Tuesday, May 17, 2016

17th of May

Here it is, May 17th again.  For most of my life, this day meant nothing much except maybe a track meet or a baseball game in high school.  In college it meant...well...I guess college was over by this time based on how many graduation photos I saw posted on social media this weekend.  I think the first I probably heard of the 17th of May being a special day was a brief mention by my Grandfather when I was helping on the farm.  He pointed out the date and called it by it's Norwegian name, "Syttende Mai".  Little did I know that a few years later I would find myself, jet lagged and delerious, in the middle of the biggest Syttende Mai celebration in Norway.

This photo was taken by me, on that rainy cold morning, looking down along Karl Johan's Gate (street) with the Royal Palace behind me.  I was there, on that packed street on the day of Norway's biggest celebration.  The reason for the celebration, by the way, is similar to our 4th of July.  It marks the day Norway signed a constitution and became an independent country in 1814. The Scandinavian countries have an endless history of occupation and shifting borders dating back to ancient days.  On that morning I saw the Royal family waving from their balcony, including the baby and toddler princess and prince.  They would be a older boy and a teenage girl now.  Wow.  I should look up pictures to see how they look now.

If you have been reading this blog for a long time you have read my reflections on my study abroad trip in Norway before.  But it is coming up again this year because...it was 10 years ago! 10 YEARS!  How can this be, I don't know.  This two month adventure has never left my mind.  I return there in my head every day.  The smell of certain beauty products I used while there, hearing songs (Purple Rain by Prince is one so I have been reminded of it constantly these last few weeks!) and the smell of blooming flower trees brings me back there so fast.  Oh, I wish I could feel so carefree again and look so young.  Now I am always burdened with uncertainties and weighed down with endless responsibilities big and small (these kids need breakfast, lunch AND supper every day?)  When I think back to how I was in those months I might as well have floating around in a happy delerium.  I wasn't completely care free of course.  I always had the usual law school worries in the back of my head (grades, jobs, grades, jobs) but this was after my first year and I truly felt like everything would be just fine.  I would love to spend a week back in that empty dorm room with only a suitcase full of clothes instead in my house where I can't even walk or find a spot on the counter to make a sandwich half the time because I can't stay on top of the toy and junk invasion.  Well, wishful thinking...I had my time for such adventures that many people never get at all.  I still keep this picture in a frame on my dresser as a reminder of that time...as if I needed a picture to remember!

It's a picture of a picture because, for some reason, I don't have this picture on Facebook or my old blog from the trip even though it is one of my favorite pictures.  I have all my 100's of pictures on cd's somewhere but quickly finding those would be impossible.  Hahaha laughable even! 

Here are a few pictures I had in old FB albums...

This little statue is a famous Norway landmark that is a popular photo opportunity for tourists.  It is a baby statue in Vigeland park, which is filled with hundreds of statues of people at all stages of life.  Recently I was holding Milo and he was fussing and he looked just like this baby!  This is one of the only photos from Norway that I can still relate to on a daily basis!  Hahaha.

Here is another baby.  If I remember correctly, there was a bridge or path which featured the baby statues.

Here is an internet image of the park so you can get an idea of the scale!  It was pretty amazing.

That monolith in the distance there was the subject of more than few dirty jokes among Norwegians!

This was in Bergen along the water.  It was historically a prosperous shipping port and headquarters of the Hanseatic league. 

One of my favorite weekends of the trip was our bus trip to the Sjoa river which was several hours north of Oslo.  We stayed at a historic guest farm where the old buildings were still intact.  

I stayed in the main house but some of the class stayed in these lofts.  It was really a great weekend.  The river is powerful and sleeping with it roaring right outside the window was really memorable. 

This was our rafting day!  Oh, my word, was that fun and terrifying at the same time.  The water was freezing and very fast and rough and our boat tipped over a few times! I was in that water!  I still can't believe it.  It was so clean.  Our rafting guide would fill his water bottle from the river.

This was when we did bridge jumping over the same river!  I remember hanging off the side of that bridge and saying "I can't just let go!" and then I did.  I swung so low that my ankles felt the water.  Eeek!  Then I had to hang there while everyone else pulled me up.  

One day we went hiking high above the tree line.  It was such a strange place to be.  Norway is full of natural extremes like this.  Another favorite memory of mine is when we took a train ride to Bergen which took us across the country over the rugged mountains.  We boarded the train in the evening and rode all night and at one point the train stopped and I took off my eye mask (you got these so you could try to sleep on the train since daylight in the summer lasted all night long) and looked out to see nothing but jagged white glaciers.  And also my classmate standing outside smoking in shorts and a t-shirt!  Such a strange sight! 

This is from a weekend trip to Copenhagen in Denmark.  Tivoli park is a beautiful theme park that was the inspiration for Disney Land.  

This big lion statue is outside one of the main train stations in Oslo.  It was the station where you ended up after riding the train from the airport so it was one of my first impressions of Oslo.  Believe it or not, lots of tourists pose like this!

And of course, no trip to Norway would have been complete without a visit to an authentic stave church.  This place was old as old could be dating back to something like 1100.  Not quite as old as the Vikings but pretty old!

Here is a link to my blog from that summer.  I found myself wanting to tell stories but most of them are already told in it!  I know everyone loves to relive someone else's vacation from ten years ago so if you're bored...haha...


Well, back to my living room I go.  I think I will research some local liquor stores to see if they have any of the cheap Norwegian and Danish beers we preferred on that trip!   

No comments: