Eventhough we've lived near Scandinavia for ten years, in all this time I haven't visited much of it.  Kinda like living in Queensland and never having snorkelled on the Barrier Reef.  You know you'll do it someday, so you don't hurry to do it - and visitors from other parts of the world wonder if you have rocks in your head.
The last four days I was on a work trip in Norway - a country I visited for the first time.  Although we didn't do too much sight seeing, we enjoyed views of modest red wooden Norwegian country cabins on the edge of lakes, or in the middle of rolling countryside on the way up to the town of Hamar.
Norway, as far as I understand it, is one of the richest countries in the world.  Latvia, last time I checked, is one of the poorest countries in the EU.  So needless to say we found Norway hideously expensive.  In anticipation of the prices we (3 colleagues and I) had brought bags of food along, and we mostly opted for making our own meals in the museum apartment we were staying in, rather than buying crappy 700 crown (about $20) hotdogs for dinner.  A humbling experience - and seeing as we specialize in emigration, I kept having visions of WWII refugees living off loaves of Latvian rye they had taken from their homeland.  I've gotta say that after day four with a dwindling supply of rye bread and cheese made the Latvian refugee experience all a bit too real, and I broke out on the last day to buy food that made us feel human again.
We mostly spent time touring around some of the museums in and around Hamar, and were impressed by the resources invested by Norway into cultural heritage.  Norwegians themselves are reserved, and sincere, and in terms of character very much suit the Latvian disposition.  We felt comfortable with our Norwegian colleagues, and from the visit I think I better understand the equally  modest super-style of Scandianvian architecture and design.
After the trip I know I definitely want to return to Norway as a tourist, not a museum  professional - with a huge pile of cash and a wide-angle lens ...

Hedmark museum - medieval ruins preserved by a modern construction by Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn - a fabulous synthesis of new and old, creating a light, airy gallery for the artefacts within.

Hedmark museum also sported the most amazing medieval cathedral ruins surrounded by a huge glass "greenhouse" - making for a warm and echoing space of worship amongst the stonework

A couple more details from museums.  Above, the Alf Proysen museum (a Norwegian musician and children's entertainer).  He grew up in a fairly poor farmhouse, which was on the "shadowy side" of the valley - literally.  In Norway this is kinda like being from "the wrong side of the tracks".

Inside the church at the Norwegian Emigrant Museum - all these things (including the church itself) are items previously beloning to American-Norwegians, which have been relocated from the USA

Mmmm.  wooden door.

Double mmm.  Norwegian creme brulee ice cream - just what we needed to wash down our rye with cheese

How I want me a pair of them troll shoes...  clumpy, felted, gorgeous troll shoes! Maybe next visit...

4 Responses so far.

  1. Fifee says:

    I've been waiting for your latest blog entry! I'd also love to go to Scandanavia. I love the felt shoes too - I have a pair of Central Asian ones for baby M. If you go back to Norway, will ya please please buy a small pair for my wee boy too?
    You have a fab life over there. I could post pics of north western Victoria or eastern Gippsland etc but it just doesn't have the same impact as different regions in Europe hey! Lucky you. And where is that house pic spread??

  2. What a wonderful post. I pored over it. What beautiful photos. And I loved how you described Norwegians. That's just how I would hope they'd be ... quiet and insincere.

    How I wish to go to Scandinavia and soak it all in.

    Thank you. I love your little blog. It's another world you live!

  3. I meant SINCERE! What am I thinking? I blame children refusing to go to bed. I apologise to all Norwegians. Really.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Moths must not be a problem! Looks amazing.

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