blogging, Travel

Friendly Friday – Meet Olav in Norway

Back in 2004, I jumped on a subway train in Norway. It was my first time visiting the country that was to steal my heart. I had little knowledge of where I was going that day, or what would happen, other than I was headed for a ski jump outside of Oslo, which had panoramic views and a ski museum.

oslo
Oslo, Norway

Meeting Norwegians

You know that feeling of confusion you have when orientating yourself on a public transport network, in a new city. I felt like that. With the aid of some young Norwegians, my young son and I found the platform and the unmanned train – a curiosity for us, as there are no metros in Australia.

Without station reminders or announcements, we sized up the young passenger sitting opposite for advice on when to depart the train, in order to go to Holmenkollen station and ski jump. The passenger was not only keen to help out with the required information, but offered to take us home for dinner and to meet his family! I politely declined the invitation, but thought how open and kind Norwegians were. Albeit a little too friendly towards strangers.

Believe it or not, that summer in Oslo was hot, especially after walking for several kilometres up Norwegian roads with a laden backpack from Holmenkollen station. It may have been a bit of jet lag, but I was tired.

Walking to Holmenkollen Ski Jump

After walking those few kilometres, or so it seemed, I spotted the ski jump ahead, and also the road to it winding round and round the mountain for another kilometre or so. If you have traveled with kids, you’ll relate to questions like: – Are we there yet? How much further etc. etc. My son was a stoic, but I feel sure he was making plenty of facial grimaces behind my back.

It was with that thought in mind that I spotted a narrow walking track up a grassy slope on the side of the road, that appeared to lead directly to the ski jump, I thought a short cut would save us time and energy.

With only a slight hesitation, my 11 year old and I took the track up the grassy slope.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

A little over halfway up the hill, with images of mountain goats flitting through my mind, I pondered what I, as a 41 year old Aussie Mum, was doing. I wasn’t young and fit anymore. No sooner had I thought that, than I had to reach my hands forward to the ground, as I climbed, just to maintain balance.

Oh uh, Mum. It is getting steep, really steep.” I heard from my son.

Don’t stop now, we’re so close to the top; just keep going,” I urged him, not wanting to lose any of my forward momentum, lest the slope become too much, for me.

At that moment, ‘Olav,’ who had, in all possibility, been trained during the Nazi occupation of Norway, appeared at the crest of the hill, standing feet astride, hands on hips, in an authoritative stance.

He boomed out at me, in English, “You can’t come up here. Go back!”

Oh, wait – Why not? I said as I scrambled the last few steps of the slope. “I mean, I’ve paid already. I have an Oslo Card,” fumbling in my pocket for the 48 hour tourist card that allows a visit, to any tourist attraction in Oslo, for one pre-paid charge.

Olav, his name emblazoned boldly on his badge, in ‘Arial black font’, glared at me.

I prattled on, stupidly thinking he had misunderstood. “Oh – you Norwegians. I thought you were all so nice and welcoming….” I stopped mid-sentence thinking how silly that sounded.

To which Olav repeated his intimidating mantra a little louder this time,

“GO BACK. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE COME THIS WAY.”

A sickening feeling of guilt crept into my throat as I realized that the short cut path we had taken, that would save us some time and energy, had NOT led us to the entrance of the ski jump, but had in fact, led us inside the museum itself. Olav thought we were trying to gatecrash, without paying.

A quiet Aussie accent reached my ear. “Let’s just go back, Mum.”

I turned to my son, “Yeah okay, I made a mistake; we’ll just go down again and walk the long way around.

I took a few steps off the edge of the slope and was shocked to see just how precipitous a slope, we had scrambled up. I nearly lost my balance, just looking down.

It dawned on me that going down was not even going to be difficult, it was going to be downright dangerous, especially carrying a heavy backpack. I could see that one of us would surely slip and potentially break a leg or something. Any alternative was better than that.

Gathering courage I didn’t know I had, I turned back again towards Olav, his implacable face and overly muscular body still blocking my way into the ski jump museum.

“Look – I’m really, really sorry, I just can’t go down that way. I’m more than happy to pay a second entrance fee, if you want. I never intended to avoid payment or do anything wrong. I am from Australia, I didn’t know.” I was blabbering quickly now, like a child caught with his hand in the candy jar.

“I am more than happy to buy another ticket. I do have an Oslo card, so it’s all paid for, already.”

I hadn’t explained myself well, as Olav remained unconvinced.

“Then why did you come up this way?” he spat.

Because, I thought this path was a short cut.

He looked bemused. I started to consider whether the phrase, “short cut,” might be lost in translation. So I continued:

It is so very hot today and I thought it would save us walking in the heat.” Olav’s face showed no indication of relenting.

Mum, c’mon let’s just go.” My son started walking down the precipitous slope again. I wavered.

What should I do? It was clear that Olav was not ‘feeling the love,’ the other Norwegians had shown us, so I made a bold decision. Fight or flight must have taken over.

After muttering under my breath to give myself courage, I said:

Look, I’m not going to potentially break my leg going down there, when I have already paid to go into the museum,” I said with as little nervous emotion as I could muster, at that moment.

So, I’m just going to run over there to the ticket office and thrust my Oslo card at the attendant, cos I can’t, I just can’t go back down that slope.

Why not?” – Olav again.

I’m terrified I will fall.”

Okay, then,” was his final response. To my complete surprise, he turned his back and walked away.

I literally ran over to the ticket office, to show them my Oslo card, my heart beating wildly for the next ten minutes, or so.

There was an awkward moment when we spotted Olav again, in another part of the exhibit, but he remained silent, a serious nod to us the only acknowledgement of our previous terse interaction.

Travel Note: The Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum has been renovated and is in a slightly different location than 2004.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Meet One Person

This is not my typical travel story, but as this is Sarah’s first week hosting the Friendly Friendly Blog Challenge, I wanted to post an interesting story of someone I had met in my travels.

Have you met someone interesting on your travels and wish to share a story or photograph about it? Someone who might be a little friendlier than Olav?

In her post, Sarah writes about her guide in Senegal, called Cheikh.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge

Sandy and I would love your support in welcoming Sarah, the new co-host of Friendly Fridays.

I will be back hosting the challenge again on Friday 13th August.

poppies in norway against a rock wall
blogging, Environment

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Wildflowers

Keukenhof is spectacular in bloom, Toowoomba is stunning during the Carnival of Flowers, as is Japan in Cherry Blossom season, but right now I’m thinking of Wildflowers, especially those that grow in the most unlikely or unusual places.

To say, I was initially surprised, to spot blossoms hard-to-grow-in-Australia, growing spontaneously, by the road in the coldest of countries, was an understatement!

These beauties were busting their glorious blaze of colour beside a street light in Helsinki, beside a bridge support, or vacant hillside in Norway, or idly cheering up an industrial lot in Denmark; their location was a mere afterthought of nature, thriving as they were, with ne’er a green finger or hint of fertilizer, in sight.

Knowing their time was short, these blooms took full advantage of the extended summer sunlight, exploding into intense hues that had me gawping at their vibrant intensity. Even simple grasses and weeds seemed aesthetic.

Enchanting architecture and backdrops increased the aesthetic appeal of the wildflowers.

Wildflowers on the roof in Sunnfjord, Norway

What are these flowers called? Does anyone know them? They were almost buried in a patch of grass in a disused paddock.

Here in my country, the native flowers are showing their best winter coat.

Unusually for Australia, parts of our country are in a snap Covid lockdown and due to that fact and it being winter, it’s more difficult to get out and appreciate the world, but not impossible, and there’s always the archives, isn’t there? The native blooms such as Banksia, Swamp Mahogany and Xanthostemon put on a display.

WordPress has added a feature in the image photo block where by you can add a tonal colour to your photos, using shadows or highlights. Why not try this out this fortnight? It is a blogging challenge is something in which both hemispheres of the world can participate, no matter the season.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Prompt – Wildflowers

Breaking News – Third Host for the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Team

Sandy and I have been having a ball hosting the Friendly Friday Challenge, we’re really excited to welcome Sarah from the blog, Travel with Me, to our Blogging Challenge team, as host, every six weeks. Sarah is a blogger who loves landscape, architecture, wildlife and street photography. Here is a little more about Sarah:

Those of us with the means and inclination to, [travel], are rewarded with amazing opportunities to learn about different cultures, different landscapes, different environments. And in seeing those differences I think we discover something very important, which is that however different our lifestyles, at heart people have more in common than you might think. We learn to value diversity, to respect other viewpoints and to rejoice in our similarities ~ Sarah

www.toonsarah-travels.blog/who-am-i/

Sarah will be posting the next Friendly Friday prompt in two weeks time, ie. Friday 16th July, over at her blog, Travel with Me. She will concentrate on a particular theme for her prompts. Are you curious to see what that theme might be? Sarah will be posting clues on her blog, next week, so keep an eye out for that post.

Find the next challenge at: toonsarah-travels.blog/

Instructions for Joining the Friendly Friday Blogging Challenge

  • Write and publish a post inspired by the prompt, remembering this is a challenge not restricted to photography only. It can be a recipe, story, (fiction or non-fiction), or art in visuals or words: For this prompt it might be a snippet or anecdote of somewhere you visited or even an image of a pressed wildflower you may have received long ago. You are only limited by your imagination.
  • Please remember to Tag your post – ‘Friendly Friday.’
  • Include a ping-back* to this blog post adding a comment, (with the url of your published post), here on this post.

*NB. You must ping-back to this WordPress post itself, as link or ping-backs to the home page of a WordPress blog doesn’t trigger a notification to the host blogger. That’s why posting a comment here is good practice, so that your hosts can always find your post.

This Friendly Friday Wildflower Challenge runs until 15th July.

Friendly Friday Challenge 16th July – Host Blogger Sarah at Travel with Me

Friendly Friday Challenge 30th July – Host Blogger Sandy at The Sandy Chronicles.

Further instructions on joining in are found on the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Page.

snowy mountains
History & Traditions, Travel

Mirror Mirror on the Mountain

Norwegians are obsessed with sunlight. They talk about it endlessly and watch and wait in the New Year, for the light to come a little earlier each day heralding the onset of an early spring.

Obsessed?

Quite possibly. Most of us are familiar with the winter blues, associated lack of sunlight and how it can alter our bodily processes, mood, energy and appetite. Some of us might even know how our thyroid gland, melatonin and serotonin levels change in winter, explaining the physiological reason for tiredness and low mood.

According to Daniel Kripke, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, when melatonin strikes a region of the brain called the hypothalamus, this alters the synthesis of another hormone – active thyroid hormone – that regulates all sorts of behaviours and bodily processes.

Bright light – particularly in the early morning appears to reverse these symptoms.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The winter darkness is harsh in the town of Rjukan, situated in one of Norway’s steepest valleys. More famous for heavy water production in World War II, for half a year, Ryukan is the town where the sun didn’t shine. That is, until something changed.

When the factory workers began to suffer from a lack of sun, Norsk Hydropower constructed a cable car to take them to the top of neighbouring Gaustatoppen, a mountain with a sheer 1,800-metre peak, so that workers could bathe in the sunlight!

Royalty free image

Imagine an employer taking such an action anywhere else in the world?

This was big.

Yet, this wasn’t enough for the town’s people.

I felt it very physically; I didn’t want to be in the shade.

Martin Andersen, Ryukan resident https://www.highbrowmagazine.com/10920-how-town-norway-copes-winter-depression

An idea was floated to use large rotatable mirrors on the northern side of the valley above Rjukan, to collect the sunlight and direct it down over the town.

It seemed crazy.

Martin Andersen thought differently.

He applied for and obtained a grant to develop a mirror that turns with the Sun while continually reflecting light into Rjukan town square.

Sunlight reflects off the three giant mirrors.
Photograph: The Guardian

Whilst only directing light into the town, for a maximum of two hours, in the darkest month of January, it has been well received by residents and Ryukan has a new tourist attraction.

Rjukan's market square basks in the light beamed down by the three mirrors.

“It’s the sun!” grins Ingrid Sparbo, disbelievingly, lifting her face to the light and closing her eyes against the glare. A retired secretary, Sparbo has lived all her life in Rjukan and says people “do sort of get used to the shade. You end up not thinking about it, really. But this … This is so warming. Not just physically, but mentally. It’s mentally warming.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/06/rjukan-sun-norway-town-mirrors

Overcoming Depression without the Sun

Tromso lies 400km north of the Arctic Circle. Many Norwegians take extra Vitamin D tablets but some Northern dwellers seem to have an edge without the need for tablets.

Winter in Tromso is dark – the Sun doesn’t even rise above the horizon between 21 November and 21 January. Yet strangely, despite its high latitude, studies have found no difference between rates of mental distress in winter and summer. One suggestion is that this apparent resistance to winter depression is genetic. Iceland similarly seems to buck the trend for SAD: it has a reported prevalence of 3.8%, which is lower than that of many countries farther south. And among Canadians of Icelandic descent living in the Canadian province Manitoba, the prevalence of SAD is approximately half that of non-Icelandic Canadians living in the same place.

“It sounds dismissively simple, but a more positive attitude really might help to ward off the winter blues.”

A Stanford University Researcher found that the farther north they went, the more positive people’s mindsets towards winter were. People there might rephrasing attitudes like, ‘I hate winter’ to ‘I prefer summer to winter’, or ‘I can’t do anything in winter’ to ‘It’s harder for me to do things in winter, but if I plan and put in the effort I can’.

In this regard, a person feels they exert some control over how they respond to the colder weather.

Have you ever suffered with the winter blues? What helped you overcome it?

Is the winter blues exacerbated by Covid-related lockdowns?

Blog logo on transparent background
bridge effects
blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Smoke and Mirrors

Elise Davies was writing about mirror photography on her blog recently. Apparently it is quite a trend on a nefarious app, that one that imitates a clock! Yes, that one.

Elise likes how using mirrors in her photography:

diverts or reflects something else within the image whilst keeping focus on the models also.

Elise Davies

Mirrors can reveal something different or be a reverse reflection of the chosen subject.

Friendly Friday Challenge Prompt

The challenge this week is to post photo/s of, “Smoke and Mirrors.”

It might be a magic illusion, a symmetrical reflection, an accidental or deliberate set-up shot, or an image within an image.

It is really up to you how to interpret the prompt.

illusion-street performers

Trondheim river
Trondheim, Norway
Credit: pixabay.com

How to Join the Friendly Friday Challenge

To join in add a linkback, (aka a ping-back), and a Friendly Friday tag to a new post or link, addressing the prompt, then return to this post and leave a comment with your published link, as pingbacks are notoriously unreliable.

If this is your first challenge, there are more detailed instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge.

My Friendly Friday Challenge co-host will provide the prompt next week, at The Sandy Chronicles.

Friendly Friday
Hallingdal Golfjellet- sheep
blogging, Mental Health, Photography, Travel

Friendly Friday Challenge – Quiet Places

The world can be a stressful place at times. Often there is a need to step back and re-energize our tolerance to stress, pressures and worries.

Certain places in the world can be restorative to our spirit. These places may be somewhere in your own region, in your own street or even in one’s own backyard or a quiet city street.

Such ‘Quiet Places,‘ may bring solace and a settling of the nerves.

norway
Dalen, Norway

In the year of Covid confusion, I re-visit quiet places in my dreams. Photo archives bring those memories to life again, if only for a transient moment, in the present time.

Like the time, I stayed up in the mountains of Norway..

Or on the banks of the Tauber River in Germany.

light

I am drawn to locations by the water, presumably due to the calming effect of the waves gently caressing the shoreline.

What about you?

Where is your ‘Quiet Place?’

Create a Friendly Friday Challenge ‘Quiet Places’ Post

To join the challenge, simply add a ping-back link and a Friendly Friday tag to a new post, then come back here to leave a comment with the published link, so visitors can find you and visit.

If this is your first challenge contribution, there is a full set of instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge on my blog header.

Friendly Friday will at StPA, in two weeks time. In the meantime, next Friday, you can discover the next prompt at my Friendly Friday Challenge Co-host’s blog, The Sandy Chronicles.

Australian beach cliff sunrise
blogging, Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

It Started with the Door

I was washing the Schnauzer Dog this morning and the young pup and rest of the family kept interrupting me, pushing open the door hitting me in the shoulder, when I was working with the dog in the tub, full of shampoo.

If it wasn’t the pup pushing open the closed door latch, it was the Moth a.k.a. ‘Man of the House,’ (New homes appear to have internal doors that don’t securely latch closed, unless you slam them).

Each time the door was opened, the very wet and soapy Schnauzer, now full of shampoo would repeatedly try to leap from the tub, and and you can just imagine how slippery a fully soaped up dog was. It was a slightly exasperating situation.

Dog washing complete, I then set about cleaning the laundry and the same scene repeated, much to my dismay. Newly cleaned floors covered with either Schnauzer paw prints or Moth footprints as suddenly everyone wanted to get into the laundry for some reason. Grr.

I felt the tension rising in my body. I was irritated by the door latch not staying closed and the laundry suddenly becoming busier than Central Station. After a few grumbles under my breath, I paused, took a deep breath and tried to remember the wise saying I read earlier this week:

When you are upset, remind yourself the cause of your discomfort is your own attitude.

This is Freedom.

Dr. Lee Jampolsky

If there is something you don’t like, you can either change it or change the way you think about it.

Each and every day, the real battle for freedom takes place in your mind.

 Ingen kan hjelp den som ikke vil hjelpe seg sjøl.

Noone can help someone who will not help him/her/themself

Norwegian proverb

Do you have a way of dissolving tension that works for you?

If so, I would like to hear it.

yellow and pink tulip
blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Challenge – Colour Harmonies

Do you have an eye for colour in your photography?

Using colour helps to create mood and feelings in photographs and may result in a photo that is more pleasing to the eye.

trondheim
baklandet buildings

Photographers can create a heightened level of visual interest and enhance photos by seeking out particular colour harmonies in the environment.

Such colour combinations may be

  • analogous
  • complementary
  • monochromatic

Capturing Reds, Yellows and Orange tones is an example of an Analogous colour scheme.

Seeking out or deliberately combining the following colours may complement and enhance each other.

  • Oranges and Blues
  • Reds with Greens
  • Yellows with Purple

Keep in mind the saturation and the value of colours will alter the way they go together.

gardens

A split complementary colour scheme might include shades of Red, Orange and Blueish-green. Josef Alber’s images are an example.

traditions

Using a certain background colour in our photographs can also influence how our subject appears. There is more of an explanation here relating to using colour to enhance food photography.

This week’s prompt for Friendly Friday is for you to find or create

Colour Harmonies

Trondheim river

Create a Friendly Friday Challenge Post

Simply add a pingback and tag ‘Friendly Friday – Colour Harmonies‘ to your own post, then return here, leave a comment below adding your published link, so we can find your post.

If this is your first challenge contribution, there is a full set of instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge on my blog header.

Everyone is welcome to join in.

I will return in two weeks time with another Friendly Friday post.

Next week, you will be in the able hands of Sandy, my Friendly Friday co-host, who will post the new Friendly Friday prompt.

Friendly Friday
blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Challenge – Unusual

Many years ago, whilst travelling through country Australia, I snapped a photo of a patch of forest in an old park, where we’d stopped to have lunch. This was the days when you had to drop off your camera film and wait for several days, for it to be developed.

Remember that?

Weeks later, a friend saw the photo in my album and insisted the photo depicted a fairy pointing her finger towards something in the bushes. It was a mystery and a tad spine-tingling to remember there was a plaque, on a monument in that same park where I’d taken the photo, which said, “ in memory of the first white child who died in the valley.”

Photographers often claim to have captured photos with unexplained objects in them. Some turn out to be a simple case of double exposure, minute dust particles or even reflections, called Orbs, whilst others cannot be fully explained at all.

Do you believe in UFO’s or the Unusual?

Source: i.guim.co.uk/img/media/

More recently, as you can see in the photo below, I was in the picturesque town of Sandane, in Norway. I’d arrived in the early afternoon and was snapping photos of the fjord. Actually, it is pretty difficult for me not to take photos when I am presented with such natural beauty.

sandane norway
Sandane, Norway

Walking further along the fjord, a shower of rain interrupted my progress, so I snapped a few photos and quickly turned back for the Gloppen hotel, where I was staying that night. Something strange appeared in the photos, that I noticed only when back in the hotel.

There was a pacman in the sky.

Or was it some kind of chopped Photo Orb?

What is an Orb?

Orbs are a somewhat new phenomenon that appeared at the dawn of the digital camera in the 1990s. At first, the camera manufacturers believed these orbs to be malfunctions of the camera, but to this day they claim that these balls of light are microscopic particles floating in the air. On the other hand, those in the paranormal community hold firm that these orbs are the presence of spirits.

https://www.artmartstl.com/ghostly-orbs-fact-or-fiction/
haunted house
A Haunted house in Iceland with Orbs

How to Tell if an Orb is Dust or Something Unusual

From the abovementioned website, here is some information:

  • *If the orb or orbs in the photo seem to be behind a person or thing, as if peeking out or passing by, it could be supernatural. That’s because reflections don’t fall behind an object or person in a photo.
  • *If the orb has more density in the photo, it might not be a natural particle like dust.
  • *On film, if the orb or orbs seem to have a light of their own and move independently of wind or motion, it could be a spiritual encounter.
strange photo orb
Presumably a dust particle?

There are ‘Unusual’ things all around us.

Have you ever seen anything unusual?

Take a Seat!

Weekly Friendly Friday Prompt

For this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge, show us something you have photographed that was –

Unusual

or create your own:

Source – Stock Photo

Instructions for Joining Friendly Friday

Sandy will post the next weekly prompt next Friday!

Do include a pingback and leave a comment so all readers can find your post! I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Merino Sheep, Mt Cook
blogging, Photography, Travel

Cromwell and The Lindis Pass

Lindiis pass
Iceland or New Zealand?

New Zealand has often been compared to Norway. In fact, on the way to Kastrup airport in Denmark, I saw one of those massive billboards, illuminated with a photograph of a snow-covered mountain.

The caption read,

“Norway?

No! New Zealand!”

Several years ago, I took a bus from Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand all the way to Queenstown, via Mt Cook. I am hoping that I will be able to do this trip again.

If you are tempted to travel this section of New Zealand, I recommend taking a power block, or back up batteries for your phone or camera, because, if you are anything like me, you will find many jaw-dropping photo opportunities, as you pass through the Southern Alps.

One of the sights we passed by, that got the attention of fellow bus passengers, was a location that was one the film sets of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Movie trilogy.

Cromwell.....the Lindis pass
The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed in this location

Apparently, the local farmers were called in to provide extras for the Horse Stampede scene. This involved a large number of horsemen, a battle charge and horse stampede. The crews were set up and ready to film and had organized a large group of local farmers to be on standby as horsemen actors, but Peter Jackson felt that the weather and light was not optimal for filming so he cancelled the day.

This went on each day, for seven days. The farmers dutifully turned up each day, at the appointed time, ready for their big-screen break. After Peter Jackson cancelled filming again on the seventh consecutive day, the Farmers walked off the set.

They complained they couldn’t afford to be away from their farms, for so many days on end, twiddling their thumbs, so it was decided that their wives would step in and provide the horsemen extras for the stampede scene.

Next time you watch one of the movies and you think you are witnessing a cavalry charge of men, think again!!!

The Lindis Pass

The 60 kilometre stretch of road, known as the Lindis Pass, is considered by some to be the most beautiful passes in all of New Zealand. With the tussock grass covering all but the high snowy peaks, it is a great place to stop and view the majesty of the Southern Alps.

Be sure to check road conditions for the pass in the town of Omarama before you embark on this journey, as the pass crosses 971 metres above sea level, at its highest point. As such, its often closed due to bad weather conditions. It can even have black ice, making driving treacherous.

Approaching Lindis pass in our bus, I spotted a road farther up encircling the peak of the mountain; one that would give Norway’s “Trollstigen” a bit of competition.

On the way to Cromwell.....the Lindis pass

Traffic through the pass will often queue up when weather conditions force road closure for a few hours, or days. Oftentimes, travellers waiting along the road, will leave their cars and walk around collecting piles of rocks which they turn into cairns.

Norwegians would call these trolls.

Norge
Trolls at Trollstigen

Yet another parallel between New Zealand and Norway.

In many ways, travelling through this area I that if I squinted, I could easily fool myself that I was somewhere in Scandinavia or Iceland again.

Merino Sheep, Mt Cook

And that brings us to Lake Dunstan. It glorious aqua colour indicative of the glaciers that feed it.

Ski Fields and Lake Dunstan

Andrew our bus driver, explained how Lake Dunstan was created when a river was dammed, so the old township of Cromwell had to be relocated and the locals rehoused.

If you’re a ski bunny, the ski fields of Queenstown are a manageable driving distance away from this spot, (50 minutes to The Remarkables and 40 minutes to Wanaka). This is a great alternative to staying in Queenstown itself, which can be a tad more expensive.

Mt Cook

Activities in Otago and Queenstown

Besides Skiing, activities for individuals and groups who prefer to explore and experience places at their leisure, include:

  • Four-wheel driving the many hill tracks, or guided 4WD tours
  • Trekking and mountain biking
  • Visiting the Central Otago vineyards
  • Exploring the heritage stone buildings
  • Museum and Old Cromwell Town
  • Old mining landscapes
  • Guided fishing trips on Lake Dunstan
  • Golf
  • Snowmobiles (winter only)
  • Jet boating the Kawarau or Clutha Rivers

Continuing our bus journey meant only a short Tea stop at the roadside Fruit stall. I took the opportunity to purchase a couple of serves of breakfast fruit at farm gate prices.

do not touch

The stall also displayed some of the largest pine cones I have seen.

Ever the compliant tourist, I didn’t touch them.

Book review, Traditional Art, Travel

Easter in Norway

norway

Norwegian Easter Traditions

Easter is a time when Norwegians head for the hills, or in Norway’s case, the mountains.

Most families have a cabin they own in the ‘fjeller’ – or mountains, decorated in traditional Norwegian ‘Hytte’ style. ‘Hytte’ means cabin, plural ‘Hytter’, in Norwegian.

Hytter are timber cottages decorated with Norwegian crafts such as Traditional Rosemaling Art, woodcarving, weaving and embroidery, with mostly rustic interiors, fitted with benches topped with reindeer furs, (sitteunderlag), and other traditional furnishings.

Norway
Tradition Norwegian embroidery decorates the windows

Norwegian ‘Hytter’ Mountain Cabins

Hytter, or cabins, are quite rudimentary houses, partly because of the remoteness of their locations and partly due to the Norwegian tradition of getting back to nature. Visiting a family mountain cabin at Easter is a therapeutic time for Norwegians to ski, breathe in the fresh mountain air, relax and for a short time, not rely on everyday modern conveniences.

Norway

Beitostølen

So when I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Hytte in Beito, high up in the Norwegian mountains with Norwegian friends, how could I resist?

The area known as Beito is part of the community at Beitostølen, an elite skiing location where the likes of the Norwegian Olympic ski team spent their time. Norwegian-Australian friends who heard I was going to visit Beitostølen, were quite rightly jealous, reacting with comments like,

“That is where the ski team practice.”

“Do you realize how lucky you are to be going to Beitostølen?”

I did. It was different to any other holiday I had experienced.

Mountain cabin
A Norwegian Hytte

The Hytte at Beito comprised three timber cabins, with adjoining composting toilet and washroom; that would later hold a shower at some point in the future.

The cabins, themselves, were not equipped with running water, so we sponged ourselves using a bucket, with water sourced from the nearby spring. Fetching the water is a chore that would traditionally be delegated to children.

Living as I do in Australia, meant things like fetching water in the snow proved to be a novel experience. I was the first to volunteer for this task as it was another chance to be outside in the hushed, cosy silence of the snow-covered hillside.

If it meant I was to traipse through knee-deep snow to collect water, those mediative moments of silence, amidst the breathtaking mountain scenery, inhaling fresh Norwegian air and hearing only my muffled footsteps, were merely a comforting, restorative practice for me.

snowy mountains
Norway

Norwegian Hytte Meals

Hytter meals are simple, apart from breakfast. The traditional hytte breakfast is a feast of eggs, salmon, cheese, bread, jam and vegetables, such as cucumber and carrot and also perhaps some yoghurt/kefir or waffles. Our bodies needed lots of food, ostensibly, to keep warm and active out in the snow.

Lunch is almost non-existent, but really after the filling Hytte breakfast, who needs lunch? A Norwegian chocolate bar, known as a ‘Quiklunsj’ (Quick lunch), or an apple, would suffice.

Dinner is mostly a laid back affair of home-made soup, cold meat such as lamb or boiled sheep and bread, or ‘Lompe’ – basically a hot dog, with a bread-like wrap made from potato flour, cooked on the outside barbeque or grill, of course.

Things to do at the Hytte

Skiing Bitihorn Beitostolen Norway

We spent the daytime out of doors, unless it was snowing heavily. We skied, tobogganed, slide down snowy slopes with the ‘akebrett,’ a paddle like slide, or the snow bike; walked about in snowshoes, built snow castles, threw snowballs and made plenty of snow angels, and snow “candles,” just because.

Once darkness arrived, it was time to ‘play’ inside, talking, drawing or Rosemaling – another Norwegian tradition, which is actually my great passion. If it was snowing hard outside during the day, there would be more Rosemaling as wells as card games or puppet shows, for the children. We read books too, as there was no TV, nor phone reception, unless you visited the grocery store a few miles away.

Rosemalt kubbestol

To get into the full spirit of the Norwegian Easter experience, I read one of the rivetting crime novels from Norwegian crime fiction author Jo Nesbø to complement my surroundings. He is a compelling writer and if you have not come across him before, you can read a Book Review.

The Hytte was good, clean fun and a really healthy, energetic holiday.

Was it cold by Australian standards?

Yes, but did I like it?

Absolutely. I loved it.

Being at the tail-end of a Norwegian winter, the weather towards Easter is generally calm, without storms. After a cold night, the sun could be so warm, my face became tanned!

During these sun-filled days, the Norwegians would enjoy sitting against a sunny wall, their face upturned towards the sky, taking in much needed Vitamin D that their bodies had missed during the long, dark winter. They even have a word for this kind of activity: Solveggen.

Warming the soul and the body!

This is what the Norwegian Easter did for me, too!

Hand-painted-Easter-eggs-from-Budapest

Wherever you are in the world, you can still travel virtually. When are you going this Easter?

In the words of Norwegians, God Påske.

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Linking to Trent’s #Weeklysmile

Easter Holiday Norway Fieldfare CabinNorwegians, Easter, cabins and crime literature belong together like horse and carriage – a tradition that started over 90 years ago. Here you can find out how to celebrate a typical Norwegian Easter.

First: Ensure that you have skis – either bought or borrowed. Also, make sure you have ski wax even if you are not sure how to use it. There is always someone along the tracks that can help a ‘forlorn wretch’.

When it comes to clothing it is important that it has red color, preferably with a home knitted wool sweater that smells of last year’s bonfire.

But wait a minute. If you do not know it already: Norwegians love skiing, especially at Easter, and many go several miles to their cabins where to spend the vacation. Surprisingly many people ski into a different era where outdoor toilet, drafty cabins and totally deserted landscape are considered paradise.

Easter Holiday Norway skiingAnyhow…

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Italy Lake Garda balcony view
Community, Travel

Friendly Friday – Balconies

When I was researching the topic for this week’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge, I realized that all my relevant photos were located in Europe. Except for one! I hope that you can show me some more balconies, or patios, or verandahs from all over the world.

The oldest balconies I spotted were in Germany – in Berlin and Frankfurt and in Italy.

Juliet’s balcony was a popular tourist attraction in Verona.

Where for art thou
Malcezine

I noticed the fashionable balconies, in Italy, have window boxes that are more often filled with greenery or Geraniums.

Mezzegra

And I couldn’t possibly exclude balconies found in Scandinavia from this montage, seeing as that region is my first love.

Sweden has a very famous indoor balcony.

Do you know what special purpose it serves?

Norway has some spectacular balconies in Dragon Style

Norway
A haunted balcony at Dalen
Getting high overlooking Bergen
The Crucial Balcony at the Home by the Sea

How to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge

Post a comment below and include a pingback to ‘Friendly Friday- Balconies’ post, so others can find your blog.

Each week the following bloggers will post a new prompt for ‘Friendly Friday‘:

Something to Ponder About and The Snow Melts Somewhere.

Scroll down to more instructions on creating pingbacks/joining in.

Friendly Friday
  • Publish a new ‘Friendly Friday ‘Balcony,’ post including a URL link to this post, tagging the post, ‘Friendly Friday.’ Add the Photo Challenge logo, if you wish.
  • Copy the published url into the comments below, so other readers can visit your blog.
  • Visit other Friendly Friday entries by following the links. It’s fun!
  • Follow the host blogs to see future prompts.

Please note there are no deadlines for any Friendly Friday challenge.

This week’s prompt is ‘Balconies.’

Balconies to Something to Ponder About

Amanda

stpa logo
two storey log house norway
Community

Numedal Valley in Norway

Numedal Valley

medieval stabbur in norway

Since medieval times, one of the main routes Traders and Pilgrims used to traverse Norway between Oslo and Bergen, was via the Numedal Valley, which stretches from Kongsberg in the south, to Geilo and the Hardangervidda Plateau, in the North west.

view
Hardangervidda

Due to this long history, Numedal has one of Norway’s most concentrated collections of medieval buildings and artefacts, comprising over 40 heritage timber buildings dating from the Middle Ages. www.visitmiddelalderdalen.no

norwegian stabbur

The Norwegian Stabbur

By necessity, Norwegians had to find an effective way to store food over a long harsh winter and designed a uniquely shaped log ‘Stabbur’, or food storage house, that would prevent food from spoiling, or being eaten by mice and rats.

In latter times however, the visitor to the Numedal Valley will find that most of these historic Log buildings have been converted into authentic and traditional guest lodgings.

numedal valley norway
Nordli farm Stabbur, where I spent a night

You can sleep the night in one of these beautiful Stabburs, some which contain walls and everyday objects that have been decorated with the traditional Norwegian Art known as Rosemaling, in a style peculiar to the Numedal Valley.

medieval buildings on norwegian farm
A medieval Stabbur in the Numedal Valley

The highest number of Stabburs of any Norwegian valley are located in Numedal. And if that is not enough medieval history for you, the Valley also is home to no less than four Stave churches.

Rollag Stave Church

The Rollag Stave church is one of the better known Stave Churches in Numedal, but as all are off the main highways, they are a little hard to find. ‘Rollag Stavkirken‘ is located a few kilometres north of the village Rollag, in the Numedal Valley. It was probably originally built in the second half of the 12th century, though not all of it is original.

Initially, the church has been a simple church with a rectangular nave. First mentioned in 1425, it was rebuilt around 1660 into a cruciform church. Around 1760, the church was extended to the west.

Early Rosemaling and Hanseatic Art

The walls of Rollag Stave Church are adorned with fruit and biblical motives, which were painted in 1683, and the forerunner to the more traditional forms of Rosemaling. This was following on from the reformation. The close ties with the Hanseatic countries is exemplified in the religious figures of Mary with child, which originated in the German city of Lubeck, around the 1500’s.

Rollag Stave Kirke

The baptismal font dates from the middle ages whilst the altar dates from 1670. The blue lattice like structure in the left of the above photo is known by the archaic term which translates as: Wife’s or Widow’s ‘cage.’

Shocking as it may seem, women were seen as property in medieval times and as such, if a married Priest passed away, the next Priest assigned to that Parish, would inherit not only the Church and its land, but the Widow and any children as well! Times have changed!

Forestwood Rosemaling
My logo for my art

This was a logo I painted and tweaked in a photo editor for my artwork. One of the reasons for visiting Norway in such depth was to study the Norwegian Rosemaling first hand, as inspiration for further artwork and fabric designs.

Forestwood is the name of my website and online shops.