as an end-of-the semester treat, scan|design arranged a trip to norway for us (‘thank you, scan|design!’). we took the ferry (= cruise ship) from copenhagen to oslo, and then marianne, our intrepid mentor, showed us around lillehammer and and the capital for three days. our trip coincided with norway’s national day, may 17, so we got to see traditional costumes, parades, and lots of other celebratory goings-on. in lillehammer, we got to visit maihaugen, an open-air museum that had an exhibit on norwegian history as well as several examples of traditional wooden buildings. after our day in lillehammer, we took the train back to oslo, where we visited the vigeland sculpture park (which i visited last november and love) and the newly opened operahuset, which was fantastic (and i have to say better than copenhagen’s…particularly in a roof-to-roof comparison). we had a great time, ate some delicious lefse, sampled different foods-in-a-tube (including, yes, the always-wonderful nugatti), and enjoyed some blueberry muffin ice cream at anker brygge, oslo’s new harbourfront development/restored warehouse district. having visited norway once in the winter, it was really nice to be able to see what the landscape, and oslo, were like in the spring. i was really impressed with the city – and got to see many places that i hadn’t visited before. it was also nice to be there for the national day and to learn a bit about norway’s historical ties to denmark. so again, ‘thanks, scan|design…!’

okay, back to the norwegian adventure…at the suggestion of friends, kari and i decided to squeeze a fjord tour into our itinerary. this was probably the best thing we did the whole trip, and i would highly recommend it for anyone who finds themselves in the great scandinavian north. it involved a breathtakingly scenic train route from bergen to myrdal, the most beautiful i’ve experienced in europe (and i’ve been through switzerland).  the water in the fjords was so still and clear, there were moments that i actually got vertigo from looking down into the reflections of perfectly crisp and upside-down mountain ranges. it was amazing. we then hopped on a boat for a tour of the aurlandsfjord. because we did crazily decide to do this trip in november, there were a few issues with fog and ice (our boat had to perform some ice-breaking functions that i’m pretty sure it was not intended to do, and the mountains hid behind the fog for the beginning of the tour). however, once the fog cleared, the views were fantastic. i was actually glad that we got to see the fjords in the winter – the lack of color in the landscape plus the fog that was hiding the meeting point between mountains and water made the whole experience kind of otherworldly and surreal. my usual approach to travel in new countries is to spend time in the cities…and although oslo and bergen were great, i can’t help but feeling that norway is really more about the landscape than the urban areas. now for fjord photos!

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reflection in aurlandsfjord

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the fjord looked more like this at the beginning of the tour- foggy!

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…and icy!

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the fog begins to clear…

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foggy, foggy/and finally some clear sky! yay!

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me and kari on the aurlandsfjord!

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after our fjord tour, we returned to bergen, which was very fun. kari was able to look up her norwegian ancestors at the stadsarkivet, and we got to see the handwritten records of her great-grandfather’s departure for america. bergen is a very picturesque town – lots of houses built on the steep mountainside, and a great harbour. here are some of my favorite bergen photos:

so we’re back from norway…wow! there’s a lot to tell, so this trip gets two installments. what an incredible country – the landscape was breathtaking, which was a bit of a change for me, who has studied in denmark and the netherlands, perhaps the flattest countries around. we actually spent a lot of time traveling by train and bus and seeing natural sights than we spent in cities, which is new for me. but i think that when visiting norway, this is definitely the way to go. kari and i took a cruise ship from copenhagen to oslo and got to spend one day (and few precious hours of daylight) in oslo. the day was definitely well-spent, though! we went to see the gustav vigeland sculptures at frogner park: 75 acres, 18 years of work by one artist, 600 nude bronze and granite sculptures. it’s kind of overwhelming…and beautiful! there is a loose “cycle of life” theme to the work – there are figures of all ages, and several pieces focus on the intertwining of bodies and interactions between the ages. many of the figures are in motion, or balancing/interacting with one another in some way. they’re stylized but very human, both in stature (though a bit larger than me – norwegians, maybe?) and in expression.  this park was vigeland’s life’s work, and a gift to the city of oslo.
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bridge of sculptures

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figures in motion

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steps leading up to the monolith

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the park’s centerpiece: 121 figures carved out of a single block of granite; the “people pillar”

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decorative gates

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fountain/more gates

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an example of the “cycle of life” motif

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some favorite sculptural pairs

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here are a few more photos from oslo…we didn’t get a chance to see a lot, but i just found out that i might be able to return in the spring as part of my scan|design program, so i’m very excited for that.   stay posted for part two: bergen and the farther (snowier) north!

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my friend kari and i are off to norway for a week or so…oslo and bergen! we’re excited, and although there will be no blogging for a while, i’ll be back in force with lots of travel photos after thanksgiving. hope everyone is well, and have a happy turkey day! vi ses/see you soon!