Once we decided to move back to Seattle on June 30, thereby avoiding having to pay Italian tax (less than 183 days in Italy = not a tax resident), we planned a marathon of travel, trying to get to as many places on our list as possible: Spain, Greece, Berlin, parts of Italy, and finally, Copenhagen and Norway, which lived up to their reputations: beautiful, full of reserved but friendly English speaking citizens, and incredibly expensive.
CopenhagenOur first clue that we were not in Italy anymore was the plane ride--very quiet and no clapping when the plane landed, plus, everyone filed off the plane silently and in order, without trying to get ahead to be first out the door. The train ride to Copenhagen was a similar experience--silent, no one on a cell phone, no one taking up more than one seat--it was a little eerie but the train was highly convenient, quiet and clean, just like the city itself. No graffitti, no littering, beautiful modern buildings, and a great public transit system. People were friendly and willing to help with directions and restaurant recommendations, and often volunteered information on "must see" attractions.
During our 5 days in Copenhagen, we walked all over the city, visited parks, museums, took a canal boat ride, and spent an evening at Tivoli Gardens, and did a day trip to Riskolde to visit the Viking Ship museum (a highly recommended side trip). We also tried Danish beer and the popular open face sandwiches which are served everywhere. It would be very easy to spend twice as much time there without running out of things to see and do.
|Han Christian Anderson (above) and the|
Lur players in town square (left)
|The new opera house|
|city views from the canal boat tour|
|The little mermaid (above) and|
an elephant/anchor statue in front
of the museum (left)
|"The black diamond," the new library|
|In the winter garden (above)|
old Norsk rune (left)
|Performers take a bow on the peacock stage|
|When the curtains are closed you can|
see where the stage gets its name
It was a short (25 minute) train ride to Riskilde to visit the Viking ship museum and the charming town. Even if you are not interested in the ships, it is a good day trip because it is a chance to see a small town outside Copenhagen. It is a pleasant stroll from the train station through the town to the old cathedral where 39 kings and queens are interred, then through a park to the museum which is on the water. Five Viking ships were sunk in the harbor for defense purposes, recovered in modern times, and restored over many years. There are also replica ships large and small, workshops where you can watch craftspeople making rope, sails, etc. using the same tools the Vikings used, and a cafe that serves some pretty good food (we tried the 'Viking platter', five types of typical Norwegian food. Yum.) You can even row one of the replica ships if so inclined.
|Tom imagines life as one of the village|
people at the metro construction site
|Hide and seek at a sculpture in Rosskilde|
|a crew of tourists rows the replica viking ship|
|Tom hams it up in the children's corner|
|leaving Christiania, "you are now|
entering the EU."
Norway with Kelly
After a 55 minute flight we arrived in Oslo, Norway where we met Kelly at our hotel, Ellingsen's Pensionat. Like Copenhagen, it is easy to walk to all the main attractions in Oslo, especially when accompanied by a FitBit fanatic! Oslo is a pleasant, clean city with a lot of public spaces, parks, and museums. Like Copenhagen, much of the architecture is new, and there is little over 150 years old because the city was built with wood and suffered many fires. We were introduced to some new artists, went to more ship museums, and enjoyed wandering around the city. We visited the National Museum on our first afternoon to see Norwegian artists as well as a small but impressive collection of impressionists and modern art. The most popular spot was "The Scream" by Munch, the most famous local artist. It was amazing to watch every tour group troup by and stop for pictures in front of the painting making the 'scream' face. There were any other works by Munch, demonstrating his range, interesting for those of us familiar only with the Scream.
|At the Vigeland park sculpture garden. Vigeland is a Norse sculptor|
who dedicated much of his life to creating over 200 statues representing
the life cycle that are on display here.
|Tower of intertwined bodies (above)|
Mother and child (left)
|Viking ship (left)|
The Gioia (above)
Back on the mainland, we visited the modern art museum, located in a striking building on the waterfront with a a municipal swimming area in front of it.
|Kelly at the museum|
|Mural in city hall|
|view of harbor from ferry with modern art museum in background|
From Oslo, we started on a modified version of "Norway in a Nutshell," leaving the Oslo station at 6:35 for a 5 hour train ride through magnificent scenery to Flam, where we transferred to a small train for a 12 mile, hour long trip through the mountains to Balestrand, a small town on the Sognefjord.
|short stop on at Finse for some|
fun in the snow
|Kjosfossen falls with a dancer|
performing for the tourists
|Cruise ship docked at the Flam kai|
|On the ferry from Hella|
|left, sculpture in cave on snow road,|
Above, on a walkway along the snow road
Below, hardy cyclists
|left, stave church, above, Kelly|
photographs the fjord
|small town along the fjord|
|At the studio in Bergen--she always|
|In Bergen with Brygge in the background|
|Reindeer for lunch in Bergen,|
Moose on the wall in Brygge!
|monument to the ages in new town square, Bergen|
|Kelly at the art museum|