Tourists peek into the letter flap
The tourists stream to see the wooden houses in Old Stavanger. Some of them are a little bit too intrusive.
One group after the next walk through Old Stavanger. No wonder that the tourists are interested in the houses built in the 1700s and 1800s, the area is the best preserved wooden house settlement in Northern Europe.
One year ago, Kjetil Haarr and Ragnhild Bekkevold were also charmed by the iconic settlement. Bekkevold thought it seemed as an idyllic area and they agreed to move there.
In summer, it is flourishing in Old Stavanger. In a row, 173 protected and restored wooden houses are separated by eye-catching cobblestones. But the summer also brings with it an uncommon problem.
Many of the tourists confuse the private homes with museums. Perhaps no wonder, as what is mentioned as being Stavanger’s oldest house is also located there, even though the foundations of the nearby Cathedral school dates back to the 1200s.
– Sometimes there are so many people in the streets and alleys that you can not walk here. But the most annoying is when they look into the letter flap, Haarr tells Dagbladet.
Tourists of all nationalities attempt to open doors, stare through windows and takes pictures of the interior. Haarr says that they usually have the blinds down, to prevent them from seeing inside.
– People put their faces right up to the window panes in order to peek inside. They are a nuisance, in my opinion, Haarr says.
When you move to Old Stavanger, you know what to expect, according to Bekkevold. Head Communications Adviser at the Tourist Information Office in Stavanger, Liv Kristina Jehl, agrees to that.
– We are aware of the situation, but those who choose to live in Old Stavanger must count in the arrival of tourists in the summer, she says.
She says that they actively inform tourists that there are people living in private homes, but not all tourists visit the information office first, of course.
– We try to prevent a too large influx of tourists by informing and spreading them on different activities, such as fjord cruises. There are days that we do not see any cruise tourists at all because they have already signed up for activities before leaving the ship, says Jehl.
Gigantic cruise ships
But it’s not just the tourists in the street who are perceived as annoying at times.
The area has Stavanger’s best view – until the giant cruise ships arrive in the port. In addition to the fact that they like big white walls blocking the ocean view, they also make a lot of noise.
– They honk so loudly that the streets tremble, says Bekkevold, stating that some of the ships even arrive very early in the morning.
Honking, music and communication between the ships can be heard all the way to Old Stavanger. The Tourist Information Office also has offices in the area, and Jehl confirms that there is a bit of loud noise at times.
– I understand that people experience loud noise and I wish there was a maximum limit for noise emitted from the ships, she says, following up by stating:
– But just this summer I have not experienced it as a challenge. To prevent noise, the ships have been moved a little further back on the quay.
In the Media
She says that it is being worked on spreading the tourists and cruises so that the pressure does not get too concentrated. She thinks that it’s better with a steady flow of cruise ships, instead of four arriving on the same day, as an example.
Having said that, Jehl seems that the cruises are getting undeservedly negative PR in the media. She finds that most articles are very negative, but there are also some who are extremely positive, she says.
– We need to find a balance. It often is a very large focus on the disadvantages of cruise tourism in the media and that is wrong. There is a lot of life in the alleys andnarrow streets, and that’s a bit of fun too.
Evening approaches in Stavanger, and most of the tourists are already on their way back to the ships. Haarr and Bekkevold can resume packing in peace and quiet, they have decided to move away from the area.
The area simply did not live up to expectations, and there are more reasons for that than annoying tourists.
– The tourists are annoying, but they are not the worst: Every weekend, drunken Norwegians rage and rave through the streets on their way home from town, Haarr explains.
© Dagbladet / #Norway Today