Last of the Expeditions, and Back to the Grind

by tartanindenmark

It’s been awhile since I last posted, and I apologize for that. I have been quite busy touring Norway, finishing up classes in Copenhagen, fitting as much of Iceland as possible into a 24 hour window, and heading back to Carnegie Mellon. I will try to update now on the past few weeks.

First, I have pictures of my running route in Copenhagen. Most of my run was along the banks of a canal just south of Christianshavn, which means I ran through parts of Christiania. For those who don’t know about it, Christiania is a community in Copenhagen that is perhaps a bit anarchist, doesn’t believe in landownership, and enjoys partaking in soft drugs. A Christianian would say that it is a place where the inhabitants are truly free. The Danish government would say that Christiania is quite illegal because inhabitants did not purchase their land, do not pay taxes, and do not abide by the Danish drug policies. I personally liked Christiania because of the old, colorful, wooden homes in the forested areas by the canal that it surrounds. Also, my run led me through a more traditional Danish neighborhood with more beautiful scenery.

This is a typical street in the residential portion of Christiania. No cars allowed.

This is the Church of Our Savior, which has a really interesting spiraling steeple and gives great bell performances. It is not in Christiania, but this picture was taken from Christiania along my running route.

“Stop Danish Monopolization of and Colonialism of Greenland’s Inuit Land.”

Foreground: traditional Danish neighborhood
Background: a Kollegium, i.e. private collegiate housing

The literal bridge between Christiania and the traditional Danish neighborhood

The traditional Copenhagen neighborhood: tidy, green, and bike.

I’d say the Danes that live here have a green thumb.

A warehouse lot that I thought was interesting, with painted number and painted fences

This is close to where I lived in a Kollegium. These crazy party people have just graduated from the Danish equivalent of High School, which is known as Gymnasium. It’s a tradition for graduates to drive around it these old military vehicles and visit the family of every graduate in the group. Evidently, each family is supposed to serve them drinks, so they are quite loud and carefree by the end. The poster says “3 years at NSG.” NSG is the abbreviation for their Gymnasium.

The Norway study tour was absolutely incredible. We took an overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo, spent several days in Oslo, took one of the most beautiful train rides in existence from Oslo to Voss, spent a day there, took a train to Bergen, spent a day there, and then flew back to Copenhagen. Unfortunately, my unavoidable forgotten item of the Norway trip was my camera. I will do my best to steal pictures from my friends.

Oslo was a very interesting city. Compared to Copenhagen, it is less uniform and newer. The Norwegians extract tons of oil from the North Sea, but all of their energy comes strictly from hydropower, meaning all extracted oil is exported. Thus, they have lots of oil money to the point where they are not allowed to spend it all because it would cause incredible inflation. Lots of these excess funds are used in building in Oslo, so downtown is very modern. Some of the highlights of Oslo were the opera house, the Nobel Peace Prize museum, the Edvard Munch museum (the Expressionist guy who painted that famous Scream piece), a visit to a large hydropower company StatCraft, and a visit to a small voluntary carbon offsetting (this is the subject that I’m currently doing research on!) company Mitt Klima.

The Oslo opera house is fascinating because you can actually walk on top of it. It’s designed to be like a sloping glacier, and it’s on the harbor in the middle of Oslo.

Yup, it’s a glacier.

Incredible architecture to say the least.

This is also a shot from the opera house, right on the Oslo fjord.

Outside of downtown Oslo, streets like this are plentiful.

Inside is a very cool exhibit of the recent Nobel Peace Prize Laureates as well as a subjective photography exhibit of the war in Afghanistan.

Next we went to Voss, which is a small municipality somewhere between Oslo and Bergen. Voss is kind of in the mountains, but the town itself is adjacent to a lake. While we were there, an extreme sports festival was going on. Hang gliders were all over the place. We went on a 10 mile hike in the mountains near Voss, and it was simply beautiful.

This sign welcomed us to Voss. It’s a sure result of the extreme sports festival.

The reason Norway can provide all of its energy with hydropower is because of the incredible magnitude of glacial runoff. It’s the same reason the Norwegian coast is lined with fjords!

Our Norwegian tour guide encouraged us to taste the berries of the plentiful juniper plants. “They taste like gin” she said. They tasted like evergreen tree to me.

These little guys were spotted along the side of the trail.

There were a bunch of sheep along the trail as well. Apart from tourism, it seems like they are really the only product of the area. They were often frightened by us initially, but after we were around them for long enough, they would keep their distance and kind of follow us around. This guy got very comfortable with us.

This is what is known as a summer farm. Nobody lives in this area in the winter time because it is heavily blanketed in snow. In the old days, this is where Norwegians would come to farm and raise animals during the summer. Now, they are primarily summer homes for leisurely purposes.

This is where we turned around because it was about as far as we could go without snow gear. Keep in mind this was in July with weather in the 60s Fahrenheit.

This is where our hike of one breathtaking view after another ended. This is the view from the Stalheim Hotel, where 19th century German painters used to come and draw inspiration from the surroundings. Eventually, the paintings became renown and tourists began occupying the hotel.

Our final stop in Norway was the city of Bergen. Bergen used to be the hub of Scandinavia a long time ago because of its ideal natural harbor. Today’s Bergen was described to me as Norway’s San Francisco, which seemed accurate to me. The annual precipitation in Bergen is nearly double that of Pittsburgh. And I thought I had it bad! Fortunately, we were there for one of the rare sunny days, and we were fortunate enough to see how beautiful the city is. At the Bergen fish market, I ate the best fish I’ve ever had, hands down.

These are some of the oldest buildings in Bergen. Today they house harbor side restaurants and shops.

The Bergen harbor is the main stimulant of the Bergen economy, through both trade and fish.

The Bergen fish market had all sorts of sea creatures for sale, from salmon to monk fish, to lobster, to shrimp, to huge crabs, and even whale meat. I tried a few samples of the whale in sausage form. It’s unique. For lunch, I was less adventurous and had a salmon filet. Incredible!

Evidently this is what the head of a Monk Fish looks like. If you can’t tell, it’s quite large, perhaps the size of two of my heads.

Like Pittsburgh, Bergen has a funicular that takes you to the top of a small mountain overlook. Yet another breathtaking view!

From what I could tell by my day long layover, Iceland was also fantastic. Reykjavik is the northern most capital in the world, so it was a bit colder than Copenhagen, and even Norway. Jacket whether in July? I don’t think I could live like that, but it was a lovely place to visit. I didn’t take many pictures of it, so you must go visit for yourself! Highlights included the Icelandic Maritime Museum and a free evening concert by Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men in the park.

Now it’s back to work in Pittsburgh, and thus the end of my travel/study blog. Internet, it was grand.