...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hei from Oslo!

Writing postcards at Vigeland sculpture park

Arrived home yesterday evening from Oslo, where I attended a 2-day PhD course on disability research. The course was held in a hotel called Soria Moria, a modern building complex 500 meters above sea level, which affords a view of Oslo city, the fjord, forests, and mountains as far as the eye can see. The hotel also owns a giant log cabin with a lookout point, from where one could see the mountains. I felt really lucky that this was my first trip on the job... and I'm not even formally employed yet! :-)

It was a bit of walking to go to the hotel though. I was lucky to have one of the older students with me on the trip because it was pitch dark 9:30 in the evening and there wasn't a single living a thing in sight. From the tram station, we had to roll our suitcases up the mountain road for a good 15 minutes – and we wondered why our right arms hurt the next day! We couldn't complain about the accomodations though, especially about the view from up there, which revealed itself to us when we woke up the next morning.

Below are some views of the beautifully-situated city from Soria Moria and from Frognerseteren, a Lord-of-the-Ringish café at the highest point of the city. The views seemed beautiful regardless of the time of the day and season. There was a fog on the city on the second morning I was there, and that was a sight to behold in itself, too.



While Soria Moria's name comes from a fairy tale, there's a story behind the fairytaleish wooden house at Frognerseteren too. A banker had it built in 1867, and gave hikers free access to the house, where they were given free refreshments. Today, the building houses a restaurant called Finstua, which has Norwegian prices – and that basically translates to "everything is expensive". In the world's most expensive country to live in, most prices start at double what they would cost in Sweden. Plain coffee is usually at 35 Norwegian kroner (3.9 Euros, 242 PhP); a haircut, which I always thought was expensive in Sweden, costed my friend Lalaine 650 NOK – and that was by an apprentice!

Lalaine, who is a friend from my first MA program in Applied Ethics, was my host on my third night in Oslo after my PhD course ended. It was my first time in Norway anyway, so I took the chance to also turn the job trip into a tourist opportunity (the perks of not having to go to work the next day!). Lai is a PhD student there at the University of Oslo, and was very happy to receive her first visitor since going there 10 months ago. She was extremely generous and covered my meals and my museum expenses – not to mention offering me two office bags of hers. I really have to make it up to her some other time. Right Lai? :-)

Lai and I are waiting for our coffee at the Nobel Peace Center

After depositing my bag at one of the train station lockers early in the morning, we toured Karl Johans gate, the main street of Oslo where most of the tourist attractions stand. Just near the station was Oslo's new opera house, a controversially expensive, Starship Enterprise-y building made of Italian marble that working slaves have to scrub to keep white. The project reportedly cost 2.5 billion NOK to build (out of an estimated 4.4 billion) – which is still a pretty steep price for architectural art, especially in a country that only has 4.5 million people to appreciate it.

We continued our walk up the main street to the Parliament, the City hall and the Royal Palace, and took a quick coffee at the Nobel Peace Center, where the Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded. We didn't go in the Peace Center hall anymore since I've been to the Nobel Museum in Stockholm before and I expected this to be more of the same. Besides, it would have costed us more money and time, and I only had 4 and a half hours left for our quick tour.

Our decision? To see the famous and most recognizable work of art from Norway, Edward Munch's The Scream. Apparently, there two painted versions of The Scream – Screams 1 and 2 if you wish, from 1893 and 1910 respectively. Munch also made pastel and lithograph versions of the same motif. We found this out when we went to the Munch museum looking for the recently stolen-and-returned Scream (it's always nice to see something which you had read about in the papers), but the receptionist said that it was under restoration as it incurred damage when it was stolen. We were about to get disappointed, but she referred us to the National Gallery where Munch's first Scream was housed. It looked identical to final work. Actually, both versions have been involved in high-profile thefts, and security at both museums were overwhelming. It was forbidden to take pictures at the National Gallery too, so we had to be satisfied with this "proof" of having seen the famous painting:


At last, before I left, we took a sunset walk – at 2:30 in the afternoon! – in Vigeland sculpture park, where I was pictured writing postcards above. Human figures frozen in dynamic motion, emotional and dramatic tableaux of stone people, and bodies of stone women, men, children and elderly stacked up to form a tower of beings – it was a nice end to my stay in Oslo. The thought of all the 80 acres of Vigeland park turning green in the summer months is something to look forward to for our next visit... but first I have to wait until my first paycheck! :-)

More pictures of Oslo uploaded at my Multiply.

Ha det!

4 Comments:

Blogger aka Cheryl said...

the sculptures sound amazing, and the views were amazing!! what's your work? will you travel a lot? nakakainggit ka joy!!

3:52 PM

 
Blogger Ahoy! said...

It's a PhD position in the university on disability and gerontology (study of old and aging people with disabilities). Yeah, it looks like I will be traveling to some courses at least February and March next year (Trondheim and Stockholm). Basically, I travel to where they offer courses on my topic, and I can also apply to travel to listen to conferences abroad. :-)

5:47 PM

 
Anonymous Lalaine said...

Hallo from Vienna, Joy. Amazing how you immediately blogged about your Oslo trip. And wow, I got mentioned several times! Really nice that you had your train reservation wrong. :) I'll be downloading the pictures from Multiply later. Thanks for sharing them.

8:57 PM

 
Blogger Ahoy! said...

Hej Lai!

The reservations were thanks to Annika (who mistakenly said we were going home Wednesday, while she booked a Tuesday train). By the way, I had some luck there because the Tuesday train she took got delayed and she missed the connection home. They had to take a taxi and charge it to the train company, but only after waiting a lot of hours. My train on the other hand was right on sked.

What luck! And it was very nice to see you! Sa uulitin! :-D

Joy

9:05 AM

 

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