July 2, 2010 - Stavanger-Sandnes, Norway

From June 28th through July 4th, something very exciting was taking place in Stavanger, Norway – the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour! It is a men and women’s international volleyball competition and it was in full force! Now, I knew I didn’t have long to tour and explore Stavanger because it was a very busy day for us singers/dancers. Not only did we have our regular duties, but also rehearsal, our show and most importantly, our Fourth of July party, which we also had to decorate for, but when I saw the action and liveliness taking place off ship, I just had to head out, even if it was just for an hour.

Stavanger is known as Norway’s third-largest and most international city. It has attracted residents from more than 90 nations and has emerged as cosmopolitan and vibrant, more bustling than other cities with a population of only 110,000. And this was even more apparent today with all the action taking place around me!

Several sand volleyball courts had been set up, lining the harbor side, attracting spectators. Some were simply warm-up courts used to practice and train before the opponent’s big matches, yet others were filled with crowds of fans and cheering supporters, rooting on their favorite team, or in many cases, their native country. Tourists and locals alike not only filled the charming cobblestoned streets, but also the waters. Many people had their boats tied up and docked right alongside the activity, soaking up the sun, drinking some beers and enjoying the event.

And it was clear that this was a very special event for Stavanger. I wish I had more information to give you on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour, such as: How do they choose where it’s held? How many countries are involved? Where was it last year? But unfortunately, I don’t have that knowledge. All I know is what I saw, and that was a town that was in full celebration and high spirits, happy to play host to the world!

I spent the afternoon just walking around the small sea town, taking in the sights, sounds and smells. The harbor side restaurants and cafés were of course hopping. And there was a plethora of tents and stands set up all around offering everything from clothing to produce to souvenirs! Eventually I made my way up to the more residential part of town where narrow pathways (I hesitate to even call them streets) guided me through and around cute white houses, each complete with a bright colored door and rose bush. Then, to my surprise, one of the slender lanes guided me right to a clearing which opened up to reveal the main stadium, where a volleyball match between the United States and Brazil was taking place. It was such a great view, but most importantly, a free view. I had previously come across this stadium on street level and was sort of bummed to see you needed tickets. However, where I was, above and looking down, I had the best seat not in the house. I stayed to capture a few pictures and sports shots before I realized my time was running short and I better start heading back towards the ship.

I was really bummed that we didn’t have more time to spend in Stavanger. It sometimes seems that the best and most active ports, the more fun, youthful ones in other words, are always where we stay docked for the least amount of time. Granted, had I not had such a busy day ahead of me, I would’ve been able to stay out longer, but even still. It seemed a shame we didn’t spend an overnight in such an energetic town!

With that being said, our overnight on the ship was energetic enough as it was! After a fantastic show of Sailing through Broadway, the ten of us quickly made our way downstairs to get dressed and costumed for our (Entertainment Department-hosted) Fourth of July Party! Earlier in the day we took the time to decorate the crew bar, and I must say: it looked really good! Decked out in red, white and blue, we were all really excited for everyone not only to see it, but also us, in our American icon costumes. Of course, we were equally anxious to see if everyone else would participate in the theme, but as usual in these instances, one way or another, it wouldn’t play any part in our ability to have a good time. This was our party, our holiday, our independence, and we were determined to celebrate!

And celebrate we did! I have never seen the crew bar as crowded as it was that night! It actually resembled a club much more than a bar. You could hardly even move without being forced to play the role of the steel ball in a pinball machine, constantly ricocheting and bumping off one detour to the next, until you somehow made it to your desired location. But aside from the overpopulation, it really was a great night! We had a blast and were really appreciative of the turnout, not to mention the participants! Here’s a breakdown of some of the icons in attendance:

ME & KAITLYN – Ken and Barbie                                       JEN & MARK – Baywatch Lifeguards

CARLY – American Red Cross                                            ZACH – Paul Bunyan

VANESSA – Cuban Immigrant (complete with boat)          NICOLA - Madonna

SOREN – Uncle Sam                                                           LORRAINE – Lady Liberty

KELSEY – Minnie Mouse                                     OLEANA & DAN – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

ERIN – Sarah Palin                                                              COLE - Superman

BECKIE – Audrey Hepburn                                                  SCOTT – Dr. House

GABE & TIM – Men in Black                                               JASAO – Packman’s Mr. Ghost

NIC – Richard Simmons

It was an Amer-iconic evening!




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1 Comment

July 21, 2010
Wow how luck were you to see a match with the USA on independence day!! Sounds like a great city and I agree too bad you didn't have an overnight where it sounds so vibrant and alive! Although I am sure your party was so much fun. Everyone seemed like they really went all out on the costumes and I am happy you had a great turnout. You guys sure do know how to celebrate events. I bet the white houses you encountered with all of the pretty colors was beautiful hope you got pictures!
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