Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bergen Trip!

So looking over my blog, I seem to be more than a little remiss in keeping it updated while I was in Norway. I had such plans!
However, I still have pictures, so I thought that I'd share some with you today.

These come from a little side trip we took to Norway's west coast towards the end of July. We took a train from Oslo to Bergen and saw some of the most stunning scenery that you can imagine. Truly! The ride has been described as one of the most scenic in the world! See here if you want to learn more.

See?? Isn't it beautiful?! These are taken from the Hardangervidda, the highest mountain plateau in Europe. I thought it had a soulful, Wuthering Heights kind of feel to the landscape. But there were lots of waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and forests.

Welcome to Bergen
This was the sight we saw when our train pulled into Bergen. The city is absolutely ADORABLE. It reminds me of a smaller, Norwegian San Francisco. It has the hills, the sea food and the colorful houses.
Scene from the top of a mountain, Bergen in the background
We dropped off our stuff at our hostel (more on that later) and took the funicular. The funicular is like a tram that you ride up the mountain. It was a pretty view. Our professor took us on a hike even further up the mountain. Again, it was a pretty view. I didn't really understand why we had to put that much work into seeing the same sight just at a higher altitude, but apparently, there is a hidden joy to hiking and nature that I have yet to find...

After our adventure on the mountain, we had dinner at Peppe's Pizza! Hurrah! And it was Dr. Kramer's birthday, double hurrah! He threatened to walk out and leave us with the check if we had the servers come to sing him happy birthday.
We disregarded his warning and had the servers sing happy birthday anyways. Secretly, I think he really enjoyed it...
The next day was our Norway in a Nutshell. We saw Norway via train, bus and boat. It was, stunning, as usual.

Experiencing the scenery really helped me to better understand where the mythology and folklore comes from. I mean, who wouldn't see trolls in the mountains when you are surrounded by them?
It also explains why Norwegian mythology ends so violently. Looking at the dramatic landscape, the world just has to end in fire and ice.

The next day, our last day in Bergen, was our visit out to Troldhaugen, or Edvard Grieg's museum/home.

This is the concert hall that they built just a little ways from his house.
We were fortunate enough to attend a concert of some of his piano pieces in that very, grass-covered, concert hall and it was AWESOME.
After the concert, we went back to Bergen to check out of our hostel and explore the city before our train ride back to Oslo that night.
This is Bryggen, the old wharf area of Bergen.
Yes, this is probably the most recognizable part of Bergen. It's on all the tourist things. These buildings are hundreds of years old from the old Hanseatic league traders that made Bergen an important part of Northern Europe economics. They are also a part of UNESCO's world heritage sites, so they are all sorts of famous. It's really neat to walk past them and peer down the alleyways between buildings and see how much they lean. When I say lean, I mean lean. It's practically a miracle that they are still standing! Bergen is cosy like that. They have lots of curvy cobble-stoned streets and alleys and old buildings. Lots of charm, lots of personality.

Besides Bryggen, I wandered all of the city with my professor. We looked at the theater building with all these crazy carvings; St. John's Church (very big and very red); the Bergen Cathedral; this old medieval fortress called Håkons hall and Rosenkrantz tower; AND the fish market.

Since Bergen is by the coast, they have a pretty vibrant fresh fish market. There are all these different languages being spoken because of so many tourists and there were crabs literally jumping out of their containers! Live produce, man! It was freakin me out. I wasn't into the whole seafood thing, so I opted for a kebab instead. (SO GOOD. So much meat for so little money.) The other girls got plateloads of seafood. I even tried a little whale from one of the girls' plates... It was interesting.  I just had to try it because where else in the world would I have the same opportunity, hmmm? Norway is one of the few countries that still participates in whaling, which is so odd considering how pro-environment they are...

After the fish market, we went to our hostel to collect our things and meet back at the train station. Unfortunately, when we got to the hostel, I discovered that someone made off with my backpack. Sad day, I know. I was most distressed about loosing my journal that I had just finished. Two years of my life, sporadically recorded, gone forever.
Bergen YMCA, beware of your luggage...
After a brief mourning period, I got over it. I am glad that it was my backpack instead of the others. Besides my journal, packed with sentimental value, all I had in there was some clothes and some chargers; so nothing that cannot be replaced. (All the good stuff was with me the whole time.) I will just be more careful about my items in the future.

When we met up with our professor again at the train station, that is when we heard about the bombing and the shootings. We were shocked and stunned. We quickly contacted our family and our host families. Everyone was ok and safe and we just read the news as it came online as we waited for our train. It was unbelievable that something like that could have happened to a country that we had come to love so dearly, but bad things do happen to good people, so we had to deal with the tragedy the best way that we knew how. And even though it was a truly sorrowful experience, I thought Norway's reaction was one of the most beautiful and heartfelt that I've ever seen. The rose memorial has been burned into my heart forever and I will always, always remember it.

Jeg elsker dette landet. <3

Dating advice for all the boys out there...

I've seen this on a couple of the blogs I follow, so I did the obvious thing and reblogged about it here. I just like the idea of it, a declaration from some poor reader-chic to all the oblivious boys. Amen, sister.

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent.  Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes."
Rosemarie Urquico

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Roles, New Hair

In honor of the fact that I will soon be a real teacher, I dyed my hair to a sensible color. Sensible enough for any conservative junior high school.

...It's brown.

It's fine, I guess. It has been one of the few times my sister has actually liked my hair change, which tells you how normal it must look. I just feel so, subdued...
BUT in the world of my dreams, I would really like to do what this picture shows.
Lots of colors in an oh-so-rockin hair style.
If only, if only.