Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Kaperdagene - the pirate days in Farsund

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies have re-ignited children’s interest in pirates but a little town in Southern Norway has had no such problem getting kids interested in piracy. Farsund has a wealth of history about pirates and their crusades against British ships that would pass through their waters.

Back then, the Norwegian government actually approved piracy against the British because they were seen as the enemy. A little town called Loshavn was even made by money stolen from these ships.

To celebrate this interesting history, the town of Farsund has a festival called “kaperdagene” or Pirate Days.

There are concerts, games and activities for kids, food and live pirate battles.
One day during this festival, there is a wooden boat race and a Pirate show late at night.

I took a trip to Farsund from Kristiansand and checked it out. I arrived at about 3pm and found lots of people, music playing and captains getting their wooden boats ready for the big race. These wooden boats do not go fast and many are well over 50 years old – all are hand made. Some have little diesel engines and others have petrol.

I was invited to go onto one of the boats for the race to take some pictures. I could not refuse. My captain was a man called Kjetil and his son and daughter were also along for the ride.

It was a lot of fun and all were eager to win the race, so there was the occasional collision in the water. That does not mean much for these strong wooden boats and if anything, it adds to the excitement.

There was a boat of pirates selling Coca Cola, One with a man attached to a mast and a piano player at the back and others with families.

Afterwards, I went to the Pirate show “kaperspill” which starts at 10pm. Now that is something that all children need to see. It is all about ACTION! 

The show is a battle re-lived between the British and the Norwegians. A British ships sails into the harbour and is attacked by local pirates. The captain is taken into shore and his men taken prisoner. 

There are about 5 canons that shoot blank rounds that are so loud, most kids need to wear ear protectors.

Thousands of people attended the show and all of the local stores were open until midnight. It has taken place for 20 years and we hope that it continues for another 100 years.

A fantastic event!
Adam Read Visit Sørlandet

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Visit Knaben

The Knaben mining town is located in Kvinesdal Municipality in Southern Norway. The site has evolved from being a purely industrial site to a tourist haven. 

Knaben from a distance.
A mineral called Molybdenite was found there which can be used in the production of alloy which contributed to weapon production.

People enjoying a walk by Knaben. 
The location is about 600 meters above sea level, while the surrounding mountains range from 800 to up to 1000 meters providing good skiing in the winter months and hiking at other times. Knaben's extensive history can be seen in the old restored buildings and left over German defensive positions from World War 2.

There are currently no permanent residents in the area but for visitors, there are facilities for school camps, a general store and museum. 

The Local store at Knaben.
Knaben During the Wars
Different companies used the plant and so there was an influx of people. Stores and other facilities were built and school classes were establshed for the many children that lived there. There was no physical school so students studied in various buildings. When the First World War started, a British company bought the rights for all minerals found on the site. This annoyed the Germans who also wanted the rights to the minerals. When the war finished in 1918, production ceased.

Allied attack on Knaben during World War 2. Photo: Wikipedia

In World War 2 when Germany occupied Norway, the plant was vital for the Germans because at that time, it was the only molybdenum mine in Europe still in operation. As a result German forces had around 1,000 men stationed in the immediate area. When they first arrived on motorcycles, they encircled the site before reinforcements arrived.

Later, anti-aircraft guns and other defensive positions were positioned at various strategic points on the site which was bombed by Allied Forces twice in 1943. In March of that year, the British bombed the site killing fifteen Norwegians and one German. 

Later in November of the same year, the Americans also bombed the facility killing a number of the occupying forces and no Norwegians. Today there is a plaque with the names of the Norwegians that were killed in the first raid.

During the occupation, the teacher providing the classes was taken prisoner and so the classes stopped. However after the war, mining re commenced and the first school was built in 1954. In 1973, operations were ceased and the mine was closed and the settlement was more or less abandoned. 

The Knaben Museum was opened in the old administration building, a general store was opened and today tourism is the main activity at Knaben. There is an alpine ski resort in operation, and several mountain cabins in the area. There is still a large sand landfill which was used in the production of the allow as well as the tower which hoisted up the ore.

Maps and information on Knaben are available from the Kvinesdal tourist office.
All pictures taken by Adam Read Visit Sørlandet.

Ny Hellesund Søgne

Ny Hellesund is a paradise for a family or couple looking to have a weekend away.

Arriving by boat. Photo: Morten Teinum
In the old days it was a dock used to fix old ships and the buildings have been in the same family for over 4 generations. 

Checking out the views from the Høllen ferry. Photo: Adam Read

The days of ship building in the area are well and truly gone, but the family wanted to do something with it so others can also enjoy the experience. 

Some children looking for jellyfish and crabs. Photo: Adam Read
As a result, they built apartments, a restaurant, walking trails with planks to make it easier and view points with comfortable chairs and tables. Work on this was completed two years ago, so everything is like new.

The Høllen ferry. Photo: Adam Read Visit Sørlandet
A ferry called Høllen takes you to the island all year round from the Høllen docks in Søgne just outside Kristiansand in Southern Norway. The journey takes about 20 minutes.

The boat trip in itself is scenic and fun. The classic white wooden houses dotted along the 
coastline reminds you this unique coastline.

View over the coast. Photo Adam Read
Once you arrive at the docks in Ny Hellesund you will see new red buildings with large glass windows overlooking the sea. These are 19 apartments that are filled with designer furniture and fittings and fantastic WIFI connections. 

Take a little trip to the "lighthouse". Photo: Adam Read
No expense has been spared in making these fantastic apartments. There are also 
conference rooms for up to 40 people and a gourmet restaurant called Bølgen & Moi.

The little beach by the apartments. Photo: Verftet Ny Hellessund
In the area there are hiking trails, a nearby old german bunker system from World War 2, beaches for swimming, a little lighthouse and places to relax taking in the great views.

You can also stay in a large old oil drum. Photo: Adam Read
I went there with my family and friends and stayed overnight. In our apartment had sleeping facilities for 8 people and we had a spare mattress for our littlest son who is 4. 

One of the apartments. Photo: Verftet Ny Hellesund
It was perfect and not too crowded in the apartment. There is a fridge, microwave oven, oven 
top and washing facilities. There is even a washing machine in the bathroom.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Photo: Adam Read
While we were there, we relaxed, took a walk to the little lighthouse, had a swim at the beach on the other side of the small island, had a wine, a meal at the restaurant and had a great time.

Searching for crabs with a little net. Photo: Adam Read

Kids having fun at Verftet Ny Hellesund. Photo: Adam Read
You can also contact the manager of the apartments on:

Hanne Bentsen
Post: Hølleveien 145b, 4640 SØGNE, Norway
+47 975 46 016 | 

If you would any information from me about Ny Hellesund, feel free to send an email on adam(a)

Adam Read

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