March 28th, 2022 / posted by paularath

Our favorite sculpture in Oslo. It’s a depiction of iconic comedian Gledessprederen. It makes us laugh out loud just to stand in front of it!  Photo by Jerry Mayfield

 

Jo’s House on Bygdoy Island, Oslo, where we stayed. The middle section on the lower floor, with the four pillars, was our apartment. Erik booked it for us, as Jo is a friend of his, and it’s quite close to his home. We loved it!

While our first day in Oslo was a search for my family’s roots deep in the heart of Norway’s farmland, our second day was an urban adventure with Erik Holtedahl as our amazing guide.

Would you believe that Erik rides a bike nearly all the time and all year round? Neither snow, sleet, nor ice deter him. However we are not quite that hale and hearty, nor are we acclimated to icy sidewalks and roads, so we rode the bus with Erik to downtown Oslo. The public transportation is remarkably efficient and inexpensive throughout this well-run city.

In fact, Oslo does everything it can to deter people from driving. Norway is a country that is doing whatever it can to reduce global warming.  Parking is at a premium and it’s a complicated system of small zones which demand that you pay meters each time you change zones. And the paying system is wildly confusing! Gas is about twice the cost of gas in Hawaii. The result? Hardly anyone drives!

Oslo Opera House, on the banks of Bjorvika Waterfront District. It’s part of the beautiful ongoing Fjord City Project.
Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Oslo features many different styles of architecture, which adds to the beauty of its location on the water. Two new buildings are particularly exciting: the Opera House and the Munch Museum. On a less icy day it would be lovely to walk on the roof of the Opera House, but that was not a workable option for us. Instead, we wandered around and through the Opera House with its elegant combination of woods and marbles. It competes with the Sydney Opera House in my opinion.

Munch Museum, photo by Adria Goula

Erik said the Munch Museum has been quite controversial, but I like it. We tried to get entry, but it was sold out so we bought tickets for the next day.

Feeling a bit hungry, we popped into a pub for lunch. But it was a traditional Irish pub and didn’t serve food – only booze. As we were sipping, a group of English lads came bounding in to watch a Manchester United soccer match. They brought the news that, as of 10 a.m. that morning, all Covid restrictions had been lifted in Norway. Whew!

Our extraordinary guide and dear friend Erik Holtedahl, enjoying a beer at the pub.

Would you believe there is a group of Norwegian “Polar Bears” who swim in front of the Opera House every morning year round? Not sure of the water temp, but I know it’s frigid! Erik often swims year round off the island of Bygdoy, near where we stayed in Jo’s House.

We did get into the Munch Museum the next day, and I’m so glad we did. I learned a great deal about Munch!

Unfortunately, most art history courses teach only one Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream.” But there is so much more to this versatile artist! The Munch Museum does a great service in showing his works in many media: lithographs, prints, drawings, watercolors, oils, and more. Here are just two of the Munch pieces I photographed to offer a tiny slice of what awaits in the museum.

A Munch lithograph of his artist friend Hans Jaeger

 

A Munch painting with a very different mood from his most famous work, “The Scream.”

The museum just opened in October, 2021, and it takes advantage of the natural light, as well as all the contemporary knowledge of best practices for a museum. (The only crowded room was the darkened area where “The Scream” lives.) It’s a “must” when in Oslo! And the Museum restaurant is superb. Try the Norwegian potato leek soup!

A traditional Norwegian regional ensemble.

Don’t you love it when you happen upon a new place for the first time and you are treated to a unique cultural experience? That’s what occurred when Erik took us to Oslo City Hall. We walked into the middle of several diverse Norwegian families gathering for a group infant naming ceremony in the beautiful City Hall lobby. The women,  both mothers and Tutus, were wearing the traditional outfits worn by the women from their town or region. Each outfit was quite different, featuring embroidery, trims, ribbons, pendants, aprons, belts – all sorts of different accessories. They were also made of different fabrics, including cotton, wool, velveteen and linen.

Erik said that the traditional garb is having a resurgence and is being worn for all sorts of gatherings and fetes.

Paula Rath

 

 

 

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