Family Outdoor Recreation Day in Norway

Family Outdoor Recreation Day in Norway #2This 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:
Family Outdoor Recreation Day in Norway
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.
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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!
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Skiing and Fishing
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Kiting and Swimming
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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!
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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!

Blogging Connecting People to meet up in France

OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall #1Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and of course “Blogging Connecting People”, is one of my sayings. I mean it opens up new ways to learn about other cultures, traditions and habits and then breaks down barriers the same way. Even more; it creates opportunities to make friends around the world and as a network evangelist, of course I love that. After almost 7 years of blogging, I have plenty of examples: Hosting the Oslo Blog Gathering in 2010 with about 30 participants from all over the world was of course an experience of a life time (photo on top is from the grand opening at the town hall) and after that traveling to Lisbon to visit Helena at Lelé Batita and Luis , the Portugal’s representatives.
For me Connecting People and Meet Up adventures actually started even before that; in France when Claudie and Pierre invited not only my wife and I, but another blog couple from Norway and a couple from Sweden as well. We had a jolly good time and photos tell more than a thousand words; so here is a collage from that week:
Blog Meet Up in France 2009
The hosts gave us a taste of France cuisine every day – we was at a jazz concert in their local town and we visited the beach at Bandol, in Marseilles and Toulouse.
Her are my posts from this wonderful week in France 2009:

1: Building friendships at Blog Gathering in South France
2: Blog Gathering at Ollioules in Provence France
3: Blog Gathering in Provence France visits Le Castelle
4: Norwegians visiting Montreux by Lake Geneva in Switzerland

You might have guessed why I put up this post right now? Yea; Blogging is still Connecting and gives the opportunities to meet up: We are meeting up with Claudie and Pierre again this week and are so much looking forward to seeing them again. So stay tuned, I will of course post about it when I get home and in the mean time you can follow us daily on Facebook!

A look back at OsloBG exploring Oslo and Norway

A look back at OsloBG 2010 #1Oslo Blog Gathering; A guided adventure in Oslo, the capital of Norway, to explore the city with our history, culture and traditions – 19th to 21st of August 2010 – was a thrill of a lifetime! A dream came true for me and good blog and social media friends from all over the world. The idea – after many requests in comments and mails – was to give everyone in Blogosphere a chance to come and see some of the attractions presented on this blog over the years. It was a perfect match to one of my sayings: “Blogging Connecting People” and a proof of what networking is all about: “A Givers Gain”.
To me this gathering was an ultimate outcome of sharing from Oslo and Norway. Today I want you to join me and take a look back and reminisce over the amazing time we had.

Oslo Blog Gathering Planning Kickoff #1Thanks to First Hotel Millennium we had a centrally located hub to meet up each day before our adventures. We thought we might be relaxing there in the evening but every single day things took off and we dragged ourselves in to the hotel totally exhausted and often quite late ; -) Never a dull moment and no time to waste at OsloBG!
The hotel manager and staff met with us several times throughout the planning process and helped us with setting up, tourist information, and an area to meet up and plan our daily adventures. Every time I pass by First Hotel Millennium now I think of our OsloBG and what a wonderful time we had.

A look back at OsloBG 2010 #3VisitOSLO was an important associate and a key contributor in making OsloBG a success. When I first talked with their Convention Manager – with my head full of ideas of a detailed program – she served me The Columbic Egg; “We give every participant The Oslo Pass, so they all can reach and enter the sights they want” – for free!
VisitOSLO is the leading organization in profiling and positioning the Oslo region as a tourist destination. They are dedicated to contributing towards the development of commerce and culture in the region. So when you are in or plan to go to Oslo; always check their website for all you want to know about the city:

A look back at OsloBG 2010 #5The Grand Opening was at Oslo City Hall with a reception from the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang. Even his own birthday didn’t keep him from greeting these excited bloggers and providing us with an exceptional guided tour of the City Hall. Even in places I had never seen before!! All of OsloBG’s guests had a little gift from their homeland for the Mayor’s birthday and to thank him for receiving us on this special occasion. After the reception many of us went for dinner at Aker Brygge and had a chance to be better acquainted over good food and wine.

OsloBG Vigeland Sculpture Park #2The first day as you may recall we had a guided tour around the highlights of Oslo. Oslo Guideservice provided excellent transportation and information on some of the most interesting sites in the area like Vigeland Sculpture Park and Holmenkollen ski jump.
The guides took us through Vigeland Sculpture Park and gave us an insight into Vigelands work and vision in designing every detail of this beautiful green area of Oslo. Although the weather didn’t cooperate as well at Holmenkollen ski jump, the best part was thankfully inside and many made it to the top for the ultimate view.

A look back at OsloBG 2010 #9On the 20th the group was divided into activities of choice. My group had a guided tour of Oslo Opera House, a trip round the main street of Karl Johan, and watched the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. Meanwhile Tor’s group had a day on Bygdøy island exploring the museums and beaches there. In the evening we had dinner at a small but charming restaurant on Bygdøy Island with a fantastic view of Oslo fjord.

The final day of our program again included the groups dividing up and exploring as far away as Drøbak! Ending the day with a champagne reception in the medieval park, and a roaring night on the town at The Dubliner!! That and plenty more photos – even a movie from the Mayor’s reception – is included in this cavalcade of a movie I made from these three days, enjoy:

OsloBG at Medieval Park #3I want to give a special thanks to all the participants. One thing we really felt after you all went home, when we looked back we felt so certain that Oslo Blog Gathering would have been different if even one of you didn’t come. One of the best things about OsloBG was the people and how everyone added a little something special to the group. In short it wouldn’t have been the same without you!
Click to see The participants and their adventures posts!

We hope one day to meet everyone again, and who knows maybe there will be another OsloBG in the future?

Biking Göta Canal in the heartland of Sweden

Along Göta Canal in Sweden #5Sweden’s most beautiful waterway, the Göta Canal from Sjötorp by Lake Vänern to Stockholm, takes you through green forests, along sparkling lakes to picturesque homesteads in a breathtaking rural landscape. Anyone who longs to relish the silence of intact and untouched nature is definitely in the right place here and a bike trip is one great option to take it all in.
I often post about my love for outdoor recreational activities. So when my wife and I started our little bike trip from Sjötorp to Norrkvärn (10 km) the other day, I was thinking: this is a perfect example of what I mean when I talk about charging your batteries! As always we both have our Nokia mobile phones at hand to capture some of the highlights and of course I gladly share some with you – along with some educational facts of course – click photos to bigify & enjoy:
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Left: Biking is a popular activity – Right: Well maintained bike paths make this a real treat

The Göta Canal:
Celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2012, Göta Canal is Sweden´s construction accomplishment of the millennium. Built between 1810 and 1832 under the leadership of the famous engineer Baltzar von Platen – employing some 58,000 soldiers as laborers – it’s 190 km long, passing through no less than 58 water locks and reaching a total elevation of 92 meters above sea level. All along the canal you’ll find an abundance of sights and attractions, lush, scenic vistas and many charming towns and villages, all embedded in a unique canal atmosphere.
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Left: Canal town, Lyrestad – Right: Charming lock keeper cottages
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Panorama view of the Swedish countryside
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Left: Still of the original hand cut stones – Right: The locks have room for some fairly large vessels

You can rent boats, canoes and kayaks in many places along the canal. The old labor road along the canal is one of Sweden´s most popular bicycle routes, and there are also many attractive hiking trails along the way.
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Us with the rented bikes at Sjötorp
The rental bikes are sturdy and comfortable, with broad wheels that roll smoothly on gravel and grass alike. They are equipped with baskets and a luggage rack on the back so you can have as much or as little as you like with you on your trip.
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Canoes & Kayaks

Norrkvärn – a miniature version of the canal:
In the area surrounding the Norrkvärn lock, we see a miniature version of Lyrestad’s church tower within a model of the Göta Canal. The mini canal is a working model of Väster Götland part of the Göta Canal and a popular area for families with children:
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Children learn through exploration at the mini canal

The models are made of solid building materials so the children (all ages LoL) can play in the water, sail boats down the canal and learn through experiencing it firsthand. The mini canal includes locks, a waterfall and buildings from the local area and invites to play and experimentation. Oh and by the way, this is all free – there is no admission to enter the Norrkvärn Park.
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They can follow the route or sail their boats through the locks.

MS Bellevue of Mariestad:
Many tourists negotiate the canal in their own vessels, but there are also tours with classic canal ships available, offering cozy scenic cruises with fine onboard accommodations and restaurants. Of course you can also choose shorter cruises between the many historically and culturally interesting sites along the shores. My wife DianeCA shot a film with her Nokia of one of them: Bellevue of Mariestad. Including some of the photos, I made a movie out of it – enjoy:

So if you want to see the idyllic heartland of Sweden from a unique perspective, a voyage on Göta Canal is highly recommended! You can easily understand how this part of Sweden has a special place in the heart of this Norwegian. Although we have been coming here for over 10 years there is always something to experience anew. If you need more info or booking, Mariestad Tourist Office gives excellent service!

Sailing Vänern from Mariestad to Sjötorp and Göta Canal

Sailing Vanern from Mariestad to Sjötorp #1Sailing with M/S Marianne from Mariestad, known as The Pearl of Lake Vänern, to Sjötorp (the beginning or end of Göta Canal), is on our top 10 must do list for summer vacation. We often save this adventure for when we have guests visiting us at our vacation home like last year with my FIL (click to read the story) and this week with my sister and parents. As always with my Nokia N8 mobile phone at hand, I tried my best to capture some highlights from the tour + stops and I gladly share it with you.
Let’s start with some passengers you might recognize on board, leaving the harbour of our vacation town, Mariestad:
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M/S Marianne on Lake Vänern:
Sailing Vanern from Mariestad to Sjotorp #4Lake Vänern is Sweden’s largest inland body of water, and the fourth largest in Europe. There are more than one hundred tributaries, the main ones flowing into the northern part. Lake Vänern drains into the Kattegat Sea (the Atlantic) via the Gota River and the combined area of these two bodies cover 10% of the total area of Sweden. About 139 Km (80 miles) long and 70 Km (43 miles) wide, it is a significant cruising area in itself, with numerous guest harbours and natural harbours with wonderful sand beaches.
The charming M/S Marianne motor ship built in 1897 and it’s enthusiastic crew from the association taking care of this treasure set you in the right mood and take outdoors recreation into a new dimension:
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Left: The crew on the bridge – Right: A lighthouse by an Iceland
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Scenery from the boat: On shore and a bridge (Torsö)

Mariestad lives up to its nick name as “Pearl of Lake Vänern“. It’s the most evocative stopover among the lake towns, known both for its architecture and as a center for exploring the district. It’s famous for the many well-preserved old structures in Gamla Stan (or Old Town), including one building from the 17th century, all of which have survived despite several widespread town fires. The town founded in 1583 lies on the eastern shore of Lake Vänern, taking its name from Maria von Pfaltz, the first wife of Duke Karl (later Karl IX). He also build the dome church, an icon and landmark, easy to spot on our boat trip:
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Sjötorp and Göta Canal:
About 10 miles north of Mariestad, at the Göta exit, we arrive at the village Sjötorp. This is the end (or beginning) of the Göta Canal, and the gateway to Lake Vänern:
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There are small charming shops by the locks, and a canal museum featuring tools used to dig the canal in the 1800s, a large collection of outboard motors, but probably the most interesting is a collection of items retrieved from the canal (including an old model mobile phone).
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Shops with ice cream, refreshments, smoked seafood and handcrafts.

The Göta Canal is one of the most remarkable waterways in the world and historically an important communication links between the inland industrial Sweden and the rest of the world. It’s 190 km long, dug out by hand between 1810 and 1832 by some 58 000 soldiers removing 300 000 cubic meters of rock and earth in order to create the three-meter deep and 14-metre wide canal. The construction foreman and certainly the one who promoted the project most strongly was Baltzar von Platen.
Today it is little used for trade but more and more by tourists who are using the canal. Since you can enter from both Stockholm and Göteborg (connection from the Atlantic ocean), they represent all kinds of nationalities:
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Left: Dutch. German, Danish and Swedish – Right: Even Russian
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Boats in a lock

A trip like this on M/S Marianne gives our guests a view of our summer paradise in a nutshell. One experiences the city and the country, the lake and canal, not to mention the culture and the history of the Mariestad area. It has the additional bonus of being a recreational day with a 2 hour trip on the water and a chance to explore the local area.