Tour de France success for Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd from Norway

Another good Tour de France day for Norway; Edvald Boasson Hagen won his first ever stage of the Tour and Thor Hushovd remains in the Yellow Jersey for the 6th day in the row! Even more, looking at general classification after stage 6: #1: T. Hushovd and #8: E. B. Hagen – Who can ask for more? – I mean, there aren’t more than two cyclists from Norway in the Tour this year : -)
The world is surprised & impressed and the Norwegians are excited, thrilled and turned nuts this afternoon – It’s all over the news tonight and since my blog is about Norway; our culture, traditions and habits, it would have been a disgrace not to make a post about these two Norwegian Vikings and what they have achieved today:

Thor Hushovd (18 January 1978) riding for Garmin-Cervélo, is up until this year known for sprinting and time trialing and is the 2010 Norwegian and World Road Champion. Thor is now the first Norwegian to lead the Tour de France, and first Scandinavian to win the road race in cycling world road championship. He also won the Green jersey in 2005 and 2009.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (17 May 1987) also considered as one of the biggest rising talents in the sport, being ranked as #3 in the world by UCI as of 31 August 2009. Edvald is the Norwegian Time Trial Champion and now rides for the UCI ProTour team; Team Sky.

I know they have way to go – more than two weeks left of the Tour – but right now, the Norwegians takes one day or stage or even both the yellow and green jersey at the time. I guess you find it wise for a nation with only two participants on this years Tour? And that you can imagine that it taste sooooooo good – today! : -)

Norway 4th of July celebration in Oslo Vigeland Park

4th of July in Oslo Vigeland Park #5The 26th annual American Independence Day 4th of July celebration in Oslo’s Vigeland Frogner Park was a grand success! The American Coordinating Council of Norway (ACCN) arranges this celebration every year and we just love to participate. Like Norway’s Constitution Day the 17th of May, a national holiday is in many ways like a family reunion. Then it’s easy to imagine – living abroad – the feeling of being homesick on such a day, but those who were in Frogner Park really seemed to consider Oslo their “home away from home”. No wonder when you look at the keywords in the invitation: Great Food – Family Entertainment – Crafts – Book Sale – Bring Your Friends – Fun for everyone – Raffle with fantastic prizes including 6 Round-Trip tickets to the U.S.
Or if you look at the girls in the top left who willingly posed when I was hunting for some “Typical Americans” ; -)

So my American wife and I were there and with my Nokia N8 at hand, I’ll gladly share some highlights with you – starting at the grand opening on the stage (click pic to bigify):
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Left: Marine honour guard presenting the American flag – Right: Guest of honour: deputy mayor Mrs. Aud Kvalbein gives her speech.
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Diverse booths were set up giving information and special offers to Americans abroad and Norwegians as well, like this one manned by the US Embassy. The opening ceremony was begun with a speech by the American Ambassador to Norway, Barry White (beside him is his wife Eleanor) and of course I had to greet him and thank him for sharing one of his lovely citizens with me!!
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American food feast:
Before I show you some photos, here is the menu: Hamburgers • Hotdogs • BBQ • Chili • Ice Cream • Yogurt • American Lutheran Church manned the Coca Cola stand • American Women’s Club dished up lots of great America cookies • Sons of Norway offered waffles & sloppy Joes (not together thankfully) • Plus lots more goodies to feast on! We stood in the very long line for homemade, handmade freshly grilled cheeseburgers – fantastic!
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Hamburgers left – sloppy Joes right
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Cookies and ice tea

Street Cars Norway:
Once again this year, Street Cars Norway had an exhibition behind the stage and Thomas Følling (SCNs President) awarded prizes in 7 categories – Lucky one: a place in Oslo Motor Show 2011 in October!
An impressive exhibition I would say and quite American too – or what do you think:
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First a panoramic view – then: …….

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…… some of the beauties in details ; -)
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The atmosphere was truly an American 4th of July celebration with all the trimmings. There were lots of happy families everywhere with good music and good food, plus fun for all ages. It was apparent that many American families feel themselves at home in Oslo. We finished off the day in our traditional way with Diane’s grilled ribs, corn on the cob and lots of grilled vegetables. I want to wish all my American friends and family a Very Happy 4th of July!

Midsummer and St. Hans with Hans-Erik Husby as Cornelis in Oslo

Summer Solstice, St John’s or St. Hans or St Mark’s Eve, Cornelis Vreeswijk and Jesus Christ Superstar in a long Norwegian summer night, is a perfect combination for a midsummer celebration. In Oslo (60° North) we have 19 hours daylight and placed as close to the Arctic Circle, it doesn’t actually get dark at all. This calls of course for a joyously celebration, in Norway. St Hans Eve (Sant Hans aften) is normally celebrated around a bonfire; done to bring prosperity and luck as well as protect the home on what was believed to be the longest day of the year. My wife and I celebrated in a more cultural way this year – at a concert at Akershus Fortress called:

In the Light of Cornelis:
Akershus Fortress in Oslo Norway #1Cornelis Vreswijk (1937 – ’87) is undoubtedly one of Scandinavia’s greatest musical artists of all time and has become relevant again from the movie “Cornelis“. Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby played the role of the legendary Swedish troubadour in the film, and at Midsummer night Husby together with Vreswijk’s son Jack, held a concert using the music from the movie and interpret some of his songs in their own way. It took place in a historical and geographical landmark on Oslo harbor, at Akershus Fortress (see pic to the left) built in the 1600s. The location, surroundings, architecture and atmosphere on a long summer night in Oslo, were perfect. This panoramic photo, taken with my Nokia N8, is from about 10PM:
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There were beautiful arrangements with acoustic guitars, strings and subdued production and I could not resist trying to capture some of this magic moment with my Nokia – with photos and even some movies – to share with you. I hope you enjoy the scenery and music in the edited movie – even if the language is Swedish – although since Husby is in fact Norwegian, some Swedes may object to that last statement ;- )

From Jesus to Cornelis:
Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby has gone from hell to heaven and back again. From the time he was front figure and singer of Turboneger, under the name Hank von Helvete, singing hard rock and struggling with drug addiction, until he went clean and checked himself into a rehab clinic in Sweden. He then made a strong come back in the role of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Now he meets again another kind of underground when he debuted in the film role as the beloved, Swedish-Dutch troubadour Cornelis Vreeswijk:
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Left: Husby after the concert – Right: Husby in Jesus Christ Superstar

Cornelis came from Holland to Sweden at the age of 12 years. He bought his first guitar in 1954 and released his first album – Ballader och Oförskämdheter – in 1964, including the famous Ballad of Frederick Åkare and Cecilia Lind. His life was influenced by alcoholism, drug use, multiple marriages, imprisonment and economic problems, as well as a brilliant musical career. He is considered one of Sweden’s greatest poets and artists, in line with Carl Michael Bellmann and Evert Taube.
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Left: Hans.Erik and Jack – Right: Capture from my movie
Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby’s interpretation of Cornealis’ music was an interesting combination of the two artists, both nostalgic in the old melodies, and new in the at times more rocking presentation of the music. Since we have seen Husby in both rolls, as Jesus Christ superstar and Cornealis it was interesting to compare these two rolls and forms, and we enjoy his versatility and changeability from different types of music. The setting at Akeshus Fortress was the top of the cream in this St. Hansaften celebration and the perfect ambiance for a summer concert on one of the longest days of the year.

OsloBG at Oscarsborg Fortress and Oslo Medieval Park

The Oslo Blog Gathering exploring Norway and our capital’s architecture, culture, traditions and history – was a thrill and an adventure for about 30 Social Media active participants from all over the world. Some had been to blog meetings before, while other had only met friends in Blogsphere so far. One thing is for sure this blog gathering developed some real friendships which will last for a lifetime. So it’s a bit sad to sum it up and tell about the last day, however it also created new magical moments to remember in the future and I gladly share them with you.

The grand historic Oscarsborg Fortress:
OsloBG2010 at RennyBAMy wife DianeCA. invited those who wanted to join her for a trip to Oscarsborg Fortress. It stands on Kaholmene in the Drøbak Strait and has been there for more than 350 years. Build as a Coastal fortress in the years 1643-1644, its name was given by royal resolution on August 23, 1855 after a visit by the Swedish/Norwegian King Oscar 1.

Oscarsborg is best known for the sinking of the German battleship “Blücher” on the 9th of April 1940, WW2, and one can still get a whiff of the creosote (lignite tar) from the battleship. So the Fortress was military territory until 2003, but then made a publicly available resort island. We can tell you that many local families enjoy taking the boat out to the island fortress and having an enjoyable afternoon on the scenic grounds and visiting the charming seaside café.

Champagne on historical ground:
The Medieval Park in the Old City of Oslo (called Bjørvika) is the largest contiguous area of preserved ruins from the Middle Ages. It was here that the urbanization of Oslo started around the year 1000. In the 1300s there were six churches, three monasteries, royal residence and the bishop’s residence in this small urban society.

Surrounding the ruins is now a park and the old coastal line is recreated as it was in the middle ages by the creation of a water table to provide parkland quality and character. Before the grand finale in the evening, TorAa suggested this place as the perfect surroundings for popping the cork and toasting a successful gathering:
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Through Exhibitions and Events the park already communicates experiences, stimulating activities and even more: provides knowledge about Oslo City’s origins, and the role of Oslo as the capital and the Norwegian Middle Ages. The most famous yearly event is The Øya Music Festival, so we where in the right place to have a party:
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The grand finale celebration:
Three hectic days (and nights) were coming to an to end but we weren’t ready to give up without a fight, or rather a party. My wife DianeCA and I were exhausted, but we still had a jolly good time with the whole gang at Dubliner Folk Pub. It was a mixed feeling of sadness for having to say farewell, but also the loud buzzing and talking about all the excitement we had experienced. Nobody wanted to go home and all had a lot more they wished to see and do. I was thinking: All in all, many good reasons to come back:
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Lawrence aka BeaverBush came up with the party idea and made the reservations for us at the pub. He was so nice and gave me a bottle of very nice champagne on behalf of all the participants. I was happy, thankful and proud of course that all went so well. It was hard to make a small thank you speech – very emotional for me:
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Celebrating the Mayor’s birthday in the City Hall:
I have decided to end the report from OsloBG with the most Magic Moment of all: the opening ceremony as the reception by the Mayor in Oslo City Hall. Being aware of that the Mayor had his birthday that very day, I’d asked the participants to bring a small gift from their homeland to give to him. My wife had my Nokia X6 mobile phone, to capture the moment:

My wife DianeCA and I have worked hard on planning OsloBG for over one year and now that our mission is accomplished and my dream has come true, I want to thank everyone again who participated. We made the plan and invited the guests, but it was really each and every OsloBG participant who made the event what it was. Everyone played a key roll and it would not have been the same without them!
So far, all their posts about OsloBG is collected at the gatherings guest list. I will soon make a post to present all of them – so stay tuned!

OsloBG dining on Lille Herbern Island in the Fjord

Oslo offers a pulsing city life, but the fjord with its islands as well as the mountains and deep woods are also right on your doorstep. Exploring the environment in this compact capital of Norway was the aim of the Oslo Blog Gathering’s participants. Since VisitOslo gave everyone the Oslo Pass, we had the use of free public transportation, including the boats to the islands in the Oslo Fjord. One evening we took a ferry to one of the local islands for dinner. It was Mrs. Trøen, the Sales Manager of our HUB, the First Millennium Hotel, who came up with this splendid idea and reserved a large table for us. As always, I gladly share these magic moments with you, starting from the harbour at the City Hall, passing Akershus Fortress:
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Five minutes later we had left the urban city life and were enjoying the nature (click pics to bigify & enjoy):
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The ferry is relatively small and in just 15 minutes takes you to Bygdøy Island with lots of historical museums:
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Closer and closer to the Fram Museum:
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Fram = the boat Roald Amundsen used at his Polar Expeditions (the first to the South Pole in 1912)

Five minutes walk from there and you take Norway’s shortest ferry trip to the island where we were dining:
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Max 11 passengers and one minute drive.

The restaurant at little Herbern Island:
This small “hide out” is a hidden gem and a peaceful and idyllic island which should be on every Oslo visitors wish list. People started to come out here when the restaurant first opened in 1929, and it has been known as a small and precious pearl in the Oslo gastronomy scene since then, beautifully situated on a natural beach it is open yearly from May – October.
It could be taken for a private Scandinavian summer home on the outside, however inside the restaurant has seats for 65 guests and 130 outside on the terrace with a fantastic seaside view. The restaurant’s interior is bright, with big windows, white table cloths, wooden chairs and a beautiful parquet floor. I’m sorry I didn’t take any pics from the outside, but here are some from the restaurant late in the evening:
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Fantastic sceneries through the panoramic windows.

I have pics from our gastronomic adventures as well so join the Oslo Blog Gathering gang from all over the world and let me share the menu:
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I guess it would not surprise you that seafood is their speciality and to me of course; the choice was easy. So first things first; the starter – bon appétit:
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Scampi on a crisp salad with balsamic vinegar dressing
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Left, the main course: grilled salmon on pureed potatoes – Right, the dessert: cappuccino pannacotta

After the one minute ferry back to Bygdøy Island, we took the bus back to Oslo – a 20 minutes drive and we were back in the city and First Millennium Hotel again.

This was Friday night’s menu and we were all getting to know each other quite well – making friendship for life. According to the OsloBG program, we still had one more day and night of fun and adventures, so stay tuned there is more to come!