something at Cabanas and take it with (something we did on a later port day).
The hike back down was not nearly as pleasant as the hike up. At this point, the trail was significantly busier, and there were bottlenecks at numerous points. If you’re hiking alone and are relatively sure-footed, this wouldn’t be such a problem because you could pretty easily bounce around, but that’s not simple when you’re with a group.
This is why it takes about the same amount of time down as it does up, which is a rarity with a hike with such an elevation gain like this. If you had an empty trail, I could see a fit individual making it down in a little over an hour.
Actually, although I indicated the hike would take ~4 hours above, that was a conservative estimate. If you’re in good shape and it’s a dry day, I could easily see making the hike in 3 hours flat.
We finished our return hike with about 10 minutes to spare before the next Tide bus was to arrive. There was a modest crowd around the bus stop, which had formed line. A good idea, since it seemed like there might be more people than the bus could accommodate.
The bus was not on time, and more people kept lining up, with a disproportionate number joining the front of the line. At this point, the atmosphere was getting a bit anxious–in addition to the line, there were other people just lingering about the bus stop. This was clearly going to be a free-for-all once the bus arrived.
And, that’s exactly what happened. Not just because the line was not properly formed, but also because the bus doors were on the opposite side from where everyone was waiting. When the bus doors opened, half the line ran around the back side and the other half went around the front, meaning it was basically just a free for all getting on the bus.
Suffice to say, this did not end well. There was a small group of middle-aged individuals (who were not sailing with Disney Cruise Line) who had disregarded the line before the bus arrived, and they were pushing past everyone to get on from the side. After one of the men with this group pushed a woman, the atmosphere became decidedly more tense.
Of course, right after these troublemakers made it on the bus, the driver yelled down at everyone else. It felt like being back in elementary school and having the teacher see the tail-end of some trouble, but missing what instigated it.
Not everyone behind us made it onto the bus, and it was a tense ride back. On the plus side, we made it onto the ferry before it left (the bus driver warned us that we might not, since he was running late).
On the ferry, we sat in front of the woman who had been pushed by the group of cutters, and commiserated over the unpleasant experience.
We arrived back in Stavanger shortly after 3 p.m., which was slightly later than I expected when planning this out. We briefly debated going to the Norwegian Petroleum Museum and just trying to do that as quickly as possible, but decided that’d be a waste of money and we’d have to rush through.
Instead, we wandered through the city, before stopping at the NorrÃ¸na store, which was about 5 minutes from the ship. I debated buying something here, but Sarah had received a text message from Lufthansa earlier in the day that my luggage was in Stavanger and would be sent to the boat. As much as I like their outerwear, I didn’t want to be stuck paying full price for something (in Krone) should Lufthansa deny my 50% off claim.
So, instead we looked and I got an idea of what I might purchase later, on sale, from Backcountry. After that, we headed to Godt BrÃ¸d Bakery nearby (also about 5 minutes from port) to get some school bread.
This was our first time having school bread outside of the Norway pavilion in Epcot, and it was fantastic. Now, for all I know, Godt BrÃ¸d Bakery is the Norwegian equivalent of McDonald’s (it’s definitely a chain), but it was recommended to us, and we both thought the school bread was fantastic.
Sarah snapped this oh-so flattering photo of me eating school bread.
We still love the school bread at Epcot–after all, something does not need to be completely authentic to be good–but this school bread was next-level quality.
We ended up getting back on the Disney Magic with 5 minutes to spare before ‘all abroad’ and there were only 7 guests behind us who were not on the ship, so I’m guessing no one got “stranded” out at Pulpit Rock.
Once on the ship, we immediately headed up to deck 9 in the seating area behind Cabanas (which was not open, making this a perfectly uncrowded spot to sit) where we waited for the ship to pull away from Stavanger. We did this at every single port, and it ended up being one of my favorite aspects of the cruise.
Here are some of the photos I took as we left port:
When we arrived back in our stateroom, someone was waiting for me!
Even though Lufthansa’s rep at the Copenhagen airport had told me they’d try to get my bag to one of the ports along our cruise, I really doubted it would happen.
I figured I’d reunite with the bag in Los Angeles (or perhaps in Copenhagen, because the air travel gods are just cruel enough to make me lug the thing back to the states), not in Norway.
It was nice to have something to wear other than my flannel shirt and undershirt, though. Now, I had fresh and totally different clothes to wear that evening…like a RED flannel shirt!
Dinner that evening was at Animator’s Palate, which is a favorite of ours. Here’s what we had that evening:
While I prefer the menu at Lumiere’s, I think Animator’s Palate is pure Disney magic. I’m a total sucker for the show they do here. The food was also pretty good this evening, but it probably didn’t hurt that we hadn’t eaten since breakfast (aside from the school bread).
After dinner, we happened upon Minnie in her Norwegian attire with no line, so we quickly got a photo with her.
It was a good thing we did, as I don’t recall seeing her out again during the course of the cruise.
All in all, our port day in Stavanger was nothing short of exceptional. It also “sold” me on cruising as legitimate form of travel, rather than just a leisure vacation on a boat. In a perfect world, we would have spent an hour or two more in Stavanger and done the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. However, it was not the end of the world that we missed it, and the convenience of going back to the ship for dinner and transit to the next port–as opposed to checking out of a hotel and taking our luggage on a train–was awesome. The cruise and Norway in general were already exceeding our high expectations.
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If you’ve done Disney’s Norwegian Fjords cruise, what did you do in Stavanger? Thoughts on our experience hiking to Pulpit Rock? Have you used Disney Cruise Line for actual travel/sightseeing as opposed to a leisurely vacation on a floating hotel? Thoughts on anything else we did or mentioned about Stavanger, Norway? Anything else to add? Hearing from you is part of the fun of these posts, so please share your feedback and questions in the comments below!