Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Euro Tour 2010 part 3: Add Tourists, Shake Well



To make sure I knew where everything was, and that I had the timing down, I hiked around the Oslo waterfront after getting some breakfast in.

043. Oslo cathedral.

044. ...and right, literally right, next door. This is what people are talking about when they talk about Norwegian secularism.

045. Rådhusgalerie, with tower. This clock tracked me through the homeless, gearless times of yesterday morning, especially the parts spent dozing on the grassy battlements.

046. Front of the building.

047. And across from that. Why? Because fabric elephants, that's why, what the fuck are you looking at?

048. The Nobel Peace Center.

049. Working waterfront, at anchor.

050. Statue with bombard overlooking the piers. I was looking for a name, but didn't find one.

051. Interesting building/composition. Figured I'd shoot this now, not later with 30 pounds of gear on my back.

052. Back walls of Akershus.

053. The future, reloading. I saw more than a few of these tiny (sub-Smart size) Buddy cars on the streets, though fewer than Smarts when I was in Dresden. Call it 8-10 years until we see plug-in electrics in the States.

In Norway, though, the future is now; on the sidewalk where I shot this from, they were putting in a complementary row of charging posts.

054. Up into the Akershus complex.

055. Postcard shot of the ocean.

056. Harbor statue and far shore.

057. Himmle over Norge.

Here, I went back to the hotel, lazed around watching Karpe Diem videos, and then checked out. I highly recommend the Park Inn Oslo; it's cheap (especially for Norway), it's close to the train station, the bar district, the waterfront, the fortress, the Rådhus end of Rådhusgate, a good kebab shop, and the Dubliner. What more do you need? Also, the staff were awesome, and took my bag in, no questions asked, when the airline dropped it off, despite me being not checked in, and actually asleep on the grassy parts of the Akershus ramparts at the time.

058. Christian IVs Hand. Sculpture fountain in the square at the end of Ovre Slotsgate.

059. Stormclouds over the city center. The weather was good throughout the Norwegian leg; the homeless bit Monday morning would not have been fun if it was raining.

060. Clock in front of the Aker Brygge as the ferry out to the Bygdøy peninsula and museums pulls out.

061. Akershus and the waterfront, from the sea.

062. A far island I didn't get over to.

063. High house, likely near Bygdøy.

These were taken while doing the harbor ferry the hard way: the boat was packed with people, so I had my pack strapped up -- and hanging out over the water. Since I was homeless again, in between hotel checkout and boarding the ferry, all the following tourist pics -- and the hiking around not documented -- were done with 30 pounds of gear hanging off my torso.

064. Outside of the Viking ship museum.

065. Inside, showing how much was intact when the Oseberg ship was discovered in 1904.

066. Prow of the Oseberg ship. If you miss this place, what the hell did you come to Norway for?

067. Oseberg ship, along the beam.

068. Tiller (and tourist ghost), same ship.

069. Along the beam from the tiller side.

070. Tune ship, showing the ribs. Since Viking shipwrights, like the rest of us, hated doing work they didn't have to, they shaped the ribs out of oak roots that were already mostly bent up like that.

071. Deck house and boats from the Gokstad ship.

072. Prow-on view of the Gokstad ship from the other hall. The thing is immense.

073. Wall decoration.

074. Funerary sled from the Borre grave mound. There were other grave goods on exhibit, but the hall was crowded and I had a frame pack strapped up, as noted. I was mostly concentrating on not getting in the way, not knocking anyone over, and only after that taking pictures.

075. Prow of the Gokstad ship. Note that I can't go back far enough to get it all in the frame.

076. Gokstad ship along the beam, and someone stepping out of the shot. Hooray night speed letting him get out....after letting him in in the first place.

077. Detail of the side planking, showing original and restored timber.

078. Stabæk teambus on its day off. The team wasn't here, but if they're not playing, why leave the bus parked next to the training ground if tour groups will charter it?

A brief hike out past the bus got me down to the Folkemuseum, the other 'must' attraction on this ferry stop. Due to the good weather and the navigation hazard tied to my shoulders, I only did the outside part -- completely missed the indoors exhibits, and if they're as good as the stuff outside, this is definitely worth going back for.

079. Kids on stilts at the Folkemuseum. We built ones like these in Scouts; always cool to see where those folkways are being revived from.

080. Old milepost and sign; still in the Folkemuseum, but it feels like you've been transported out to the countryside.

Actually, the countryside has been transported in: a Stavkirke and a bunch of old houses and other rural buildings have been moved here, hence the "instant tourism" tag in the title. However, Norway is extremely difficult to get around -- the night train from Stavanger goes around the coast because as hard as putting the rails over and under those wild mountains was, cutting straight across the Hardangervidda, one of the most desolate mountain wilds in Europe if not the world, would have been even harder, and hit zero population centers. It only makes sense to gather up the parts of the countryside that visitors need to see, and put them somewhere close to where they're going to come to.

081. How you really know you're on the way to a Stavkirke. In addition to the above, Norwegians also found out in the early 1990s that if they didn't lock at least some of their heritage down, it might get set on fire by a nutcase.

082. Sod-roofed house, further up the path. Insulates in winter, and in summer, you have flowers on the roof.

083. Up the path to the Stavkirke.

084. Gate in the Stavkirke area.

085. The church, dark, imposing, and too flammable for its own good.

086. Carvings through the bars. No Odin figures, or at least not that I noticed.

087. Carvings up top.

088. Sod-roofed house opposite the church.

089. Stavkirke interior with flash, to show some detail and give a sense of the immense darkness inside. If Varg has ever been inside one of these, Christian altar or no Christian altar, he never would have picked up his matchbook. In the darkness and the smell of the old wood, you imbibe the spirits of the old folk: the fear, yes, but also the resolute strength, and the self-reliance that is the sole principle of Åsatru. And who knows, in the dark in here, that the one-eyed man is not looking down from the top of one of the posts?

090. Church interior on natural.

091. Cool shot down into the valley with the village.

092. Again, from a different point.

093. Old mile marker.

094. This is a valid trail to a mapped area, but closed off with an electric fence.

095. Awesome gnarled stump, just left in the middle of the path.

096. Back to chopped down roots indeed. There is awesomeness just everywhere.

097. More cool sod-roofed buildings.

098. Century-old graffiti on a goatshed door.

099. Old sawmill.

100. Staffer in costume driving a one-horse cart. When you're going through a preserved village under a full pack, stepping off the road to let drawn carts pass, you can almost forget, for a fraction of a second, what century you're in.

101. House with a lift, probably as a precaution against floods, because this is really crap for insulation against the cold.

102. Houses close together on the path to the folk village.

103. More modern farmhouse, still covered in greenery.

104. Cows in a farmyard.

105. Hand-cut decorations in shutters.

106. This wouldn't be noteworthy if I hadn't seen this guy out on the paths. Green and white polo shirt, not noteworthy. Green and white hooped polo shirt with a Nike swoosh on the front? Highly suspect.

107. Metal kiosk on the way back out.

I then hiked back down to the pier again, and among other people including a youth football team, encountered a 優しい 老人 と 彼 の 若い 孫娘. My useful Japanese gave out about five sentences in (and I forgot the fucking 口 in 山口県, which is embarrassing, because even kids know that, even if just because it's the only prefecture you can write with 6 strokes), which is not bad for completely アニメーカラ, but we had a decent conversation, and though there were many large Westerners waiting for the boat, they were probably pleasantly surprised to encounter the only one who had any conversational Japanese.

108. Jellyfish in the bay at Bygdøy. The fjord is teeming with them, but the Norwegians have real fish, and don't have the revenge complex that the 山口県 folk had in '89, so nobody eats these things.

109. Gravel beach by the ferry landing.

110. Roald Amundsen's Gjøa, the first ship to make the Northwest Passage.

111. Better view of the Gjøa, which is under restoration.

Because of the ferry connection, I was on a wicked tight schedule, and only did the Heyerdahl museum of the three at this stop. This was a little disappointing, but I'm fairly confident that I made the right choice.

112. A great quote from the last of the Vikings. Say what you want about the quality of his research or the validity of his theses, Thor Heyerdahl was a get-out-and-doer of the first class.


113. Ra II (the one that didn't sink) on display at the entrance.

114. Crew quarters on Ra II.

115. Up towards the prow.

116. Stern of the craft.

117. Authentic garbage washed ashore on Oslo beaches. PlasTiki (with Heyerdahl's grandson in the crew) had at the time of this writing recently finished crossing the Pacific to try and get people to pay attention to the Great North Pacific Garbage Patch, pictured in the center.

118. Timely. Even if Deepwater Horizon is capped, and even when the cleanup is done, structural problems will remain as long as industrial society goes on as it does.

119. Paul Gaugain's rifle butt, which the Heyerdahls picked up in Tahiti for some random reason and brought home.

120. Kon-Tiki. The rest of the hall this ship is in really needs to be seen to be believed, and it doesn't fit in the frame anyway.

121. Shark diorama and the underside of the ship. These are real specimens, probably collected on the voyage, that have not seen a ton of curatorial attention in the intervening 50someodd years.

122. Cast of some Peruvian temple carvings. Heyerdahl postulated a Peruvian origin for the original population of Rapa Nui based on several strands, including the birdman cult.

123. Shamanistic painting in the Easter-Island-caves area. This part is also really cool, and a great complement to the Viking sites in the area for those interested in aboriginal religions.

124. The Oscar won by Kon-Tiki, and the cameras that survived the voyage to win the prize.

125. Cairn-Tiki? Shot outside, by the pier, as I ate my baguette "med lachs", which was the only thing the sandwich truck outside the museum wasn't sold out of, probably for dog's milk reasons.

126. Monument to the Norwegian merchant fleet's contributions to the WWII war effort.

127. Naval mine with a plaque.

128. Jeezo, talk about glaciers gone wild.

129. Classic graffiti on a post near the pier. TURISME ER KRIG.

After this one, of course, I want back on the ferry to Oslo proper and hiked over to the ship I was taking down to Copenhagen.

130. ((not germane))

131. The ship; idea is to stay on the white part and not use the little red ones unless absolutely necessary.

132. Stormclouds up into town.

133. Twenty-first century steerage. The brochure in-room is wicked funny, going down from 'commodore class' to this level, 'inside cabin single beds'. It's no deck passage, and pretty comfy in all honesty, but I'm still getting back to my roots, hopping a ship to a new country for as cheap as possible. Now I just need to figure out whether I should look for pasta with just oil, or cold raw tatties, when I go up to the only restaurant on board that'll let me and my battleshorts in.

In conclusion of the Norway part, Norway rocks, even if it is wicked expensive. The country is fun as all hell, has something for everyone, and has a very agreeable climate this time of year. Just be sure to bring your wallet, and try not to lose your travel gear.

134. Eastern shore at dinner.

135. Again, with the glass interfering.

136. A small island, barely more than a sandbar.

137. Two more small islands in the stream, more deserving of the name.

138. Rocky shore, not as close as it appears.

139. Shoreline and window smudges.

140. More coast under glass.

I got sick of the shitty windows, so I finished up my coffee and went topside.

141. Ahead starboard.

142. Coming up on a small lighthouse.

143. Ahead to an island village.

144. Small cove beside the channel.

145. Astern, the first of many.

If you have any interest in photography as art as well as document, you need to make this trip and shoot off the rear deck until the light dies or your camera does. This time of year, the western light is just perfect, and the skill required to make the shoreline to the east look amazing, as the quality of the following idiot-with-a-five-year-old-point-and-shoot pics attests, is pretty trivial.

146. Sailboat and houses to the east.

147. Headland and coast behind it.

148. Up into that fjord.

149. Old dock on an island in the channel.

150. Sculpted ground and gun emplacements on the next island down.

151. More picturesque coastline.

152. More densely settled.

153. The sky looks like something out of a Miyazaki cel.

154. Town and sky again.

155. Provisions for trainrides. Grant's still does the triangular glass bottles over here, but Wacken and Party.San are under Glasverbot, and the flask size is easier to pass around anyways.

My camera was dying on the above seascapes, so I went below to write up the foregoing pics; now it's back up topside to drink some beer, take some more pictures....and maybe bug people for cold potatoes. (I did the shitty pasta with random junk on it for dinner -- now for the other half of my steerage-riding heritage.)

My only worry is that the batteries I brought over seem to be pretty shit. I'm halfway through what I took over already -- looks like Thursday morning is the time for a batteries run into town if I don't have the time to get good ones in Copenhagen or Hamburg.

156. The western shore, more towards evening.

157. Don't look now, but I think we're being followed.

158. The west coast fades out of sight.

159. Clouds pile up in the distance.

160. This awesome old Japanese gentleman treated us to an impromptu ocarina recital.

When I get to be old, and grow my hair and beard back out, I now want to learn the harmonica or something and similarly confuse, entertain, and annoy people with the rebs in unexpected circumstances. Rock on, old dude. Your act of musical defiance makes you the most metal person on this ship, even more than me with my mission and my pack full of CDs.

161. A rise on the coast, barely visible through the haze of spray.

162. Norway disappears behind us.

163. Heaven in serendipity.

As I was shooting 162 above, the 音楽爺爺 cut into "Danny Boy", and with the light, and the wind, and the sky, the feeling was just perfect. And then he fucked up the ending and started randomly noodling, which killed the mood completely, but it was the moment that counted.

164. Inspiration over the lifevest locker.

165. Even full zoom can't bring these cliffs close.

There was still plently of light, but we were now too far off shore -- out of Oslofjorden and into the Skagerrak -- to take pictures of much of anything (not that I didn't keep trying, as will be seen). Time to just chill, enjoy the music, the scenery, the sea breeze scudding unoccupied chairs around, drink some Carlsbergs, and generally relax.

For some reason, a lot of people are bundled up. I don't even have my Rampant Decay battleundershirt (taking a break after three days of being pretty much the only shirt I had) on. Better circulation, or just natural toughness? Who knows, but the temperature here in the sun is nice, shirtsleeves and shorts rated. Wait till winter to bring out the blankets and shawls like characters out of some Robert Barr novel.

Losing light and losing sight of land, the final (likely) stack of deck pictures, at least for today.

166. Some class clouds moving north as we go south.

167. Farmhouse out on an island.

168. Light marker in the channel.

169. Light upon the waters. Listen to John Denver's "County Roads" as played on an ocarina for maximum atmosphere.

170. Still life with deck chairs and perfect light.

171. The party was winding down, so this dude came by with a bukkit and magic hand to clear people's unfinished drinks.

172. The source of the perfect light in 170, as though flickering through its own shutter.

173. Clouds astern.

174. That ship following us, turning broadside to the west, far in the distance.

175. Full broadside, backlit. Just couldn't keep the flag on the stern out.

176. The light coming down in rays on the Norwegian shore.

177. The sky, straight up. Besides the colors in this one, you could see the vapor puffs drifting across the blue and maybe, further on, the illusion of the black of outer space, where the demon lives, the demon in the air.

178. Haze and clouds across the sea.

179. Norwegian town, far away, right under the setting sun.

We were headed south, which means an earlier sunset. The sun went down at like 11 in Stavanger, earlier in Oslo, and still earlier here.

180. Trying to track an albatross that was following us -- the last song before I dropped my car was Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner".

181. Wake and the waves.

182. Trying to track in on that bird again.

At long last, the light ran out for real, and with a head rolling from 50kr Carlsbergs in large quantity, I headed down to my cabin to get some sleep and prepare for the train to Wacken in the morning.

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