Spring at Vigeland Park is the most striking part of Oslo

Spring at Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo #7The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the most striking part of Oslo’s Frogner Park. Gustav Vigeland’s (1869-1943), 212 sculptures attracts over 1 million visitors a year – even more: Vigeland also designed the layout of the entire park. It’s a popular recreational area with a human message presented through the many sculptures depicting the life cycle, and is a must see when you visit Oslo.
The history of Vigeland Park is internationally unique: There is no other park of the same size, which has been developed by one single artist. The photos in this post are from spring time –let me start with the artist himself, surrounded by tulips:
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This park is more than trees, lawns and awesome statues by Gustav Vigeland. It’s love. Love for summer, fall, winter and spring, love for nature, changing colors through the year, love for children, for barbecuing, football, Frisbee even the dogs and the ducks (click pics to bigify & enjoy):
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The Tree of Life:
The sculptures are formed in bronze, granite and wrought iron. All together, the collection consists of 600 figures with the human life cycle from birth to death as its theme. Vigeland modeled the figures in full size in plaster, while he left the carving in granite and the casting in bronze to his talented craftsmen. He was also responsible for the architectural setting and the landscaping of the more than 70 acres of park area. This fountain at the center was the starting point of the parks design:
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The Fountain is the earliest sculpture unit in the park. In the center of the basin, six giants hold the large saucer-shaped vessel aloft and from it a curtain of water spills down around them. Water, a universal symbol of fertility, is used within the fountain complex in a meaningful juxtaposition with the twenty “tree groups” on the surrounding parapet, the latter evidently symbolizing the “tree of life”.

From the Monolith view point:
The Monolith at Vigeland Park in Oslo The word monolith means literally “one stone”. It took Vigeland over 10 months to make the original model in clay then it was done life size in plaster. The stone monolith was begun in 1929 and took 14 years carve all the figures. It contains 121 figures climbing up towards the sky and is meant to represent man’s desire to connect with the divine.
Below you see the view from the monolith platform back over these two smaller fountains and in the background you can see the Tree of Life and the view across the park centered towards the cathedral in the distance. Vigeland originally wanted to use another church which did not lay exactly on the axis of the park – and because of that he wanted them to move the entire church. This was not done but the church in the background was built intentionally to line up with the park. So great were his visions!
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As you can see in the photos above there are many tulips and spring flowers, but an army of gardeners which maintain the park change the flowers several times to match the seasons. This park is lovely to visit and popular throughout the year both with tourists and the locals. Are you tempted to take a guided tour now?? Come and visit us and we will be more than happy to show you around.

Spring in Oslo at The National Mall of Norway

Spring in Oslo at The National Mall of Norway #4Finally its spring here in Oslo, and summer is just around the corner. Everything is blooming and soon we will be swimming in the ocean, and sunbathing all around the fjord. Spring in Norway is quite intense due to the abundance of water (melting snow) in conjunction with plenty of sunlight and quickly rising temperatures (typically in May). Be aware that daylight varies greatly during the year. In Oslo, the sun sets at around 3:30 PM in December. North of the Arctic Circle one can experience the midnight sun and polar night (winter darkness). Today the sunrise in Oslo was at 04:27 and sunset in Oslo at 22:01 – that’s over 17 hours of daylight and the days will only get longer until the 21 of June. At Oslo’s latitude, summer nights exist in the form of prolonged twilight during June and July, these gentle “white nights” can be a nice and unusual experience for visitors.

«Spikersuppa» in “The National Mall of Norway”:
Eidsvolls plass (Eidsvoll Square) is a square and park in Oslo, located from the Parliament, along Karl Johans street, through «Spikersuppa» or “Studenterlunden” down to The National Theatre. It has been referred to as “The National Mall of Norway“.
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Left: Spikersuppa & behind the trees: The Parliament
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Left: view from Karl Johan into «Spikersuppa» behind the trees – Right: National Theatre at the end of “Mall of Norway”

In 1956, a plan by architect Arnstein Arneberg was set into motion, creating a decorative pool of water at Eidsvolls Square. Funded by the company Christiania Spigerverk (Christania nail factory), it was nicknamed «Spikersuppa»nail soup” – an old folk myth similar to stone soup in other countries). The pool has a fountain in the middle and a group of trees as well as statue of children playing by the water and deer:
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From ice cream to ice skating
:
«Spikersuppa» – surrounded by trees with a pond, a fountain and benches on either side – is a popular place to sit and enjoy an ice cream in spring and on warm summer days, the pond is filled with children. However – talking about significant change of seasons in Norway; in winter the water is frozen, making the pond a popular skating rink:
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«Spikersuppa» – Above: fountain in spring – Below: skating rink in winter time.
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Let me end the story with some more photos (click to bigify & enjoy!) at “The National Mall of Norway“. All four seasons have it charm, but spring is the most colourful – don’t you think?
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Spring in Oslo: Flowers all around “The National Mall of Norway” : -)

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Norwegians really know how to enjoy the spring season. As all of you have seen we are outdoors quite a lot in winter as well, but having this intense difference between cold winters and warm summer we are all out charging our batteries in the spring and summer months to recover from and prepare for the long dark winter. The contrast also serves to intensify our appreciation of all the seasons. It is in the differences and the contrast which makes the enjoyment so intense.

May 17 in Norway celebrating National and Constitutional Day

17th of May in Oslo - The Parade at the Castle #117th of May, Norway’s National and Constitution Day (signed in 1814), is celebrated as the most Norwegian there is. Nationalism, patriotism and childlike enthusiasm are shown, as we celebrate our freedom (after the occupation during World War 2 and 100 years of union with Sweden) and of course the signing of our Constitution. Adding to that, for a nation located at The Arctic Circle – after a long, dark and cold winter – we are celebrating spring! Special also, and we are damn proud of it: The children are in the center of the activities and the parades are free of military presence of any sort.

The Parades:
There are local parades and activities at every school, in every little town and village all across the land. We all are dressed in our best outfit – many in the national costume (Bunad) and all waiving a Norwegian flag:
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The largest parade of course is the school children’s parade marching down Karl Johan’s Street passing the Palace where the Royal Family will stand for many hours waving at the excited crowd. This is known as a day for the children, and on this day the King, Queen, Crown Prince and Crown Princeess are available to greet the children the entire length of the parade:
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Russ – The reveling Norwegian high school graduates:
This year is the last year we will have school children in the house as Diane’s son is a Russ this year. As you can read in my earlier posts, a Russ is a member of the graduating class. The Russ celebrates finishing their education from around the 21 of April until the 17th of May. In this period they wear the Russ uniform – normally red or blue overalls:
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– and there are many parties, concerts, busses if one is involved in a bus project, and of course the endless list of pranks which Russ perform. As a reward for completing a prank you get a knot in the golden tassel on the Russ hat.

Some examples of the Russ pranks or dares are: going 24 hours without sleeping, sitting under your desk an entire class, walk with loaves of bread for shoes an entire school day, do a 5 minute poledance on the underground train, kissing a policeman or -woman, standing up every five minutes in a class and call out “cheers” (skål) or running through the teacher’s lounge in your underwear. You get the idea – most are fun and harmless and the teachers get in their fair share of the fun too!

I think what really makes our national day special is the way it involves the whole family, with the children in focus from one to hundred years. Sharing this with you brings me down the memory lane and I feel the anticipation of a child before the 17th of May celebration begins: pocket money for ice cream, soda and hotdogs, the children parade and the fun at school in my best costume without wool tights and boots – finally in our summer shoes. Please join me in wishing everyone a happy 17th of May.

If you like to read more about the most Norwegian day there is, here are my privies posts:

17th of May – Norway’s National Day in Oslo
17th of May Parade in Norway
17th of May Norway’s Constitution Day in Oslo
17th of May Constitution or National day in Norway

Traditional Easter Bunny Egg hunt in Norwegian woods

Norway Easter Egg hunt #1 Easter Bunny or hare eggs dates back to pagan times and is more about fertility and celebration of spring than recent Christian Easter traditions. Honoured 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. The egg, therefore, was believed to have special powers: It was buried under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil or pregnant young Roman women carried an egg on their persons to foretell the sex of their unborn children. French brides stepped upon an egg before crossing the threshold of their new homes.

Why a rabbit lays eggs?
In the pagan spring celebration, they worshipped the goddess Eastre, the goddess of fertility and springtime and her earthly symbol was the rabbit. It was no ordinary animal, but a sacred companion of the old goddess of spring. The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the spring season. I’ll get back to our family tradition later, but just try to illustrate why spring when nature wake up from hibernation is significantly celebrated in Norway:
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After a long, dark, cold winter: snow has gone and spring is in the air!

Feeling guilty about arriving late one spring, the Goddess Ostara saved the life of a poor bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow. She made him her pet and filled with compassion for him since he could no longer fly, she turned him into a snow hare and gave him the gift of being able to run with incredible speed so he could protect himself from hunters. In remembrance of his earlier form as a bird, she also gave him the ability to lay eggs – in all the colours of the rainbow – but only on one day out of each year. The eggs should be given to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were held each spring. The tradition of the Easter Bunny Eggs hunt had begun:

Hunting Bunny Eggs in the woods:
Outdoor recreation goes with my family – especially in weekends and holidays – and hunting the Easter Bunny Eggs is a tradition I can remember since I was big enough to sit in my father’s rucksack. 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 the right spirit – and of course: you have to love being outdoors too. Here are more photos from last ears hunt, to give you an idea (click pics to bigify & enjoy):
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Left: Egg catch of the day! Right: Capturing the catch & share by mobile phone.

Spring outdoor recreation:
Beside the thrill of the Easter egg hunt, this is also about enjoying spring – outdoors – after a dark and cold season. Since settlement of mankind in Norway, thousands of years back, we take advantage of, are celebrating and enjoying the feeling of spring – a significant change in seasons – and therefore an important part of our rituals and habits. Let me give a clue with a few example photos from last year:
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Grill hotdogs on a stick on the bonfire.
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After the ice on the sea have melted: Left: Skipping stones – Right: Kayoing

We are soon on our way to my home town to meet my parents and sisters family for this adventurous tradition. When I post this in advance this year, it is to give you all the chance to have fun the same way. Have you tried? Or would you like too? Tell me what you think in comments please!

I have of course posted about this over the years and here are the previous ones:

Spring Equinox and an Easter Egg hunt
Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs in snow
Easter Bunny Eggs Hunt in Norwegian Woods

Top Oslo Sightseeing tips: Museums at Bygdøy Island

.Fram & Maritime museums in NorwayOslo’s Bygdøy island museums present; The Kon-Tiki Museum showing the legendary expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl; the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History; the Viking Ship Museum; the Norwegian Maritime Museum and the ship Fram, used by Roald Amundsen on his polar expeditions. Bygdøy is one of Norway’s oldest cultural landscapes with a rich history. It has beautiful parks and forests and some of Oslo’s most popular beaches, including the Huk ordinary and nudist beach. Actually a peninsula, its only 20 min bus ride or a quick ferry ride from Oslo’s Warf:
Leaving Bygdøy island by boat
Boat trip from Bygdøy back to Oslo takes about 20 min.

Sightseeing Oslo Fjord in Spring #20Two of our blog friends, Ginnie from Georgia, US and Astrid from the Netherlands, could not make it to the Oslo Blog Gathering in August 2010. So they came in April this year instead, to explore and have a taste of Oslo and Norway; our culture, history, traditions and habits. This post is from their second day of four, exploring Bygdøy and some of the museums.
On the photo to the left you see Ginnie & Astrid photo shooting Fram Museum from the boat trip around the Oslo Fjord we had the day before (click to bigify & enjoy).

The Polar Ship Fram:
Amundsen's Polar Ship Fram #1The Fram Museum tells the story of Norwegian polar expeditions, honouring three great explorers; Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen. This Scottish-Norwegian-built vessel is the strongest wooden ship ever built and has been immaculately preserved, both inside and out.
It was launched in 1892 and was built by the famous ship builder, Colin Archer; a ship that would withstand the rough ice conditions on its way to the North Pole. It was built to pop up on the ice when the waters froze in instead of being crushed by the ice and drift with the ice flow until melting out again.
At the museum you can step into the ship, to visit his cabin, steam engine and discover its history. In the pic you see us on deck steering the boat : -)
Fram (meaning Forward) is the ship that brought Roald Amundsen to Antarctica in 1911 for the race against the English man Scott, to be first to the South Pole – he won! With Fram he also discovered the Northwest Passage and attempt to reach the North Pole. Famous Arctic explorer, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize awarded, Fridtjof Nansen also used Fram on his polar voyages.

The Kon-Tiki Museum:
It houses a collection of boats and artefacts from Thor Heyerdahl’s expeditions, an unique example of Norwegians seafaring pioneers. On exhibit is his original Kon-Tiki balsa-wood raft, used on his 1947 expedition from Peru to Polynesia to prove that the Polynesians originally came from South America.
Heierdahl's papyrus boat RA II
Blog friends beside RA II – Read below:

Another is The Ra Expeditions, across the Atlantic Ocean by papyrus boats (1969-1970): You see, during the expedition to Easter Island in 1955-1956, Heyerdahl became interested in reed boats and their seagoing properties. The archaeologists’ excavations had uncovered pictures of large reed boats with masts and sails engraved in the buried statues and painted on flagstones in prehistoric houses. It soon became clear to Heyerdahl that not only balsa wood rafts, but also reed boats, with pre-Incan sailors could have carried the earliest South Americans out over the open Pacific Ocean.

Norway Open Air Museum:
Gol Stave Church in NorwayIf you want total immersion in Norway, the best bet is The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum), giving you Norway in a nutshell, presented with 150 houses and numerous exhibitions from it’s major regions. The open-air display includes wooden barns, stables, storehouses and dwellings from the 17th through 19th centuries.
Here visitors can also go inside an 800-year-old stave church from Gol. These churches, the greatest achievement of medieval Norwegian architecture, are built with wooden planks, called “staves,” in a multi-storeyed design that soars upward. They are decorated with elaborate carvings common to Viking ships and once were a common sight in Norway. In the picture you see Ginnie & Astrid together with Diane and me in front of Gol Stave Church.
I have posted about this museum before, so just click if you want to see more: Lefse and rural farmhouse from Norway and Historical Architectural and Cultural journey in Norway

This is the last post from our Blog Friends Astrid and Ginnie’s adventures and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as well as learned something more about Norway; our history, culture and traditions. Here are the two previous posts:

1: Top Oslo Sightseeing tips: Exploring the Fjord
2: Top Oslo Sightseeing tips: Norway Opera House

Maybe you want to visit and explore by yourself too? Just give me a hint – I gladly guide you around too : -)