Europe hurts. 8/19/18

When we traveled to Europe with our kids in 1998, Jonathan was victimized by a culture that made things too small, too stick out-y, just too foreign! He was constantly bumping into or tripping over small pieces of Europe. On that trip he coined our family phrase, “Europe hurts!” The tradition continues. But more on that later.

Since John and I are still in backwards land sleeping-wise, we are up with the early bird breakfast eaters today and are on the subway to our first destination before 8 am. Luckily we are going to see a park and it is open 24/7.

The Vigeland section of Frogner Park features 212 bronze and granite sculptures designed by Gustav Vigeland. These sculptures, all naked, are mostly of people expressing various human emotions. An over 300 foot bridge lined with sculptures, a sculptural fountain, and a sculptural monolith are the main features.

Welcome to Vigeland!

It is a beautiful Sunday and even before 9 AM Norwegians and tourists are out in force. We are glad we have come early. Here are some of the sculptures we especially like.

There are many of these tall columns topped by humans struggling with serpents

On the bridge are running children…

a happy mother and baby…

an embracing couple…

and a man struggling within a circle.

I stop for a photo with my favorites, yellow roses!

Next is a fountain held up by burly men and surrounded with bronze trees with children playing within them. In the distance is the monolith.

The Monolith is up a hill with a lot of steps. I look from a distance while John climbs up for a closer look. It is composed of interlocking human figures.

The Monolith

Statuary by the Monolith include a mother playing horsey…

and two old men.

Vigeland Park is getting very crowded and we decide it is time to go. We walk back to the subway stop and head in towards the city to the King’s Palace. The current king is King Harald V and he lives here with Queen Sonja. We can tell that they are home because the flag is flying above the palace.

The royal palace in Oslo

And now for the Europe hurts part…

After leaving the palace park and crossing a small street I go to step up onto the sidewalk and my evil left knee crumples and down I go. This comes as quite a shock to me and I lie on the sidewalk for a moment. People in passing cars stop. They want to help. I do not want help. I just want to wallow in my pain on the sidewalk. I get into a sitting position and try to wave them away. “I am okay!” I shout. The word okay is understood in all languages. Finally they move on. But I cannot get up. John tries to pull me up but my knee is not taking any weight at the moment.

Norwegian Home Health Aides to the rescue! Two young women carrying backpacks arrive on the scene. They ask if we need help. I explain that I have fallen and I cannot get up. (I say this literally.) But I will be okay and sooner or later I will find a way to get up. They say we are strong Norwegian Home Health Aides and we help people get up all the time. With this each grabs a hand and I am on my feet! Or at least one foot. I am a little hesitant to try out my knee. Turns out the knee is fine and they lead me over to a place to sit down. They ask me again if I am okay, not in any severe pain? I answer I am okay and they say adios and go on their backpacking way. (Actually, they just say goodbye in their perfect English.)

I can see the headlines in tomorrow’s paper, “Plucky Yank shakes off tumble with the help of strong Norwegian Home Health Aides! International incident averted!!”

Not ones to let a little falling down stop us, we continue on to the National Gallery to look at some art. This is the museum which houses Munch’s The Scream as well as a bunch of other stuff. There are a lot of stairs here and the kindly staff lets me ride up in the freight elevator. I am not oblivious to the irony.

Here are some works that we liked –

Hey look what we found, a Saint! This is in the Russian icon section. The informational plaque says it is Saint Nicholas of Zaraysk but we can see from the little pictures surrounding the Saint that it is actually our old friend, St. Nicholas of Bari.

St. Nicholas of Zaraysk

La Coiffure by Edgar Degas

Edouard Manet (1832-1883). French painter. View of the 1867 Exposition Universelle, 1867

Still life by Pablo Picasso, 1927

And finally Edvard Munch’s famous painting, The Scream, or how I felt after I fell down.

The Scream by Edvard Munch

When we finish up at the National Gallery we decide to take the subway back to the hotel and have a little re-grouping time. However, Europe hurts is not done with me yet. As I go to step onto the subway car the doors close and I am smashed between them. Ow! I actually make an audible noise. The doors, having figured out that perhaps not all the passengers are completely on board release and reopen. (Thank God) So now both of my forearms are totally bruised.

Around 3 PM we walk over to the train station again and have lunch at Bella Bambino in the fancy food hall.

Fancy food hallen

John has a fritatta

I have carpaccio

John wants to go out again and visit the Opera House but I am done. I lie down and go to sleep instead. Here are his pictures from his adventure.

Oslo Opera House is also home to the National Ballet

Several art projects were commissioned for the interior and exterior of the Opera House. The most notable is She Lies, a sculpture constructed of stainless steel and glass panels. It is permanently installed on a concrete platform in the fjord adjacent to Opera House and floats on the water moving in response to tides and wind to create an ever-changing face to viewers. (Wikipedia)

She Lies

John comes back and we both sleep some more. We know that it is not the right thing to do and that we will pay for it later but we cannot help ourselves. Around 9 PM we get up and go downstairs and have a comforting burger and fries with a beer at the hotel bar.

Surprisingly good burger and fries at the Eufemia Bar

It is now Monday morning and we are on the train to Stockholm. Just want to report that I am a little sore but really none the worse from the fall I took yesterday.