May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Monday, August 8, 2011

On the way to Denmark

August 5-6
Expensive Pad Thai
A travel day, and nothing to talk about.  The hostel is fine, with 8 of us: 2 French, 2 Dutch, 2 Swiss.  It was rainy so we took a nap and then shopped for food after getting a plate of pad thai for $20 a plate.  Yikes. 

dog on the sled
On the 6th, we went to the Viking museum.  The ships, sleds and very elaborate tools, chains, bowls and ceremonial carved things were preserved in blue clay for about 800 years so that people could put them together again with pretty amazing accuracy.  I loved the carvings that were very knotted together: a serpent would hold onto a man, holding a woman, on a horse, with a dog, holding the sleeve of someone else, etc., etc.  The carvings were intricate and the metalwork was detailed in such a beautiful way—even the chains
that held the pot off the ground were artistic.  These ships were retired as burial ships.  In the mound there were 50 horses,
maids, pets along with things they would need in the afterlife: tents, sled, cooking supplies, weaving tools, furniture, etc..  Everything was so beautiful and some from time BC.  All that wood was preserved to give us a real picture of the boats way back then.

Then we went for an Indian buffet for our one meal out a day for 90NOK each.  The coffee was sour.  How strange!  The waitress told us about the free “Sofa Festival,” so we went searching for that, passing the Peace Prize museum and lots of street performers.  I hoped to increase the tips of an accordion player by dancing next to him, but alas, no one came by while I was there.  The Festival costs $20, and we were feeling like we had spend todays rations, so we walked along the water toward the opera house.

We climbed up a rampart and listened to music from below as we gazed over the bay and watched ships go in and out.  The castle there was interesting too, in that there were layers that indicated different building techniques, one guard that walked his beat, smartly turning when at the end of his walk, and very high walls to protect the rest of the innards.  


Finally, we zigzagged the roads to the sensational sight of the Oslo Opera House!  When they said in the book that you can walk on top of the roof, I didn’t imagine that the roof slanted all the way to the ground!  Lots of people were up there for the sunset, with families and just being on this huge white wide space.  I bet it’s astonishing to see when it rains.  You could see the inside from the huge glass panels, and it was filled with tiers of wood slats, not unlike our EMPAC center in Troy.  I noticed similar acoustical patterns on the surfaces too.  It was finished in 2008, and is an impressive contemporary edifice that invites people to engage with it.  Also, the exit dumps people right out to the trains, busses and metro.  Very well planned in terms of flow! 

August 7 

Les as Gargoyle
We caught an early bus to a train to the airport and flew to Copenhagen.  We’re still clunky when we arrive to each new place, but now we have a pattern.  We go to tourist info, get maps and things and get some local money—which we spend far too fast.  We always walk around a bit before we head in the right direction on the right metro or train.  We found someone going to our hostel that was “right next to the metro station,” which here means 3-4 blocks away.  It’s an impressive hostel with the whole second floor being a hang out area with lots of couches, TV, music playing, patio, bar, café, game area and free wifi.  At night the place swings with youngsters drinking beer and flirting on the dance floor and in the bar.  I think it’s a great idea, so they aren’t in the streets looking for a good time.  (Well, they are there too.)  The hostel is brand new and they did it up right.  Our room of 8 has bunks with 2 plugs and a light and a little privacy glass at one end, huge trunks that you can slide out and lock under the beds, 2 showers and 1 toilet in the room with a sink in the open.  The place could use a kitchen though. 

We decided to get the 3 days of transportation rather than a card that would give us free access to the museums and sites.  We found out that Hamlet at Elsinore Castle was sold out, but tonight they were playing Richard III.  We chanced it and went on the train up the coast to see if there were tickets.  We got there around 5:30 and tickets went on sale at 7:00, so we walked around the estate with a huge moat (that used to be the toilet for hundreds of years), took a gander at Sweden across the channel and read the fascinating history of the place.  We got tickets, and as we waited we received blankets to keep us warm during the show that was in the inner courtyard.  I talked with one of the crew who loved her job helping out the cast and also as a volunteer in the street helping the drunken teens get on their feet on the weekends.  She told me stories of all the haunting images she has seen in Elsinore Castle in a room where she was a part of lots of Germans  having a feast, wore historical garments in the gardens and enjoyed the company of historical characters of the place.  Past lives?  Connections to the spirit world?  I LOVED the play.  Les was less impressed, but really loved seeing an actor he respected and knew from his previous work.  The whole piece was so gory that they added a layer of dark humor that made it in some way relieving and in other ways even more disturbing.  Fake blood was used to the max and all the magic of the theater helped to make it seem real enough that I winced: the pulling of entrails out of one, the drilling of another through the head, chainsaw-ing yet another to pieces, and the regular stabbing and shooting and pummeling of others.  After each killing, the men in (bloodied) whitish masks and coats would sing a little gay ditty as they cleaned up the remains.  Oh, and the whole cast was male; I enjoyed seeing the ladies played by men, and not hiding the fact that they are men; they even wore a skirt with a matching jacket, feminine in the front and tales in the back.  Richard was pretty disturbed, and was animated in all the forms that show pathological irritation.  Upon exiting, they had big cannonball type lamps lit along the walk to light our way.  I imagined how dark castles would get with only lamps in them.  We got home late, and slept in late.  
I’m afraid that Monday the 8th wasted our free transportation card, as it was rainy and we spent it indoors and at the supermarket.  We found out that tomorrow the ballet is giving a free outdoor concert in a nearby town, and there are some potential jams for me to go to throughout the week.  Wednesday is free museum day at several places.  Catch up on the blog today for me, but when I went to steal Les’s photos and videos, the ones before the castle were all gone!  GONE!  That was when his camera started speaking Spanish yesterday for no reason.  It must have reset itself somehow.  I feel so bad for him.
Harry has an even more different name in Norway

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