Sunday, July 4, 2010

Best day ever!

Best day ever! Great weather, fun museums, great people, and . . . finally -- swimming in the Oslo Fjord, with lots of waves from the wind. And then a $11 beer in a trendy, seaside beach house with a live techno dj. The good life.  

First, we met up with the group at the school, where they bussed us over to a beachside area of Oslo, jutting into the fjord.  There, we visited the Norwegian Folk museum, an outdoor museum where they brought about 80 historic buildings to the site for others to visit in convenience. The highlight was a wooden stave church, beautifully preserved and perched on top of a hill.  We also were able to visit a farm house from the 1700s, with a hole in the roof (no chimney), apartment buildings from the beginning of the 19th century, cute huts where you could Lefse bread (potato bread) hand made on the fire while you wait.  They had animals, traditional Norwegian dance, a great doll and children's toy museum, and an excellent exhibit on Sami culture, the indigenous people of Northern Norway and Sweden.  I did not know anything about Sami culture previously, so it was important and fascinating for me to learn.  Sadly, the Sami culture have experienced some discrimination in the past, although are still working towards equality in modern Norway.

Afterwards, we walked next door to the very impressive and special Viking Ship museum.  They had two intact Viking Ships and the remains of another.  These boats were from around the year 809!  Amazing sense of awe and history.  They were bured in clay by the sea, which preserved them.  one ship, with the more ornate decoratioins, was used as a pleasure ship -- primarily cruising around the Fjords.  But the other, heartier and slightly larger ship made overseas passages.  They made an exact replica of this ship and sailed it to Boston and back.  Of course, with a small boat, waves are difficult and the journey could not have been pleasant for the Vikings as they traveled in the open air.  It was very intersting to learn and think about the very different lifestyle of these explorers.

Next, we went to one of the most popular beaches in Oslo, Huk.  I asked the ticket agent for help at the museum, and he showed us where to go, so we said farewell to most of the group as they went back on the bus.  The rest of us saw the beautiful beach with impressive coves, inlets, and rocks.  The bright blue sky dotted by puffy clouds provided a stunnning frame for the mountains and islands all around us.  It was quite special.

It was wonderful to people watch and relax with young local Norwegians alongside my international group of friends.  At our table, we had two guys from Romania, a guy from Britain, teaching at a charter school in Sweden, a girl from Turkey, two girls from Spain, and girl from Greece earning her PhD in "Philosophy with Children" at a school in Wales.  We talked about our jobs, our countries, and how much we were enjoying this wonderful day.

Oslo certainly maximizes its close proximity to nature, with gorgeous beaches just a short bus or ferry ride away.  People enjoy picnics by the water (those one time grills again), while children dig in the sand and the adventurous braved the large waves to swim to the cleverly placed pontoon just off shore.  Instead of taking the pier, I walked in over the jagged rocks, which really hurt my feet.  I was also afraid of falling.  But I did notice that the water was so warm.  Even though the temperatures in Oslo rarely climb above 75, this water was very comfortable.  A group of us enjoyed the water and the waves.  My friend Clara from Spain said, "I feel so much better now.  There is something about the water." It's so true.  Nature can really make you feel great.  I was so happy and relaxed.  Bliss.

It was a nice 4th of July Celebration.  I did miss the traditional American celebration, although I celebrated in my own way.  I also think it's funny because the Vikings are thought to be the first explorers to America, so it seemed almost fitting.

[insert pictures later]

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