Vigelandsparken, Oslo, Norway

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The Vigeland park is a part of the Frogner park in Oslo, Norway. It is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. In this case, Gustav Vigeland. There are more than 200 sculptures in the park made from granite, bronze and wrought iron. Vigeland took part in the layout and architectural design of the park as well. The park was completed between 1939 and 1949, although some of the sculptures are older than this. The park has a 850 metres long axis and the sculptures are mainly in 4 groups along this axis; the Main gate, the Bridge, the Fountain, the Monolith plateau and the Wheel of Life.

Vigeland (1869-1943) came from the town of Mandal, but was sent to school in Oslo as a youth to learn wood carving. When his father died suddenly he came back to Mandal to help his family. He returned to Oslo i 1888. During the years 1891 -1896 he went on several trips abroad and found inspiration from these trips. He work reflects his inspirtion found in the themes of death and the relationship between man and woman.
There was some dispute as to where his grand Fountain should be placed, but in the end it was agreed that it should be in the Frogner park. The other installations followed.  Gustav Vigeland was in his time regarded as the most talented of Norwegian sculptors and had numerous commisions for sculptures and busts.

The Monolith is perhaps the most known of this works in granite in the Vigeland park. At least it’s the one I’ve hard most about. The Monolith itself contains 121 figures and is carved out of one block of grainte, hence the name. Mono = one and litho = stone. The height of the Monolith itself is 17.3m. The Monolith is situated at the highest plateu of the Vigeland park. In addtition to the Monolith there are 36 figure groups on the monolith plateu. The theme is the circle of life and depiction typical human situations and relationships.

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The Fountain has the longest story of any of the installations in the park. Starting back in 1906 and being completed in 1936. The installation of the Fountain itself wasn’t completed untill 1947, after Vigelands death. The 20 tree groups tells about life from cradle to grave while the reliefs along the side of the fountain tells about the enternal lifecycle of mankind.

 

The bridge has 58 sculptures in bronze, is 100m long and 15m wide. It was the first to be installed in the park, but the last to be designed by Vigeland. The bronze sculptures depicts the relationships between man and woman, adults and children. The most popular and well known is Sinnataggen – little Angry boy. Although he is far from the biggest sculpture, nor the easiest to spot.

If you ever visit Oslo, I reccomend a trip to the Frogner park, and the Vigeland park in particular. It is open all year round and has no entrance fee. It is an open public park. Even if you aren’t all that into the art itself, it is a very nice walk.

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Nature hikes in lower Telemark, Norway

2015 wasn’t a very exciting year travelwise. Sometimes other things get in the way of getting anywere new. However we did go on several daylong or at the least hours long hikes in the nearby area. Hiking up a mountain or hill, usually through a forest, has given us many good memories. And not the least some good exercise too!

I love the fact that nature is everywhere in Norway. Woodlands,  forests, lakes, ponds, streams, small rivers, waterfalls, hills, peaks and mountains.  There is no excuse for not getting out and just wander about.  Whether you like the forest were your chances of meeting other people is slim,  or you would rather enjoy a popular path to treck,  the experience isn’t far away.  Not even if your starting point is one of the bigger cities or towns.

Last year we went on several of the routes suggested på Titoppern Grenland (which means ten peaks Grenland) which list 15 peaks in the Grenland area.  Unfortunately we had to stop at 7 peaks (ten is the goal) as Truls’ knee didn’t like going downhill anymore that season.  We’ll try again this year.

 

In addition to these peaks we had several nice walks in the forest that literally starts at our doorstep.  We may walk a round through that forest, and up a steep hill around a small lake and ending up back home. It is about 9km and takes us a few hours. I like the treck, others might find it a bit overgrown for their taste.

 

We look forward to the nice hikes we’ll have in 2016!

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Sunset at the end of one of our hikes

Bergen Aquarium, western Norway

The Bergen Aquarium opened the 27th of August 1960 and at that  point it was the largest and most modern Aquarium in Northern Europe.  Since then it has been updated a few times and new collections added. Today it has more than 60 aquariums and sports more than 300 species. It’s main focus is still on the sea life along Norway’s coast. It does have a tropical section as well. And more recently it has added a reptile collection, a spider display and they do have som mammals and birds too. The birds, more specificly the penguins, was one of the main reasons we went for a visit as Truls really wanted to see the penguins. Bergen Aquarium has had penguins since the 1970’s. One of the first ones was the Southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes crestatus) Rocky who arrived in 1974 and lived to be 29 years and 4 months old and with this was the oldest penguin in captivity.

The Bergen aquarium has a mission statement: “to spread knowledge about sea life and to give the visitors a representative view of Norwegian marine fauna and an instructive introduction to the animal life in the ocean with the purpose to increase the knowledge about animal life  in the ocean as well as induce interest and understanding of the foundations for Norwegian fishing, hunting and aquaculture”

Going through the main entrance the first thing that greats us are pengiuns! The species of penguin that reside at the aquarium today are Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua). The Gentoos are easilly recognised by the white stripe extending across the top of its head as a bonnet and the bright orange-red bill. They will grow up to 51-90 cm in height and is the third largest spieces after the two giants; emperor and king penguin.  In the wild they  have their main breeding colonies in the sub-Antartic on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Island.  They eat mainly crustaceans, krill being one of the main sources, as well as fish and squid.  They are a near threatened species due to a rapid decline in some key populations.

We also meet sealions who put on a show,  and a Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) called Selma outside. Selma had just become a lone seal as her mate Vitus earlier in 2015.


Inside we first encounter a pond with starfish, sand crabs and other shoreline animals. These we could pick up and explore. We then entered the section of the Norwegian waters before wandring into the tropical sections of the aquariums.

 

The reptile section and spider display was news for me. I have visited the Aquarium a few times in the past, but this section had the biggest change since my last visit. I really like reptiles and find them fascinating. We are not allowed to keep any reptile or amphibians as pets in Norway, which is fine by me as it leaves some temptations out of reach.

 

Last, we of course needed to bring something back from our trip to Bergen. Our choice was a stuffend animal. A Harbour seal, and we call ours Selma as well. We do love stuffed animals too, not only live ones. We see no reason to grow out of them.

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Rainy Bergen, western Norway

Bergen, the “western capital” of Norway. Founded by Olav Kyrre (1050 – 1093) in 1070, and at that point the name was Bjørgvin. Bjørgvin is from Norse and means “the green field among the mountains”. Olav Kyrre was the son of Harald Hardråde (Hardrada in English). He was in his father’s army when he went to England, but didn’t participate in the battle at Stamford bridge in 1066. When Olav came back to Norway he was instated as a king together with his elder brother by two years, Magnus. Magnus died already in 1069 and Olav became the only king. Probably at this time he got his name “Kyrre” which means “the peaceful”. Under Olav’s ruling the kingdom of Norway had a peaceful time, so his name fits him well.

Bergen is the “rainy capital” of Norway as well sporting an yearly average precipitation of 2 250 mm. It’s not the wettest place in Norway, but it is the best known town for it’s rainy days.  And I guess we managed to hit a couple of those rainy days on our trip to Bergen.

Driving from our home to Bergen takes about 7 hours over through valleys and over mountain passes around 380km of Norwgian curvy roads. It makes for slow going and some great views. Mountains, fjords, waterfalls and… long tunnels. Rather boring those tunnels.  We went to Bergen from the 10th to the 12th of April 2015

 

We wanted to go to the top of the mountain Ulriken, the tallest of the 7 mountains surrounding Bergen with an altitude of 642m. It it was rather windy, and rainy day and  the aerial tramway to the top didn’t go. We figuered out we rather go for a hike with the dogs part of the way to the top. We wouldn’t see much from the top anyway. But at least we got some exercise going uphill and then downhill.

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Me, from the hike up towards Ulriken

After this exercise food was on the program. We parked our car at Bystasjonen, a meeting point for busses, the train to Bergen and with good parking space for cars. The walk from Bygarasjen to down town Bergen meant we walked by Lille lungegårdsvann, one of the sites to see in Bergen. Today “Smålungeren” as the people from Bergen call it, looks like an artificial pond. However it was originally a part of one of the fjords surrounding Bergen called Puddefjorden.

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Lille Lungegårdsvann, stilly rainy. And Truls feels rather cold.

 

We went for walk down Bryggen with Bergen’s most iconic houses (see top photo). Wooden buildings from 1702. They are on the UNESCO world heritage site list.
Then, finally food! Nothing too fancy, a pizza from Peppe’s – one of the pizza chains in Norway. And the one at least I like the best. Being out of the rain and able to dry  up a bit as well as getting warm wasn’t too bad either.

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Pizza!

 

The following morning we were met by this: Hail! Lots of it!

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Hail!

 

This day we also visited the Aquarium in Bergen. More about that visit in another blogpost.

Then it was time to turn our noses around and go back home.  We started out in rain. Went up the hills and curvy roads and met up with heavy snow and wind accross the highest mountain pass. Not the best driving weather. Getting on “the right side of the mountains”. Which means east of the mountains were we live, the weather changed character completly and it was both warmer and a late afternoon sun. This is quite typical of Norway’s weather. Most of the winds and rain comes accross the Atlantic and hit the west coast of Norway. The mountains reaching more than 1000 metres above sea level stoppes the rainfilled clouds and winds passing to the east. Making for a dryer weather in the eastern parts of Norway.

Our first vaccation – part III: Norway

 

Part III:  Norway

from the 4th of Augut to the 7th of August

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Welcome to Norway!

 

After our visit to Nordens Ark we drove back home to Norway. We didn’t make any stops between the border and the summerhouse of my parents. My parents had taken care of our keeper puppies and an unsold brother for the duration of our vaccation and we couldn’t wait to see them again.

Having picked up the puppies we drove home, picked up the adults and had a few relaxing days. We also went back down the the summer house for a bit of swimming in the fjord and being social with my parents, sister and nephew.