Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Our Trip to Norway Part II: Oslo

On Monday, still a holiday in Norway, we went to Vigelandsparken, which is a big park full of Vige's stone sculptures. They are all of naked men and women of all ages, from the smallest babies to the oldest people you can imagine. The only thing missing (as my mother pointed out) is a pregnant woman. It's really impressive--all of the sculptures are life-sized (or maybe just a little bit larger), with a huge obelisk in the center made of hundreds of human bodies. Nearby is a bridge that is decorated with more of Vige's human sculptures, this time in bronze. It is beautiful.

Before Vigelandsparken, we had gone to the Oslo olympic ski jump. We paid 70 Kroner to go to the top. You could take an elevator, but not all the way up! I am completely out of shape, and instead of spending the first two minutes enjoying the amazing view of Oslo, I huffed and puffed and leaned on Jube. I never realized how high ski jumps are! I would be really scared if I were an olympic competitor (although I don't really think I could be, with my legs that hurt just from climbing the jump...). It was very cool.

That evening we ate dinner with my aunt's family. [Aside: One of the things that amazed me about Norway was that everyone spoke English. The man at the newspaper kiosk: perfect English directions to the train station. The waitress in the Chinese restaurant: perfect English explanation of the weird shellfish in my mother's dish. The girl in traditional Norwegian dress: perfect English explaining how to get to a certain bar with a unicorn on the sign where they would explain how to reach a restaurant. I have to admit, I'm glad that France isn't like Norway. I never would have learned French if everyone spoke English! It was nice watching CSI in English, though. Jube was surprised at the differences between the French and American versions; in French, the cops all sound really intellectual, whereas in English they sound more like "cops." Unfortunately, the episode we saw was a 2 parter. I want to know the end!!] Her family was really nice, and we talked about how much to tip waiters in restaurants and that the tips were shared between the cooks and the waiters in Norway.

The next day we went to explore Oslo on our own. We first headed to the Folk Museum, where we saw tons of authentic traditional Norwegian houses, including a gorgeous wooden church. It was really interesting to see how the architecture changed according to the region of the country. After that, we went to the Viking Ship Museum. It was pretty small, with only 2 Viking ships, but really gorgeous. The ships were beautifully presented and the explanations were interesting. Did you know that the only intact Viking ships were those that were used in burial ceremonies? The rich Vikings buried in their ships also took horses and servants along with them. They didn't explain if the horses and servants were alive when the ships were buried. I hope not!

After the museums, we took a ferry to the city center. We went to the National Gallery and were able to see "The Scream" (which is called "Shrik" in Norwegian--much cooler!) and lots of other famous paintings. You may remember that "The Scream" was recently stolen, and it looks the worse for wear. It looks just like a bird pooped on it! (Honestly, I don't know if that's a new stain or not. It did look kind of suspicious, though.)

Stay tuned for the next offering: Bergen and the fjords!


Samantha said...

Sounds fun!

And at least in the hotel/restaurant where I worked one summer, the waiters also shared the tips the made with cooks and the dishwashers...I guess I just assumed it was the same in all French restos, but maybe not. The receptionists and the cleaning ladies shared theirs as well.

jube said...

I just looked at an old book with a picture of the painting in it. It looks like the bird crap was there a long time ago.

Jan Egil Kristiansen said...

Yes, strange, isn't it? With love and generational change as major themes, not one of the ladies look pregnant?

Now, the park is big, and I have never actively searched for pregnant women, so I'm not sure.

Was pregnancy considered too vulgar or un-sexy for public display in those days?