What I learned about Norway from my guide and what we did on the trip :

        Norway has been inhabited since the end of the Ice Age and the Viking Age and   began about 793 when they started to loot and attack England. (many times the English ended their prayers not with Amen but “Save us from the Vikings Amen”)

1)    Olaf II Haraldsson was a Viking until he became king of Norway in 1015 and spread Christianity to Norway.

2)    Norway is the land of the midnight sum

3)    Bergen is called the gateway to the fjords.

4)    Fjords came from glaciers as they melted

5)    The Norway scenery inspired music from Greig, plays by Ibsen and paintings by Munch.

6)    The name Norway in Norwegian comes from Norvegr meaning the way of the north and the Vikings used the terms more than 1,000 years ago to describe the shipping route along the west coast of Norway.

7)    Norway in old times was believed to be inhabited by mythical creatures ranging from trolls, to gods like Odin and Thor and giants.

8)    The best stave churches are in Norway

9)    The largest minority groups are the Sami (lapps) who live in the far north and have their own self-government. (Dave Fox gave us a great lecture about this on the bus)

10)Norway chose not to be part of the European union

11)The west is known for fjords and the east for skiing  


           From Stockholm we headed out to Norway. On the way to Norway we not only got a history lesson from Jane but Dave also  gave us lots of information about the instrument he plays  and also about different cultures of people in Norway. Norway of all three of the Scandinavian countries is the most independent and has yet to join the EU. Our introduction to Norway was lots of mountains and snow and we stopped at Drobak to meet with Dave’s foster family and have a meal with them. During his college days Dave spent a couple of semesters of the year with these people who invited us to their home and he made us like them before we even got to their house. Drobak was really nice and we were able to walk around the town a little before we went to their house, and most of the group scanned the harbor and there was a beautiful sculpture of three women on the harbor. As we went through town my mom kept pulling me from ATM to ATM until we found one that worked.  We spent about 2 hours with Dave’s family who gave us tons of food to eat and I really liked the goat cheese. I was able to walk around the neighborhood while everyone else finished eating and I found a rock that all the cats liked to lay on. Dave stayed after we left to help his family clean up and we headed onto Oslo (just so you know Dave speaks very good Norwegian) It was pretty late by time we got into Oslo so we just got to look around a little, I was not sure I would like inner Oslo it was like any other big city but it looked like it had as my mother says a “more cultural mix” than the other countries.  Anyway just remember first things first, get the OSLO card. It was pretty late when we got to the Spectrum Hotel in Oslo but what I remember most about the Rainbow Spectrum is the floors heated up and they had nude shows on TV.  The rooms were small and I mean tiny tiny tiny and the beds were awful (like sleeping on a sleeping bag on a bunch of rocks) - it was the worst three nights of the trip. We were in a room that my mom said was the combo room and one bed was a couch and one a twin bed- both were equally uncomfortable but we switched off so that at least one night we would get a good night sleep.  Across the street was a sculpture of a rose coming out of the ground like the Excalibur sword (but a rose), which was about the best part of the neighborhood. The next day when we were on the sightseeing bus the guide told us that this was not the best part of town and gangs were starting to move in and take over what use to be a nice part of town and Oh boy that freaked my mother out. We did not do much walking around that area. We did go to the shopping center around the area and all my mom kept saying was the people in the area were creeping her out and she had the eagle eye looking out for everything. We ate dinner that night at the Italian restaurant next to the hotel and it was pretty good.    


             The history I learned about Oslo from Jane my guide was is it was founded around 1050 by a Viking king and became the capital around 1300. During the history of Oslo it burned down several times but the master builder Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway ordered the town rebuilt near Akershus Castle. He named the new town Christiana after himself and that stayed the name until 1924 when it went back to the original name of OSLO. 


           Our first trip into Norway was to the ski Olympic jump and the part I liked best about that was the Ski Simulator. I walked up to the top of the ski jump and saw the view around the area, which was great, but leaned over the banister and lost my cool sunglasses (my mom and a few others never made it too the top- the climb was too much for them- I took the camera and got some good pictures). Walking up we went past the ski museum, which was interesting, but I wanted to be the first to the top. After I screamed from the top I ran as fast as I could down to the ski simulator and got in for four minutes of great fun. (Before I could go on it again my mom dragged me back up to the middle level to take a picture next to a troll like that was going to be the last one we ever saw) Lots of people started recognizing Rick and he did a couple of photo ops with them. I could have spent another hour on the ski simulator but from here we went by bus to the  Viking ship museums in Bygdoy. I tried to sit near Dave again but Sonya threw me out-again-(I was beginning to think she didn’t like me much) . Rick let me sit next to him while he worked- I always knew he was working because he wore his blue long sleeve shirt- and of course had the computer out)  I asked him to give my mom a job with his company and he said sure but later my mom yelled at me because I was impolite and she said she already had a job – being a lawyer and making sure no one was allowed to hijack the Constitution.  (everyone was getting mad at me)


                  The first museum we went to was the Viking Museum where we saw three Viking burial ships that were dug up on the shores of the Oslofjord which had been preserved in clay.  There was one ship from the 9th century that had a 64foot dragon carved on it and was the burial chamber for the Viking queen and her slave. If there are not too many people around you can go from boat to boat and read about it.  The next place we went to we had to get back on the bus and drive a little bit farter to it was the Koni Tiki Museum. Here we got to see how people built something like a raft, the Kon tiki,  that sailed 4,000 miles. From reading the little signs I learned it was made of balsa log and a young Norwegian scientist named Thor Heyerdahl and his five companions sailed in 1947 all the way to Callao, Peru, to Rarioa, Polynesia. Beside that raft there are also some exhibits showing him visiting Easter Island.  Then we went to lunch fed some birds and you have to see the video in the Maritime Museum but sit in the back to get the best effect. (Don’t tell Swedish jokes to Norwegians because you might make a mistake like I did and tell a Swedish joke to a Swede- Oh Boy)  Back to the movie-it looks like you are sitting in a helicopter and flying along the north and west coast of Norway.  If you finish here then walk straight across to the next museum-this museum contains a complete ships deck with the helm and chart house and three deck high sections of the passenger steamer Sandnaes.  In here is the fully restored polar vessel Gjoa, used by Roald Amundsen in his search for American Northwest Passage.  It was very interesting reading and there was a PBS special about that I saw right before we had left home. 


             I bought a Norwegian storybook puzzle cube and from here we caught the ferry across to the other side so we could see the National Museum and then onto the city hall or Oslo Radhas. Again we walked and walked and walked  along the harbor and walked and walked until we got to the National Museum www.nasjonalgalleriet.no . The National Museum is like a lot of other museums but what I thought was cool is that in one room has copies of a lot of important statues that I’ve seen in other museums. (While we were visiting the museum Rick and Anne were visiting his cousin who helps with some shows and I remembered seeing her on his show about Norway) For example they had a duplicate of the David by Donnatello that is in the Ufizzi, the Niki from the Louevre and some Greek statutes from the Olympia museum. (I have been lucky enough to see the original of these because my mom and I have been traveling since 1996- and don’t you think she keeps reminding me how lucky I am )  I saw impressionist paintings but my favorite in the museum was a painting by Munch The Scream (How you feel after you flunk a test).  I liked the way the museum was laid out and it was easy going from room to room- don't miss the Munch collection- it’s kind of creepy. I asked Jane if we should also try to see the Munch museum itself and she said no the best ones were here- and they were good- especially the Scream (like in Scream1,2 and 3) 


                    After you finish in the National Museum then run over to the city hall. I love this city hall because it brings together political power and mythology.  The outside of the building has a clock that looks like an astrology clock and all along the side of the building there are wood carvings of mythology and fable characters. The colors are bright and cheerful and my favorite is Odin.  When you go inside it is like being inside an art gallery and the large mural called The Nation at Work and Play, really is just that- it tells you how the nation works and plays. Just by looking at it you can read the art and follow the story. Anyone looking at the building and the art can tell that the Nazi occupation devastated these people and it will never be forgiven or forgotten. (We had a guide take us around and our guide was informative and funny). Rick and Dave and Sonya kept trying to put their heads together to discuss things and I tried to be a part of the group and kept getting ignored until my mom came up and grabbed me and told me to stop pestering everyone. I was only trying to tell Rick that the next day was Bev- the teachers  birthday, but he was busy and my mom said she would take care of it.  As you walk around from room to room each painting is different but each room emphasizes man and his work and play. Don’t try to take pictures with a cheap camera it won’t work- the art work is beautiful, buy the book.


                 When you finish with the City hall go across to the harbour Aker Brygge http://www.touristmagazine.com/EN/aker.html and do some walking around or shopping or better yet do like I did and catch the mini train that takes you around the city center. It is a little sightseeing that takes you through the city center past the important sites in town and back to the harbor. As you’re passing city hall look for the art display of tigers it is good but weird.  I took lots of pictures of the tigers and when I went to Lucerne later in the summer, they had the same type of art show only using frogs. When you are at the harbor don’t forget to go the IMAX! We saw a movie on Dinosaurs.  But here’s a tip don’t ask for shrimp they give you the whole body and the head.  Some of our group went onto the Resistance Museum and really liked it but I wanted to shop around Oslo and look for a scooter. I loved the harbor and we had some great fish and it was nice just sitting there or sitting in the City Hall square where kids a little younger than me were playing in the fountain (try that in Georgia and get arrested) 


                    The next day we started out early with Sonja and hopped the trolly with our Oslo card and went to see Vigeland Park http://go.to/Vigeland .  Vigeland contributed hundreds of sculptures made in granite, bronze and iron, to a park for everyone to enjoy. They remind me of ones done by Rodin in the Rodin museum in Paris but the one I like best is the baby that is throwing a tantrum. When you go into the park stay straight and you can start seeing the statues on the bridge and if you keep going there is a fountain with more statues and the floor around the fountain looks like a maze. If you keep going you finally get to some stairs that you climb with more granite statues and then you see the famous monolith. I really liked this park. You need to give yourself at least an hour and a half and pick up a free guide book at the store.    From here you can catch the tram into the harbor area and shop some more.  Some people went on to the resistance museum but I was just too sick and tired of history stuff so we took a train ride around the town and I think I got to see more of downtown Oslo than the rest of the group and I was glad we took the sightseeing train. The guy on the train- the conductor – spoke really good English and I had him point out all the sport stores so I could find a foot scooter. We passed Bev and Don in the center of the city doing their own thing and Sonya and Dave who were walking around together to. Who knows what happened to Anne and Rick and Jane was with the group.     


              The next day we headed out from the city into the country and the first place we came to was the Maihaugen open air museum where you can see and indoor display and outdoor museum of sod covered roofs. (I was being a pain that day, I was getting tired and I wanted to be back home with my friends- I think everyone was tired that day too.)  A dentist started this collection and it grew and grew to reach today’s proportions. I like this better than Skansen because it was less crowded and we got to go into the buildings and even pretend we were living in the same time period.  http://www.maihaugen.museum.no/e/     Our guide was a real pretty white haired English woman who told us loads and loads of interesting stuff about the place and we got to sit inside cabins and houses and it felt like you were living there. I got to stand in front of a school house- and Sonya kept yelling at me and saying things behind my back, why I don’t know but I don’t think she liked me, but Dave let me buddy with him .


               From here we started our journey out to the west where you find fjords and Jotunheim Mountains. Until you have seen the land of the giants mountains you cannot believe that there are mountains out there that still have 9 feet of snow and beg you to stop for a snow ball fight which we did. A lot of people got out of the coach but only a few people had a snowball fight- Valerie was the best fighter and Rick kept running from me. Mom took pictures and Wally and Joyce stayed on the bus no snow ball fights for them- it was really wet and cold. We were the only ones out here on the road and there was snow everywhere.   We continued on until we came to pretty much the top of the mountain where the air is thin and it is hard to breath and here we saw a glacier. We stopped at I guess what you would call a glacier museum; saw a film that was really really bad and headed out to look at the glacier.  The water around the glacier was bluer than I have ever seen and the reason it was blue had to do with the glacier, no one knew why just that it was blue .  How can I describe the glacier?  It looked like white ice with blue streaks that was frozen in time ready to thaw at some giants command. Although we could not get out and touch the glacier we were able to get close enough to feel the freezing air against our checks. I liked this glacier better than the one in Austria. (except in Austria I got to eat Black Forest cake at that glacier)


              From the glacier we continued on through the mountains and stayed the night in Elvester. Here I got to swim in a pool and they were filming the series Silent Witness. I didn’t get to meet the star but got to swim with one of the people in the cast who was from London.  The food was gret the beds were not comfortable and Joyce and Wally thought I was above them running around the room and it was not until the next day that they found out it was the kitchen staff and not me being so noisy. They told me they kept thinking what in the world is he doing up there. The hotel had great stained glass and nice furniture, cool doors painted with scenery. I’d go back again - this   was one of the best hotels we stayed out-  we did not have to share a bathroom.  (Every time someone dropped something on the floor or someone broke something people were looking for me)


                The next day we started our journey called Norway in a Nutshell over the mountains around the sharp turns It was pretty scary at one point because Jean had not done this before and he had to go on Rick’s word that everything would be OK (even though in Rick’s guide book he wrote that you can burn your brakes out on the turns) We were pretty scared. At one point Jean got hung up and had to lift the bus up with hydraulics and get us going. We did have a great time though because we did get to get out of the bus and walk down the hill. I was ahead of the pack and everyone got back on the bus and made believe they were going to leave me- I was not amused.  From here we stopped in Aurland but there were no restaurants open ( Anne did find us some bathrooms to us) so we continued onto Flam. In Flam we stopped for a quick lunch in some tourist place I guess you would call it a tourist trap and from here took a ferry ride on the Sjonefjord.   I sat outside on deck  for awhile as it kept you looking at all the waterfalls that came crashing down from the mountains. What amazed me was the fact that as we drove past the springs and rivers they all seemed to be angry and in turmoil – the water was constantly being churned up and whipped about.  It was pretty bad outside, it was raining and probably would have been more fun without the rain but it was fun anyway and I did wind up going inside and watching some cartoon and drinking hot chocolate (Sonya yelled at me again to turn the volume down)   - A friend of ours who had been to Norway before had said to us that she thought cruising on the fjords was the closest she had ever been to heaven. 


                After our fjord cruise we next visited a stave church in  Lom which was so simple but so beautiful. I am used to seeing cathedrals that have lots of gold and marble but this church was dark and built of wood. The inside was pretty in its own way and had great stories of lovers hid within. The altar piece looked like it belonged on a Viking ship and there was a place in the back where prisoners could attend church but were locked up. What the guide told us is that the dragons on the church remain and are still part of the past pagan beliefs- I found that interesting as you would never see that in other European churches – well maybe one- Notre Dome in Paris with the gargoyles. The woman who was our Stave church guide closed the church for us so that she could give a tour to us and us alone- it was great being part of the special people. The inside I add smelled like smoke or tar and there were pictures hundred of years old hanging in there. From here we headed to Solvorn for the night. When we got to the Walker House a great place to stay, since there was not much to do in town we took a trip across to the other side to take a walk up to see another small Stave church (we almost got lost but finally got back on the right track). It was the Urnes stave church and we had to walk about 4 miles to get to it and I was the first one to get there. It had to be opened for us by someone who worked there and it was much smaller than the Lom church but really nice. The altar had a small carving on it that looked like it was from the head of a ship and everything was brightly painted and it looked like it mixed Viking and Christian religions. We headed back to our hotel by ferry and had a great night.- the man who owns the Walker House played the organ with us and gave us a tour of the art gallery. I also got to play chess and played cards with Wally. The man who played the organ was great and attracted quite a crowd.


                  We stayed the night and then continued onto Bergen. We arrived into Bergen a little late in the evening and it was here that we said good by to Jean our bus driver who was great. We stayed at another hotel that was not so good and I have to say in bad shape and went out to dinner. Jane suggested Pepes pizza and my mom complained that this was the first time she had paid $30.00 for pizza- I never heard the end of that. 


                  The next morning while everyone else was taking the tour of the Hensianic League portion of Bergen my mom and I headed out to Gamla Bergen, which I really liked. It was the old part of Bergen and had lots of old houses and felt like the open-air museums. It started to rain heavy and it was cold and my legs were hurting so we headed back into town. Once on the bus and drying off we decided to take  a ride around Bergen on a sightseeing train and I really liked this- we got up the highest point got out to get some hot chocolate and look at the bay and flowers- it was great. We passed old houses that were beautiful and when we finished that we walked around and checked out the statues. Our last night in Bergen we all got together and had a great dinner at Mt. Floyen and I was chosen most likely to be next tour guide. I skaled everyone with quick yet meaningful eye contact and never wanted to leave.   We all told of our magic moments and  had a great last supper.


I really miss Jane and Dave they are people I will always think of as friends, especially cause Dave was born on October 7th the same day as me.      


My mom and I are coming back to Scandinavia in the summer of 2001 and I look forward to seeing lots of old things I enjoyed and new places.


Research I did about Norway when I got back because I liked Scandinavia so much


History of Norway

Norway's first settlers arrived over 10,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age. These early hunters and gatherers followed the glaciers as they retreated north, pursuing migratory reindeer herds. The country's greatest impact on history was during the Viking Age, a period thought to have begun with the plundering of England's Lindisfarne monastery by Nordic pirates in 793 AD. Over the next century, the Vikings made raids throughout Europe, establishing settlements along the way. [800-1050 the age of the Vikings when Norseman terrorized the coasts of Europe]

Viking leader Harald Fairhair[first king]  http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/05653.html  unified Norway around 900 and King Olaf, http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/09528.html  adopting the religion of the lands he had conquered, converted the people to Christianity a century later. The Vikings were great sailors and became the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Eric the Red, the son of a Norwegian exiled to Iceland, colonized Greenland in 982. In 1001, Eric's Icelandic son, Leif Eriksson, became possibly the first European to explore the coast of North America when he sailed off course on a voyage from Norway to Greenland. However, the Viking Age came to an end in 1066 when the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada was routed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in England. [1030 Christianity firmly established and Olaf II declared a saint] [1066 the Viking Age comes to an end with the defeat of Harold III]

In the 13th century Oslo emerged as a center of power. It continued to flourish until the mid-14th century when bubonic plague decimated its population.[1350 Black Plague wipes out much of population]  In 1380 Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark, which lasted over 400 years. [1397 Margaret becomes queen of Norway, Denmark and Sweden at the Union of Kalmar] [1439 Danish ruled Norway ]


 Norways break from Denmark  was ceded to Sweden in 1814. That same year a defiant Norway - fed up with forced unions - adopted its own constitution, but its struggle for independence was quelled by a Swedish invasion. In the end, Norwegians were allowed to keep their new constitution but were forced to accept the Swedish king. Growing nationalism eventually led to Norway's peaceful secession from Sweden in 1905. Norwegians subsequently voted in favor of a monarchy over a republic and selected Prince Carl of Denmark to be king. Upon acceptance, he took the title Håkon VII and named his infant son Olav, both prominent names in Norway's Viking past.

Norway stayed neutral during both world wars but was occupied by the Nazis in 1940. King Håkon set up a government in exile and placed most of Norway's huge merchant fleet under the command of the Allies. An active Resistance movement fought tenaciously against the Nazis, who responded by razing nearly every town and village in northern Norway during their retreat. The royal family returned at the end of the war.

In 1960 Norway joined the European Free Trade Association but has been reluctant to forge closer bonds with other nations, partly due to concerns about its ability to preserve small-scale farming and fishing. North Sea oil and natural gas finds brought prosperity to the country in the 1970s, and Norway has since achieved one of the highest standards of living in the world. It is now applying for membership in the EU, a procedure that requires a national referendum. A no-vote in a 1994 referendum sent shock waves through European governments who were attempting to `sell' the Maastricht treaty to their citizens. EU membership is a hot topic in Norway, but resistance is still strong across the political spectrum.