I was up early to watch as Braemar’s Maiden Call Mystery Cruise sailed into our first port. We picked up our pilot and, as the boat sailed away, I noticed the pilot board’s flag was Norwegian. that was the only clue I got for our first mystery port — we were somewhere in Norway. We sailed along the coast past many small islands, some covered in grass and other appeared to be only large boulders. I wasn’t until we were fully docked that our Captain announced we were in Larvik, Norway.
Larvik is primarily a fishing town of about 40,000 residents — with many more during the summer months. On a good day, you can see Sweden across the bay. I decided to take a tour in the morning, just so that I would see some of the sites considered important in this area. On the tour, we drove through Stavern, a small town that hosts a music festival every summer and is home to many creative writers and artists.
Our first stop lead us to Minnehallen, a monument to Norwegian seamen who died during WWI and WWII. It is constructed from the local granite that is known for a high concentration of quartz that makes it look like it sparkles. Inside the monument, there are plaques listing all the names remembered in this place.
Our next stop was Fredriksværn. It started out as a major ship building facility around 1750. During WWII, Germany used this area as a POW camp for Russian prisoners and Norwegian dissidents.
Our final stop on the tour took us on a quick boat ride from Fredriksværn to a small island where there is a special look-out tower.