Vikings

We had a lecture about the Vikings. Their reputation looms large but their actual existence was a period of only 250 years 850 to 1000. They used runic letters and carved their presence in many places include the Hagia Sophia!

Using axes or blades the Vikings wanted to leave their mark wherever they went and the went all over the place reaching around the Iberian peninsula to the south and west as far as Canada.
Looking good was important.
Found and preserved as found in the local museum the Viking boat looks almost frail. However the wide berth and shallow draft allowed great stability even in heavy seas. For me when I look at it I wonder how they managed to row, sleep and eat as they crossed the seas to Iceland, Greenland and further. One of the things we learned was that men were sleeping under the deck while the same number were downing. The boat never stopped until they reached a necessary destination. A model built in one of the museums showed how it worked.
Each bench held two towers operating one oar. The boards in the middle could be raised using a finger hole in the board the allow the person to get under to sleep. You were either sleeping or rowing.
Construction technique
Tools were iron and simplest and most wide spread was the ax with a wooden handle. The sword required more skill to make as well as more skill to keep sharp.
Red color was difficult to make and eye catching and became the color used by royalty. When crew could be standing because of.calm waters or no need for speed they wore dice the rowers on deck.
Using the same construction techniques the stave churches were built, but upside down. This is looking up at the stave church we saw last week.

Trondheim

Once the capital of Norway it is now the third largest city in the country but the capital is now Oslo. As we approached the city the landscape flattened.

Approaching Trondheim.
The departure area where we each must have our tags entered so that they know that everyone is aboard before they leave
We were headed to the Nidaros Cathedral built on a site that has had stone church buildings since approximately 1000. It is believed that the body of Saint Olav was buried at this site and therefore became the site for the religious buildings.
Inside the museum located on the site the remains of the original church foundation walks have been preserved. Since granite is everywhere that is the stone used for construction.
As usual in the medieval period the church became the central place for protection, for markets, for temporary buildings and animals. Now it us super clean.
In the museum there is a remarkable painted screw that tells the story of Olaf which has an uncanny connection with Christ. the Saint died and a year later his body was exhumed and he was remarkably preserved making his sainthood absolutely certain. Also a pool of water miraculously appeared and the water had healing properties. It became a pilgrimage site for centuries.

Quite a nice cover for the septic system.

From the cathedral we went to the fort built in the 16th century. It is now a city park and used for recreation and a viewpoint for visitors.
The houses are all wood including the piles that line the river. There are street after street for blocks around that have more or less the same form.
Colorful patches of garden pop up at street corners and in window boxes. In a place where grey skies abound this is a blessing.
This oddity is a bike lift. It is free to use to get your bicycle up the hill by linking your Nike the a continuous moving chain, much like a cable car in San Francisco and the bike goes up to the top of the hill where the schools are. Housing is on the blocks below where we have been walking.

A lecture on the Vikings this afternoon was great and I will try to give some idea of it tomorrow morning.

A factory, a funicular and onto a ship

This has been a very full day and now at 10 PM I realize I might finish this tomorrow morning. At the moment I am supine in my cabin 550 on the ship Nordlys plying our way north to famous fjords.

The funicular runs to a spot above the city where various restaurants and cafes allow for a respite for those hiking and a lovely spot for folks just wanting to see the city panorama.
The funicular moves in tandem with its twin going downhill. Through the curved ceiling you can see the city’s house arranged up the mountain. The man in the mask was the only mask we have seen since we arrived.
A really sunny day. Cheers for the weatherman.
Amen for this part of the day.
After the funicular we got back on our bus and traveled to the first factory to use local designers and labor. After the 3 original owners outgrew their space in another factory they renovated an abandoned factory building along a river. It had been abandoned for 40 years. This is the renovated building today.
Photos taken before the renovation began. The building structure is basically intact. The windows have all been replaced by triple glazing. There is air conditioning and a eco-conscious garbage program aimed at re-cycling and composting.
This is the genius who programs the looms. Each loom is programmed to produce whole garments or parts of garments. Each loom hums away as directed without supervision. Any kinks or problems are discovered in the lab before the program is placed in the production unit.
Some pieces are joined by a system that looks like a zipper in which a thread joins the pieces going from one side to the other. The whole process happens in a trice!
The loom to be programmed.
Threads of merino wool 75% and silk 25% of many colors.
Final exam by a repair specialist. When a problem is found it may be able to be cured, but there are garments where the repair can be seen and they are discounted and sold by other vendors.
My friend Joan Pont has a baby programmable loom and I sent hers photos to her.

Fish Farms in Norway

The rain did not stop our trip about an hour outside Bergen to a fish farm raising salmon. Our guide said that anyone uneasy about climbing onto 19 passenger boat riding low on the water can stay in the pontoon building that is part of the monitoring station.

One of the six pens filled with salmon being fattened for market.

The ride from the pontoon building located a 5 minute ride from shore was a taste of Mutiny on the Bounty. Our guide was a young man who apologized for the fact that he was new in his job having been with the company only two months. But he said if we had questions he could not answer he had immediate contact with others.

Our young guide actually knew far more than any of us about the whole operation but was very modest. And very tall.
This is Kat out OAT guide looking smashing in her outfit. We were all outfitted in life jackets and given a safety briefing prior to getting on board a launch from the platform pontoon building to the actual pens.

The ride back from the pens took us back to the port where our trusty bus was waiting warm and dry. None of were either warm or dry.

Soggy and Interesting Day

The town square shows the main newspaper for Bergen in forefront and the church at the entrance to the university in the far distance. The rain for which The city is noted accompanied us all day. My waterproof shoes were spectacularly successful.
A column under a glass overhang on the main avenue in the city.
The story of the Vikings in the Main Square impressed in bronze is the focus of the main square. Norwegians are proud of this connection to their history.
The dark block centered in the city center has been set up for a free concert to be held this evening. Audience is expected to endure and rain or wind that might accompany the music. The program consists of Grieg pieces. Greig is Norway’s gift to music in the last century. As we returned this afternoon the the Bergen Philharmonic was rehearsing in this structure. The sound of the rehearsal was spectacular.
The eighteenth century part of the port is undergoing another renovation. This area has gone through many fires but has managed to survive due to continuous ownership by families who were key to shipping interests that were responsible for the economy of Norway.
The renovation has managed to preserve the original building techniques which are unique in my experience of cities.
Part of the Port of Bergen being preserved by the city government.

Heading to Bergen

We are continuing north to Bergen where in a few days we will board our ship to go further north to Finland. But before we leave we will visit some locals – two local families.

Unique. A robo mower plies it’s way around the garden in front of the hotel!
The wife feeds the sheep who have come back early from the mountains that surround the town. She also makes various potions from wild flowers and plants and knits with wool from her sheep. She also makes jam.
The husband’s family has had the land for many generations, like many others in the village they intend to maintain their farm even as the life of their farm changes. The couple operates the farm with little outside help. They have a son at university who they hope will retain the land but they l know they must change the nature of the farm. Instead of growing much of their food they now only raise sheep who spend months on the mountains and they build and rent small houses to people who want to experience nature. The farmer has become a builder and entrepreneur.
Their house is part of the heart of the town and some of the family land was given to build the church.
This is the new family house finished last year with two rooms and bathrooms that they can rent to visitors. The area attracts people from cities who want to hike, bike and fish. The farmer is becoming more and more an entrepreneur with ideas for milling speciality woods for builders after having invested in milling equipment necessary for the buildings he has added. He is ambitious and enthusiastic.
Our next stop after lunch in an outdoor dining room owned by a couple who purchase only quality lambs like those raised in the mountains which meat is flavored from the new growth available in Spring and summer. Lambs raised line this are more but also can bring a high price from high quality restaurants and quality markets. After our lunch we went down to the station to get on a train the took us further up and through the mountains to a long distance train. This short special train gives a unique view down into the fjord.
The force of the water makes one think it will always be there, but even here there is a worry about shrinking rivers where water gets to the flat rivers that flow into the towns and cities.
The picturesque train took us to the large train that took us from the hinterland to the city of Bergen 3.5 hours away throwing countryside that was bring back down to sea level.
As we descended the skies darkened and rain began. And somehow I fell asleep.

Heading North

Our Oslo hotel where each room featured a bathroom which was a shower with a toilet in it and a basin on the only other wall. Our guide said proudly that Norwegians are very frugal and never use any more space than absolutely necessary. My necessities may be unfrugal ( not a word I am warned).
Once we left the almost empty urban streets we entered a long ride through hills near water. The weather so far has been benign. Blue skies and about 70 degrees at the warmest part of the day.

From that scene through a long tunnel we began an ascent that included the famed granite mountains and the sinewy waterfalls from the lakes above.

The gadget array at the small ski resort where we had lunch of wild mushroom soup (delicious) and raw vegetables which were OK but not remarkable. The ice cream that followed was pretty good. Please note the the gadgets can be used for free and are attached to a steel frame by sturdy wires. As advertised the user can adjust or repair baby carriages, wheel chairs, bikes and whatever else. Great idea.
We never ran out of the river.
Some roofs covered with soil as a means of insulation, this one at a small farm we passed.
My bedroom at the ski resort where we spent last night. Wow opulent!

We are heading to Bergen today with a stop at a farm where we have been told we may be required to do chores. Given the condition of some of my fellow travelers getting on and off the bus is a chore.

Oslo

Been having internet issues. I will continue in hopes of being able to connect with photos as well as text. Unfortunately my two earlier attempts are somewhere in the ether…

They seemed to have cleaned up the problem so I will have to recap my previous blogs and hope to give you a feel for this city.

Oslo on the weekend was eerily empty. According to one of our tour guides it is because all the families are either still away or just back because school starts today, Monday August 22 – all levels from pre-school through university. But this morning though there were more people the city still seems rather empty. Our group did a city walk this morning along a river the takes water from the hills above the city from which the drinking water is delivered. Sounds impossible but that’s the story.

Roaring down several waterfalls to deep pools with salmon runs.
Since lighting was essential windows are large and the roof provided excellent north light on this sail making factory.
Old mills which used the water power I. The 19th century.

The mills employed mostly young women from the countryside many of whom worked for very little pay. They often were exploited also for sex and when children were born various religious and civic organizations would house mothers and children and often take care of the babies during the day while the mother worked.

Sculpture of young women from the bridge leading to the factory

The university has its arts campus in this riverside park. We were told that there are music events the utilize the steps for concerts. We trekked up to use the facilities and to take a quick look at the two large galleries on the entry floor both of which featured paintings.

The steps of the arts campus used as outdoor music venue with classrooms and studios in the buildings.

New York, New York

Lot of activities and lots of people and a hiccup our two. But by and large a terrific trip. There is something about old friends that makes talking about the changes we’re finding as we age one really new topic. And Old jokes about old times seem as funny to us as ever, but only moderately so to partners. That could be why so few were in attendance but the pandemic was the reason given.

Across from Kale’s house. The scale has changed.

Getting Ready for the Fjords

In a matter of days I leave for Finland, Norway and Lapland! After considering getting a larger piece of luggage I decided to stay with the one I have and just take whatever fits. This is travel to a cold climate so I thought I might need bulkier clothes, sweaters and such… I will simply wear as many layers as I can while traveling and do a lot of washing. I know how to do that.

Getting ready

Usually I bring stuff to leave behind because often folks where I travel have little. But not so in these countries. However we are having a lunch with a family in Lapland and I have a memento designed to signal coming from San Francisco. It is a dish towel and we can always use another one of those.

A new kitchen towel

I am also going to buy some Jam made in SF because the locals of the Sami people who are the only remaining indigenous people in the region. They make jam from lingonberries and sell it and I hope they like the raspberry rose jam made by a small group in San Francisco.

Back to trying to figure out what to take and what not to. I am back to taking my walking shoes as well as my new rubber shoes for the rain which looks like an almost every day occurrence.

Hei hey! That’s so long in Finnish