Monday, January 7, 2013

tSH goes to Norway: Oslo Part 2

After we had defrosted ourselves properly (and in front of a roaring fireplace no less), we decided it was time we head out into the city again. There were only a few more hours of daylight left and we felt we needed to take advantage. This was not supposed to be a completely relaxing vacation after all, and we knew what this kind of weather was really like. Plus we were smart enough to plan things that didn't require us to be outdoors all the time, so...well, that was that.

First stop after lunch? Well, since we did still have some residual warmth, we did the one outdoor thing we had left to do: check out the opera house. It was supposed to be a spectacular building, and worth checking out. Plus it was particularly dangerous at this time of year, and what draws people more than a little danger?

It was gorgeous, as were all the views from it. We caught it right as the sun was going down, bathing it in golden light. There is nothing like arctic sun, and this wasn't even close to the arctic circle yet (we'll get to that later on).

Next we fulfilled my only requirement for any city: we checked out Oslo Cathedral.

Not particularly spectacular, as the Nords are not really religious, similar to the Finns. But it was somewhere warm to stay for awhile and Hong Kong P and German K were fading fast. Unlike me, who had the extreme advantage of jetlag on my side (for once in anyone's life...since I was able to go to bed at 8pm the night before and sleep straight thru until 4am, when we had to get up to catch our 7am flight), the others unfortunately either went to bed around midnight or had to work until 1am.

Needless to say, napping was called for, and what better and more sacrilegious place to nap than in a cathedral?

Naturally I walked around and actually looked at the cathedral as the other two took padded seats in the pews and pretended to pray/meditate. After Hong Kong P spied a woman leaning against the pew in front of her with her head down against closed fists she whispered the words "genius" to me and mimicked the same position, moving only when gravity was moving against her and she was at risk of falling over. Hilarious.

We stayed there until the bells were about to ring for evening mass (who has evening mass on a Thursday?) and then quickly rushed out after the priest there very nicely told us we were welcome to join in another part of the church, though services were going to be held in Norwegian. That's one thing about Norwegians: their English is fantastic, and they love speaking it. Oh, and everyone speaks it, not just the younger generation.

Anyway, we quickly filed out.

Where to go now you ask? The Munch Museum.

There is a pretty good museum dedicated to his (Edvard Munch's) work in the eastern part of the city, and that's where we headed, at Hong Kong P's request. Sounded good to us; the sun was down and it was a warm place to go, so, away we went.

The museum was pretty impressive. There were several rooms, all with different dedicated themes, centering around different periods in his life when he was inspired or affected by different happenings. For example, in the 1930s he suffered a hemorrhage in his eye, which he envisioned as a massive bird covering his vision, attacking his artistic abilities. He centered around this particular theme obsessively, creating many painting and drawings to represent it.

He also did many other types of obsessive-themed paintings, centering around things like murder (he had an entire series depicting murders, murderers, corpses, and crime scenes) and weeping nude women (one in particular which he wanted to be made into a statue and set on his gravestone). Sometimes he would do ten or more paintings, all of the same theme or even the same exact subject, with slight variations. Fascinating.

It's funny that over time he's become most known for "The Scream," since after viewing a larger portion of his works, it seems the most inconsequential. It is one of the ones he made the most variations of, so perhaps it should be known for this reason, and this reason alone, but in comparison to other subjects, other themes, other pales.

Anyway, my bottomline is that the museum is well worth a visit if you have the time. Great literary bits for each room explaining Munch at each point in his life and a great display of his works (though the gift shop completely disappoints by offering very few of these works in any sort of reproduction or otherwise gift-worthy form). Totally worth my 95 kronor (oddly expensive).

After this and some very awkward texts (not prompted by German K), we were picked up by our first couchsurfing host, Daniel.

But I'll get to that in the next post.

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