We spent eight days in Norway and I really fell in love with it. Like, can’t stop thinking about it, googling “Moving to Norway” and “Working as a nurse in Norway” in love. I owe a lot of that to my friend Mette (her husband Petter got called in to work offshore, so unfortunately we missed him). She was an amazing hostess who made us feel right at home. She was incredibly generous, showed us all around, plus we had hours and hours of great conversation. I enjoyed her company a lot and look forward to her and her family visiting us in California soon…Right, Petter and Mette? Norway is incredibly beautiful, with amazing natural scenery, vivid history, interesting art, plus is clean, safe and their social/political system kicks ass.
We spent a few days in Stavanger and then headed to the countryside in Southern Norway, near Risør, to stay in her childhood home. She’s the 5th generation to live in this house and her family has been in the area many generations longer than that. Her mother lived here during the War and they were able to manage by fishing and growing potatoes and things in their garden.
My favorite story though is about her great-great-something-great grandfather. He was a fisherman but also earned money by being a “Pilot”. The waters are very rocky here so the young men would sit on a hill and watch for ships coming into the harbor. When they saw one, they would run to their boats and row as fast as they could. The first one there got the job as the Pilot and earned the pay by guiding the ship in safely.
We walked around Risør, visited the old church (1646AD), and hiked to and swam in a Jettegryte (a hole in the granite formed during an ice age). After a few relaxing days, it was time to say goodbye and we hopped on a bus for Oslo.
We arrived in Oslo with our backpacks and made a quick tour of the Operahuset (Opera house) before walking to our hostel.
Over the next two days we visited several museums plus got a 24 hour pass for Oslo Bysykkel (City Bikes). There are racks all over the city. You can “check out” any bike for 45 minutes at a time. Return it and then get another whenever you want. We had a lot of fun switching between walking, biking, ferry and tram/bus. We saw a lot in 48 hours, but the highlights for me were the Vikingskiphuset (Viking Museum), the Nobels Fredssenter (Nobel Peace Center) and Vigelandsparken (Vigeland Park).
The main attraction of the Viking museum, the Oseberg ship, is an approximately 1200 year old, incredibly well preserved Viking ship. It was in use for maybe 15 years of shorter trips, then was used to bury two very prominent women. It’s unknown if they held spiritual or political distinction, or whether or not the two women were related. But once again, here is an example of women holding places of honor and reverence in this society. They were placed together in a special structure on the deck of the ship with many fine things around them, then the whole thing was buried under a large mound. The moist clay soil preserved the wood and prevented it from decomposing. It was discovered by a farmer in 1903, who thankfully, contacted archeologist Gabriel Gustafson, and excavation began the following summer.
The Nobel Peace Center was small and simple but left me feeling in awe and inspired by the many great people who have made major contributions towards peace. The room that displayed all the recipients was dark, lit only by small, blue lights and the screens of the tablets that showed pictures and a small summary of their accomplishments. It was quiet, except for music, like what you might hear during a massage, and had the feeling of a place of worship. Occasionally, the volume would turn up and an excerpt from an acceptance speech would play, with all the screens changing to display that person. Super cool.
And finally, Vigeland Park. If you haven’t seen his work before, its a little strange and some find it creepy. But maybe you have to be there, I found his sculptures to be beautiful and brilliantly crafted. I connected with them most as a parent and as an adult daughter. To me they show the intimacy and beauty of human connection along with the joy and sorrow of the human experience. There are over 200 sculptures (bronze, granite and wrought iron) in this large park and it is one of Oslo’s biggest attractions.
So, that’s it for our Norway sightseeing! I do have a few more thoughts on their social system that might blow your mind. You know all those wild rumors we hear? Free medical, free college, 5 weeks vacation, a year off after a child is born or adopted …. it’s all true! And there’s more! I think I need to make a separate post just to highlight some of the things I’ve learned. Maybe you’ll start googling too…