Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Taste of Scandinavia

I say a taste because I just dipped my toes in - I popped up to Oslo in Norway for four days to meet E at our mutual friend, Ewan's place. He's been living there for a few months now with his Swedish girlfriend, Sara. 

On Wednesday last week I asked Ewan what he recommended doing in Europe as I had the weekend off. After a few suggestions he mentioned that now is a good time of year for the Northern lights. I immediately wanted to go chasing shiny things in the sky! Unfortunately for E (who very quickly jumped on board) and I they're substantially further north and require more preparation than we had time for, but we decided to visit Ewan anyway and 12 hours later everything was booked. 

E and I met at the airport on Saturday and jumped on a train to the city. I was so excited to show Eleanor Harry Potter in Italian on my Kindle that I promptly left it on the train. 
Not such a great start but I did get it back eventually!

We met Ewan and Sara at their apartment in the afternoon, and went grocery shopping with the idea of camping in the woods that night. We took too long and didn't want to risk walking after sundown so after a quick plan change we went out to a bar after some delicious mac'n'cheese. 

The bar excitingly had vines growing about the place

 The next day we committed to actually  getting out to the forest, so after a late breakfast we packed up and headed out. One awesome thing about Norway is that we could get to the trailhead just using public transport.
 Ewan lent me an awesome hat from Iceland and told us about these sausage things we had to try - it was pretty delicious!

The forest we were exploring is called Ã˜stmarka and it was flaming with autumn colours. Autumn is my favourite season and having been only in cities and heat for quite some time I was bouncing on my toes to get into the forest. The day was crisp and bright and perfect for a forest walk. 

 Though E and I did get slightly nervous following a long discussion of where we were going and how they'd gotten lost last time!

 Then we set off!

It was quite marshy and both Es had fun splashing on the 'bridges'. 

 The walk wasn't very long and we weren't disappointed when we reached the lake. It was perfectly flat, mirror images of the autumn trees on its surface. The place was weirdly silent - not many birds singing.

 We had victory burgers! (Also known as summit burger when on top of a mountain or achievement burgers generally).

Then Ewan and Sara hiked back to town as Sara had work on Monday (she is a real person - unlike us!) and E and I pitched camp. Largely with their borrowed gear - thanks guys!

 E cooked dinner while I gathered firewood.

At one point she fell over then stayed over to stare at the stars. 

Our baby - which didn't photograph so well. 
 It was a pretty cold night and I was glad to get moving again the next day. We packed up and hiked out back to Ewan and Sara's.

 Once back we met Ewan (Sara was doing her 'real person' work thing) and he took us touristing!
I was really excited by autumn colours. 

 First to a viking museum! (Which is apparently pronounced "vee-king")
This would have been at one end of a ship

This is the Oseberg ship - it was the burial ship of two women around 830 AD and was built around 815 AD

This is the Tune ship, from around 900 AD. It was the least well preserved of the three ships. 

This is a wagon which is finely craved and was found on the Oseberg ship. 

 After learning about the warriors of old we caught a bus to Frogner Park, where there are some very interesting statues.

 The statues are naked so that they are timeless and centre around the theme of the human condition.

The scenery in the background is also very pretty, if you can get past the naked man. 
 Quite a few of the statues were surprisingly violent.

We think this one related to interpretive dance in some way. 

I'm a grammar nerd and thought this was cute enough to include. 
 As I've said a few times now, the colours were incredibly vibrant!

I found this particular sculpture a little creepy. 

Love her facial expression!

"Everyone loves boobs. Especially upside down boobs!"

Again, oddly violent. 

 We walked back along the harbour in the direction of home.

 Stopping for a quick jaunt on the roof of the Oslo Opera House.

 We also picked up some ingredients for Taco Tuesday! A tradition from back home, and since it was technically Tuesday in NZ while we were eating it totally counted.
I got up at 3 so I could catch my flight, missed the bus, had a lovely taxi driver chase it down for me, made it, forgot my ticket, had to deal with ryanair ticket reprints but eventually got back to Milan. This Saturday I'm making my way to Tilburg to visit Eleanor in her temporary home so I'll keep you updated!
Also, a little post script I suppose - I went to Norway with very few preconceptions or expectations as it had never featured highly on my list of 'must visit' places and I was really impressed! OK, yes Norway is an expensive country but it's also beautiful, interesting and has lovely people. I'll say the same about Sweden for that last because Sara was lovely!

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