Pinin' for the fjords? You're in luck. On August 20, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) inaugurated non-stop service to Stavanger, Norway, the only such rapid link from Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport to any destination in Scandinavia. Houston is Stavanger's only North American gateway, if you count Cancún as Central and not North America.
A sister city to both Houston and Galveston, Stavanger is the hub of Norway's North Sea oil industry and home to dozens of O&G-related companies, many with a heavy focus on offshore technology. Norway's national oil company STATOIL is headquartered there, and SAS launched the service to coincide with this year's biannual Offshore Northern Seas exhibition, the second largest such confab of its kind in the world.
Maybe there is something to this sister city thing. Stavanger is home to Norway's National Petroluem Museum, and until very recently, "Petroleum Is Your Friend" was the message conveyed by about half of the permanent collection on the ground floor of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We have a Telephone Museum (call for details), and hey! So do they! And the same goes for museums about the history of printing! And we both have maritime museums! And we each have an oddball museum no other place would take. In Houston, that would be the National Museum of Funeral History; in Stavanger, it's the Norwegian Canning Museum, where every Sunday is "Fish-Smoking Sunday." And Galveston has a pirate-themed attraction, while Stavanger offers Viking-themed fun! Sisters from other misters indeed!
Here are a few things Stavanger has that we don't.
A charming old town:
Some badass swords sticking in the ground, memorializing the Battle of Hafrsfjord, where Harold the Fair's band of Vikings bashed in the horned helmeted-heads of all the other Vikings in Norway in 872. Come to think of it, it's pretty much like our own San Jacinto Monument, only starker and prettier:
And an 890-year-old cathedral, the oldest in the nation:
Though there's little to do in the way of outdoor activities in Stavanger proper, the surrounding area offers breathtaking hiking and sight-seeing like this, the Pulpit Rock, about an hour away:
Norway is not cheap, and neither is this flight: every seat on the 44-seat Boeing 737-700 is in business class and a spot-check of fares rang us in at a shade under $3,000, inclusive of taxes and fees.