The Norwegians Know

Panoramic view of Bergen

Erik, my Norwegian friend from Oslo, suggested I take the Fløyen train – which takes you uphill to the highest point in Bergen – for an unmissable panoramic view of the city. He even gave me an update on the weather forecast and a thumbs up – excellent visibility, and he’s right – Bergen is sunny and bright today. Anyway, of course I couldn’t not heed his advice (he’s Norwegian and he knows) and made my way to the Fløyen station. Continue Reading

Loud Norwegians

Bergen. Very different to Oslo. Its (275,000) Norwegian people are also different. No one’s reserved and everyone’s loud! In a good way! Maybe it has to do with Bergen’s history. In the Middle Ages, Bergen was a major European trading and seafaring port. These still play an important part in Bergen’s economy as well other sectors like tourism, fisheries and other industries. It is home to the famous composer Edvard Grieg, and to thousands of university students. There’s cheerful Bryggen which is a World Heritage Site. See the photo with colourful buildings lined up perfectly?

Bryggen

That’s Bryggen.  It consists of old Hanseatic wharf and buildings and they are all unchanged and built on foundations that had been there since the 12th century (despite the great fire of 1702 which reduced the city to ashes).

Hanseatic Wharf

Continue Reading

The Flat Village-Valley

Flåm, a flat village in a heavenly valley surrounded by spectacular mountains peaks, in Flåmsdalen, Norway. Not more than 400 people live here permanently. Here you will find the Fläm river, tiny farm houses, hiking and cycling trails, 2 hotels – the one I’m staying in is the charming Flaamsbrygga hotel with its own famous brewery! I just finished exploring the place and walked 4km to the other side of the valley and 4km back. Every 100 steps or so the stunning panorama changes! There are numerous little streams of crystal clear water gushing out of the mountains – quite surreal. What I found so unique about the place is that it drizzles every half an hour or so and a rainbow just appears, creating myriads of happy hopeful colours all around! It’s so picturesque, and it’s just astounding how the mountains change into light and dark brilliant green when the sun appears and disappears and how the clarity of the Fläm river creates a mirror image of its surroundings! In a few hours I will take an express boat for a 5-hour cruise through the fjords of Norway. My next destination is Bergen! Another jewel of a place apparently. Will keep you posted!

The Express Train to Myrdal

God has been so kind to me. He has shown me a new side of Earth that I’ve never seen before and I may have never seen it if He had not gifted me with two wonderful traits that I am sincerely grateful for: Curiosity and determination. Because of my curiosity, I have a passion for enquiring and learning about new places and cultures, and because of my determination I take a step further and quench my curious thirst for discovery and make it a reality!

I took the express train from Oslo for a 5-hour ride to Myrdal. From Myrdal I switched trains and rode the 20-kilometre Flåm Line between Flåm and Myrdal, one of the steepest railway tracks at 1 in 18 in the world, with never ending spirals and 180 degrees of breathtaking views! The most stunning views ever and when you experience so many beautiful places in your lifetime it’s sometimes challenging to stay amazed. But amazed I was! The whole train ride was an experience in itself. The train was wooden and looked so traditional, and the station from where the train received us was small, ‘cute’, and freezing! The train ride was buzzing with camera clicks and ‘Wows’ from passengers! I think I joined the ‘wow’ symphony myself at some point! Gorgeous Fjords, snow residue everywhere, large amounts of snow elsewhere, lakes, frozen lakes, waterfalls, long streams, rivers, water gushes, mountains, white mountains, green mountains, grey and white mountains. Simply Beautiful.

Erik’s Oslo

Few highlights on my Oslo trip before I tell you about one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Still in Norway but far away from Oslo. More on that later.

In Oslo –

Erik, whom I’ve met in Germany 6 years ago, showed me the best of his city. With him I experienced an Oslo for the Norwegians. I had rain deer for dinner in a charming restaurant up on the hills, in an area called Holmenkollen. From Erik I learnt new things. For example, I didn’t know that cross-country skiing is a big thing in Norway! They have slopes catered for that and for ski jumping and skiing – all in the heart of Oslo. He even showed me where it’s done – if only the fog allowed for better viewing! From him I understood a little bit about the nature of Norwegians and how their proximity to nature and their history made them the way they are. He had a unique and romantic way of explaining it. The few hours I spent with Erik were a beautiful introduction to Norwegians and Norwegian ways. Thank you Erik for teaching me new things, for your generosity and kindness.  Continue Reading

Symbols and Sculptures

The Sculpture Park of Oslo: This is the place I fell in love with. I love greenery, I love sculptures and I love what Gustav Vigeland did. He is an absolute genius and he didn’t even live long enough to witness his own glory. He created a symbol of the ‘circle of life’ using different sculptures! Just look at the impressive details and the brilliance of his work. So each individual sculpture represents a stage in man’s life: from birth to old age. So there’s childhood, puberty, middle-age etc. Then there’s the gorgeous fountain. That fountain is basically a main bowl, different people supporting different bowls, and water spilling over the main bowl. The bowls being supported by the people represent the ‘burden of life’ and the water spilling over the main bowl is the ‘source of life’. Go down further and you’ll find a bridge: the ‘human relations bridge’ or at least that’s what I call it.  Each sculpture on the bridge represents all forms and displays of relationships. So you’ll find a man and woman fighting, there’s dancing, playing, loving and so on. The most famous one is the crying baby! He is known as the Angry Baby Boy! It took the artist more time sculpting that baby than any other sculpture you’ll find there! It’s full of expression as it stands there alone in the corner. Now if you go back to the fountain area and you look down at the floor you’ll find a labyrinth which is a symbol of the ‘twists and turns of life’. And if you follow its path it will take you to the highest point of the ‘circle of life’ where you can find me and the umbrella! That highest point right at the top symbolises ‘heaven’! Now isn’t that something?