On This Day – Haugesund in Norway

On 12th January 2011 we took a post Christmas break to Norway.

“‘That’s an outrage’ I said, clutching my receipt like bad news from a doctor. ‘I don’t know why I don’t just pin money to my jacket and let you people pick it off me!’” -Bill Bryson – ‘Neither Here Nor There’

One part of Europe that we have so far missed out is Scandinavia so with January Ryanair weekend flight bargains to Norway, Sweden and Denmark this was the perfect opportunity.

There were a lot of destinations to pick from and after comparing all the options we finally choose Norway. We decided upon Haugesund, a city on the North Sea coast in between the two better known destinations of Bergen to the north and Stavanger to the south.

One of the reasons that we have tended to avoid Scandinavia is because of the notoriously high cost of living and the lofty prices relative to southern and eastern Europe but with flights at just £12 return we calculated that we could afford a couple of days of sky high northern European alcohol and restaurant prices without too much pocket pain.

With budgets in mind the search for a hotel produced the highly recommended four star Clarion Collection Hotel Amanda situated right on the waterfront and at £110 a night all inclusive including evening buffet that seemed just about perfect so we had no hesitation in booking the room.

On the day of departure and anticipating low winter temperatures we packed appropriately because Haugesund is just slightly further north than the Orkney Islands so we were expecting cold weather. And with alcohol prices in mind we left space for a three litre carton of red wine from the duty free shop at Stansted airport!

It was a lunch time flight and with the one hour time difference we landed at Haugesund airport on the nearby island of Karmøy at half past four where due to the high northerly latitude of 59º it had already been dark for over an hour.

I am fairly certain that Ryanair weren’t making a big profit out of this flight because there were only forty passengers on the plane which was probably a good indication that Norway in mid January is not a popular tourist destination.  Once through passport control thirty-seven got on the bus for the three hour journey to Stavanger which was an even bigger clue that Haugesund is not a regular itinerary as a tourist destination.

After a short wait the bus driver finally conceded that there were no more passengers and set off along heavily salted roads with piles of cleared grit stained snow and ice piled up on either side. We could see the lights of the city ahead and a ring of snow streaked mountains in the background and soon the bus passed out of the bleak countryside and into the streets of Haugesund and after just a short wait at the main bus station the driver obligingly went off route to drive us to our hotel down on the waterfront.

The Hotel Amanda was warm and welcoming with a log fire burning in reception and as Haugersund is home to the annual Norwegian film festival the whole place had a movie theme with appropriate memorabilia and every room named after a famous film.

We would have liked the Gladiator suite but we were allocated Shane, named after the 1953 Alan Ladd western, which although not as exciting as Ben Hur or Spartacus was better than the Rosemary’s Baby room on the opposite side of the corridor.

That reminds me, a few years later I was staying at the Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford in Norfolk and got to stay in the Ronald Reagan room…

In the hotel dining room there was a help yourself waffle maker so we tried that and a glass of the duty free wine and as we sat in the window it began to spit with rain and soon it was coming down really hard driven into shore by a raging wind off the North Sea. We attempted a short walk but it was that sort of hard driving rain that a cheap umbrella cannot possibly protect against and after only a few yards our coats and trousers were getting soaked so we were forced to abandon any thoughts of evening exploration and return to the hotel where we sat in the room drinking wine and listening to the rain pouring down outside.

And there were more price shocks to come when we investigated restaurant prices from a menu left in the room presumably for humorous entertainment. With a green salad at 150 krone(£12) and a main meal an average of 300 (£25) it was obvious that dining out would be a pricey business so we were grateful therefore that the hotel rate included an evening buffet which although not very thrilling at least it wasn’t a wallet busting experience.

As we dined the weather got worse as the rain turned to sleet and then to snow, back to sleet again and then full circle back to driving rain and when we finally went to bed we began to wonder how we might entertain ourselves for two days in Haugesund if it was going to continue like this.

41 responses to “On This Day – Haugesund in Norway

  1. Regretting your choice?

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  2. nver there too cold lol! nice room thus ::)

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  3. A salad for £12 ? That makes any caterpillar you find a 50p surcharge?

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    • And that was 12 years ago!

      I am reminded that when I first holidayed in Greece a simple Greek salad would never be more than a few drachma, the last time I went they had been poshed up and were regularly 10 euro or more.

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  4. Oh dear. I guess you’ve ‘done’ Norway now.

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  5. As I read this post it is difficult to avoid comparison with the weather today in Oakham with near zero temperature and the rain pouring down on an already saturated garden. Ah well – back to the wine.

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  6. Not such a bad place after all. Shane is my favourite film. This post tells you why: https://derrickjknight.com/2012/09/15/shane/

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  7. Gotta love Nordic prices… If you ever go to Finland, bear in mind that though it is equally expensive, the Finns are big fans of the lunch buffet (which is usually very cheap in comparison). We only did one once because we’re really not fans, but I thibnk it’s probably one of the few ways of making a trip there affordable. That hotel looks intriguing!

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  8. Well, standing here watching the teeming rain lash the already saturated Kent countryside, having just eaten my diet-influenced mackerel salad washed down with my “dry January” obligatory glass of cold tap water, I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, the opportunity to get ripped off with an overpriced lunch somewhere in Europe might be a welcome alternative just now!!…

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  9. I’m still getting my head around why the Thomas Paine hotel would have a Ronald Regan room?
    Norway is expensive but if you can do Airb&b it’s much cheaper, buy fruit and bread in the markets – especially in the coastal towns – and with your duty free wine it’s possible to eat in your room and just go out for a main meal. You have to lay off the alcohol though, as we paid £7 for a beer about 7 years ago, no idea what it is now. Sweden is much cheaper, even down to the alcohol now.

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    • The hotel has 8 rooms named after influential Americans. Thomas Paine has a suite with the others named after fellow Founding Fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, former presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, inventor Thomas Edison and writer Walt Whitman.

      In a TV poll some years ago Ronald Reagan was voted by the public as the greatest American, maybe that’s why they chose him?

      Thanks for the travel tips for Scandinavia.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, maybe his popularity got him the nameplate on the room, but it’s still an incongruous combination!

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  11. I worked in Norway for six months back in 1973 and was dismayed by 10 days of non stop rain. It improved and it is a beautiful country. I never ate out and rarely drank any alcohol, maybe the odd beer, but the smorgasbords that the hotel put on for the tourists were amazing.

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  12. Funnily enough Cadyluck Leedy has posted today about Haugesund in August. I haven’t read it yet but I’m sure it was a different experience to yours. Do you know her? 🙂 🙂

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  13. Hmm, the weather sounds a bit too much like home for me! Chuckling at the Rosemary’s Baby room, and trying to think of worse places to sleep. Exorcist Room? Shining Room?

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  14. We have been many, many places in Norway and the Baltics in general. Oslo to me was the perfect city! Haugesund, not so much….. I wrote two posts about Haugesund and I think their economy is doing them in…. The best way I think to see these countries is by cruising, that way you don’t worry about food or drink! Here is my first post about Haugesund, We were there in 2019.https://thecadyluckleedy.com/2021/01/07/thursday-doors-haugesund-norway/ I would go back to Norway at any time of year, but I’d have to buy heavier clothes for winter!

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