Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Kristiansand beer tasting festival

Adam from Visit Sørlandet went to the Kristiansand beer tasting festival at Odderøya.

Local beer Nøgne Øl being served.

Here is a good idea; ''Why not take the boat into town to the Kristiansand Beer Festival.''
Sounds like a good plan, so that is exactly what I did. The festival started at 1pm, but it was raining up until 3pm, so I headed in there after that. 

Sunshine and cold local beer.

The sun was now shining so we parked the boat at fiskebrygga and walked to Odderøya.

A decent sized crowd for the event.

There was a large crowd of people there and not an empty seat. Standing room only as they say. I spoke to the staff at the entrance that were very friendly. 

By the time we arrived, there had been over 700 people enter the festival. 

It turned out to be a nice summers day.

Nice views over the water.

The entrance fee was 200 kr which includes a Kristiansand Beer Festival glass of about 330ml. This is what visitors use to try the different beers.

Aas beer from Drammen

In order to try a beer, visitors were required to buy tokens. These tokens were 150 kr for 5 and each beer sample was half a glass. 

Representative from Aas beer.

A local beer from Grimstad called Nøgne Øl.

Most people I spoke to at the event thought that the entrance fee was a little expensive and the  beer samples were small. Even so, they had a great time there mingling amongst the beer enthusiasts which included men and women of the older and younger generations. Some said that they had now found their favourite beer so I guess the organisers would be pleased to hear that.

Here are some pictures of some patrons enjoying their day.

There were over 200 different types of beers on offer from local breweries in Norway. The event finished at 6pm where people ventured into the city where local bars and restaurants had these beers on offer. 

Here is the facebook group where you can find out about next years beer festival. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Norwegian and German love story from World War 2

Adam from Visit Sørlandet got a very interesting story whilst out on the streets of Kristiansand for the Humans of Kristiansand project.

Every other day I walk around the streets of Kristiansand hoping to get a nice picture and story from people and today I met a man with a very interesting story from World War 2.

"My goal in life is to make a movie about my grandparents. We have war history here in Norway from World War 2 when we were occupied by the German forces from 1940 to 1945.

My grandmother (father's mother) wanted to be a doctor but she could not do it because of a high school teacher that did not like her. Apparently she really hated her. This teacher gave her bad grades in one subject which prevented my grandmother from going to medical school, so she decided to become a nurse instead.

That made her angry because she was always the best at everything including various types of sports: skating, kayaking etc. Eventually she became content with being a nurse and then the war came.

I am not too sure about the details, but she met my grandfather during the start of the war who was in the German SS Panzer division called 'Totenkopf'. They fell in love and got married and Himmler went to their wedding to bless it. This was common practice in the early stages of the war with SS officers but it was known as the perfect wedding because a blonde haired, blue eyed pretty Norwegian girl was marrying a German. An Anglo Saxon wedding.

She then joined the Red Cross and went to Germany where she worked in the countryside of Germany from 1942 to 1943 and later she worked in Berlin. During this time he was away fighting in different parts of Europe and Russia, so they would meet up when they could. The last battle he fought was against the Americans when they entered Germany.

There is a ten page letter she wrote on the 27th of March 1945 to her family here in Norway. She wrote about courage because at that time the war was coming to an end and the Russians were almost at her door step at the hospital where she worked.

She wrote about being a nurse at the hospital with a lot of responsibility being in charge of her ward and transport of wounded soldiers. She also carried a leather bag full of syringes that contained poison. She was instructed to kill all of the wounded soldiers that could not walk if the Russians were to come. This also included officers that had could be tortured and release important information to the Russians.

She wrote that she has accepted that she may die and she is not afraid anymore.

She survived the war and I am not sure if she had to inject any of the soldiers. What I do know is that she managed to escape from Berlin with my grandfather who was injured and deserted his post. He paid some SS guards with gold and diamonds that my grandmother had from her family, so they let them through the road blocks in an ambulance.

They hid in the western part of Germany where the Americans were and lived there for a little while after the war. There, he was imprisoned for 3 months by the Americans because he was a German soldier.

They stayed together and lived amongst the rubble and what was left over of the buildings there until they moved to Norway in 1946. My grandmother was considered German by the Norwegian authorities because she was then a German citizen and married to a German.

They had a hard time back in Norway from the local people but they lived in Drammen where many citizens had helped the Germans during the occupation, so they simply did not talk about it. A lot of people had something to hide at that time.

My father did get a hard time at school and got into many fights. In the end he carried a knife around to defend himself.

The other side of my family is my mother's mother. She fell in love with a Norwegian doctor and she had been raised in both Italy and in Wales and because she had British contacts, british intelligence contacted her to work for them within the Norwegian resistance.

She was to deliver a note to a bookshop in Oslo. The note contained the name of a doctor who was responsible for delivering the names of over 200 Norwegian jews that were transported out of Norway to a concentration camp.

He was to be killed.

The Gestapo was after my grandmother and grandfather, so they fled the country and ended up in Sweden. He ended up working as a doctor there and was the first doctor to meet with the survivors from the Bergen-belsen concentration camp.

So that is a different story from the same family. Two different women struggling with love and life during the Second World War.

She died in Norway in 1953 of cancer leaving behind 3 small children. My grandfather moved back to Germany after that with the smallest child and left the others with my grandmother's family.

It shows me that love conquers all. That was the most intense period of time in European history and through that war and misery, they found each other and found love even though they were representing common enemies at the time. So to me it is a love story."

Friday, 22 August 2014

Kids triathlon at Aquarama in Kristiansand

My wife is a keen runner and cyclist and registered our kids in the summer triathlon called ''barnetriathlon'' at Aquarama swimming and sports centre in Kristiansand. They love exercise and are quite competitive, so they were very keen to get started. I spoke to one of the organisers as per the Humans of Kristiansand project:

Man: I love days like today.
Me: What do you mean?

Man: There is a triathlon in town today for kids aged 3 to 10. It is amazing to see about 100 kids taking part in the competition. 

Parents exercising with their kids in an event like this is fantastic. Exercise and quality time with kids = a great day out. There should be more of it!

The organisers set up little tents for food and drinks and everything was well supervised and planned.

The triathlon consists of one lap of the pool of about 25 metres (side to side and not the full length of the pool) a bicycle ride of 100 metres and a run of 100 metres. 

My three boys were put into separate groups; Indy was in the 4-6 age group (he is 3) and Jet and Levi into the 6-9 age groups. (they are 7 and 8)

It was a nice sunny day and many kids and their parents turned out for the event. at a guess I would say that there were about 100 kids of different ages. 

Because there were so many kids, they were split up into different groups so they could begin their laps at different times.

Parents were eagerly cheering on their kids.

Even the City Train managed to sneak down the bicycle track!

My boy Indy came second last, but he had lots of fun anyway. It is not about the destination, but the journey...

Here is his mother giving him a helping hand as it was his second week without bicycle training wheels...

Great job guys!

It was a lot of fun and at the end, they received a certificate and a well deserved ice cream and drinks. Afterwards, they went to the Aquarama playground and enjoyed the swings.

It will be an annual event, so make sure to register your kids for it next year. You can find out more information from the Aquarama website.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sleeping on your boat in and around Kristiansand

There is an array of islands and different places to park your boat and stay overnight for free in and around Kristiansand. One such place is an island called Lyngøya (which can be found on google maps).

It is located close to the centre of Kristiansand and is a great place to stop by in the summer with the family. 

There is a large area to park the boats as well as a wooden terrace next to the water where the kids can fish.

Go exploring around the island to get different views of the sea and waters leading to a fjord.

Some people pitch tents there and some sleep in their boats. There is plenty of room, so it should not be a problem to find a place to park your boat.

On this particular trip, it was a very warm summers night and we easily found a space to park.

Our kids found some friends to play with and go crab hunting.

It is always good to have a navigator...

Not all places are public, so you need to check before stopping for the night.
Contact the Kristiansand Tourist Office for more information.

*Some pictures taken with mobile phone*

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Gunvald Tomstad Norwegian double agent

The entire coastline in Norway has some sort of history from the Second World War, including other wars. During the German occupation in WW2, there were many famous Norwegian resistance fighters that worked with British Intelligence to create havoc for the Germans.

Gunvald Tomstad was one such famous Norwegian resistance fighter during the Second World War who lived on a farm in Flekkefjord in Southern Norway.

Tomstad lived with his grandfather Gunleiv after his father passed away and in 1942 and inherited the family farm at the age of 22. He worked as an apprentice typographer in the local paper ''Agder Flekkefjord''.  (a typographer is a person whose job is to choose the style, arrangement, or appearance of printed letters on a page).

(Tomstad was a keen photographer. Here is a picture he took overlooking the farm during the occupation. To the right is his own motorcycle)

The editor of the newspaper, Ingvar Seland, refused to publish German propaganda and as a result, closed down the newspaper. Tomstad lost his job and then started working as a farmer with milk,  fruit and bee keeping.

Before the war, Tomstad was technically interested in radio transmitters and successfully built a few but this was short lived because in the autumn of 1941, the Germans confiscated all radio transmissions.

As a typographer, it was relatively easy for Tomstad to help produce and distribute the illegal newspaper Kongsposten "King Post" which was created by Ola Eide, Tor Njaa, Gudmund Seland, Johannes Seland and himself.

(A picture of a German motorcycle on the farm that Tomstad sometimes used during his disguise as a Nazi sympathiser)

After an agreement with the British Intelligence Service in London, in 1941, Tomstad went into the NS - (National Gathering) which was a fascist group supporting the Nazis and their ideals. They suggested he do this to cover up his resistance communication operations that he started from a hidden radio room on his farm at Helle in Flekkefjord.

Tomstad took a picture of Odd Kjeld Starheim on the radio.

The radio was also operated by Odd Kjeld Starheim (pictured above) who was disguised as a farm worker, John Seland and other resistance fighters from the Flekkefjord area. The radio transmission network was called "Cheese" which was under the command of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) - a British organization that built up military resistance in occupied countries.

Tomstad sent information back to London on German warships and supply vessels along the Norwegian coast, German troop movements and the construction of airfields.

The Germans used censoring measuring equipment to locate the radio transmitter which they pinpointed to the district around Flekkefjord.

They searched many houses in the area but not Tomstad's as he was seen as a Nazi sympathiser. He did not work alone and had help from other undercover resistance fighters;
Esther Synnøve Øysteinsland - disguised as a maid, Kåre Austad - who helped with the coding and decoding of the messages and Andreas Lone who sent transmissions at other times when Tomstad was unable to.

Tomstad took this picture with a self timer. He is standing in the middle with the Germans on his farm. Also seated is a Norwegian Nazi symphathiser whose face has ben shaded out)

It was during this time that Tomstad met Fie Rørvik who was also in the resistance. She worked at a dairy where Tomstad would deliver his milk. She would help convey important messages from Flekkefjord to other major cities including Stavanger and Oslo. After the war, Tomstad and Rørvik were married.

Gradually Tomstad became a leading resistance leader and at the same time, a prominent Nazi sympathiser within the Flekkefjord area. Living this double life did take its toll on him as he wrote to the British:

"sometimes I need to stop and ask myself, is it really you? I feel very sorry for my mother. She's taking it pretty hard and yesterday she cried when she was with me. "

(Tomstad took a picture of the radio equipment with his German issued pistol)

Tomstad kept up his double agent charade for two years until early in 1943 when the local Gestapo agents Hauptscharführer Lipicki and Sturmscharführer Lappe realised that Tomstad was behind the illegal radio operations.

Luckily at the last minute, me managed to escape and fled to Sweden and onto the UK.

Tomstad bitterly opposed the war and was not pleased to receive medals and decorations after its conclusion. He dug them under a plumb tree in the garden on his farm because he did not want to see them - considering all the friends and comrades who lost their lives during the war.

Tomstad suffered physically and mentally after the war and died far too young at the age of 51. Some comrades and friends said at his funeral  "You fought for everything, but now you have sacrificed everything."

He is survived by his three children, one of whom still lives on the farm.

In 1977, there was a monument erected for him in the centre of Flekkefjord on the church grounds. This was designed by a Norwegian/Danish artist called Per Palle Storm.

All photos are courtesy the Tomstad family and some have never been seen by the public before.

Some other historical World War 2 places to visit in Southern Norway are:

If you require any further information, contact Adam from Visit Sørlandet
adam (at) Dra på ferie til Flekkefjord

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Salmon fishing staircase at Kvåsfossen in Lyngdal

Adam from Visit Sørlandet went to the opening of the Salmon fishing staircase at Kvåsfossen (Kvås waterfall in Lyngdal).

The Lygna river is quite long and has many attractions along it from Lyngdal to a little area called Hægebostad.

Along the river, there is a winery, some camping grounds and other types of accommodation. In Hægebostad there is Viking and medieval history.

One attraction in particular is quite unique. It is a salmon staircase built into a mountain at the Kvås waterfall called Kvåsfossen.

The tunnel is 220 metres long and consists of concrete stairs allowing the salmon to swim up the river to lay their eggs. This has previously been impossible because of a large stone blocking the entrance.

Inside the tunnel, there is a large glass viewing area with lights so that visitors can see the salmon fishing and jumping up the stairs.

The project has cost 13 million kroner to build and will also consist of a visitor centre sometime in the future.

The opening day was packed full of people.

At a guess, I would say there were about 300 people there including the environment minister and the mayors of Lyngdal and Hægebostad. A local band also played some music.

Both mayors gave a speech

as did the minister who cut the ribbon opening the attraction.

People flocked into the tunnel by passing some little stands by local attractions to sample foods and get some info on what to do in the area.

Unfortunately there were heavy rains the day before making the water a little murky, so it was not very easy to see the salmon through the glass.

There is also a camera in the tank so that the salmon can be seen on a television screen.

Some people relaxed to some music and local food.

There was a forest man playing a flute as some entertainment for the kids.

And some of the crew from the historic Paulsens Hotel in Lyngdal.

There are various viewing points around the waterfall where you can take great pictures.

To find out more information about the staircase, you can visit the Kvåsfossen Facebook group or call them on + 47 95 2 38 949. Dra på ferie til Lyngdal

PLEASE NOTE, that visitors can only go there by appointment.

Local info about Lyngdal can also be found on the Official Visit norway page.

All pictures from Adam Read@Visit Southern Norway