Friday, November 11, 2011

Oslo

I recently made two trips to Oslo, so that I can go to St. Petersburg next week to see the Russian ballet. Honestly you would think Russia doesn't want tourists based on how difficult it is to get a visa. At the embassy, they gave me the third degree about my visa application. Questions like 'So it says here you have a Ph.D., what in?' 'Neuroscience, eh? Are you sure that's a real thing? Sounds suspicious.' Before I even got there, I had filled out this form that was full of these questions that I wanted to answer in ridiculous ways because, really, what were they expecting?

Here is a sample:
Do you have any specialized skills, training or experience related to fire-arms and explosives or to nuclear, biological or chemical activities? If «Yes», please explain


So is this where I mention my extensive training setting zombies on fire in Left 4 Dead? Or how in Fallout, I detonated the nuclear bomb that I was hired to defuse? Russians have no sense of humor.

Or this one:

Have you ever tried to obtain or assisted others to obtain a Russian visa or enter Russia by providing misleading or false information?

Oh damn, you caught me. I did that once before, but not THIS TIME.

Well anyway, it was a good excuse to visit Oslo. Here are some sights that I saw during my first trip to drop off my passport & visa application.
The Nobel Peace Center
I went to the Viking Museum, where they had the remains from 3 Viking ships that had been discovered because they were used to bury important people, similar to the Egyptians in the pyramids. Cool.
Actual viking ship


Besides the ships, they also had various artifacts that they found buried with the ships
Cart because, well, of course you'll need transportation in the afterlife
Some curly snake-fish thing to ward off evil I assume
During my first trip to Oslo, I went to see a puppet show called Mio Min Mio, which was written by the same person who wrote Pippi Longstocking. You can read about the plot here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mio,_My_Son

Then on my way to see a performance by Aly Bain, a fiddler from the Shetland Islands, and Ale Moller, a Swedish musician who played the mandola (kind of like a cross between a guitar and a banjo) and the harmonica, I managed to get lost when all I had to do was stay on the same street and go straight. Yeah I still don't know how I managed to get off of that ONE street, but it's just further proof that I shouldn't go anywhere without a GPS! The music though was fantastic. I found this clip on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvlhGBLqmmE

That concludes my first trip to Oslo.

On my return trip to pick up my visa, I saw the famous Oslo opera house. I would have liked to have seen a show, but tickets for those sold out long ago. The building, though, was gorgeous.

My first view of the Opera House
Inside there was this eerie green glow coming from what I can only assume is where they torture all of the green M&Ms
100,000,000 matchsticks

When they had finished building the opera house, they threw the leftovers into the sea where some beavers made their own opera house
I stayed in a hotel/hostel that was in downtown, so it was nice to hang out in the evening. Oh wait this isn't evening--it just gets dark at 4pm!

What? You mean you haven't heard of African-Chinese food?

Lion guarding the parliament building

Lots of shoppers because, well, it's only 4pm
The next morning I walked to the Russian embassy around 8:30-9am.

Oh sunrise already?
Luckily I did not get lost staying on one street to get to the embassy
After leaving the embassy, I spent a couple of hours at the Sculpture Park, which will have to be another post entirely because it was so amazing. On my way from the Sculpture Park back to the train station; however, I got lost many, many times. Well I suppose to be fair, I didn't really have a specific idea as to which streets I needed to take to get to the train station. I just kept finding these blue signs with white arrows and followed them, hoping they would lead me to the train station.
Blue sign with helpful arrow
These berries bestow intelligence
Which is proven by my next brilliant idea!
Substitute for GPS = picture of map from bus station
With the help of the map, I found my way back to the train station via this park, where it happened to be the changing of the guards at Oslo's Royal Palace. They only do it once a day, so that was lucky.
Outgoing guards
Incoming guards
Ok so I don't know if this will work, but I took a little video of them marching.


video

At the end I was looking for the button to stop recording. I did mention it was a new camera, right?

Ok that's the end of today's post. Sadly, there were no trolls in Oslo. I did, however, find this woman who was turned to stone.

Kids, this is why we never look at Medusa.

The Bergen Railway

Ok so it's been a few weeks since I updated this blog. In the meantime, I have had many troll-hunting adventures & even found one (see end of this post). I've also made two trips to Oslo via the Bergen Railway, which passes through 6+ hours of scenery that can only be described as breathtakingly beautiful.

Actually if you want to watch a completely unedited version of the train ride, just click here: http://www.nrk.no/nett-tv/prosjekt/1277/  No seriously, apparently editing is overrated, it really is a 6+ hour video. If you think that's too much, you should watch this: http://www.nrk.no/nett-tv/prosjekt/2343/ It's a 21+ hour unedited "film" of a famous boat trip that goes up the coast of Norway. Now, aren't you glad I only show you a portion of my pictures?

Some of these demonstrate how difficult it is to capture pictures from a moving train:
Snow is pretty when you don't have to be in it
Doesn't this look like a postcard?
A few minutes later...
I totally did that on purpose.
Almost to Oslo the first time
Leaving Oslo a couple of days later

Fog that turns you inside out

My favorite--REFLECTIONS! (more on this in a later post)
Home of the infamous sea monster Loch-zilla
Loch-zilla ate the old man who lived in this house while we watched helplessly
What's better than a reflection or snow you say? Why, a reflection of snow of course!

This concludes my first trip on the Bergen Railway. For my second trip, I got a new camera: the Canon PowerShot S95. Thanks Charlie for the recommendation! Sadly, while the trip from Bergen to Oslo was during the day, my return trip was at night, so no pictures from that leg of the journey. But here are some good ones from Bergen to Oslo:

Just after sunrise it was still foggy
Home of a famous troll hunter
Seriously. Love. This. Camera.
There were so many just like this...
And as promised, TROLL:

Troll discovered in the mists of Mount Floyen