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Ginnie and Astrid have pulled me out of hibernation and into spring!

Okay its spring and I have to just jump out into the water again, or rather jump out into the blog world. I have taken a sabatical, I have been in winter hibernations…and with the spring it is time to wake up.

blogger friends

Ginnie, RennyBA and Astrid

To all my old friends out there I usually avoid saying this, but I am sorry I haven’t been online in so long. To put it simply I have been tired for three months. As most of you know my job is very challenging and we have some challenges at home as well so I have really been lacking in energy and creativity. I felt like I could not keep up my blog, and then once you haven’t written in a while its hard to get started again.

I have recently received a boost though in the form of our blog friends Ginnie from In Soul and Astrid of Picturit who visited us this weekend…and of course our old friend TorAA and my darling husband RennyBA. We had a lot of good discussions about photos and blogging and all we get out of it and I found out it was time to get my feet wet again.

Oslo Opera House in the fog

Oslo Opera House rising up from the fog

Ginnie and Astrid came on Thursday night and were with us until Monday morning – and we had a wonderful time. It was more like being with family then having guests. Renny and Tor planned our site seeing well this weekend and the girls got to enjoy the benifits of the Oslo Pass with the best guides in Oslo. You can read all about it on their respective blogs, I am not going to steal the glory after spening a quarter of the year in hibernation. But I will post a few pictures from Sundays foggy excursion to Oslo Opera House!

She Lies 2

“She Lies” floating in the icy fjord outside Oslo Opera House

We can’t always guarentee sun in Norway, although our photos may often decieve you because we usually shoot on sunny days. However the fog and ice did add an element of interest to the photo shoot. Here you see the icey looking sculpture, a form of integrated art at the Opera House called “She Lies” it is a stainless steel and glass sculpture by Monica Vonvicini anchored in the harbour beside the Opera House.

Ginnie and Astrid are now on their way to new adventures in Norway. They traveled early this morning to Kirkenes and will take the Hurtigruten cruise from Kirkenes to Bergen. We envy them now, this is one Norwegian adventure we haven’t experienced yet. But the reputation of this cruise is legendary….so I wish them all “the worlds most beautiful adventure”.

Round and about Lisbon

On the first day of our tour in Lisbon RennyBA and I explored the city on our own in the daytime, and later met up with Lele Batita and her husband for a memorable dinner together. The dinner has been well documented by RennyBA and I recommend you visit his post. We went to a unique restaurant and had a meal we won’t soon forget.

Our first day on many of our trips we find a tourist bus which can give us background information and show us around the local area. We joined the local hop on hop off trip of Lisbon’s center which gives us a panoramic sightseeing tour of all the major tourist attractions, and helps us get a taste of what we would like to see more of. We could easily spend a couple weeks in Lisbon, having only five days we can’t see it all, so here you have to pick and choose and remember that you can always come back another time.

Renny carried away
RennyBA Carried Away onboard our Bus

Here is just a little bit of what we experienced the first day discovering Lisbon on our own! The bus tour took us first up the “Champs-Elysees” of Lisbon Avenida da Liberdade which is crowned at the top by Marquês de Pombal Square, a monument to Lisbon’s rebirth, the statue of Marquês de Plombal honors the prime minister who was responsible for the rebuilding of Lisbon following the Great Earthquake in 1755. The Great Earthquake did extensive damage to Lisbon, and we can enjoy many of the older sites today because of the choice to rebuild them and keep their heritage rather than destroying and replacing with new structures. So we salute the Marquês de Pombal as well.

Marquis of Pombal
Marquis of Pombal

Opposite the statue Parque Eduardo VII, a park named after Britan’s Edward VII who visited Lisbon in 1903 and reaffirmed the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. Typical for this park is its neatly clipped box hedging flanked by mosaic patterned walkways. The park stretches uphill from Marquês de Pombal Square to a belvedere at the top with fine views.

Parque Eduardo VII
VII EduardoPark

Along the bus route we also saw Campo Pequeno’s bullring which was built in Moorish style in 1892. It features small cubolas atop its four main towers. The bullring accommodates up to 9,000 spectator, and I might add that the bull is not killed in the bullfights in Portugal as it is in Spain. The building appears quite modern, so I admit I was surprised to learn it was as old as 1892.

Campo Pequeno's bullring
Campo Pequeno’s Bullring

Mostly hidden behind its high pink walls we got a glimpse of Belem Palace. This is the official residence of Portugal’s president since 1910. It previously has been a royal palace built in 1559 and further altered and built out in the 18th century by King João V.

Belem Palace
Belem Palace

Crowning the river and facing out to see we find the famous Discoveries monument. A newer structure it was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. The monument resembles a three sailed ship ready to depart and decorated with sculputers of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, at the bow we see Prince Henry the Navigator holding a ship in his hands.

Discoveries monument
Discoveries monument

At Restauradores Square we find an obelisk decorated with representations of liberty and freedom. Restauradores does not mean restaurants, although there are no lack of them here, it means restorer of the Independence. On the 1 of December in 1640, a group of nobles killed the regent of Portugal which then was under the control of Spain for a period of 60 years. In killing the regent at the time they restored Portugals freedom as an Independent nation. So it is called “restauradores” because they gave Portugal its Independence back!

Restauradores Square
Restauradores monument

Figueira Square we have a fine view up to St. Jorges Castle. Close to the center is a bronze equestrian statue of King João I, usually smothered by flocks of pigeons and surrounded by teenage skaters as it was when we visited it. Here on the south side we had a taste of some of Lisbons wonderful pastries at the charming Confeitaria Nacional, considered to be one of Europe’s most elegant pastry shops dating back to 1829.

Figueira Square
Figueira Square

Rossio is the liveliest square in the city, where people stop to sit and relax, or for a drink at the outdoor cafes. While we were visiting they were setting up the Christmas display which we would visit the last evening we were in Lisbon. On both sides of the square are baroque fountains, and in the center is a monument measuring 27 meters in height. It consists of a pedestal with marble allegories of Justice, Wisdom, Strength, and Moderation. The monument at the time was flanked by cranes which were setting up the decorations which is the reason why I don’t have a photo of the entire square. However I could not resist getting a close up of one of the gorgeous fountains, each figure on these was a work of art in itself.

Rossio square
Fountain figure.

Lastly I set in a youtube video which is sightseeing tour of Lisbon so you may experience for yourself. It is even accompanied by some traditional Fado music, which you may read more about at RennyBA’s Terella.

All of the sights on the video are places we have been. We did a good job with excellent hosts in such a short period of time. Some of them we will go deeper into, and therefore are not included now, but saving some good stuff for later!!

Oslo Opera House tour at OsloBG

We couldn’t invite our friends to Norway without showing them the new pearl of the city shoreline. The Oslo Opera House opened in 2008 designed by the award winning architect firm, Snøhetta. The Opera House is best seen from the water as you see in the photo below. I admit this photo was taken in July when my father was visiting, as we had better weather and a boat ride! As you can see it resembles a Glacier flowing out into the ocean. The surface reflects the natural elements of snow and ice and has a cold feel to it. Covered in pure white Italian marble it sparkles on the landscape.

OsloOperaHouse7

Oslo Opera House

The concept of the Opera House was that they wished it to be available to the Norwegian people in other ways. Therefor it is the only Opera House in the world where the roof is intended for use of everyone. It gives a wonderful view of both the city and the fjord and is a popular place for Norwegians and tourists alike. In the summer time free concerts are held on the roof for all to enjoy.

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Guests walking on the roof

Looking through the window increases the feel of ice, and yet you can see the warm “wave wall” which adds the element of Norwegian Oak Wood. The wave wall which contains the main scene and several others appears to rise like a great old oak tree right in the center of the opera house, and the large glass windows allow you to see inside, allow light to enter from outside, and even allows you to see the fjord right through the buildings.

OperaLookThrough

Lookinglass Opera

On the main floor there is also a restaurant -cafe serving fine dining both indoors in the main hall and outdoors in good weather on the Opera roof itself.

OperaCafe

Opera Cafe

RennyBA and Lawrence were kind enough to arrange a guided tour for us with a most excellent guide, in english of course. She brought us through the galleries elegently designed in fine Nowegian Oak, and into the main scene, which of course we were not allowed to photograph as they were setting the scene for Figaros Wedding.

Gallery

Galleries

We had a peek at the ballet as well! The Opera House is also the home of the Norwegian Ballet, and has rehersal rooms in the same high quality as the ballet floor itself (which is lowered from the roof onto the scene of the main floor to insure optimal quality for the dancers).

OperaDanceroom

Ballet Dance Floor

My favorite part of the tour, I have to admit to dreams of being a dancer or an actress when I was around the age of 5, was our tour through the costume rooms. We were allowed into some of the costume storage and had a peek at the beautiful creations being made. Here are some colorful tutus for this years presentation of the Nutcracker. Yes, already in August they are busy making the costumes for Christmas’ high point.

OperaCostumes1

Costumes

The guide, also a visial artist, showed us the elaborate details of the work.

Operacostumes2

Nutcracker ballet skirt

And we also had a breif glimpse of the wonderful costumes to Figaro’s Wedding.

Operacostumes3

Figaro's Wedding

Some of the best experiences from Oslo Blog Gathering was experiencing new things together with interesting and curious friends from around the world. It was also fun taking photos together and seeing how some of the others captured the details around them. All in all every day was an experience of a lifetime.

If you want to learn more about our experiences at OsloBG please visit my friend’s posts:
RennyBA
TorAA
Lelè Batita
Maria…
Claudie
Lifecruiser
My Grand Adventure II
Return to Norway

Memories of OsloBG, Vigeland Sculpture Park

Well now OsloBG is over and most of our guests have gone back to their homes. A couple are still wandering around Oslo but they are welcome to stay as long as they want of course! I was so tired Sunday night I went to bed at about 7 pm, and slept until 7 am. Then of course it was back to work, vacation over.

Vigeland Sculpture ParkI’m sorry but I can’t get the slide show to embed, please click on the link above to see the side show. Here is a sample photo from the set.

curiousboy

Vigeland Sculpture Park

So now I am looking through all the lovely photos we took and remembering what fun we had! I hope you will enjoy a slide show from our first day, a trip to Vigeland Sculpture Park. The weather was a bit grey but the art work is beautiful just the same and our guests were happily shooting away with their cameras and learning a lot with the help of our excellent guide, Margaret!

Meeting friends in Vigeland Park in Oslo

Well we are now back in Oslo. We have a lot of plans the next few days, not the least of which is getting ready for OsloBG! I am getting really nervous now!! In one week we will be welcoming lots of visitors to our home town of Oslo. All of which we know from our contact online, but few of which we have actually met in person. So we are in a great deal of suspence thinking about how all of this will go. We have the details well planned out now, but there is always a little touch of nervousness before one has guests, and when you have invited guests from all over the world to a four day long get together, well those butterflies are clearly extra large this time. Then again we have had an exciting summer so far with lots of visitors and arrangements and it has all gone well so far, so I just have to have faith!!

Video of Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo

We had another chance to practice a bit which went wonderfully. We went to Vigeland Sculpture Park in the heart of Oslo to meet a family from the UK who we have met through Facebook. Another great example of how social media is bringing people closer together. Anne-Marie started reading our blogs because they were interested in Norway. They have been here many times and were planning a trip this summer as well. After being in touch with us online they took a chance and asked if we could meet up while they were in the area. We were glad to have the opportunity to get to know new people and show them around our home.

I tossed some sandwiches and drinks in my bag and off we went to meet these nice strangers! And nice they were. A talkative group who were touring with three of their four children (their fourth was at home caring for the familes animals). We wandered around admiring the statues, the park, talking about Norway, Oslo, vacation and everything else under the sun. They had really great kids too, intellegent and easy to talk to. Within a short time we were all like all friends and the day just flew.

In fact time flew so quickly that I didn’t even take out my phone or camera to take any photos. I mean imagine that – me not taking any photos. Well I was busy talking all the time, guess that’s my excuse. So when I wanted to write about this post and share my day with you all I went on the net and found quite a good video on YouTube. It gives a really nice impression of Vigeland Park, which all our guest will be enjoying next week! Take a peek!

Happy Independence Day America!

Hello friends! Hope you are all having a great 4th of July weekend. Living outside of the country and immersed in Norwegian Traditions I feel like it is extra important to keep my own traditions from home alive, so yes we do celebrate the fourth of July every year. I try to make it as traditional as possible, and mostly do the same things we did when we were living in New York. BBQ Ribs are a must, along with homemade potato salad (none of that store bought sh..) and of course corn on the cob. It’s a bit early for corn on the cob in Norway, we are too far north but we can usually get some imported from Southern Europe.

We did our celebration today though because we are at our summer house. Our vacation starts late this year because we are having lots of guests in the late summer so we are only here for the weekend. That means we will use the afternoon of the 4th to drive home. But no worries! We had a good celebration today, and I’ll make sure we get some burgers tomorrow so we don’t feel too left out!

Classic Car Show in Mariestad

Classic Car Show in Mariestad

Today we went to a classic car show which they hold the first weekend in July every year in Mariestad. The weather was hot and sunny, and there was a very good turnout. RennyBA will be posting more on this event so I won’t give you full coverage right now.

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Sunny beach day in Mariestad

After standing in the hot sun at the Classic car show we needed to cool off a bit. So we did as many others in the local area and headed to the local beach for a dip in the Great Lake Vänern. The water was just right for a swim, warm enough that you don”t go into shock when you get in, but cold enough to cool you down on a hot and humid day. It is really 4th of July weather here this year. Hazy hot and humid as we used to say back home.

One thing which is very different here is that you can’t send up fireworks in the summer time. Well of course you can but you won’t see them very good because the sky doesn’t get dark. So if you are missing fireworks, click here and make your own online, its fun!!

And don”t forget! Happy Independence Day!

Norwegian Wood Festival and Sweden Rock, let the festival season begin

Summer Rock festivals are popular phenomena in Scandinavia. Noway, Sweden and Denmark are known throughout Europe and the rest of the world for summer festivals with something for every taste. I must admit that I am not much of a festival goer these days. My sons are more the right age, and my oldest just came home from several days at Sweden Rock Festival.

Sweden Rock, when not raining!

Sweden Rock, when not raining!

Sweden Rock Festival is a heavy metal and hard rock-the festival in Sölvesborg in Sweden. Each year both well known and up and coming bands perform for a festival which lasts 4 days in the beginning of June. There are about 30,000 visitors each year. This years concert offered bands like Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, and Slayer. The boys said some of the local bands were also very good. They didn’t make it until the end of the festival though, because as is also typical for festivals – they got lots of rain. You’re really lucky if you make it through a festival completely dry hehehe. So after 3 days of sleeping on the lumpy ground in a tent they decided to “throw in the towel” so to speak.

Norwegian Wood 2009 Nick Cave

Norwegian Wood 2009 Nick Cave

This weekend one of the largest festivals in Oslo is also going on; Norwegian Wood. Located at the edge of Vigeland park in Frogner swimming area. This concert is not as much Heavy Metal and more of a variety of rock. Something for everyone in a way. They also reserve room for promising Norwegian bands in a section they call “untouched”. These are groups that are unspoiled by popularity and publication so far. Saturday the main acts will be Van Morrison, Amy MacDonald, and Jackson Brown.

Norwegian Wood Poster 2010

Norwegian Wood Poster 2010

I think I would have liked Norwegian Wood better, partly because it is more grown up music, and partly because I could sneak home after the concert, take a shower and sleep in a good bed…no tent required since I am local hahaha!! Okay, and if you are not the festival type then you can visit RennyBA to learn more relaxing ways to spend the summer days like in the Botanical Garden!