Day 105 - Sun Jul 17 Stockholm, to Oslo
(Chris) This morning as we were checking out I quickly checked my email and found I had mistakenly told our relatives in Oslo that we'd be arriving on the 16th. Doh! I am such a dweeb sometimes. Anyway, we hopped our train on the 17th, and they still happily agreed to meet us. Hans-Petter Flaaten is a distant relative (I'd always thought of him as a friend of the family, and frankly I get confused about family trees quite easily! I think his aunt Ruby is also my great grandma's sister), who was a pilot for SAS, from Oslo, who used to visit us in Seattle in the 70s and 80s, sometimes with his Canadian wife Doris. I probably haven't seen him in 20 years, but remember the visits very fondly! Anyway, Kim wrote to get in contact, Hans-Petter's son Arne replied via email and things worked out just great.
Arne and his wife Inger Anne met us at the train station, at the platform no less, and picked us out of the crowd. They are the nicest people and drove us back to their home to meet both Hans-Petter and their daughter Jeanine. Hans-Petter is 85, long retired and sharp. Unfortunately Doris passed away 2 years ago. Arne is a civilian photographer for the Norge military, Inger Anne is a medical researcher, and Jeanine is 20 and is working on pursuit of a career in medicine as well. Hans-Petter and I got to catch up a bit, we all visited, and Arne and Inger Anne fed us a light late lunch. They are all quite fluent in English, most especially Jeanine who sounds completely American (no offense Jeanine!).
After lunch, Arne & Hans-Petter took us out for a bit of sightseeing. To my eye, the geography of Oslo looks a lot like Seattle (at least in summer, as they have a long snowy winter in the city) - they have a saltwater port similar to Puget Sound, there are lots of lakes and evergreen-covered hills, and the city is simply green. It's just smaller than Seattle, less people and shorter buildings. But it felt somewhat like home to me. Our first stop was the Holmenkollen ski jump and ski museum that are right at the top of Oslo. The museum had numerous old skis, going way way back (to BC?), and assorted equipment, and information on Norwegian polar explorers who cross-country trekked both up North and down South. Hans-Petter was a big skier so had quite a lot to share. Arne tells us that cross-country is extremely popular here, and I can see why - the terrain is right there by the city. The end of the museum is a walk up to the top of the ski jump, which yields a great view of the city. It was mostly sunny so a real treat. We could even see Arne's house from the jump. And the jump itself... y'all know I love skiing but I could never see myself going down that thing full out. I guess I don't exactly fit the profile of the 105 lb. ski jumper anyway. ;)
Stop 2 was nearby Frogner Park, home of over 600 statues by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. This was his life's main work, from 1921-1943. Honestly, this park is amazing, and of all of our European art site visits, to me this is only #2 behind Florence's Uffuzi gallery. That's right, I liked it better than the Lourve. Vigeland's statues are of vaguely nude human figures in a wide variety of poses, both solo and in groups. There is an extremely wide range of emotion and age displayed in the works - those seem to be the main focal points for me, the cycle of life and the range of human emotion. I'm sure there's a lot more to it than that.
Later we returned to Arne's house for a fabulous dinner, during which the food and drink never seemed to stop flowing! There were 2 rounds of dessert even, and Jen and I were both pleasantly stuffed. This will be a recurring theme throughout our stay.