Our family tradition, hunting for Easter Bunny Eggs, is one of my dearest and may be one of the best examples of recreational outdoor activity in the Norwegian woods. Every year the feeling of anticipation and excitement takes me down the memory lane. You may say I’m a bit childish, but I’m just fine with that and it’s important to get into the right spirit – and of course: you have to love being outdoors too.
The Easter Egg and Bunny or Hare thing dates back to pagan times and is more about fertility and a celebration of spring than recent Christian Easter traditions. Honored in many rite-of-Spring festivals, during the span of history, eggs represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. So it represented the rebirth of the earth – the long, hard winter was over – the earth burst forth and was reborn just as the egg miraculously burst forth with life.
But lets get back to the outdoors hunt and you are welcome to join us around the bonfire as I go on with the story and show some photos:
Of shore, resting after the Egg hunt at the bonfire.
The hunting is of course the most exciting part and you may wonder how the eggs get there and how we find them. Well, when I was young my dad did it – but since this is something of important passing on to generations: nowadays my sister and I walk a bit ahead, to see if we can find some bunny footprints.
When we were children, my parents told me they did, so then it had to be true, and it has never been questioned in the family. It’s just the same as Santa brings the gifts of course. People who don’t believe in this have missed out on something important from their childhood I think.
Also I hope you see why this should be an outdoor activity: You have to find the eggs in the Bunny’s natural surroundings! And tell me; what can be more recreational than sitting around a bonfire, smelling spring is in the air, listening to the sounds of birds and eating hotdogs grilled on the bonfire:
So now I hope you understand the excitement in my Easter anticipation and why it’s so important to me to hold on to this childish, family tradition of believing it is the Easter Bunny who laid the eggs. To sum it up in one collage photo:
So here it is – from me to you: A new Easter Egg hunt family tradition for free!
This weekend is the big “Get Outdoors Day” in Norway; the Norwegian Tourist Association’s national Outdoors Recreation Sunday – time to get up off the couch! In Oslo, the main event takes place at Sognsvann – a lake up in the mountain/forest 15 minutes from downtown by the tube. The whole idea and main goal is of course to motivate everyone to be more physically active and explore nature in your own neighborhood. The camp at Sognsvann has been held 20 years in a row – I was there with my wife and a friend and gladly invite you along to motivate you too:
This grand event gives everyone in Oslo a good opportunity to use nature in a healthy way. Outdoor activity is good for both physical and mental health. This annual outdoor camp is also of course an important carrier of the tradition of Norwegian leisure culture.
Sunday was the chance – for children all age – to try climbing, rowing, canoeing, fishing, orienteering, jumping – even skiing – and much, much more – free of charge!
Skiing and Fishing
Kiting and Swimming
Canoeing and Climbing
Quality time with my wife:
I was there, all thanks to my wife. Struggling with my Parkinson – the uninvited guest in my body makes me stiff and hard to get going – it’s always easy to sit back in the couch and feel sorry for myself. However, to head out in the nature and get out of the patient role is the best way to charge my batteries – actually the best medicine too! So my dear Diane; Thanks for inviting me out and to share this nature in a quality time with me!
The clean, fresh air – the scenery: is there any more recreational?
The summer in Norway is coming to an end but that isn’t the end of outdoor family fun. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here all year round, and the Norwegian Outdoor Recreation Union does a great job of giving families plenty of inspiration for the seasons to come!
Cinque Terre (means five lands) consists of 5 tiny villages connected by footpaths and linked by boat, rail, and trail. At the Northwest coast of Italy, they date as far back as the 13th century and sit on the hillsides of that plunge into the Mediterranean Sea. Colorful houses seem to hang on the cliffs. Local churches sound their daily chimes. And the land is terrace farmed for food. Surrounding these five villages is an infinite mosaic of vineyards, olive and lemon groves, and fruited trees. These agricultural plots seem to hang onto the sheer cliffs above the sea. And from these marvelous fields, we receive tangy local wines such as Sciacchetra, purely extracted olive oils, and delightful herbed pesto.
These five communities discourage auto traffic to preserve the tradition and ecological impact of the area – so they are best reached by train. It has now become a World Heritage Site and a UNESCO National Park. In fact, certain parts of the nearby sea are part of the National Park system as well. And it is the preservation of this area that makes for some clear water scuba diving and snorkeling.
The agriculture is of main concern here in Cinque Terre. All of the 5 towns and other rural villages are tied to each other in their quest to keep local farming alive. The towns people, like their forefathers, preserve the terraced farms as a means of income and property stability. While some of the farmland has been abandoned and is scrub, most have been passed on from generation-to-generation. They farm mostly wine grapes, olives, pears, and herbs. Each family plot is divided by old, dry-rock, stonewalls, built hundreds of years ago.
Monterosso al Mare is the most western of the 5 towns and the closest to being a classic beach town of the Italian Riviera. Vernazza, and Corniglia are just a few kilometers down the coastline.
The latter is different from the others because it is situated on a plateau, over 300 feet above sea level, while the others lie next to the Sea. Manarola and Riomaggiore lie on the eastern end. All of the villages are linked by charming cobblestone pathways that make home to local musicians.
Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. The villages are not influenced by modern development, and that simple, original look, combined with pretty colorful houses, arranged one upon another like stairs gives this piece of Ligurian coast a unique charm:
This is the fifth post from our big family trip; my wife (DianeCA) and I, our children + SO and even my grandchild met up with Diane’s brothers and spouse from the USA. 14 people in all gathering in Pisa at the Park Hotel California, and having the time of our lives enjoying each other’s company, getting better acquainted and exploring this wonderful part of Italy. From my first post: Family from Norway touring Tuscany in Italy, you’ll get an introduction and then you’ll find information and links to my other posts from Pisa, Florence and Sierra.
Akerselva is a beautiful river with 23 waterfalls running through Oslo’s most populated areas, ending in the Oslo Fjord after 8 km with a rich history of Norway’s cultural heritage and industrialization which started around 1850. The river is the “vein of the city” offering fishing, swimming, biking or walking to explore a rich animal and plant life in the most recreational part of the capital of Norway. It’s running from the lake Maridalsvannet, which is Oslo’s main supply of drinking water, to the city center and without a break: a couple of hours walk.
Almost every meter of the 8km from the mountains to the fjords offers exciting adventures. Along the river you can take small detours into side streets you’ve never seen before and experience the history of the utmost importance to the capital and country: it was on the banks of Akerselva that Norway became a modern country and where the industrial revolution took place- It was here that Norway got its first factories and industrial workers!
I had a nice walk there last week, arranged by the Norwegian Parkinson Association and you’re welcome to join us and see a small collection of the highlights where I also shot some photos with my mobile phone:
Emigration and the Industrial Revolution:
From 1850 to 1900 the population of Christiania increased from 30,000 to 130,000 – the same period as when about half of the populations out of totality 1,500,000 emigrated to the US. For the most part farmhands came from the countryside and moved into settlements along the Akerselva banks to live near the factories they were working in. These houses were often some distance from the river and of very poor quality. Living conditions were crowded and up to 13-14 people could live in a single cramped room with an even smaller kitchen.
Today there is a new wave of migrants to the river, but it’s a totally different standard in the new houses. The picture to the left shows an example of a new residential complex on the left and an old factory on the right.
Myren’s machine maintenance and renovation factory:
Myhre’s factory became one of the leading and largest industrial companies in Norway with more than 1,000 employees in 1909 and also important for the rest of the industry along the river. Production started in this area in 1854 and their main production focused on industrial machinery – turbines and steam engines – and tools for rolling mills and sawmills, utilizing the river as source for power in the production.
The company was acquired by Kværner Brug (now a part of Aker Solution) in 1928 and the production naturally developed into supplying the pulp and paper industry. At one point, 85% of their production was exported.
The premise of the old factory is preserved after the industrial production was terminated in 1988 and the area and its building were sold to what is now Myren’s Resorts and renovated into a small cluster for knowledge-based businesses in broadcasting, television production and advertising. The area also contains several apartment buildings
The Factory Girls at Beyer bridge:
Beyer bridge build in the 1700s and named after the owner, Anders Beyer, was a favorite gathering place after 10 to 12 work hours. In 1837, the old narrow wooden bridge was converted to ramps and restored as a pedestrian bridge in 1985, This bridge and the statue called “Factory Girls”, made by Ellen Jacobsen, show a merrier side of the flux at this industrial revolution period in Norway. It’s located in the old factory area and was described by the Norwegian writer Oskar Braaten as “factory girls’ bridge”. A group of sculpture in memory of the factory girls, conducted by Ellen Jacobsen, “shoulder to shoulder”, was set up on the bridge 1986:
100 types of birds and 4 bats:
This continuous green corridor with water, grass, plants and trees that connect Oslomarka and the Oslo Fjord is also a paradise for animals. It is observed 100 different bird species at the river. Among them is our national bird: the Dipper, which people actually see quite often sitting on the pebbles in the middle of the falls. Even the Goldcrest, which is Norway’s smallest bird, is observed here.
Akerselva can even offer four types of bats to be seen flying between trees when dark. As you can see in the photo however, the most common wildlife is seagulls and ducks.
“The Hen-Lovisa’s house”:
The rivers highest waterfall is next to an idyllic little house which is a great place to stop on your walk along the river Akerselva. The name “Hønse-Lovisas hus” comes from a literary character. It was built in 1800 as a saw miller’s house.
Today it is a café and cultural meeting place, where the arts and crafts of today meet tradition and history of the past. They have handmade arts and crafts for sale and you can also get a cup of coffee and a delicious piece of cake or a little something for lunch.
A walk along the Akerselva, especially with such an excellent guide, is a good example of how you can combine an outdoor nature experience with learning about the local history. The area is easy to reach by public transportation, either Underground or Bus, and lies right in the heart of the compact city of Oslo. So don’t miss this trip the next time you visit the capital of Norway.