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May 2009 Archives

May 13, 2009

Visiting Ollieland

New York City beckoned midweek for me to help with some unfinished packing and Peter joined us for the weekend. We were treated to great lattes from the barista boy and the new Miss Silvia, enjoyed walks along the river and around the neighborhoods, played in the newly grassy backyard and dined out in the lovely private patio. It was certainly a special Mother's Day Weekend.

May 24, 2009


Day one in Oslo, our first 'tourist' day started off bright and early with a noon time wake up. It didn't seem like we could possibly have slept that late, but after a max of four hours sleeptime on our two plane rides, it was obvious we needed the rest. As we got ready to head out, the sun was disappearing behind the clouds but by the time we were sitting with our first lattes, it was shining bright again and lasted the rest of the day.

As a result of our exploration the night before, we found a good super market, a closed wine store (not reopening until Monday) and the perfect latte spot overlooking the subway station. When we noticed people starting to gather, we finished our coffees and headed over for the train. About 2-minutes later a sleek, silver-gray, new car pulled into the station and we were on our way into the city center. Each station was announced by a woman's voice and shown on electronic signs in the car, with the signs being key to figuring out how the actual sound of Norwegian matched up to what we were calling the stations. Roa, for example, has that throaty, rolling 'r' that I could never master in French class, but if I'd worked harder it might have helped with my Norwegian. Actually though, everyone here speaks English, effortlessly switching as soon as we ask a question.

We armed ourselves with Oslo Passes, good for all public transportation and free entry to almost every museum, and set off to get our bearings. On a side note, but one to be remembered, the lovely young woman selling the passes simply could not believe that one of us would possibly qualify for the 'honnor' or senior fare. The nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art provided a different perspective on India with an exhibit called 'Indian Highway', showing a contemporary take I would have expected more from the ICA. After that cultural stop and a bit more walking that led to the discovery of enough other nearby museums for the next three days, we ended the afternoon at a cafe, on a plaza, in the sun, toasting a perfect start to our Oslo adventure.

May 26, 2009

Monday in Bygdoy

So it turns out that most of the museums are closed on Monday, except for those on the almost-island of Bygdoy. Getting an early start at 11:30 am, we were having lattes before noon and on the T by 12:15. A bus ride then took us to the Norsk Folkemuseum, which was a bit like Sturbridge Village, except much bigger, older and nicer. As you can see in the photos, we were fortunate to have another perfect sunny day.

After completing quite a trek around the grounds of the Folk Museum we hopped back on the bus to its final stop at the Kon Tiki Museum. The model of the Kon Tiki was fascinating, and seeing it firsthand, made it even harder to imagine six crewmen making the actual trip.

Riding the bus required hanging on tight along a very windy road. Looking out the window was like being in California, maybe in Tiburon, all green and very lush with prosperous looking and architecturally interesting homes. We ended the day with a 10-minute ferry ride and walk back to the T, heading home on the early side to get to the dock by 10:00 am for a lunch cruise of the fjords tomorrow.

Cruising and Browsing

Early to bed and early to rise got us on our way so soon our regular cafe wasn't even open. Instead we stopped at the Red Goat, a funky coffee cart parked in the middle of an open square. Yesterday, later in the day, we had seen it surrounded by Mom's, kids and strollers, but early in the morning people lined up, got their coffee and left immediately for the T. That's what we did too.

By the time we got into town and down to the waterfront, the gray sky looked like it might clear, so we only debated briefly before picking up our lunch cruise tickets. We were among a fearless few - just six other people opted to join us. Maybe the stay-behinds already knew we'd be sitting at picnic tables on the open deck with just a tarp hanging above us, a situation that was okay when we started out and saw a bit of sunshine but not so comfortable once the sun disappeared. The waterfront however was fascinating, especially with a guide to identify all the things we were looking at, though by the end of the cruise we were huddling in the doorway of a small cabin to escape the cold and light rain that had started.

Landing at the dock just after noon, we hustled across to the very nearest museum, the Nobel Peace Center, to get out of the rain. In the warm inside, we enjoyed an excellent photography exhibit called the Dream of Europe, and a number of provocative stories about asylum seeking, but the other exhibits were very high techy - lots of flashing lights - and just seemed to be trying too hard.

From there we headed to the next nearest museum, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, as the rain, though light, unfortunately continued. We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon inside and dry, happily looking at the complete works of Snohetta Architects. The first room held models of completed and proposed projects. What we didn't understand in this first room was made clear in the second by illustrations, photographs and better labeling. The last, and best part, was upstairs where we watched a film about the Alexandria Bibliotek, followed by one showing every step in the construction of the Opera House. We were sitting down, we were warm, and even though most of the speaking was in Norwegian, we watched for over an hour, getting more eager than ever to visit the Opera House in person.

May 27, 2009

Day of the Forgotten Battery

I was sure the camera wasn't broken, but why wasn't it turning on when I pressed the button? And why was the camera so light in my hand? The careful reader will have already realized the title gives it away. After recharging the battery last night I simply forgot to put it back in its little cradle so the days' pictures were not to be.

The first photo I missed was right outside the train station where we went to pick up our Norway in a Nutshell tickets. It was a 20-foot high, brightly colored painting of a huge convertible, probably from the late 50's, with a license plate that said 'Honk, New Jersey'. Now you know how much a picture is worth, but unfortunately these twenty or so words are all I can come up with at the moment. Keep your excitement in check and I'll try for the photo again tomorrow when we go to the station for our trip.

The next photo I missed was an interesting black graphic on an advertising banner, set off by another of those orange walls I like so much. This will probably remain a memory, since I'm not at all sure exactly what route we took to our next destination, the main gate of the Akershus Slott or Castle. We walked past lots of construction, climbed a hill and finally located our first objective, the Norwegian Resistance Museum, which housed a timeline of Nazi occupation and the incredible resistance mounted against them by the Norwegians from 1940-1945. Then it was on to the castle itself, a medieval castle from the 13th century. Though normally open to the public, to quote the guidebook, 'Today the castle's beautiful ballrooms are used by the government for State events', the unfortunate truth on this specific day evidenced by the lock on the door. At least the grounds were lovely to walk through on our way back to yesterday's architecture museum for late lunch in the Cafe Grosch. I got the moules frites and didn't even have to say 'blaskjell'.

All in all, it was a bit of a bad luck day because our planned final museum visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art was also stopped by a bolted door and sign 'Closed for Construction. Reopening May 28.' We filled in with stops at various nearby crafts gallery but didn't really mind getting home early in anticipation of an 8:00 am departure for tomorrow's long day of train, boat and bus touring on the way to Bergen. Fret not however; our spirits remain high.

May 31, 2009

8:11 to 20:34

08:11R Train from Oslo
12:53 To Myrdal
13:27 Train from Myrdal
14:25 To Flam

15:10 Boat from Flam

17:20 To Gudvangen

17:45 Bus from Gudvangen

18:50 To Voss

19:20 Train from Voss

20:34 To Bergen

The pictures tell the story of our journey from one side of Norway to the other, but for ending with a traditional seafood dinner in Bergen and bed at midnight. That my friends, is Norway in a Nutshell.

Day in Bergen

After our late bedtime the night before, we slept in as long as we could without missing the hotel breakfast - a smorgasbord of eggs, potatoes, fresh fruits, vegetables, smoked fish and fish in all kinds of different sauces. I tried a bit of all the different fish preparations but didn't find one I really liked, other than the smoked salmon of course. Then we strolled the town until our train left just after 4 pm. I guess we've become Oslonians (like Buffalonians, ya know?), because we didn't like Bergen nearly as much.

About May 2009

This page contains all entries posted to hey jud in May 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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