Urban nature at Ekeberg Sculpture Park in Oslo

Urban Nature - Ekeberg Sculpture Park #10Ekebergparken can offer installations by international artists, as well as museums, restaurants and a panoramic view of the city. Scattered across 65 acres on a small mountain across the Oslo Fjord from the city, the Sculpture Park includes works by artists that range from Renoir, Botero and Salvador Dalí to Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer and Dan Graham. There are a handful of site-specific works already installed, including a Sky Space by James Turrell, his northernmost to date, which the American artist built into a hillside beneath a newly artificial lake.
We’ve had the loveliest sunny weather this weekend and my wife and I have had some quality time while enjoying the colourful fall scenery on our photo hunt. You’re welcome to join us and enjoy some of the shots – let’s start with a panoramic view of Oslo from this hill area:
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A view of Oslo, the capital of Norway from the hills of Ekebergparken

The hilly area is about the same size as Oslo’s other famous park, Vigelandsparken (The Vigeland Sculpture Park), and is inspired by similar international facilities, such as Louisiana outside Copenhagen, Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands, and Storm King Sculpture Park outside New York.

The collection of sculptures and installations on display in the park was put together by a committee of experts, with the feminine as an initial theme. Let me give you some examples from our photo hunt:
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Left: – “Mother and Child” by Per Ung – Right: “Venus De Milo Aux Tiroirs” by Salvador Dali
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Left: “Venus Victrix” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1914-1916 – Right: “Marilyn” by Richard Hudson

From dilapidated to attraction:
For those for whose impressions of Norway are limited to gravlax, skiing and Edvard Munch, Oslo’s vibrant contemporary art scene, which has been garnering international buzz lately, may still come as some surprise. The latest chapter in the Norwegian capital’s development is this ambitious new Sculpture Park – the passion project of Christian Ringnes, a local real estate tycoon who bought the adjacent Ekeberg Restaurant and donated tens of millions to create a sculpture park. In 2005 he refurbished and reopened Ekeberg-restauranten (the Ekeberg Restaurant), the area’s prime eatery.

The Urban Nature:
The hill area was converted to a park as early as the end of the 19th century, but was left to deteriorate until this property investor on a walk through the park was struck by how neglected and unused it was. I’m happy to report however, that it’s still plenty of room for a quality time in these recreational surroundings:
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– just 10 min from the centre of Oslo – I would say Recreational!

The natural beauty of the park is still part of the attraction and young and old were out enjoying the fall colours. Some of the statues are playfully hidden on the side trails so you have to go looking like a treasure hunt. There is also a nice dog park where both dogs and their people enjoy socialising in the sunny weather.
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Left: An untitled sculpture by Dan Graham – Right: More urban nature : -)

Above you see an unusual sculpture by Dan Graham, and as you can see the viewer becomes a part of the art itself. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did and if you ever get to Oslo don’t miss this experience – just ten minutes by bus or tram from Oslo center.

RennyBA’s Top sites to visit in Oslo

RennyBA's Top Oslo SitesOslo is the economic and governmental centre of Norway and a hub of Norwegian trade, banking, industry and shipping. It is an important centre for maritime industries and maritime trade in Europe. The city is home to many companies within the maritime sector, some of which are amongst the world’s largest shipping companies, ship-brokers and maritime insurance brokers. Oslo is also a pilot city of the Council of Europe and the European Commission inter-cultural cities programme.
Some have been here before, others will be visiting for the first time; This post might help to make it an experience of a life time! You’ll find tips & hints to help when planning for your stay – planning is half the fun you know – and you may use this page as a reference to share when you return home too:

Oslo Sightseeing tips:
Oslo New Opera HouseOslo New Opera House: The construction – designed by the acknowledged Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta (If you want to have a look at some of their famous project around the world, click here) – is the largest single cultural-political initiative in contemporary Norway. It took five years to build and the result is an extraordinary building that rises directly from beneath the fjord. Founded by the government, the idea was to bring opera and ballet to the people and it’s the only opera house where you can walk on the roof! It’s only 5 min. walk from Grand Hotel so don’t miss it!

Vigeland Sculpture ParkVigeland Sculpture Park: The 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.

Thr Viking Ship MuseumMuseums at Bygdøy island: Just over the fjord is a peninsula called Bygdøy. In 20 min. you can get there by bus (number 30) or by ferry departing from the harbour by the City Hall. At Bygdøy, within walking distance, you’ll find:
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.

Holmenkollen Ski JumpHolmenkollen Ski Jump: Just 20 min. by the tube, you are into the forest and up in the mountains with a breath taking view in the most recreational aria of Oslo.
The Holmenkollen Ski Jump is a famous Oslo attraction you should not miss. It’s the home of our national ski museum and was e.g. site of the 2011 Nordic Worlds Ski Championship.

RennyBA’s Oslo Sightseeing Map:
Click the blue marks to find more info about some of Oslo’s attractions – or click text: “RennyBA’s Terella Oslo Guide” (down left) to explore the map in details!

Vis RennyBA’s Terella Oslo Guide i et større kart

All you need to know about Oslo:
VisitOSLOVisitOSLO is the official marketing organization for Oslo and the surrounding regions. The purpose of their website is to promote Oslo as a travel destination. It’s the Official Travel Guide to Oslo providing all the information you need to plan your visit. I strongly recommend that you visit their site and get acquainted with Oslo; what they have to offer and what you would like to do: www.visitoslo.com

Use Public Transportation!
Oslo PassTake the Gardemoen Express Train from the airport (fastest = 22 min. and cheepest!). All trains stop at the Central Train Station, every other stops at the station “Nationalteateret” which is right in the centre of the ciry. Then there is a comprehensive public transport system in Oslo, consisting of buses, trams, trains, boats and T-bane/Sub/Metro.
Easiest way to explore Oslo and surroundings, the Oslo Pass, provides free travel on all public transport and free admission to museums and sights.

Weather & Climate:
Songsvann in Oslo by RennyBAThanks to the Gulf Stream bringing temperate water from the Gulf of Mexico, Oslo’s climate is milder that what its latitude would imply.
Statistics says for October: Average temperatures: 6,3 to 10,8°C // Min. temperature: -0,2°C and Max. temperature: 22,5°C
You’ll get the best weather forecast by clicking here!

Check if you need a Visa:
A visa is not required for nationals of countries with which Norway has signed a visa waiver agreement. Nationals of countries with a visa waiver may stay in Norway for up to 90 days. The countries with which Norway has a visa waiver agreement are listed here.

Norway Family touring Medieval Siena in Tuscany

Medieval Siena in Tuscany Italy #1Siena is a classic walled city and one of Italy’s prettiest medieval hill towns located in the heart of Tuscany with ca. 55 thousand inhabitants. It’s also the best preserved medieval city in Italy and I’ve read that the people of Siena speak the purest Italian in Italy – actually Italian language students often go there to learn the correct pronunciation. Its peak was about 1260-1348 when it was one of Europe’s wealthiest cities and many of its buildings and art works originate from that time.
While on a family trip to Italy recently, it was on the top of our list to explore of course. So if you like to join us, I’ll gladly give you taste of this magical, beautiful and culturally rich Tuscan town. It is world famous for its renaissance architecture, a stunning view of the landscape, famously fantastic cuisine, wine and the big event: Palio di Siena – a horse race festival – taking place at the large fan-shaped Piazza Del Campo in the heart of the city:
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Twice a year, this famed Palio delle Contrade takes place on the jam-packed piazza. The city’s three districts, di Citta, di Camollia and di San Martino, were once divided into 59 sub-districts (or contrades) of which 17 still exist and make the competing teams. It’s a horse race like nowhere else (only ten can compete at any time for safety reasons) and runs on July 2 and August 16. All Sienese are affiliated with one of the contrade, to which a typical Sienese feels loyal with a strength perhaps surpassed only by their loyalty to their family.
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Since the 11th century, the Sienese have conducted festivals every year where the contrade compete for renown (and in times gone by, actual political power) through contests such as flag throwing, horse racing and even fist fights. The race itself is in late evening but the whole day of the race is taken up with processions through the streets of the various contrade competing in the particular race.

The Duomo in Siena:
A magnificent black and white Italian Romanesque cathedral including the Libreria Piccolomini, Baptistery, and an attached Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The construction of the cathedral began in the 12th century, but it was not finished until the 14th.
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Its bands of dark and light marble make it an unusually beautiful cathedral, and its western façade is richly decorated with statues. Inside, the floor of the cathedral is covered with 56 marble panels with figures from mythology and the Old Testament.
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Walking in the Medieval Renaissance City:
The center of Siena is accessible only on foot. Cars (other than taxis, police, etc.) are strictly prohibited, but motorcycles and scooters are OK – and there were plenty of them : -). Of course it’s like a fairytale to walk in this best preserved medieval city and maybe it is the warm colour of its buildings that also made it very special. After all, it is clay from surrounding district – terra di Siena – that gives us the colour in our crayon boxes; “Burnt Sienna
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Talking about the horse race and that all Sienese feels loyal with strength: Each contrade has a public fountain bearing its emblem, such as a panther, a fish or an eagle. While strolling through the city, we saw them on the corners of the houses too (top left in this photo):
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This is the third 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 will know that I’ll do more posts from this trip, so stay tuned – Pisa and the leaning tower is next!

Family from Norway touring Tuscany in Italy

Family from Norway touring Tuscany in Italy #2Tuscany represents a journey of leisure, pleasure, cuisine and of course, discovery: Marvellous scenery in a landscape full of colorful rolling hills, massive mountains and numerous rivers – every valley is a waterway and rich in history, encompassing the ancient as well as modern, urban, and artistic. When travelling, you’ll find perfectly preserved hill towns, fabulous art, the most beautiful countryside imaginable, almost tropical coastal areas, great cities (e.g. Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Lucca), top quality restaurants and food stores, possibly the best cafes in the world as well as friendly and beautiful people.

Now I can tell by personal experience, since we had a big family trip there last week; my wife (DianeCA) and I, our children + SO and even my grandchild met up with Diane’s brothers and wife 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. To give you an idea, let’s start with a photo I took from the plane just before landing at Pisa airport:
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From Base Camp Pisa, which was a great adventure in itself, we travelled around to explore and tried to cover at least some of the sights we had read about and picked out in advance. I’ll gladly take you along and have decided to make a more detailed post of each of the highlights – for you to enjoy and for a recommendation to those who plan to visit Tuscany. To give you a clue in this introduction post, let’s start with a collage I have made – to put the scope of work on the map so to speak:
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Tuscany’s culture spans centuries of ideologies and rural and city life in a rich tapestry of art and history, as beautiful as it is fascinating. In addition to the fame of Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Siena, Fiesole, Arezzo, Carrara, Volterra and San Gimignano, and countless other corners of the region hold delightful gems to which one can only wish to return.
So in the following posts, I will take you with to these four places: Pisa, Florence, Siena and the famous Cinque Terre (“the five lands” – actually not in Tuscany, but close enough and a must see if you’re staying as close as in Pisa!).

Central Tuscany: Around Florence or Siena:
The most popular areas of Tuscany are around Florence (the capital of the region) or Siena. Florence is a larger town (population of ca. 300,000) and Siena is smaller (around 50,000). Anywhere within a 45 minute drive of Florence or Siena will be a good location for a first time countryside visit.
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Left: Florence by Santa Maria Del Fiore Dome – Right: The Medieval Town of Siena
Florence became prominent after the death of Matilde di Canossa, the last of the Marquises of Tuscany, in 1115 and the defeat of the Pisans by the Genoese at the battle of Meloria. Florence’s subsequent rise was inexorable, culminating in the Nineteenth Century, when the State of Lucca was annexed to its territories.

Pisa is more than the Leaning Towre:
Of course best known for the world famous Leaning Tower, if you come only to see that, you’ll miss the rest of the architectural and artistic marvels of this beautiful city. The half hour walk from the Campo dei Miracoli to the train station runs through a pedestrian street with many interesting sights, shops, and restaurants. The best way to explore Pisa is walking the streets – the city center is very small. I’ll give you a taste in these photos, but will give more details in my separate Pisa post later:
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Left: Piazza Garibaldi – Right: Arno River

Cinque Terre – The Five Lands:
All the towns slope down to sea-level except for Corniglia, which is perched on top of a tall cliff. Four of the towns possess an old-world charm (from North-to-South: Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore). The northern-most town, Monterosso, is completely different. It is very beachy or resorty, with a fine boardwalk and modern apartment blocks and hotels—nothing like the narrow, crooked streets of the other towns, lined with colorful old houses stacked haphazardly on top of each other:
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Cinque Terre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The name means Five Lands and comprises the five small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso located in the Italian region of Liguria. On our one week family trip, this was to me the highlight of sightseeing. Again, I will give you more details in a separate post – so stay tuned! In the meantime, you might think about finding some connection between the name Cinque Terre and the name of my blog: RennyBA’s Terrella !?!

Updates – Later posts from this Family Trip:
1: A Taste of Florence to a family from Norway.
2: Family from Norway touring Medieval Siena in Tuscany.
3: Pisa more than Leaning Tower for Norway Family
4: Family from Norway exploring Cinque Terre in Italy

Edvard Munch Modern Eye in Paris Frankfurt and London

The travelling Edvard Munch exhibition “The Modern Eye” started in Paris Centre Pompidou and focuses on The Norwegian painter’s later works and his relationship to his contemporary era. His personal experiences and the introverted workings of his mind have always attracted attention, but here the spotlight is on his inquisitive participation in his social affairs and a modern visual culture.
The exhibition is stringently organized in distinct sections. In the first section some of his major works from the 1890’s are presented. In the next one will find later versions of the same motifs in Munch’s radical artistic idiom.
OsloBG participants At The Munch Museum
Claudie and Renny at Munch’s masterpiece “The Scream”.

The Oslo Blog Gathering to Munch Museum:
OsloBG 2010 was a chance to Visit Oslo, the capital of Norway, to explore the city and Norway’s history, culture and traditions! Among a lot of options, I was pleased to take our special blog friend Claudie from France to the Munch Museum. The artists masterpiece and most known work was of course a must see : -)

Her Majesty Queen Sonja travels to France:
Her Majesty Queen Sonja was honourable guest at the premiere of the Munch exhibition L’oeil moderne” at the Pompidou Center in Paris. “The Modern Eye” presents a variety of formats through which Munch expressed himself.

Munch arrived in Paris in 1885 and developed his graphic expression here as a student of the French painter Leon Bonnat. In this exhibit, drawings, graphics, sculptures and film contribute to a very special presentation of Munch’s art and his modern look.

Munch’s ‘The Scream’ is the defining image of modernity, and one of the most important works of art in private hands. One of four versions of “The Scream” was sold by Sotheby’s auction house in New York this spring for about $80 million.

The exhibition was displayed in Pompidou Centre from September 2011 to January 2012. Now it’s at Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt and will also be at Tate Modern in London from 28 June to 14 October 2012. If you have the chance to see this exhibit while it is on tour I would say, Carpe Diem : -). Don’t let the chance pass you by!