My niece is the consummate tour guide, and she wisely scheduled the Norsk Folkemuseum as our first outing. Presenting life in Norway from 1500 to present day, it provided context for sights we would see later in our visit. The museum holds artefacts ranging from humble everyday tools to precious cultural treasures. The Open-Air portion features 160 historic buildings relocated to museum grounds over the years. It was not difficult to while away most of a day exploring this vast institution.
Left: Sami clothing; Sami are generally considered as the aboriginal
people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia
Upper right: Map showing seasonal movement of the East Sami,
following food resources such as salmon and reindeer
Rosemaling, the decorative folk painting of Norway, began in the low-land
areas of eastern Norway about 1750. Lower right: Tapestries.
Upper left: Lefse; Upper right: logging cabin
Lower left: Hayloft; Lower right: fencing
I thoroughly enjoyed observing the museum 'staff' making lefse, a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread. As you can seen in the video below, it is cooked on a large, flat griddle. Special tools are used to prepare lefse, including long wooden turning sticks and special rolling pins with deep grooves. Yummy!
Queen Maud - spouse of King
Haakon VII. She was the youngest
daughter of the British King Edward VII
and Alexandra of Denmark.
|National Theatre and surrounding gardens|
When my niece explained that Norwegians have an afternoon tradition of 'coffee and cake', we certainly did not need any encouragement to join in. (You MIGHT just see a few more 'coffee and cake' shots in the rest of this post.)
Fortified, we strolled the ramparts of Akershus Festning (fortress), one of the 15 national defense structures. Within the fortress grounds is a medieval castle that was built to protect Oslo, the capital of Norway, and provide a royal residence. The castle has also been used as a military base, a prison and government offices.
We were quickly yanked back to present day as we turned a corner and the ultra-modern Opera House came into view. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with marble from Carrara, Italy, along with white granite, and make it appear to rise from the water. Interestingly, visitors are encouraged to walk on these surfaces, which rise as the roof of the structure. Norwegian nature is free for everyone to walk in, and the Oslo Opera House, which opened in 2008, was built as an extension of this idea.
|(Note cranes in the background - construction is a healthy industry in Oslo!)|
Speaking of Norwegian nature: Norwegians don't have a direct translation for 'hiking' - they call it 'walking'. In the end, I'll call it whatever they want if it all leads to the spectacular views we enjoyed on two of our 'walks'.
Our third walk, Gaustatoppen, took place on a rainy day, and although the poor visibility hindered our view of the mountain and the surrounding vistas, it was actually a pleasant change from the heat we had been experiencing throughout our holiday in the UK and Norway. By the time we reached the peak, the waffle and coffee at the Turisthytte (Tourist Cabin) was a very welcome warmer-upper for chilled hands.
Gaustatoppen is made of quartzite, one of the toughest rocks on earth. It has been eroding very slowly for the last
1000 million years (that's not a typo).
(On the way to Gaustatoppen, we passed Heddal Stavkirke. Of course, we had to stop.) As you can see below, the church is in a large valley, primarily surrounded by farms. A truly stunning location - and a miracle that it has survived since its construction in the 13th century. Heddal Stavkirke is the largest of Norway's 30 remaining stave churches, and the only one with three towers.
It should come as no surprise that Norway operates numerous ferries as part of the public transportation system … they have a lot of waterways! How appropriate to climb aboard a ferry for a day trip to Oscarsborg Fortress.
Situated on a set of narrows along the coast of the Oslofjord, the fortress was charged with the naval defense of Oslo and its Palace. Completed in 1853, the fortress is best known for sinking the German heavy cruiser Blucher on April 9, 1940. At that time, the fortress' armaments were over 40 years old, and of German origin. Both the guns and the torpedo battery operated flawlessly when Oscarsborg was approached by one of the German invasion flotillas; they sank the Blucher, and threw back the German naval force heading for Oslo, thus managing to save the Norwegian King and government from imprisonment.
Of course, we had to wrap the day with cake and coffee, in a café overlooking the marina where we caught the ferry in the morning.
No vacation is complete without sampling local foodstuffs (beyond cake!) Before we arrived, our niece warned us that Norway does not have much of a national cuisine, rather having adopted food styles from all over the world. Perhaps the most unique item we ate was 'brown cheese', which she served with waffles. The tan-colored 'whey cheese' has a distinctive caramel flavor and is made by boiling down the whey of milk (cow, goat or otherwise), which caramelizes the sugars. After cooling into a block, you have sliceable 'brown cheese'.
So, did you learn something new about Norway? I did. It is a country that seamlessly blends ancient and modern, most visible in its architecture. For a small nation, it excelled with its national defense system, ably demonstrated during WWI. They honor the individual while preserving a strong democracy. And they take the time to savor "kaffe med kake"!
Our World Tuesday
Sharon's Photo Souvenirs