Wednesday, 1 July 2015

American festival Vanse Farsund

Adam from Visit Sørlandet went to the American Festival in Vanse Farsund and had a great time!

I have been to Farsund many times now and I was especially interested to see the American Festival that I had heard so much about.

The weather was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky and warm temperatures. I got there at about 2pm because I wanted to see the line dancers that were scheduled to start at that time. 

The Festival goes from Thursday to Sunday in the last weekend of June every year and each year it is getting more and more popular. This year was no exception. It is held in Vanse at 8th Avenue where there are American stores, cars, flag and memorabilia everywhere. It is actually like that all year, but even more so during the festival.

There are stalls dotted everywhere selling hamburgers and hot dogs. There are kids rides and swing and a massive theme park set up especially for the festival.

This festival is the biggest in the region, so the locals do their best to put on a good show for everyone. Each day it packed with different activities, games and live music. If you like country music, then this is the place to be.

There is Kjell Elvis who, like his name suggests, is an Elvis impersonator. The stage area was jam packed when he played. He loves to interact with the audience and there is usually a lucky lady or two that will get on stage with him for a dance or a hug.

Others bands and musicians from Norway and the United States play at the festival with live music keeping visitors entertained. Twice a day there is the highlight of the day, the parade. This is where a long line of American classic cars, motorbikes and floats drive along 8th avenue to a pleased crowd. There are Disney characters throwing candy to the kids along the road, bands playing music on floats and of course Elvis in his limousine.

Vanse is a small place, but has a big heart. You can stop and talk to anyone there who are more than happy to share a story or a laugh. It does not matter if you are not Norwegian, they cal all speak English at this festival.

I met lots of people at the festival. I met Finn who is the main man organising the event.

I also met a lovely couple who drove to the festival in their 17 metre long camper van!

There were also two sisters that were having a great time.

There was Farsund's watchman.

Some girls from Oslo who love to dress old retro style. Not just for the festival, but always.

You can find some more information about the American festival here.

All photos: Adam Read Visit Sørlandet. Dra på ferie til Farsund

Disney Ship comes to Kristiansand

The Disney ship is currently taking a tour around Norway and Iceland. The ship is decked out with Disney characters but there is also a section of the boat purely for adults that would like a break.
You can see the Disney Cruise ship next to the Kilden theatre. Photo: Adam Read

Today it was a beautiful sunny day in Kristiansand, which pleased the ships occupants. It docked outside the Kilden theatre near fiskebrygga and people took a short walk into the city to see what Kristiansand has to offer. Adam from Visit Sørlandet spoke to some coming off the boat.

Family from Florida Photo: Adam Read 
I spoke to this family who had been on the Disney cruise ship.

Adam: When are you leaving on the ship?
Mother and daughter at same time: Hopefully never. We love it here. We are from Florida and really like your little town. It has a nice homey feel about it. Kinds of like a country town where everyone knows each other and waves as you pass by.

Adam: How do you know when the ship is about to leave?
Mother: The ship plays a loud song from the Disney character Tinkerbell. I think it is the only ship in the world that has a chime instead of a fog horn.

I then met another couple that were standing in the shade having a rest. 

Couple from Emgland. Photo: Adam Read

Adam: Where are you from?
Couple: We are from England and have been going on cruise ships since the 90's. We really enjoy it. We have been to Norway before and will definitely be back. The fresh air, water it is just lovely.

The lady then told me that her grand daughter works on the ship as one of the managers so they had to see her and experience the Disney ship.

I then walked around the city with them for a little while - down the main street Markens gate and to a cafe where they had some refreshments.

They were very happy to visit Kristiansand.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Motorcycle trip in Southern Norway

Norway is a motorcyclists dream. A windy coastline, mountains and fjords make it a great way to experience the country. 

An old BSA motorcycle in Kristiansand Norway. Photo: Adam Read
Take a tent with you and you can stop by the rivers, fjords and relax taking in the magnificent views. In all major tons and cities, there is free (allocated) parking for motorcycles and you do not have to worry about paying for road tolls! That is a bonus!

This is a fjord just outside of Lyngdal. A great place to stop for pictures. Photo: Adam Read
It is very common for motorcyclists to catch a ferry from Denmark to Kristiansand where their journey begins. 

Here is the Colorline ferry ready to leave Kristiansand to Hirtsals in Denmark. Photo: Adam Read
From Kristiansand you can take the E18 and E39 highway along the coastline to:

1. Mandal where there is fantastic fishing possibilities. 

Southern Norway coastal charm. Photo: Inger Hutchinsen
2. Lindesnes and meet Norway's last remaining full time lighthouse keeper at the Lindesnes lighthouse.

Lindesnes lighthouse early morning. Photo: Adam Read
3. Lyngdal - and visit Kvåsfossen and the salmon staircase. Stay overnight at Paulsens Hotel and experience nostalgia or try Kvavik camping if you want to pitch a tent.

The Salmon staircase at Kvåsfossen. Photo: Adam Read
4. Farsund - take a walk to Varbak in the city centre to experience panoramic views over the city, coastline and fjords. Lista Lighthouse is also located in this area with old bunkers and tunnels built by the Germans in Word War 2.

Part of the view from Varbak Farsund. Photo: Adam Read
5. Flekkefjord - Take a break from the bike and try Dresin sykling - Rail biking. That is a priceless adventure.

A very cheap way to experience something unique - rail bikes in Flekkefjord. Photo: Adam Read
6. Visit Knaben in Kvinesdal and learn about its extensive history.

Learn about Knaben's history. Photo: Adam Read
After that you can once again go on the coastal road to Stavanger, up to Bergen and beyond.

The possibilities are endless.

Here is a couple from Germany that have just been on a motorcycle tour around Norway...

We have been exploring Norway on our motorcycle for the past three weeks from Lyngdal to Trondheim.

Read to check in again at Kvavik camping. Photo: Adam - Visit Sørlandet
We took the ferry from Denmark to Kristiansand and then rode down to Lyngdal. From there, we went to Knaben, Stavanger, Setesdal and up to Geilo but there was a lot of snow there, so we had to stop.

We waited a while until a snow clearing truck came and then we rode behind that up to Trondheim. It was cold and wet up there so we came back down to Lyngdal. We have ridden about 3000 kilometres in Norway.

We really like the southern part of Norway because the weather is always the best here with lots of sunny days. The countryside is also not as rugged as the northern part of the country - it is a lot smoother which is nice on the motorbike.

Kvavik camping was perfect for us because we like the outdoors a lot more and not so much hotels. The man who runs the place is also very nice and helpful.

Kvavik camping  is also a good place to base ourselves because there is the Lista lighthouse, Flekkefjord and Knaben not very far away.

We will be back next year.

Interview and picture - Adam Visit Sørlandet


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Funny Norwegian Commercials

Before I ever thought about visiting Norway, I was very aware of the great commercials they had on television. In Australia, my family used to sit and watch a show every few months that had the world’s funniest television commercials and Norway was always in that list.

1. Just recently, another great commercial has been aired both on tv and the internet. (I have to say that this one makes me smile every time)

2. Here is another from 2012 from IKEA

3. Here are some from the Norwegian magazine VG (a few videos on this one)

4. The Norwegian lottery is called “lotto” and here is a funny one.

(Do not read this line until it is finished – but the old lady gave the nurse the winning ticket so she would quit!)

5. Another lottery one for an unlucky but also lucky man…

This one leads me to a story actually. I used to work with some Danish friends here in Kristiansand Norway. One of them told me the story about a small little island in Denmark.

A garbage collector found a lottery ticket on the street outside a house. He thought that the man that lived in that house had lost his lottery ticket so he slipped it under the front door. As it turned out, that was the winning lottery ticket in the national lottery and the man who lived there became instantly rich.

The talk of the town was the nice garbage collector that had found the ticket and given it to this man.

6. Perhaps not politically correct, one from a sports store in Norway called XXL

7. Freia milk chocolate – I can safely say that this is the most amazing chocolate I have ever had. When I go back to Australia for a holiday I cannot eat chocolate made there anymore. I also make sure that I take with me a few bars of Freia back to Australia for the family. They can never get enough of it!

8. And lastly, here is a Norwegian commercial on the more serious side for SOS Childrens fund.

For a small population of people, Norway has an abundance of creativity. The only way for you to find out, is to come and visit. I can personally highly recommend Southern Norway!

Adam Read - Visit Sørlandet

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

American-Norwegian history in the Lister region

The Lister region is an area in southern Norway that includes four local governments - Kvinesdal, Farsund, Lyngdal and Flekkefjord. Two of these, Kvinesdal and Farsund have a very close nit relationship with the United States.

Many locals in these areas moved to the United States for work during the “poor times” in Norway and in fact, my father in law did the same with his three brothers.  He moved to New York and loved there for about 15 years building houses. He met his wife in Manhattan and she moved to Norway with their five children whilst he worked hard framing buildings.

He came back to Norway regularly on holidays to spend time with his family and eventually moved back to Norway permanently. He brought back with him a few trunks full of American clothes, white goods, an Amish wagon, boat and a car.

This was common practice for those returning from America. Many brought back items as well as wives. The local Norwegian population, particularly the women, were a little shocked. The American women had make up, nice dresses, high heels and other fashion accessories that the local Norwegian girls did not, so there was a little jealousy in those days.

American Farsund
Farsund has dedicated a festival to mark the relationship between it and the United States. It usually takes place in the final week of June and has been a huge success since 2008. They have a Route 8 road, an American store called “Trunken”, an American local bar and restaurant as well as American flags hoisted up in businesses and houses. Don't be surprised if every second car you see on the road in from the US!

American Kvinesdal
Back in the 80’s, a survey found that 10% of local residents in Kvinesdal were American citizens. That is a massive number for a little place like Kvinesdal. If you go into the American Emigration Museum called “Utvandrermuseet” you can read letters, newspapers and see pictures of people that took the long journey by boat over to the US. There were even some locals from Kvinesdal that found in the Second World War for the United States as part of the Allied forces.

Kvinesdal also has a festival to celebrate this close relationship that is called the Utvandrerfestival. It takes place over 29th of June to the 6th of July – where there is food, concerts, films and the museum if of course open.

In the main street of Kvinesdal, there is a store that has a large selection of American foods including, salads, dressings, drinks and meats. The staff speak English.

If you have time to visit Farsund or Kvinesdal during their American festivals, please do so. 
You will not regret it and it is a lot of fun for the whole family.

Adam Read Visit Sørlandet

Monday, 1 June 2015

Tall ship races Kristiansand

The Tall Ships Races is one of the biggest events in Kristiansand with over 80 of the worlds fully rigged and operating sailing ships sailing from 20 different countries.

Tall Ships Races Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder
They will arrive in Kristiansand on the 25th of July and stay until the 28th of July 2015. 

It is a spectacular scene with these magnificent ships parked in formation at the docks of Kristiansand with crew members from many different countries. They all wear their individual sailing uniforms making for a colourful scene and have a parade down the main street of Kristiansand during the festival.

Tall Ship Race parade Photo: Morten Teinum©Visit Sørlandet 
Enjoy the atmosphere at the docks with music, food, fun and games. You can board the ships and get a tour from their ship mates who are always up for a picture.

Norway's very own HRH Crown Princess Metter Marit is also the patron of the event as she grew up in the Kristiansand area.

The event is expected to attract around 500,000 visitors so the entire city is buzzing with excitement. 

Tall Ships Races Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder
Take a walk to fiskebrygga around the corner and relax watching the locals in their boats drive by, or sample one of the regions most famous delicatecies - their warm fish cakes. 

Fiskebrygga Kristiansand Photo: Adam Read
Personally, I really enjoy the "pirate burger" - the kids do too.
Tall Ships Races Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder
Take a stroll around the city and visit Southern Norway's largest cathedral - the Kristiansand Domkirke, eat at many of the restaurants or have a wine at one of the bars. If you are with the kids, take a walk up to Ravnedalen park and watch the swans and have a burger at the famous Cafe Generalen.

There is so much to do in Kristiansand, that you just have to experience it yourself!

Kristiansand has direct flights from Amsterdam and Copenhagen with many connecting domestic flights. There is a train station in Kristiansand and a bus network.

Enjoy the Tall Ship Races in Kristiansand and check out this page from the Tall Ship Races to see the magnificent ships that will be there. You can also find out 

Adam Read - Visit Sørlandet

Do you LOVE Southern Norway?

Stangholmen Lighthouse in Risør, Southern Norway. Photo Terje Rakke / Nordic Life

Do you LOVE Southern Norway?

Have you visited Southern Norway and always wanted to go back? Or is it almost like your second home? Does five free trips in a year to Southern Norway sound like a dream come true?

Then you might be just who we are looking for!

Being loved is a great feeling. That’s why we want to reward those that LOVE us; our loyal visitors. We are looking for five ambassadors who LOVE Southern Norway that want to share their LOVE with others. Each handpicked ambassador will be rewarded with five Color Line ferry trips to Southern Norway; an opportunity to explore new places, return to old favorites, make new memories and share these with friends and family. 

Sign-up to be an ambassador and enter the contest at:

Everyone that has visited Southern Norway at least once is encouraged to apply before the 31st of August.  

Share your stories

Don’t forget to use #LoveSouthernNorway when you are sharing your LOVE on social media! 

If you would like to stay up to date on new experiences, stories of others and our ambassadors, don’t forget to follow us!

Have you not had the chance to visit Southern Norway yet, but do you know someone that would be the perfect ambassador? Share with them.

Welcome to Southern Norway!
Lindesnes Lighthouse at the southern tip of Norway. Photo: Anders Martinsen (c) Visit Sørlandet