Saturday, July 17, 2010

Norway

May 31-June 4

There are already half a dozen or so blog entries about my conference trip to Norway—but I also took advantage of the trip to see a little bit of the country as well.  I didn’t land at the airport until around 9pm, and was a bit concerned I wouldn’t have time to see Oslo (or that if I pulled an all-nighter it would affect my presentation at the next day’s conference).  Making things worse, I was worried about getting back to the airport on time, especially since the capital is 40km from the airport—but I also really questioned whether I’d get another chance, so I went for it.

It was amazing to be so far north—at about the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska, it never really got dark. It looked like it was dusk all night long.  The flowers in bloom—tulipsmini_tulips —were two months later than what we see back in France. I had hoped to plan a bit ahead to know what to see in Oslo, but was so focused on my conference presentations that I didn’t plan any sight-seeing.  So when I got downtown, I figured I’d just ask at the tourist’s office—or consult a map at the train station. Unfortunately, it was 10:45pm or so when I got there, and everything was closed. No worries—I only had an hour or so until the last train of the night for the airport, so I just headed out for a quick walk through center city. I headed east, apparently, and did a big loop past anything that looked interesting.  mini_trainThen on my way back I got lost and had to ask a few people how to get to the train station—but luckily there were plenty of people who speak English. The last few minutes before the train left were pretty stressful—I still had to get back to the station, plus buy tickets and find my way to the platform. Luckily the train was late… I don’t know if I would’ve made it otherwise. Here’s what I saw, starting with the town, passing the orchestra, ancient fortifications, and the harbor.

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Here’s a shot from my hotel window, just before 2am—looks like sunset.

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The next morning I really wanted to capture what I’ve heard about Norway—that it’s a very progressive country—and I think the cars here suggest everyone’s comfortable mini_cars (the cars are all practically VWs, Mercedes, Volvos or BMWs). Everything seemed expensive to me ($10 for a five-minute bus ride), but that’s probably what’s required to bring everyone up to a living wage.

The next mini_DSC04851morning was pretty cloudy so I only got a few opportunities to see the Norwegian countryside—but it was very sparsely inhabited, had lots of lakes, and the mountains were snow-covered.

The arrival in Trondheim was really exciting— a city that was built in the foothills of mountains plunging into the sea.  The streams were not tidal—they dropped too quickly, rushing with cold mountain water. The trees were almost all pine or aspen.

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These red barns were scattered anywhere they could farm. mini_DSC04871Unlike France, it seems like most of the houses here are separated by private property (France tends to make tiny villages, or even clusters of farm houses, surrounded by farm land).

Here’s a picture of my hotel—it was right on a waterway. Next up is Nidaros Domkirke—the conference organizers helped us see some of Trondheim by organizing evening events in some of the following pictured locations.

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The conference food was great. My favorite was this machine that makes fresh-squeezed orange juice on demand. 

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On my way back home there was good weather flying over the Netherlands—but what is this?

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I missed my connecter in Paris, and was pretty sad about it at first—then I realized I could walk away from the train station a couple blocks and enjoy the city for a relaxing dinner, followed by a walk along an old viaduct.

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Gare de Lyon:

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Back to the family!

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