The Best of the Day — Amsterdam

September 11, 2016

img_5705The amazing thing about today is that we woke up in Oslo Norway and now we’re here in Amsterdam!

img_5748It is a city of bicycles and bridges, open markets and art museums.  Bustling with life and diversity.  182 different nationalities here.  1,500 bridges.  A city plan laid out by farsighted city fathers 400 years ago.  The weather is balmy, and it seems everyone is out sipping coffees, drinking wine, lifting beers, walking, talking, cycling throughout the city.


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The Best Thing About Today — Oslo, Norway

September 10, 2016

 mjp-2016-49885I would come back to Norway, just to see Vigelandsparken.  Vigeland’s sculptures are the most engaging and moving sculptures I’ve ever seen.  Imbedded in 80 acres of lush parkland, trees, lakes and streams, the sculptor Vigeland designed a series of bridges, formal gardens and geometric terraces for delighting the eye, refreshing the spirit, and displaying his works.

His pathway starts with a bridge, whose portal is flanked on both sides not by the guardian lions that you would find in Paris, but by strange serpents erotically entwining resisting and submitting nude females

img_5648img_5661The bridge is populated with stone renderings of men and women in motion and in contemplation, solo and in communion.  Their poses emote tenderness, longing, striving, strength, waiting and burden-bearing. All is youth, adults in prime, children in anger and satisfaction, parents with offspring.  Those on one side of the bridge beckon to those on the other side.

A pause, then, for contemplation, as we stroll through a massive geometric rose garden.img_5674mjp-2016-49874

img_5664We enter now a plaza with a powerfully gushing fountain.  Surrounding, humans are clinging, reaching, trapped or nearly drowning within tree-like water plants.  On one side, the humans within are young and playful.  As you progress, the other side depicts struggle, distress, death, imprisonment.  Small frescoes, which at first are overlooked, each evoke a different human drama.

mjp-2016-49909We walk on, up wide, gently escalating steps.  Four finely wrought gates invited from east, north, south and west. Leading up to an obelisk are sculptures of people at every life stage.  No one stood alone.  All were humans in relationship. Each grouping evoked an aspect of human living.  Progressing in a ring were depictions of every life stage, from playful childhood to wistful contemplation in old age.

mjp-2016-49911A towering column graced the highest point in the park.  Entirely formed of human figures, limbs interlaced, reaching, draping, one upon the other, building a tower of human life.  Powerfully, the artist suggests that civilization rises higher and higher, built upon the lives and achievements of those that came before.  Over time, the single individual merges with the mass.  No one is crushed.  No one alone bears the weight of all.

After a few hours in this park, I felt I had experienced a lifetime, actually many lives.  There is no wonder that the city of Oslo built a house and studio for this genius of design and sculpture.  I would recommend a flight to Oslo just to experience Vigelands Parken.  There is nothing like it in the world.



The Best Thing About Today — Oslo, Norway

September 9, 2016

The best things about today are COMFORTS. All of these comforts, we take for granted at home. We’ve had major marvelous experiences, overlooking small inconveniences. Many times, that means just living like a typical European. Refrigerators are small, dishwashers uncommon, we’ve never seen a garbage disposal and showers splash all over the bathroom. Sometimes, we have adapted to what is there. We have slept in the bottom of a bunk bed, and on futons on the floor. We have had a bedroom the size of a walk-in closet. We’ve cooked in a kitchen so small only one person can fit in it. We’ve lived under ceilings so low, Martin had to duck every time he entered a room. We’ve shared a house with a Norwegian mother, her friend, a toddler and two Germans. And, we haven’t watched television for 40 days.

img_2370And now, we are in Oslo, in the best apartment we’ve had all trip. We have it all to ourselves. There is a deep, long sofa in front of a huge flat screen TV. Not only does the shower contain the water, but the bathroom is heated from under the floor. Right now, the clothes are tumbling gaily in the washer and the dryer is doing what it otherwise takes days to accomplish.



img_2369Did I forget the king size bed? (Rare!) Miraculously, there is a continental comforter that stretches all across the bed (two twin comforters is the norm in Scandinavia, on a double bed). We have closets! This is only the second time we have had closets. The apartment is light and bright, on the top floor. And we could go up on an ELEVATOR with the luggage! Our refrigerator was full of breakfast food upon arrival, and today we walked a short way to the food store, and filled it up the rest of the way. Life is so good!img_2362img_2363

P.S. If you read yesterday about our sudden attempt to escape from the rain, you may be wondering what weather greeted us here. Yes, my dear ones, it did rain. But there was no wind, and it was brief. The sky actually turned gray-blue for awhile. You can’t really flee the rain in Scandinavia. The National Art Museum, a walk in the Queen’s Park, and a good lunch out took care of us just fine.


The Best Thing About Today — Flying South!

September 8,  2016

We are total weather-wimps!

During the last 38 days, we have been cultivating the most positive appreciation for the water that comes free out of the sky and makes all at our feet brilliantly green.  We have learned never, ever to leave the house without the complete complement of rain gear.  “EXPECT rain!” has been our moto for each day’s adventures.  Whine about a little water?  No, not us.  We were doing SO well.

We have been wonderful — until yesterday.  We arrived at lovely Floro in a rainstorm.  The nice girl at the tourist information office put on a cheerful face, saying with a slight quaver in her voice, “I HOPE you enjoy Floro.” Our enthusiasm wavered a bit.

Nevertheless, we optimistically packed a picnic in lovely Floro.  As we ate it — in the car – rain lashed the windows and wind rocked the car. To boost our spirits, we held an in-car competition for who could describe the weather with the most superlatives, the most outrageous analogies, with expletives.  Hysterical laughter overtook us.  We lost it.  We were to travel NORTH the next day.  Were we going to be able to see the Brikdalbre glacier once we got there?  Was the most beautiful fjord in the world going to be shrouded in cloud the whole time we there?

Doubt filled our souls.  Checking the long-range weather forecast, images of raindrops and clouds filled the screen for days on end.  For sport, we started looking at the weather in various other places in the world that had more sunshine – almost everywhere.  Two and a half more weeks going north in Norway?  No way.

Time for a U-turn.  Who cares if we are spoiled, sun-indulged Southern Californians.  Change of plans!  We’re heading SOUTH.  Next stop, Oslo.

The best thing about today was our flight to Oslo.  Ironically, the skies cleared luminously on the day of departure.  From the air, we saw fingers of water pushing into huge mountains.  Immense mountain ridges with patches of snow, and even a glacier.  Rivers and lakes gleaming everywhere. Amazing views through sun-drenched windows.  Best flight I’ve ever been on.



The Best of Today — Floro, Norway

September 7, 2016

The scary-good thing today was a hair-cutting event.  Martin was quite traumatized at the prospect of turning over his head and hair over to an outlander in a foreign land.   He had been going to the same predictable barber, John, for the last twenty years.  However, now, even he conceded, he was looking a bit shaggy.

Strolling through downtown Floro, it was beginning to look bleak.  It was 4:00 in the afternoon, and most stores were closed for the day.  We needed cash.  The bank, in a converted warehouse down by the wharf, had closed at 3:30.  We finally sought assistance from a grocery clerk, who directed us to a gigantic, rusty anchor, behind which was hidden an ATM.

We took the money and ran,  past several  “frissors”.  They did not embolden him, even though he had a qualified therapist by his side.  His therapist achieved complete rapport for his terror, upon sighting the advertisement you see above.

img_2339Finally, we ended up at one of the more conservative salons.  Martin sat in the chair before Anna, a sweet-voiced German girl with broken English, pink hair, nose piercings, and tattoos all up and down her arms.  He took a deep breath, and tried to explain “business cut”.

She commenced.  It turned out to be the best haircut I’ve ever seen on Martin.  He could get a job in Norway pronto with a style like that.  At the thought of “job”, we decided to get out of town fast.