Saturday, June 29, 2013

Scandinavia, Part Three: Oslo, Norway

After several charmed days in rural Denmark, we took an overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo en route to the fjords. We only had a brief part of two days to spend here, so we were all about what the kids wanted to see: viking ships.
Here are the kids in front of Town Hall with its famous clock.
Our ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo.
 Departing Copenhagen. If you look really closely, you'll see the famous Little Mermaid statue across the water and in-between the two buildings.
 Arriving in Oslo.

 Slaying the tiger at Central Station.

 The kids modeled viking gear.
 This memorial was for the 2011 bombing victims and was just outside Oslo's Cathedral.

 Inside the church.
 I love the carved doors.

 The royal palace.

 The beautiful interior of Town Hall.

 The Viking Ship Museum (a small ferry ride from Oslo harbor on a gorgeous island in the archipelago).
Can you just imagine a crew of burly vikings heaving this ship through the Baltic Sea?

 Gryffy takes his role as "Hiccup" seriously.

How could you transport anything in this beautiful cart?
I think the vikings had a sensitive side, because they were clearly artists.
 We love open air folk museums, and this one was just a few blocks away from the Viking Museum.
It was like stepping back in time (or into a Jan Brett tale), though many Norwegians still live in rustic homes just like these.

 All over Norway, you see grass roofs.

 This was a stave church transported to the folk museum. It looked extremely similar to the other one we visited, but I especially loved the opportunity to see one in its natural setting (more on that in a later post).
 The dragon "gargoyles" scare away evil spirits. The wood is specially primed on the tree for these structures for many years, and the structures are covered with tar and smell strongly of linseed oil. Because stave churches are built on rock foundations, they don't rot (but they do burn, which is why only several dozen of these ancient churches remain in the world).
If you ever have a chance to visit one (translated: you ever get to Norway), don't pass up the opportunity.
Absolutely breathtaking.
 Such fine attention to detail.

 The carvings in Norway remind me so much of Tolkien's Rivendell.
 And rosemaling is a beautiful painting technique unique to Norway.
This is one lovely example.

 This man plays a mean fiddle. He finally taught me the difference between a fiddle and a violin (the extra strings that resonate beneath the main four).

 Aren't these great colors? I want to repaint our house now.
 The Celebrity Infinity was in port. This was the cruise line we took on our honeymoon. :)
 Oslo held more delights than I had expected (remember my dislike of big cities), but what was to come was unfathomably better.
Just a 4.5 hour train ride to the majestic fjords.
To be continued...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Scandinavia, Part Two: Aero Island, Denmark

Few places have ever left such an impression on my heart as Denmark's hidden Ship-In-A-Bottle Island, Aero. Our three days in Aeroskobing were perhaps our favorites of all as we, jet-lagged travelers, enjoyed the Sabbath of this remote place.
The only way to Aero Island is via ferry from Svendborg, which we connected to via Odense (Hans Christian Andersen's hometown) after a train ride from Copenhagen. Despite being virtually untouristed while we were there, Rick Steves was on the island the week before us: I can see why this is his favorite off-the-beaten-path retreat in all of Europe.

We're but a short nine miles from Germany, and many of the sailboats tethered to the marina boast German flags.

We stayed at this precious B&B, and were well cared for & fed by Heidi.

The view from our room out to sea.
Molestien Lane, the little gravel path along the sea, is tucked behind a row of captain's houses and well-groomed gardens. It's nicknamed "Virgin's Lane", as teens could court here in view of their snooping parents.

Small skips are sprinkled everywhere, just abandoned to a patch of grass somewhere near the harbor.

Every lane is cobbled with fairytale charm.

The residents--and after a few days, I felt like I knew each one in Aeroskobing, though there are 7,000 total in 22x6 mile Aero Island--take great care to decorate the windows and doors of their sleepy little homes. Every peek inside held a treasure.
The residents like to peek outside as well :)

I adore this higgledy-piggledy collection of globes.

The Ship-In-A-Bottle museum was across the street.

Salty sea air and vibrant, sun drenched colors abound.

I adored this little shop.

Aero had its own brewery, which was the talk of the island. 
The beer was amazing.
So was the food here.

When we weren't exploring ancient lanes of kissing rooftops, we spent loads of time at the park.

Their parks are so much better than ours!
Now Mark's researching zip lines on Ebay.

The harbor (right beside the park).
And from the park, a little path led to the beach of Monopoly-style huts.

"What's this, Mom?" Gryffy asked, extending a jelly fish in his hand.
Fortunately, it didn't sting.
There were jellyfish everywhere; I'd never seen so many!

I'll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves of this enchanted little island.

Lupin flowers everywhere.

The school.
The loveliest little graveyard I've ever seen.

Leaving Aeroskobing, a countryside dotted in red poppies.

Our Det Lille B&B is on the left with the green awnings overlooking this little frog island. The stay was phenomenal!

How do you leave a dreamy place like this?
The only way I know to do it is with the fjords of Norway looming on the horizon...