Friday, July 13, 2018

Return of Iceland

We finished packing our duffels after having grande lattes with our friend Ian. Hoisting the bags onto our shoulders, we trekked through the train station which looks much like todays airport shopping malls. Looking up at the departure boards displaying our express train to the Oslo International Airport.
Leaving Norway to Iceland

Our next destination was to finish our quest from July 2011 when our plane touched down at KEF Airport on the island of Iceland. After gathering our duffels, we went to the rental car counter and We were informed our plan of circumnavigating Iceland was thwarted by a bursting glacier on the south end of the island. So we were forced by nature to travel half way around on the ring road and returning by the same route though it didn't diminish the beauty and adventure we experienced.

This time we landed, picked up a mini four four wheel drive motorcar and within 30 minutes we checked into the Northern Light Inn which is located next to the famous hot springs, "The Blue Lagoon". Sharon and I planned to drop our gear into the room, slip on a swim suit, and revisit this great natural wonder by immersing ourselves into the warm soothing turquoise waters of the lagoon.
Relaxing after relaxing

Since our last visit, seven years ago, we were warned that Iceland has become very popular but we didn't expect to be turned away at 8PM because we didn't have reservations. I should have guessed by the dozen plus tour buses in the parking lot and the line out the door to get in, that this popular spot was a "no go," still we walked to the cashier and were informed that if we came back at 10 p.m. we might get in. Sharon and I realized this would not be the same experience we had seven years ago so we left. Later we found out our hotel had beautiful saunas, steam rooms, and a relaxation room plus something unusallly better to offer which I will let Sharon describe:

"The sensory deprivation experience of floating in a pool of body temp, heavily salted, water had been suggested by a friend recently. She even left me a brochure at our Phoenix house to go and check it out. So the seed had been planted, and now I was going to get to have this experience. First and foremost if you plan to do this, be sure that you are in a good place mentally and that you like yourself. I can't imagine that this is always a good experience for everyone. For me it was fantastic floating and pushing off the walls of the tank in total darkness made me wonder if this is how my grand baby, who is currently incubating, feels. Yep that's where my thoughts were happily floating. After an hour the elevator music starts to play in your tank, and you can turn lights on, which were very hard to adjust to from total darkness, several blinks later I sat up and opened my womb-like chamber. Coming out of the private room, that also had a wonderful shower and products to wash the salt out of hair and off the body, in my bathrobe I went straight to the spa therapist in charge and asked if this would be advisable for pregnant women. The enthusiastic response of how she had her niece in the tank several time during her pregnancy with rave reviews means that I will be giving my grand baby and mommy a hopefully memorable gift soooooon!"

Returning to our hotel we redressed and opted for a fantastic Halibut  dinner at Max's, the hotel's spartan Danish designed restaurant. In addition to a great dinner we got to watch the World Cup match on a big screen. We cheered on Sweden but they lost at the very end of the time allotment.
Fabulous crater to hike around

The next morning we pointed our mini Jeep east,  wasting no time to tackle the missing section from our previous visit. The weather was a challenging down pour with brief let ups. One of these brief periods, we became distracted by a sign introducing the Kerio Crater which was better than your average rest stop. It afforded us a nice hike around the rim of the crater. Our quest was  to get to Sveitarfelagid Hornafjordur aka; the glacier. Because of the distance, it was necessary to spend the night in the small village of Vik. Quickly we discovered this little coastal town had no rooms. The rain wasn't letting up but the gods were with us when Sharon emerged from the front door of the Arsalia Inn, not on the map, with a smile accented by rivlets of rain water cascading down her face.
A guesthouse at the southern tip of Iceland
Luxury at it's finest at an unbeatable value.

The Gistihus sporting a plain building design, wasn't helped by the myriad of kitschy decor filling the  shelves and tables throughout every room. The accommodation sported 2 single beds plus the down the hall bathroom feature, all for a mere $230 a night. Oh...that included an eastern bloc nation breakfast. Our room reminded both Sharon and I of inns we stayed at in Nepal except the Arsalia had heat. One great thing was we drove a short hop up the road to a restaurant with a basement pub to catch, yes ....another World Cup match. So much better watching these games out in the world as futbol/soccer is truly one of the common denominators and languages crossing all barriers.
This "black" glacier is the fourth largest in Iceland

The next day, weather seemed to let up a fraction as we forged east towards the glacier. Early in the morning our hostess pointed out "The Black Glacier" that was easily accessible with a 4WD. Within an hour we discovered the small road heading up into a mountains. The winding cinder coated single lane trail taxed my miniature 4x4 but it continued to chug away on the crunchy road surface. Eventually we came to the end of the road after about 20 miles. The drive was not a loss because the craggy mountains framed the ribbons of the black glacier and the water fall at the end of the hiking trail supported bright green moss covered rocks making it all worth the effort. Once back on the main paved highway,  I stopped for petrol, a stretch and a natural break at a small crossroads. Returning to the highway, Sharon and I were strangely attracted to take a single lane road towards an inn nestled at the base of a mountain for lunch. Pulling up to this lovely property with its smartly arranged cabins, the place looked empty of business but inquired about some coffee and snack. The charming young women at the desk said they were not serving at this time. Then we asked about a room for the night. At first she said they may have a room but quickly discovered the hotel was booked full, everyone must be out in nature as no one was hanging around the inn. Instead of just turning us away, she began phoning about the area and found us a room at the contemporary Luka Hotel. Located on a remote grassy hill a slight 4km splinter off the main highway, we would never have known it was there.  We couldn't believe our good fortune. The rooms were incredibly comfortable, of simple Danish design, with a fabulous restaurant overlooking a  pasture dotted with the short legged, long maned, horses and of course, even more sheep.
A treat at the end of the black glacier road

We had a wonderful lunch, returned to the car to reach our goal, the "Sweitarfelagio Hornafjordur" glacier. Whisking along the endless fields of violet colored Nootka helped cut the monotony of the long stretches of two lane driving. (Nootka aka; Alaskan Lupine, was introduced to Iceland in 1945 to help provide nitrogen to improve the lava soil.) Keep in mind the speed limits on these roads max out at 60 miles an hour slowing our arrival time. We finally came to the turnoff and within minutes we parked and began layering our clothing to protect us from what the cold and the low dark threatening clouds may bring.
First glimpse of the Sweitarfelagio glacier
Look for hikers on the ridge above Sharon's head...

Ignoring the tour kiosks and gift shop, we dashed around the building and onto the hiking trail. There were a fair number of hikers though not really crowded most likely because of the threatening weather. Our layered clothing kept us warm and dry as the rain and wind kissed our faces added to the drama of what we were about to see. The 45 minute hike on the lava rock trail lead us to the first view of the glacier. I was truly moved by it's immense size and character. This was Mother Nature at her finest. We continued for another 30 minutes towards the glacier growing in size with every step. A small body of water populated with bluish icebergs separated us from the glacier's wall. I tried to capture the feeling and imbed it in my memory not wanting this experience to end. The clouds began dropping lower and our time at this hallowed spot on earth must end. Now we stop into the kiosk, they have a pay station that you must visit, we were impressed that there were camera's with license plate recognition and our vehicle was identified in the system, I wonder how many tourists fail at this part of their visit and what the fine is for not paying and how the rental car company deals with it. We stopped into the shop, bought beautiful bags of Icelandic salts in colors we had never seen before, leaving to get back to our hotel and our 8 pm dinner reservations.
Magical image

The morning sun greeted us for our last hours in Iceland, we took an early morning walk around a nearby lake. Leaving our hotel at 7:30 after a beautiful breakfast buffet, gonna miss this treatment, we motored west towards KEF, Iceland's International Airport. We allowed plenty of time to catch our early afternoon flight to Boston. With time to pull off the roads and explore a bit more, we avoided Reykavic altogether and found a great little town and restaurant to enjoy our last lunch. I had forgotten the miles and miles of purple fields of wild flowers. The contrast of purple, cadmium, green medium moss covered mountains and cerulean blue skies stretching on forever. It was our first fully sunny day and our last one in this magical place. I will miss Iceland. I've seen her twice and easily return again in the near future but next time in the off season. (TIP: While pumping gas in Nova Scotia, having a casual conversation with a gentleman on the opposite side of my pump suggested flying from Halifax, Nova Scotia..."it''s a lot cheaper" he added. I thanked him for the tip. My life can take cues from casual acquaintances. Most times they turn out fine.The Halifax roundtrip to Iceland is $553.00 on Icelandair. Not bad! But we would also suggest that you contact One World Travel in Bisbee for all your travel needs.)
Endless fields of "Nootka" aka' Alaskan Lupine

We arrive at the airport, drop the car, and get through the self serve electronic check in. The airport used to be a small terminal with a couple shops featuring Iceland crafts but now they have a large selection of  Duty free stores just like all the other international airports. Unfortunately the homogenizing of these facilities makes them lose all the lovely character that made each one distinctive. Never mind there's a World Cup game being played so we walk to the airport bar, order 2 beers for the reasonable price of $1,980 (20 US).
Not all exotic holidays have warm sunny beaches

The announcement is broadcast for boarding our plane. Everyone shuffles towards the door onto the tarmac and out to the stairs. I like this part of boarding because you get a view of the large bird unlike boarding through a jetport. With everyone buckled in we begin to move towards the runway. Within 5 minutes I'm thrust back into my seat while gazing out the window seeing Iceland disappear. I wondered if I'll ever return to breathe the air of this miniature magical wonderland.

Over Greenland on our way to Boston

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nuts for Norway!

Norway in a nutshell, an overcrowded nutshell, tourists from everywhere, and that includes us. So we meet the train in Bergen, walking to the classic old rail station carrying our bags which are getting heavy with over worn clothes and the gifts that I have added. We are standing in line and realizing that it's a bit of a cattle call, no assigned seats, and a full train, but we get to sit together. So many tunnels! The beauty of Norway comes in and out of view. We get to the town of Voss and now we are transferred to several buses. The next phase of our travel is unbelievable! At one point the grade is 18% downhill, hairpin turns on a really narrow road. Our female bus driver performs this drive with remarkable ease, stopping a few times to let everyone move from one side of the bus to the other taking photos. Finally we get to the port and to the boat and grab seats at the large picture window in the back of the boat on the lower level close to the water. Happy with our seats we embark on our journey of the Undredal Fjord to the town of Flam.
Waiting to board the train from Bergen 

The crowd on the boat (200 + people) was spread out and because there was a chance to go out on the decks, three levels, it was not unbearable. We had all kinds of weather that day which made for more drama than just the landscape. I have always wanted to experience the fjords, ever since the 4th grade geography class that impressed me with stories from kids in all parts of the world. So maybe this was a bucket list accomplishment! Getting to Flam and discovering that we were staying in the large historic hotel right there off the dock was icing on the cake. But again, the room is full of furniture, this time lovely antiques, so still no room to roll out the yoga mat.

Secretly striking a warrior pose
 I'm finding myself striking poses secretly waiting in lines, watching scenery, even sitting on planes and trains, or now on the boat.
Super cool Fjord touring boat

The amazing manner in which the Norwegian hospitality industry deals with the masses of people is impressive! In this small harbor of Flam, there are two large cruise ships, one being a Princess cruise line, the other is the Queen Mary 2, which has a long banner running along the side of the ship: "security warning keep 50 meters away!" .... or what? wanted to find out but never did.

Watching the Norwegian scenery flow by.
We spent the day we had in Flam walking in the hills and the rural areas around the town. It was a perfect day. The late afternoon train that got us back to Oslo a little later than schedule, 10:45 at night, not the 10:30 promised time, was very obviously a failure for which the train crew were sincerely apologetic. Electrical problems on an electric train, were repaired in no time. Imagine having such on time trains in the U.S.!
QE2 stopping in for a pint or two

One of the more hokey stops of the train ride is at a large waterfall. Everyone exits the train to walk to a platform, to take photos of the always amazing scenery. We have become accustomed to the many waterfalls, and there will be more, so many more that by the time we get to Iceland it's, "oh, there's another one." Anyway back to the hokey, it is the reenactment of a myth that there is a woman  living in the hills and she will use her feminine whiles to capture you. Piped in music comes from beneath the bridge platform we are standing on and a "lady in red" appears, coaxing you with her charms. This scene is well choreographed she appears in one place and disappears to appear in another close by but that rocky terrain would be difficult to maneuver sooo quickly (I think she had a double at this distance you would not be able to tell one nordic blonde goddess from another!) and when the song ends, quick get back to your seats, we are trying to make up for the lost minutes from the electrical outage caused by too many people ordering pizza in the dining car, perhaps.
What Norwegians call intermission

The Thon Opera Hotel was perfectly situated right outside the central train station, (again thanks to Angelika for this reservation,) we are happy to get to our room after a glass of wine in the glamorous lobby.
Ian and Sharon out for a latte in Oslo, Norway

The next morning we will meet a friend, Ian, who is flying into Oslo. He will take the train into town and find us at this convenient location easily. We will go for a quick walk, enjoy a lovely cup of coffee and give him our take on this beautiful friendly country and hope that his  hiking vacation around Norway is not as rainy as ours.
Quaint villages and fisherman cabins on the Fjord

More villages surrounded by towering mountains
Storybook settings Norwegian style...perfect.
This is like a high rise condo bldg moving in for a few hours
Historic Frietheim Hotel in Flam with.a modern flair.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sweet Bergen

Onward we must travel, reluctantly leaving our lovely Oslo hotel on Gables Gate. Toting our bags down the block to the tram stop where we board and then dropped off at the Central Train Station. Our destination is Bergen, a medium sized historic port city sharing period architecture with modern.
Bergen view from a hike

Half the fun is getting to the city on the Bergen Train. When we made our way up into the car and found our seats Sharon quickly discovered we will be sitting backwards possibly causing motion sickness. We asked the conductor if there are any seats turned the opposite direction but the train was full with no unoccupied seats. The couple facing us overheard the conversation and offered to switch seats to accommodate our request. The invitation opened conversation with the young Iranian couple now living in Turkey. They were bright and very charming throughout the days journey.
our new Iranian friends
Halfway to Bergen...7 degrees Celsius

The passing countryside was dotted with magnificent snow patched mountains infected with the occasional village on the crust of a deep cobalt blue lake. Taking photos on the train was a primer in the quick snapshot before the train dashed into endless tunnels or the view blocked by tall trees.

We arrived into the Bergen train station, disembarked, and walked the long platform into the main station lobby. I pulled my phone from my pantaloons and entered the name and address for our hotel into my GPS app. It immediately popped up with information which we deciphered, hoisted our bags and began to walk the streets of Bergen to the Scandic City Hotel. Our first taste of the city wasn't impressive and thought it was a step down from Oslo. We walked for a while and I began to question our direction. We stopped a young lady walking the opposite direction and asked if she knew of the address or the hotel. As we discovered, Norwegians are extremely courteous, ready to help, and very engaging. She pulled out her phone, entered the info, and walked with us a short distance in the opposite direction we were walking, then pointed to us the direction to the remainder of our destination about a kilometer away.
Great restaurant for a hungry traveler.

 By the time we reached the front desk of the hotel our bodies were tired from lugging luggage and asked the desk clerk about a restaurant. He suggested a lovely bistro in the historic village a couple klicks away. He made a reservation which afforded us an hour  to relax and walk to "To Kokkers" (meaning two cooks).

The directions the clerk gave us were exact and the walk generated a new view of Bergen. It's a city not as cosmopolitan as Oslo but seemingly embodied a bit more charm. Arriving at the restaurant, we were quickly seated into a comfy old upstairs low ceiling room supported by rough hewn beams, plastered and wall papered walls decorated with old relic paintings, and an uneven planked floor. The food and mood was perfect. Walking back to our hotel in the night (actually looking like dusk) was enough to reduce our stuffed bellies and sullen us to sleep.

The next morning which always begins with the wonderful buffet breakfast (No really Chuck, I really like this Norwegian selection of delightful tastes), we discussed what to do in Bergen. Agreeing on a little shopping, exploring, and looking forward to getting lost in a foreign city. (one of our favorite travel pastimes) We discovered churches, shopping malls disguised as historic buildings, beautiful parks and back to the train station where we had to pickup our last handful of Norway in a Nutshell tickets from the ticket master. All the above was done between ducking in and our of the variations of rain. Without the rain it would be another boring beautiful day for us.
many products merchanised into one building

Walking back to our hotel from exploring we stopped into a pub for a quick Guinness and catch some of the World Cup, Japan the victor of that game. Then continued on when we both felt like a late dinner. Turning off the main plaza onto a small street to investigate. We saw a Japanese sign but it was for a photo company not a place for a celebratory dinner,  further down the avenue was a Thai restaurant. Yes we need to try Thai in the reaches of the Arctic. It was close to 9PM but the hostess/owner said it would be ok if we ate quickly. The smells from the kitchen convinced us to give it a try even under the time restrictions. The rice noodle salad and the Tom Kra Gai took time to prepare but we were rewarded with unbelievable perfectly prepared dishes with flavor beyond our expectations. If you are ever, ever near Bergen, Norway you must make the journey to the Samrab Thai Restaurant.
Oh yum, not just any old Thai food

The next day was hiking day. We decided to first take the cable train up the mountain from Bergen central, then hike up to a mountain top, then hike back down into the city center. The line to take the train was jammed with a myriad of cultures wanting to get a different view of Bergen and a few wanting to hike. We unloaded with the crowd once reaching the tracks end and began following the hiking signage up a trail. With deeply overcast skies, the weather was holding out but by the time we reached our summit with light rain, our return was met by a steady downpour.
Hiking trail into the city center

A repreave from the rain and hail mixture was from a locked up small building with a couple small overhangs just enough for a bit of shelter to wait out the intense rain. After an hour the rain reduced to a light shower without hail and we made our trek down the mountain passing the train stop and finally into town. Wet and a bit exhausted we both agreed we needed more Thai food to warm our drenched bodies.

After the repeat spectacular gastronomic performance we went back to our hotel for rest but rallied in time to return to the Metz sports bar to watch another World Cup game, Iran vs Spain and with Iran being the underdog  in respect to our new Iranian friends, we cheered for the Persians. This puzzled the roundish Irishman leaning on the bar next to us. He was astounded that two Americans would be rooting for Iran. We always cheer for the underdog and with that and with us drinking Guinness, the mother's milk of Ireland,  Wille bought us a round. The game was well played  but didn't turn out in our favor.
Sweet Willie was Irish but now Norwegian 

We left the bar feeling great in more ways than one but tomorrow we needed to get some sleep and ready ourselves for the "Norway in a Nutshell" experience.

Leaving the train station at Bergen
cable train up the mountain
Houses in the city center like Bisbee

National Theater in the city center

Friday, June 22, 2018

Moto Euro with a twist

Yo Homies, I've been a bit quiet recently in blog city except for my images but there are a couple of topics overlooked for you motor heads. For international travelers, they know driving etiquette is a quick essential issue for survival and face saving while visiting foreign lands.

I have two topics today, one covering death defying tunnel techniques and the other of product distribution. First is the discovery of driving on true one lane roads. In the Faroe Islands, their country's road infrastructure cost is half the normal cost because they build remote paved roadways with one lane. The drivers on these slender ribbons of pavement literally share the road by paying attention to the approaching traffic. If you see an approaching vehicle from afar you can roughly calculate when to either use the dimly identified pull out or gun it signally the other driver to seek refuge. Surprisingly these roads work well because everyone is considerate except for the fresh tourist quickly acquiring the local road rules.

The above instruction is pretty simple but now take the one lane issue and throw in long narrow wet unlit tunnels into the equation and now you have a very nervous hesitant driver gasping for air. Again first time tunnel traveler must observe under fire what the fuck to do with approaching headlights halfway through the tunnel. First, the road signs I've been ignoring for the last hour now are important. I learned quickly the sign with two arrows designate which vehicle direction has the right a way while the other must use a designated pull off before the avenger kisses your bumper. My first tunnel didn't require me to use the pull out so I sailed through without interruption though on the return the tables turned and as soon as I saw a headlight I dashed for the safety zone which at first pissed off the driver behind because I pulled over too soon. So proper tunnel technique is drive onward and trust that every 100 meters a pull out is available. It only takes a few tunnels to get the swing of things.  One thing is conclusive, Norwegians love to tunnel.
Remote peaceful village with one lane access

Now for the advanced refinement. You're now not baling too quickly but dashing your lights is a must other wise you have the challenger blasting you with their 500,000 candle watt beacon signaling you to shut down you lights but you only douse your headlights and leave your courtesy lamps lit. This is a bit of a task when you are not familiar with the rental car controls so I got a lot of luminary scolding. We had to switch rental cars halfway through the week which required new dashboard knowledge.

If you find yourself going to the Faroe Islands let me know and I give you the complete translated course for one cold beer.


One last item. I'm a closet gear head. I love cars. The design, engineering, and performance are buried into my soul. When we arrived in Oslo and walked to the city train stop, I noticed a couple Tesla fully electric cars. Now for you folks that don't pay attention the automotive industry, these vehicles are not only very sexy, but they haul ass and run without gas. What a dream machine.

These issue here is not that Norway has Teslas, but they have a lot of Teslas. I found out the Norwegian government subsidizes owners by offering no taxes, free parking, no charging cost, and one full body massage each week.  Thats why there is at least one one Tesla on each block. No wonder there is a waiting list in the US for these cars. Is Elon Musk Norwegian?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Oslo so fab

The flight from Faroe was an hour the connection from Copenhagen to Oslo gave us only 8 minutes to run through the terminal and we caught the plane! No way our luggage will be there when we get to Oslo, but, no way, it was there!
Waiting for flight to Oslo from Faroe

In Oslo we walked to the information desk by the train which is connected to the airport, just to be certain we catch the right train, and in minutes we are on the rails, walk out of the National Theater terminal and just pulling up is tram 13 to take us within a 5 minute walk to our hotel, the Clarion at Gables Gate which at 20:30 is still serving our complimentary dinner and that's the magic of our arrival to Oslo. The room is luxurious and I take a bath in a deep warm tub. Tomorrow we will catch the "hop on hop off" bus to see what's up in Oslo. We walk to the first stop, encounter a protest happening at the university, oh yes we are traveling, and these scenes are familiar and welcoming!
Clarion Collection Hotel, Oslo...perfect

Getting our tickets for the bus we decide on this beautiful day to go straight to the Vigeland Park to see 200+ sculptures. Awe inspiring, really!, especially as we get to the end of the long wide boulevard lined with bronze works to where the granite column of human bodies in various states of strife are surrounded by individual depictions (also massive granite works) of two or more figures all expressing the human condition, simple and yet so accurate anatomically....light catching a shoulder blade, a spinal column, a collar bone, ... breathtaking and yes you have to see this place!
Vigland Sculpture Park
Lunch at Pier 31

Time to get back to the bus and so we go to the entry gate and wait. The hop on hop off bus is a double decker so lots of seats. But people have to get off to let you on, and well there are just not enough getting off for those desperate to get on. It was a bit of mayhem, and why we avoid the touristy offerings. Hey people, you need to see this park! Never mind, lets just walk on this stunning bright day. So we walk, and walk, and walk we think we are getting close to the Viking Museum, and we are definitely getting hungry. Finally, look out on that pier, there is surely a restaurant. Hooray we are seated near the water in a most comfortable outdoor cafe. Curt has been avoiding carbs, but this northern Italian menu has lasagna for lunch, and surely he deserves this treat especially when we find out that we have overshot our destination by a couple of miles. Oooops, the map is confusing and there are no signs pointing our way. Never mind, let's take a taxi, I'm pretty sure we have walked 5+ miles already today!
Real Viking ship made for a funeral ship to honor woman rulers
Vigeland Park

We are barely in the doors of the museum when I am hit with a deep sadness. Not sure what/why but I got the strong feeling that these Vikings were trying to stop something big, (i.e. the patriarchal take over of the Church?) and somehow that resonates with ancient feminist genetic material deep in my soul. Perhaps I was born to a family of men in this incarnation for lessons I needed to revisit. Like empathizing and forgiving the male species who at another time in history were my cohorts, at the very least it explains why I have always plaited my hair into unusual braids. I am realizing that this nordic culture is oddly familiar. The whole reason for our decision to go to the Faroe Islands was because I watched a video of Eivor Palsdottir singing traditional folk music, I am at home in her other worldly vocals. Enough of this woo woo posting. We are in Oslo, it's getting late, and we catch the last hop on hop off bus to get back to the center of the city and make it back to our beautiful hotel. And again, there's soup and salad for dinner, perfect!

Nobel Peace Center Award Recipients
Nobel Peace Institute...Bosch electric powered bicycle
We spent a rainy Sunday at the National Museum housing an amazing collection art possessing a Norwegian connection, had a delicious lunch of French onion soup* in a lovely salon of the museum, then strolling through the old fort, ducking into a coffee shop to get out of the sudden torrential downpour. We sat at a table joining a gentleman there with his Indian female colleague, he is speaking mid-west U.S. English. You begin to realize that the world speaks English, but not everyone has that Nebraska twang. The little coffee shop has a framed letter on the wall from Barrack Obama, and so the conversation of how much he is missed ensues. We leave when the rain lets up and make our way to the Nobel Peace Center, whose current exhibition is a disturbing reflection of the "Wealth Generation" as it is called. Yikes this aspect of America is a full on embarrassment,  the U.S.A. has exported the worst of ourselves, and the world imitates it. Then upstairs to the room which houses the recipients of the award, a very moving and beautiful installation. We leave the center with heavy hearts, and a sense of hope.

One of many parks in Oslo for families to enjoy

Norwegian oil painting in the National Gallery 

Delicious breakfast buffet every morning

Indescribable Vigeland Sculpture Park