April 28, 2019

Stockholm, revisited

by Steve Winogradsky

After leaving Oslo at the end of November, we decided to make another visit to Stockholm, a city we had been to in the summer, to see what it was like in colder weather. And colder weather is what we found, although not quite as cold as Oslo. In the summer, there was daylight for about 20 hours a day, but at this time of year, the sun was only out for about 6-7 hours, so we had to make the most of it while we could.

It's as if they knew she was coming!

Snow plowed in the Kungsgaten.
In and around Kungsgaten, there was permanent and temporary artwork besides the usual statues of past kings.

One of several lighted reindeer near the harbor.

Oh no, they've killed Kenny!
Being both brave and crazy, we took a walk through the King's Park, a long stretch of public land along the archipelago and inland. Among the interesting sights was Rosendahl Palace which, like so many buildings in Europe, had been burned down and rebuilt.

On the grounds of the palace is the Porphyry Vase, carved from a single 140-ton piece of granite, taking 3,500 man days spread out over two years and moved into its location with the help of 100 men.

That night, we had a traditional Swedish Christmas dinner with friends Raila and Anders. What a feast it was! A buffet table (below) with at least 8 different types of herring, 4 types of salmon, as well as sliced sausages and cheeses. Then came the hot entrees, which included (no surprise) meatballs in gravy, followed by the dessert table. Needless to say, no one leaves these dinners hungry!

The next day, we walked around the harbor, which has many beautiful buildings lining its banks, including the Grand Hotel (traveler's note: Every major city has a "Grand Hotel", some grander than others) and the National Museum.

The main attraction of the day was going to the King's Palace to see the changing of the guard. In better weather, the guards are accompanied by a full band, but on this day only a sole drummer and bugler. I felt sorry for the bugler, as I was afraid that, in the very cold weather, her lips would freeze and stick to the mouthpiece. But she managed to play all the cadences without injury.

Afterwards, we wandered over to a nearby Christmas marketplace set up in one of the town squares.

As beautiful as it was in the summer, Stockholm was equally beautiful in the winter. But we were cold, and decided to head South.

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March 31, 2019

Oslo, It's Cold Outside

By Rosemary West

The tiger in front of the Central Station symbolizes Oslo's spirit

In mid November, we flew to Oslo. From our hotel window we could see a sign that reported the temperature, which always hovered around zero degrees Celsius. Although it was about 30 degrees warmer than Utah had been the previous winter, it felt colder, probably because it was so damp.

Despite the cold, we saw these planters everywhere.
We took a self guided tour known as “Norway in a Nutshell”. This started with a seven-hour train trip to Bergen, where we spend the night. From Bergen, we returned to Oslo by boat and train, traveling through the Aurlandsfjord. Although this was not the ideal time of year for the trip (not yet fully white winter and not green spring), the scenery was terrific.


Steve waits for the ferry

Back in Oslo, we enjoyed walking around town, despite the weather. We visited the National Gallery, where we saw artwork by many outstanding European painters, invcding Van Gogh and Edvard Munch. At the Christmas market, I bought new gloves and Steve picked up a scarf.

Self portrait by Van Gogh
Edvard Munch
'The Scream" by Munch
Also by Munch

A highlight of the trip was our visit to a huge park devoted to the work of Gustav Vigeland, Norway’s favorite sculptor. These larger than life statues represent human beings at all stages of physical and psychological development. The art is presented without description or explanation, so it is up to the viewer - and the occasional tour guide - to interpret it.

We also enjoyed a visit to the Fram Museum, which documents the history of polar exploration, with an emphasis on Norwegian explorers, particularly the expedition led by Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the South Pole. The museum is centered around the ship Fram, which has been preserved intact, allowing visitors to walk inside.

The Fram, looking much as it did in the Arctic.

A recreation of an officer's cabin.

From Oslo, we returned to Stockholm.

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February 7, 2019

Temporarily grounded

Due to unexpected circumstances, we have been on a hiatus from blogging. We hope to return to writing soon. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.