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  • Writer's pictureGregory T. Wilkins

Oslo, Norway & Stockholm, Sweden (2023)


December 10, 2023 22 pounds of items in my luggage is not much. Basically it covers underwear, socks, toiletry essentials, an extra turtleneck, and not much more. I have paired it down to the nitty gritty. Let's see what unveils. I also went through my internaitonal coin purse and removed other country money I won't need, and compartamentialzed my Euro dollars from coins. I also packed my backpack -- camera, extra batteries, international charger, snack, water bottle, flavored water packets, headphones, extra pair of glasses, case for the glasses I will wear on the plane plus a cleaning cloth. It too cannot weigh more than 12 pounds...or at least that is what I think was stated. On the plane I will wear my biker boots, black leather pants, long john top and bottom, black turtleneck, black wool turtleneck sweater, Patagonia zip sweater, Patagonia down vest, Patagonia down coat with hood, Dale of Norway wool skull cap and black stocking hat, Patagonia snow pants, Patagonia gloves and Patagonia glove liner, and my Icelandic wool sweater. I am going to look like an overstuffed, plump tomato. Airport security is going to be entertaining. I can visualize the eye rolls even now. Preparing to sleep, my mind races. Did I pack everything? I have done this a million times, and low behold it still keeps me on my toes. And alas, just as I begin to nod off, I recall that I need to set my passport on top of my luggage and not to forget Advil.


Packing can be challenging, especially if the airline staff are size and weight Nazis. I trust the airline will round up verses being exact with converting from centimeters to inches. I have never had a problem, but it always sits in the back of my head. Some airlines for example don't worry about the weight of a personal item while others do. For ex., Icelandair doesn't mention it on their website while Finnair does. I always play it safe by not mentioning it when I check-in and always stay pleasant with the airline staff. My other worry is how stringent will they be with the weight. Can it not go over a single fraction? This is particularly true when I fly peanut class. I must admit, I miss the good ol' days when airlines were not hyper vigilant on size/weight restrictions.

ICELANDAIR Carry-on baggage

Your carry-on bag must fit in the overhead compartment. If it exceeds maximum size and/or weight, it must be checked in and an extra baggage fee will apply.

Maximum size (including handles and wheels): 21.6x15.7x7.8 inches (55x40x20 cm).

Maximum weight: 22lbs (10kg).

Personal item

You may bring on board 1 small personal item such as a handbag, backpack, or laptop bag that must fit under the seat in front of you.

Maximum dimensions: 15.7x11.8x5.9 inches (40x30x15cm).

FINNAIR Carry-on bag

  • maximum dimensions (length x width x height) 55cm x 40cm x 23cm (22in x 16in x 9in)

maximum combined weight with a small bag 8/12kg (17.5/26.5lb.) 


Small bag

  • a small bag such as a small handbag, a small laptop bag or a small backpack

  • maximum dimensions (length x width x height) 40cm x 30cm x 15cm (16in x 12in x 6in)

  • maximum combined weight with a carry-on bag 8/12kg (17.5/26.5lb.)

needs to be placed under the seat  *********************************************************

December 11, 2023 Making a list and checking it twice... yes, I feel like good ol' St. Nick in this season of jolly making. The next two days will be foretelling as to what I may have not brought. Tick tock, tick tock... Today, when I open my email this morning, I received a note from Icelandair. See Below.

D

Booking reference: 226CCA

Dear Gregory WILKINS 

We’re contacting you to inform you of a potential strike planned for Thursday, December 14, which may have an impact on your flight.Negotiations are ongoing between the Association of Icelandic Air Traffic Controllers and Isavia, the company that handles the operation of all airports in Iceland. We’re monitoring the situation closely and preparing to minimize the potential impact on our passengers’ journeys. At this time, we cannot be certain of any operational impact. However, we do anticipate delays of up to 3-6 hours minimum if the strike goes ahead.If your journey is impacted by the strike, we’ll notify you using the contact information listed in your booking as soon as possible. It’s therefore important that the information listed is correct, you can double-check it in Manage booking.To minimize uncertainty, we’d like to offer you the opportunity to move your booking to December 13 or 15, subject to availability. To accept this offer you can contact our service center.Please note that if your ticket includes a flight with another airline or is issued by another airline, the above ticket changes are not available. Tickets issued by Icelandair begin with 108.As your flight is still on schedule and has not been canceled, we’re not able to offer any compensation at this time except what is stated in your ticket’s terms.If you plan to travel as scheduled, our goal is to ensure that your journey is smooth and enjoyable and that you arrive at your destination timely. We thank you for your understanding and look forward to welcoming you on board.

Best regards, The Icelandair team

I cannot make alternative plans. My hostel has been paid. My opera tickets have been paid. My Land to Air transport from Mankato to the MSP Airport has been paid. I am keeping my fingers corssed that the folks in iceland will get their act together. There is nothing more I can do but wait and see. Oh, the joys of travel. It is a testmanet to resiliency.

December 13, 2023 Today, I leave for Oslo, Norway, and I am excited for the journey. I will fly from MSP to KEF and then onward to OSL arriving on December 14 in the late morning. I was blessed to get a round trip ticket for $499 because flights are usually $1300+ for the cheap seats. As soon as I saw the advertisement in Spring 2023, I jumped on the opportunity. I will be spending a week in Oslo, Helsinki, and Stockholm with a day excursion via ferry to Tallin, Estonia. While the weather is going to be cold (no colder than Minnesota), it is going to be dark. The sun rises around 9:00 a.m. and goes down around 3:00 p.m. It will take some adjusting, especially since many businesses open around 11:00 a.m. I am preparing for the cold weather, knowing that I am going to be outside for a good portion of my days. To save money on the flight, my baggage cannot be more than 22 lbs. This will require me to wear my Patagonia snow pants onto the plane as well as Patagonia down jacket, Patagonia down vest, wool turtleneck sweater, wool turtleneck shirt, balaclava, plus long underwear, et. al. (I hope I don't overheat on the plane.) If anything, it ought to make for some interesting times at airport security as I disrobe... queue the music.


Ann and Brad Hendricks got me to Minnesota State Mankato first thing this morning for my bus reservation on Land to Air to MSP Airport. I will work half a day before venturing out at 2 p.m. and we arrive to the airport a little after 4 p.m. This will provide me enough time to get thru check-in and security before my 6:25 p.m. departure from MSP to Iceland.


Well, because of the strike in Iceland, my flight from MSP has changed. Let's see how this unfolds for the rest of the journey. Below is my revised itinerary. MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL - REYKJAVIK -

13 December 2023

Flight Origin:

MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL

MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL ST P (MSP)

Departure Time:10:25 PM

Flight Destination:

REYKJAVIK

REYKJAVIK KEFLAVIK INTL (KEF)

Arrival Time: 10:35 AM (+1 Day)


  • Flight Duration:6 hours 10 minutes

  • Flight Number:FI656

PASSENGER NAME

CHECK-IN STATUS

CLASS

SEAT

GREGORY WILKINS

Checked in

Economy


(FI-LIGHT)

24F

Dec 13th 2023

MSP

10:25 PM

Dec 14th 2023

KEF

10:35 AM


Dec 14th 2023

KEF

11:35 AM

Dec 14th 2023

CPH

3:45 PM

1h 15m

Dec 14th 2023

CPH

5:00 PM

Dec 14th 2023

OSL

6:15 PM


Icelandair

ORIGINAL OUTBOUND ORIGINAL FLIGHT TIME

13 December 2023


Minneapolis (MSP) - Keflavik (KEF)

18:25 - 06:35 +1 (overnight flight)

Icelandair FI656

Layover in Keflavik (KEF) 1h 15m

14 December 2023 Keflavik (KEF) - Oslo (OSL)

07:50 - 11:35

Icelandair FI318

Coupon valitity: not before 14 Dec 2023

2h 45m

RETURN FLIGHT

3 January 2024


Oslo (OSL) - Keflavik (KEF)

13:00 - 15:05

Icelandair FI319

Layover in Keflavik (KEF) 1h 40m


Keflavik (KEF) - Minneapolis (MSP)

16:45 - 17:15

Icelandair FI657


By being a planner, I have saved myself hundreds of dollars even before my adventure has lifted off. For ex., I was able to get a round trip flight from the USA for less than $500! This is remarkable because flights are normally $1,300 in peanut class. I was in the right place at the right time when I made my purchase in Spring 2023. As soon as I saw the offer, I jumped at the opportunity. The other win is my travels will take me to places I have never been and allowing me see four countries. Another win about being a planner and having access to the internet, I have been able to secure music tickets to two operas (Orpheus in the World and Don Giovanni) and a Christmas concert at the Oslo Cathedral featuring Kringkastingsorkesteret (Norwegian Orchestra Radio Orchestra), Oslo Cathedral Boys Choir, Trefoldighet Girls Choir, Oslo Cathedral Youth Choir, and Consortium Vocale Oslo. I was also able to secure a ferry ride from Finland to Estonia while also taking in a holiday meal onboard the ship.


*************************************

Well, my trip to Oslo was full of hiccups, and I finally arrived safe and sound to Oslo, Norway. The one blessing is I have my legs because if I was confined to a wheelchair or needed assistance, there would have been no way I would have made my flights in Iceland or in Denmark. I basically had minutes to jot from one terminal to the next. My connection in Iceland went smoothly, and I was thankful the pilot held the plane. There were 10 of us who had to make this connection. Trying to get thru passport control was a bit chaotic, but everyone there worked well with the situation. I was one of the last five to get on the plane, and in no time, they closed the doors and pushed off. My connection in Denmark was a nail biter. I was the last one on the plane. I had to dart from one terminal to the next. It would figure it would be the last gate in two terminals over. I was anxious because on the way there the sign went from closing to gate closed. I still went ahead with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, all would be okay. Worst case scenario, they would have to rebook me. And yes! I was able to get on the plane. The gate attendant was pacing back and forth as he glanced down the long corridor and saw me panting, No sooner did I sit down, the doors closed. YIKES! I thought I was going to have to go through passport control but that was not needed because of my onboarding process in Iceland. Once I arrived at Oslo airport, I went to the bathroom because I was holding it for the last hour on the plane from Copenhagen because I had to reach the gate in a timely manner. I also wanted to get my SIM card into my phone and get it started because I was going to need it for the rest of my journey. I purchased one a few weeks ago oline on Amazon because I heard the cell phone company at the airport was not always open. I didn't want to get stuck without data, especially knowing I was going to need it for directions to the hostel. No sooner had I opened the container and pulled everything out did the silver key to open the phone that came with the SIM card fall and bounce under a tabletop ledge and because unretrievable. The travel gods came to my rescue again when I discovered I had another one in my host of things from when I was in Venice, Italy. I got the phone opened and was off. Being a planner, I had downloaded information on how to get to the center of Oslo from the airport. Most signage in the airport directs you to the tourist fast train. This tourist train (Flygot) is over priced ($27 US). The local VY train takes the same amount of time and is roughly $12 US. By the time I got into Oslo proper, I was able to walk 20-minutes to Anker Hostel. It is on the main drag, though if you are new to town the Google app helps to get you there because the road turns and twists. I check-in, dropped my bags, and made a mad dash to the opera house. I was 1.5 hours late. I was very close to the hostel (25 minutes away). I waited in the lobby, caught my breathe, and at 8:30 p.m. intermission started. I found my seat and enjoyed the second half of the operetta.


Oslo Opera House is spectacular! It is home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera house in Norway. The building is situated in the Bjørvika neighborhood of central Oslo, at the head of the Oslofjord. The structure contains 1,100 rooms and is 530,000 sq ft. The main auditorium seats 1,364 and two other performance spaces can seat 200 and 400. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with marble from Carrara, Italy and white granite and make it appear to rise from the water. It is the largest cultural building constructed in Norway since Nidarosdomen was completed circa 1300. 49 foot tall windows look out to the river and the opera house is acoustically perfect with state of the art furnishings. The stage curtain is particularly interesting and reminds me of a sheet of refacted ice.


smaller theatre space

lobby wall

glass wall by the river

Opera House

COSTS: $1 = 10.73 NOK; $1 = 10.48 SEK; $1 = .91 Euro $499 - round trip ticket on Icelandic Air $54 - round trip transportation from Mankato to MSP Airport on Land to Air $224 - Anker Hostel - 6 nights dorm w/o breakfast $132 - Crafoord Place Hostel - 7 nights dorm w/o breakfast $37 - Anker Hostel - 1 night bunk w/o breakfast before returning to the USA $100 NOK - Norway Opera - Orpheus and the Underground $125 NOK - Oslo Cathedral Christmas Concert (student ticket) $140 SEK - Stockholm Opera - Don Giovanni (plus Coat Room for jacket) $118 Nok - train ticket from airport to Oslo S ***************************************************************************

December 14 - 20, 2023 Oslow, Norway

With a population of more than 700,000, Oslo is the largest city and capital of Norway. Oslo is not only the political, cultural, and economic center of Norway, it is also one of the largest cities. Oslo is situated in the southeastern part of Norway. The city lies at the head of the Oslofjord, a long, narrow inlet that stretches almost 100 kilometers inland from the Skagerrak strait, the body of water separating Norway and Denmark.

The Oslofjord is an important waterway that connects Oslo with the North Sea. It has played a vital role in the city's development and economy over the years, providing an important trade route and a natural defense from attacks by sea. Of the 700,000 people who live in Oslo, 33% have an immigrant background. It is pulsating with multiculturalism, and I love it! There is a very international feel to life in Oslo. The largest groups of people with a non-Norwegian background living in the city of Oslo are from Pakistan (22,379), Somalia (17,110), Poland (16,207) and Sweden (11,430). While Bergen was the biggest city in Norway, Oslo took over the role of capital in 1299 when King Haakon V took the throne. He began construction of Akershus Fortress to help defend the city. During the time of the Scandinavian unions, Oslo lost its status as Norway was essentially ruled from Copenhagen. Following a devastating fire in 1624, King Christian IV of Denmark ordered the rebuilding of the city in a new location closer to Akershus Fortress. He named the new city Christiania, a name that would stick until 1925.


Oslo municipality is split into 15 administrative districts: Alna, Bjerke, Frogner, Gamle Oslo, Grorud, Grünerløkka, Nordre Aker, Nordstrand, Sagene, St. Hanshaugen, Stovner, Søndre Nordstrand, Ullern, Vestre Aker and Østensjø. While my time here is short, they appear to be well connected via the Metro and architecture.


Oslo Opera House


Perhaps the most recognizable cultural building in all of Norway, Oslo Opera House is known for its architecture just as much as its performances. Designed by world-renowned Norwegian architects Snøhetta, the striking building of white marble and glass has a sloping roof that allows visitors to walk up with ease. It is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera house. The building is situated in the Bjørvika neighborhood at the head of the Oslofjord. The structure contains 1,100 rooms in a total area of 49,000 m2 (530,000 sq ft). The main auditorium seats 1,364 and two other performance spaces can seat 200 and 400. The main stage is 16 m (52 ft) wide and 40 m (130 ft) deep. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with Carara marble and white granite which makes it appear to rise from the water. The stage tower is clad in white aluminum, in a design by Løvaas & Wagle that evokes old weaving patterns. It is the largest cultural building constructed in Norway.


I was able to score a ticket the first night of my arrival to Oslo to see. It is an operetta in a wacky world of gods where the party never ends, and everyone dances the can-can! At any rate, that is what Eurydice desires. She is tired of the tedious Orpheus and being at his beck and call for what seems like an eternity.


Costumes for the Oslow Opera's Version of Orpheus in the Underworld Most people think on an opera is stuffy, pretentious, and serious, with nothing but love and death, grief and sorrow and very little laughter. Well, for those who think this – think again. Meet opera’s little sister: operetta! An operettas pokes fun at opera, at we humans, at gods and at everything serious. And in Orpheus in the Underworld, in this Norwegian fantasy it pokes fun in a completely new reinterpretation of the classic myth.

Offenbach’s operetta is such an alternative version. It toys with myth, upper-class taste, and power-hungry authorities. In Paris in 1858, some found this offensive, while others found it to be liberating and exciting. This version here in Oslo, Norway definitely is not made for prudish ideals.

If you think you know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, think again. According to the myth, Eurydice is bit by a serpent and dies. Using the power of music, Orpheus attempts to bring her back from the underworld. Orpheus in the Underworld retells the myth about these tragic lovers.


Since its inception, opera has been an expensive affair.  "The only thing more expensive than war is opera," it is said. The reason is the large crew required, both on and behind the stage.  But opera is not for the faint of heart - at least not only - neither then nor now. Because opera quickly developed into something most people loved. In 1637, the first public opera house, Teatro San Cassiano, was built in Venice, and in a short time 16 new opera houses were built in this one Italian city alone! Here, opera quickly gained a high show factor, with large costumes inspired by the carnivals, impressive arias and castrato singers who sacrificed their manhood for a supernatural voice. The popular became grand, expensive, megalomaniac. 


In 1806, when Napoleon I reigned, a number of rules were introduced for cultural life in Paris.   At the city's many small theatres, where the lower classes were entertained, lurid things were supposedly going on, which attracted more and more people. To create clear distinctions between high and low culture, the imperial authorities divided the city's stages into four categories of stages: At the top were the Théatre Français and the Opéra national de Paris, below was the Opéra comique, and at the bottom were the vaudeville and revue stages. Only the theater and the opera at the top were allowed to use large orchestras and have more than four actors on stage at a time. Thus they effectively put an end to delicious, wild can-can acts at the revue theaters, where the dancers were often prostitutes and supposedly had nothing under the skirts they kicked up. At the same time, a hierarchy was effectively created between the stage houses - and the audience groups that wandered there. It would be great to be upper class! 


Who belongs to the upper class is not only about political power, but of course also about money. During the first half of the 19th century, a new bourgeoisie emerged in Paris, which via trade and industry became richer than the nobility. These would like to be upper-class classics and imitate the habits of the nobility, such as going to the opera and the theatre. At the same time, they did not have the background or references of the nobility. Plays based on the Greek classics – Elektra , Medea and Orpheus – were not something they knew before, and were perceived as boring. The market for classics for most people was therefore large. 

When the law against having more than four characters on stage was repealed in 1858, Jacques Offenbach threw himself around and created a work precisely for this audience, which became a huge success. Orphée aux enfers received its first premiere as an opéra bouffon at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens in October of the same year. Here, Offenbach and the librettists Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy implicitly poke fun at Napoleon's regime, in the form of Jupiter and his crooked leadership, against which the gods rebel, and to music that quotes the Marseillaise. They play with the Greek myths of the nobility and serious opera style, but with love for the myths and the genre they are based on. Siegfried Kracauer, who is behind the first major Offenbach biography in 1937, writes "Offenbach's mission was to expose the sacred fantasy images that tyrannize humanity, but he gave his blessing to every genuine human feeling he encountered along the way." 


Orpheus in the Underworld


With works such as Orpheus in the Underworld and The Beautiful Helena and over 100 other titles, Offenbach developed a completely new form - the operetta - which was based on opéra comique. In the 1860s, it was his operettas that dominated the stages in Paris, and soon also in other European cities. The genre became particularly popular in Vienna, which had similar social conditions to Paris, with a strong nobility and a growing bourgeoisie, which both imitated and played with the taste of the upper class. In the 1870s, Vienna got its own operetta style, with composers such as Franz von Suppé and Johan Strauss the Younger. Around the turn of the century, composers such as Lehár and Káláman brought something new to operetta, with music inspired by folk music from Hungary and the Balkans. In the 1920s and 30s, Berlin took over as the center for operettas, before musicals took over more and more after the war. 


Orpheus in the Underworld -- Performers in Costume


The operetta has several similarities with the musical, but differs by being closer to its origin, opera. First, the music is acoustic and is performed without technical reinforcement, which requires opera-trained singers. Second, the operettas often build on and play with the theme and style of the operas.   

Opera has for centuries been something shared by the people and the nobility. Without this dynamic between different styles, but also between folk and fife, light and heavy, god and everyman, opera history would have looked completely different, and probably been much poorer - not in terms of financial resources, but in terms of expression and content. 


Orpheus in the Underworld -- Oslo Opera House Workshop


The art of allusion in the theatrical arts I always find intriguing. What appears to be massive buildings on a stage set with columns, marble statues, and massive structures is actually plaster, fiber board, papier-mâché, and other odd assortments of materials. The artful craftmanship is exquisite.


From a basic mold to final finishes of paint and embellishments, makes a naked stage come alive. It is all so fantastical!


Orpheus in the Underworld -- Oslo Opera House Workshop

Orpheus in the Underworld -- Oslo Opera House Workshop


**************************************************

December 15, 2023 Arriving to a new city with a different time zone is always tricky. I wake intermittendly and try to fall back to sleep. I am on a seven-hour time difference. All the same, I try to adjust as quickly as I am able to get up when the sun does. I shower before others and prepare for the day. Anker Hostel reception desk opens at 7 a.m. I am there before they open the door and ready to start my day. The sun does not rise until after 9 a.m., and the city is barely moving except for those darting to work. Today, I plan to visit the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. It is a privately owned contemporary art gallery. It was founded and opened to the public in 1993. The collection's main focus is the American appropriation artists from the 1980s, but it is currently developing towards the international contemporary art scene, with artists like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, Tom Sachs, Doug Aitken, Olafur Eliasson, and Cai Guo-Qiang. It is about a 35-minute walk from the hostel. While it is chilly outside, it is not miserable.



Asrtup Fearnley Museum


The museum gives 6 to 7 temporary exhibitions each year. Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art collaborates with international institutions and produces exhibitions that travel worldwide.


Vanessa Baird

Michael Armitage


Vanessa Baird

Nicole Eisenman


Glenn Ligon


I also made it to Oslo City Hall - The building was constructed between 1931 and 1950, with an interruption during the Second World War. It was designed by architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson. The building is located in the city center, in the northern part of the Pipervika neighborhood, and it faces Oslofjord.

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall is built of red brick and has two towers, one 63 meters tall and other 66 meters tall. The bricks used are larger than what was typical at the time of construction, but are roughly the same size as bricks used in the Middle Ages. The bricks, measuring approximately 27.5 × 13 × 8.5 cm, were produced by Hovin Teglverk in Oslo. The eastern tower has a carillon set of 49 bells. Various events and ceremonies take place in the building, notabley the Nobel Peace Prize.

What I particularly found enjoyable was the murals throughout the building. Every twist and turn leaves you pictorally learning about the history of the place. From the walls to the cielings. Everything is covered. Even better was the price of admission....FREE!


City Hall Mural Detail

City Hall Mural Detail

City Hall Mural Detail

City Hall Mural Detail

City Hall Mural Detail

City Hall Mural Detail

City Hall Mural Detail


I even took a picture of the bathroom urinals, chandeliers, sconces, and floor. They looked so sculptural. I must admit too that I wish we made buildings like this today. Whatever happened to artistry in public and private spaces?


City Hall Men's Urinals


City Hall - Sconce


City Hall - Chandelier


City Hall - Chandelier


City Hall - Floor


City Hall Council Gallery COSTS: $1 = 10.73 NOK $82.10 - Cheese, 3 rolls, salami, chocolate bar $80 - Astrup Fearnely Musuem (student rate) FREE! - Oslo City Hall ************************************* December 16, 2023 One thing one learns when staying at a youth hostel is the ol' adage of "never judge a book by its cover". This is especially true for the physical size of a person and if they may snore. One of my roomies last night (Shin is his name) is a young, Asian man who is slight in build and from Canada. All was well for most of the evening until the wee morning hours when he began to snore. The blessing for me was that I was soon to rise from bed to start my day. My other roomie (Barry from Sydney, AUS) was not as fortunate. I rose from bed and got ready in the bathroom. Even with the door closed, Shin's snoring permeated through the door. Egads! This is one thing I do not like about youth hostel sleeping quarters. I even get a room with fewer beds to increase my odds of not having a snorer but sometimes like in any gambling situations, the house wins. I counted my loss and started my day at 6:00 a.m.



Today, I am going to the Munch Museum. The Munch Museum, from 2020 marketed as MUNCH, contains Edvard Munch's works that he bequeathed to the City of Oslo in 1940. The museum opened its doors to the public in 1963 one hundred years after the birth of Edvard. In 2021, the museum was moved to a new museum building called Lambda, in Bjørvika. Edvard Munch's bequest to the City of Oslo comprised apprximately 1,100 paintings, 15,500 prints divided into 700 motifs, 4,700 drawings, and six sculptures. In addition, nearly 500 printing plates, 2,240 books, notebooks, documents, photographs, tools, supplies and furniture were added. Munch's extensive collection of letters was later bequeathed to the museum by his sister, Inger Munch, along with a considerable number of original works, especially from the 1880s.














This and other gifts, in addition to barter, have meant that well over half of Munch's paintings, all graphic motifs and all existing printing plates are now in the museum's possession. This puts the Munch Museum in a unique position internationally, and paves the way for special exhibitions in the museum and extensive international exhibition activities.


Self Portrait


Self Portrait


Self Portrait






















One observation that is true then as it is now is Munch was concerned about the absurd wealth and the division of the haves and have-nots. The same is quite true even today. Munch explored the vulgarity of the rich while the poor were left to scramble for crumbs. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


One of the most famous pieces of the artist is The Scream. The Scream is a composition created in 1893. The Norwegian name of the piece is Skrik (Scream), and the German title under which it was first exhibited is Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). The agonized face in the painting has become one of the most iconic images of art, seen as symbolizing the anxiety of the human condition. This is also his personal statement of life as he observed around him. Munch's work, including The Scream, had a formative influence on the Expressionist movement.

Munch recalled that he had been out for a walk at sunset when suddenly the setting sun's light turned the clouds blood red. He sensed an "infinite scream passing through nature". Scholars have located the spot to a fjord overlooking Oslo and have suggested other explanations for the unnaturally orange sky, ranging from the effects of a volcanic eruption to a psychological reaction by Munch to his sister's commitment at a nearby lunatic asylum.

Munch created two versions in paint and two in pastels, as well as a lithograph. Both painted versions had at one time been stolen, but since recovered. In 2012, one of the pastel versions commanded the at-the-time highest nominal price paid for an artwork at a public auction. The two painted versions and one of the lithographs is on view at the museum. Every 30-minutes, one closes via automatic and timed doors and another merges and is lit. Tourists flock into the space for a snap of a picture. It is comical and also maddening.


The Scream

The museum did not come without its challenges. In 2002, it was proposed to move the Munch Museum. The proposal to move from Tøyen met with opposition from the majority of city council members and was voted down the same year: Tøyen was central enough and the majority wanted to keep the museum there. After the theft of "The Scream" and "Madonna" in 2004, almost NOK 40 million was used to secure the museum at Tøyen. A proposal from the Liberal Party in 2005 to move the Munch Museum to where it is not located was initially voted down. Some how or another, it came to be. Even after it was built, people loathed the look of the building and called it the ugliest building in the city. It just goes to prove that all the world is a critic, even after the death of a great artist and his collection.




MUNCH Museum


MUNCH Museum

They opened at 10:00 a.m. and stay open late (9:00 p.m.). This is nice, especially since this is off season. I arrived early in the day, make my way through the 13 story building casually, and took breaks when needed. I did the collection in 4 hours and was very casual in my pacing.


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Deichman Library

Oslo Public Library (officially called in Norwegian Deichman Bibliotek, Deichman Library) is the country's first and largest library. In 2021 it was considered the best library in the world. It employs over 300 people and has over 20 branches throughout the city. Registered users may use the library every day, even when it is not staffed, from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. It is also possible to borrow and return books when the library is not staffed. One of the most prized books in the library's collection is the Vulgate Bible of Aslak Bolt (1430–1450), Norway's only preserved liturgical handwritten manuscript from medieval times. The book itself is estimated to have been written around 1250.


Deichman Library


One thing I have no intention in doing while I am here is to go into the sauna and put myself into the fjord. Spotted across the river are saunas made of wood with glass plate windows that look out into the water. Everyone once in while you will see someone get out and take a dip. And there are other times, when someone will just disrobe from the sidewalk and take a splash. It's definitely a Scandinavian thing that I can appreciate from afar.













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Oslo Cathedral — formerly Our Savior's Church — is the main church for the Church of Norway Diocese of Oslo, as well as the parish church for downtown Oslo. The present building dates from 1694 to 1697. The Norwegian royal family and the Norwegian Government use the cathedral for public events. In August 2001, Oslo Cathedral was the site of the wedding of Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby.


Oslo Cathedral - preparing for the concert

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral

I attended their Christmas concert. I was fortunate to get one of the last 6 tickets for sale. WINNING!

Highlights: Kringkastingsorkesteret (Norweigan Orchestra Radio Orchestra), Oslo Cathedral Boys Choir, Trefoldighet Girls Choir, Oslo Cathedral Youth Choir, Consortium Vocale Oslo, among others.


Oslo Cathedral


Oslo Cathedral


Oslo Cathedral


Oslo Cathedral


Oslo Cathedral


Oslo Cathedral COSTS: $1 = 10.73 NOK

FREE! - Munch Museum (if you can show you are a prof. artist) $66.92 - 2 tangerines, 3 rolls, salami, cheese


**************************************************** December 17, 2023


Henie Onstad Kunstsenter

I am going to see the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter Museum today because on Mondays museums are closed. The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK) is a modern art museum located 12 miles outside of Oslo and has over 8,000 works in their collection. The journey takes under an hour by public transportation.


Henie Onstad Kunstsenter - Sculpture Park

The art center was founded in 1968 by World and Olympic champion figure skater Sonja Henie and her husband, shipping magnate and art collector Niels Onstad. Their private collection of contemporary art, total 110 images, as well as funds for construction and operation of the center was donated by the couple in 1961, when the Sonja Henie and Niels Onstad Foundation was created. The center, designed by Norwegian architects Jon Eikvar and Sven Erik Engebretsen, contains Sonja Henie's collection.


In 1994, the building was extended, and a two-story wing with exhibition spaces and technical rooms was added. This project was designed by the same architects—the new wing abuts the main body of the building as an organic extension. In 2003, another extension was made, this time in the form of an annex that extends into the outdoor park, connected to the main building by a passage leading from the lower level. In addition to six exhibition halls, the Center also has an auditorium and smaller meeting rooms.

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter - Auditorium

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter - staircase to upper gallery

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter - staircase to lower meeting spaces

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter - lounge by restaurant


Like many famous collections around the world, this museum is not without its controversy. After being identified in an exhibition catalogue in 2012 by the family of noted French-Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg it was demanded that the HOK return Profil Bleu Devant la Cheminée (Woman in Blue in Front of Fireplace), a Matisse painting that was confiscated by the Nazis in 1941. Museum Director Tone Hansen said the museum did not know the painting was stolen by the Nazis, until it was notified by the Rosenberg family.

Rosenberg had bought the painting direct from Matisse in 1937, and had it stored at the time of the 1940 Nazi invasion of France in a bank vault in southwestern France. The Nazis regime entered the vault in March 1941 to confiscate the art pieces, and after cataloging it in September 1941, it was designated to the private collection of Hermann Goring. Then via various dealers during the Nazi period, post-war in the late 1940s it was bought by Niels Onstad from the Paris dealer Henri Benezit. It has since appeared in numerous publications, and it toured the world on several occasions. Although under Norwegian law, due to the period of ownership the painting now belongs to HOK, Norway was one of 44 signatories to the 1988 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi Confiscated Art. Protracted mediation, overseen by Christopher A. Marinello, saw the painting returned to the heirs of Paul Rosenberg in March 2014. As a result, the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter launched Provenance Project (my guess it was to save face).


Magdalena Abakanowicz I came here particularly to see the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz, a Polish artist who pushed the limits of fiber in sculptural forms.


Magdalena Abakanowicz

The sculptures are organic, large, and expressive textile works hanging from the ceiling. They became known as abakaner. The public had never seen this before, and the Bakans made Abakanowicz one of the leading artists of her time. The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience this extraordinary work.

Through several of the most important to the Bakans and other works from the period 1956-1981, the exhibition explores this pivotal period in Magdalena Abakanowicz's practice as her woven forms detached from the wall and into three-dimensional spaces. Some of the abacaans on display are over five meters tall and viewers move through a fibrous sculpture landscape. Abakanowicz herself was keen to be referred to as a sculptor, and she became a beacon for the many textile artists who at this time fought for textiles to be considered on an equal footing with painting and sculpture.


Magdalena Abakanowicz



Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz She was born to a noble landowning family near Warsaw before the outbreak of World War II. Her formative years were marred by the Nazi occupation during which her family became part of the Polish resistance. After the war, under the imposed communist rule, Abakanowicz attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Sopot and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw between 1950 and 1954, navigating a conservative educational environment marked by the imposition of Soviet-dictated restrictive and propagandistic doctrine of Socialist Realism. Other art forms being practiced at the time in the West, such as Modernism, were officially outlawed and heavily censored in all Communist Block nations, including Poland. Lack of official approval did nothing to reduce her enthusiasm or alter the revolutionary course of her work. It is even more surprising under these restrictions she was able to thrive as an artist.


Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz



Magdalena Abakanowicz It was during this time that the Polish Republic began to lift some of the heavy political pressures imposed by the Soviet Union, mainly due to the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. In 1956 under new party leadership, Poland experienced a dramatic social and cultural shift during the Polish October. The shift resulted in the liberalization of the forms and content of art, with Stalinist methods of art form being openly criticized by the current government.


Magdalena Abakanowicz



Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz


MagdalenaAbakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz


Magdalena Abakanowicz

A major freedom granted to Polish artists was the permission to travel to Western cities -- Paris, Munich, New York City, et al. to experience artistic developments outside communist countries. This liberalization of the arts in Poland and injection of other art forms into the Polish art world greatly influenced Abakanowicz's early works, as she began to consider much of her early work as being too flamboyant and lacking in structure. Constructivism began to influence her work in the late 1950s as she adopted a more geometric and structured approach. Never fully accepting Constructivism, she searched for her own language to express herself as an artist. As a result, she soon adopted weaving as another avenue of artistic exploration and her work exploded onto the art scene and became her signature.


Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz


While at the museum, I was able to see work by Per Barclay and Yayoi Kusama. I had seen their work in other museums and galleries before in Spain and Portugal. While interesting, it gets over played. The same is true for Koons and Damian Hirst. As an artist, I hope I don't become cliche and kitsch.


Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Per Barclay

Per Barclay


COSTS: $1 = 10.73 NOK $66 - Oslo Central Station to Henie Onstad Kunstsenter Museum $66 - Henie Onstad Kunstsenter Museum to Oslo Central

97.31 - 4 tangerines, salami, cheese, 3 rolls, chocolate bar


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Royal Palace

The official residence of Norway’s monarch stands at the top of Karl Johans gate, the main thoroughfare in Oslo. State events and ceremonies take place here throughout the year. On Norway’s Constitution Day, the Royal Family greet thousands of local schoolchildren from the palace balcony. Don't miss the tranquil palace gardens including the fairytale-inspired sculpture park, named after Princess Ingrid Alexandra.


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Monolith at Vigeland Installation in Frogner Park Fog covered the city leaving a gentle blanket on the city already covered in snow. Even with the sun rising after 9:00 a.m., it kept the rays from piercing through. It was a game of peekaboo, leaving me to guess if I should make it out into the city. Rain was a possibility as it was warmer than anticipated. I eventually moved forward knowing that today and tomorrow were my last two full days and didn't want overcast skies to leer me away from what I had planned already. It was Monday afterall, and all museums were closed. I also tossed the idea if I should take public transportation or walk. If I made my way through the city, it would take a little over an hour to reach my destination. If I took the Metro/bus/tram, I would cut it in half. I decided to walk. There was still much to see in the city. I felt if I took the other decision, I would mis out on details -- cracks in the pavement, graffiti, winter holiday lights piercing through apartment windows. The one blessing with modern technology is the GPS got me through the city without a hitch. If I had attempted this without it, I would surely have gotten turned around. Besides, there were few on the street to directions. Happy surprises did await me as I had hoped -- a rainbow sculpture in a public park, utility covers, children playing in the snow, and a stop over to the University of Oslo and Oslo Metropolitan University, among other serendipitous moments. Arriving to the outskirts, I meandered my way through the park until Vigeland emerged through the fog. The art revealed itself through the curtain of haze because the river below the bridge added to the mystery of what was revealed. I felt like Jack and the Beanstalk entering the land of giants. My eyes focused, and I could see male nude figures pierce through the fog. It was deliciously invigorating. As I made my to the bridge, more figures came into view -- each more glorious than the next. I was full of delight and awe. This master piece of the city’s Vigeland Sculpture Park features 212 intertwined human figures. Although the brainchild of Vigeland, the monolith required a team of three masons who spent 14 years to complete his vision.


Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park

Gustav Vigeland (11 April 1869 – 12 March 1943), born as Adolf Gustav Thorsen, occupies a special position among Norwegian sculptors, both in the power of his creative imagination and in his productivity. He is most associated with the Vigeland installation, and he is also the designer of the Nobel Peace Prize medal.


Vigeland Sculpture Park



Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park



Vigeland Sculpture Park In 1921 the City of Oslo decided to demolish the house where Vigeland lived to build a library. After a long dispute, Vigeland was granted a new building from the city where he could work and live; in exchange, he promised to donate to the city all his subsequent works, including sculptures, drawings, engravings, and models.


Beyond the bridge, I could bear witness to a large vessel carried on the should of naked men. Stairs pulled me forward, and they greeted me. Further afield was a landscaped staircase with landings pulling the viewer further to a large column of bodies piled upon each other and surrounded by other naked figures -- male, female, children, men with men, women with women, women and men with children. Each unique and different from the last, it was intergenerational. My heart skipped a beat.


Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

I have never seen so many male, naked figures in one sculpture park before. It was a breath of fresh air to see. It was refreshing. It went on an on. I was delighted. I particularly liked the gates. Men telling each other secrets of their fears, dreams, and insecurities Women at play dancing with flowers and butterflies. I would love to have something like this in my garden. It would also make for a great gravesite.

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland moved to his new studio on Nobels gate in the borough of Frogner in 1924. His studio was located in the vicinity of the park, which he had chosen as the definitive location for his fountain. Over the following twenty years, Vigeland was devoted to the project of an open exhibition of his works, which later turned into what is known as Vigelandsanlegget in Frogner Park. The Vigeland installation features 212 bronze and granite sculptures all designed by Gustav Vigeland. The sculptures culminate in the famous Monolith (Monolitten), with its 121 figures struggling to reach the top of the sculpture.



Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park


Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park


Some art critics considered Vigeland's sculptures to be expressions of Nazi or fascist aesthetics, and he has been compared to Arno Breker. Writing in Verdens Gang, a newspaper started by former Norwegian resistance members shortly after the German occupation of Norway ended in 1945, Pola Gauguin wrote that the Vigeland installation "reeks of Nazi mentality.” The works in the installation depict individuals variously possessed: in agony and shock, rapture and torture, from birth to death and beyond. Whatever may be said of the art, it is powerful to see.


Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park


COSTS: $1 = 10.73 NOK FREE - Vigeland Sculpture Park $58.48 - 4 tangarines, roast beef, cheese

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The University of Oslo and related research institutes are important employers, particularly of foreign researchers. The university employs more than 7,000 faculty and staff. Approximately 22% of the academic staff and 31% of PhD candidates are from abroad. University of Oslo

Originally named the Royal Frederick University, the university was established in 1811 as the de facto Norwegian continuation of Denmark-Norway's common university, the University of Copenhagen, with which it shares many traditions. It was named for King Frederick VI of Denmark and Norway, and received its current name in 1939. The university was commonly nicknamed "The Royal Frederick's" (Det Kgl. Frederiks) before the name change, and informally also referred to simply as Universitetet (lit.'the university').The university was the only university in Norway until 1946. Norway’s oldest institution for research and higher education, the University of Oslo (UiO) hosts almost 28,000 students across its eight faculties:

  • Faculty of Humanities

  • Faculty of Law

  • Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

  • Faculty of Medicine

  • Faculty of Dentistry

  • Faculty of Social Sciences

  • Faculty of Theology

  • Faculty f Educational Sciences

The university also hosts specialist research centers and has a number of focus areas. These include the Centre for Studies and UiO: Nordic, a centee focused on the Nordic region and Nordic issues in an international context.



Fortunately for me, students were entering the law school entrance with their ID. I waited for the door to open so I could pop in and take a picture of a mural I saw on the wall. To exit, I waited again for someone to swipe in and exited the same way I entered.


University of Oslo - Law School

Oslo Met

Formed in 2018, Oslo Metropolitan University (Oslo Met) teaches approximately 20,000 students. It was formerly Oslo and Akershus University College, which itself was formed following the merger of many vocational colleges over the years. Much of the university's teaching takes place in and around the city center at Pilestredet. Most courses are in Norwegian, although there are some international courses.

Oslo Met's faculties are:

  • Faculty of Health Sciences

  • Faculty of Education and International Studies

  • Faculty of Social Sciences

  • Faculty of Technology, Art and Design


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center



Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center - Trust Shop, you scan and pay with an app; it's on the honor code


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center


Oslo Met - Student Center

Other Higher Education Institutions in Oslo

There are many other specialized higher education institutions in Oslo. The School of Sport Sciences, Kristiania University College, National Academy of Music, and Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology are just a few of them. The private BI Norwegian Business School teaches around 14,000 students at its main campus in Nydalen. Student Support in Oslo  SiO is a student organization in Oslo, Norway. It was known as the Foundation for Student Life in Oslo until January 2011, when it expanded into Akershus. It was established in 1939 as the first of its kind in Norway. It among others serves students of the University of Oslo, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. the MF Norwegian School of Theology, the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, the Norwegian Academy of Music, BI Norwegian Business School and the Oslo National academy of Arts.

SiO student housing manages approximately 8,600 units. Although spread all across the city, there are some notable areas. Almost 2,500 students live at Kringsjå student village, with more than 1,000 each at Sogn and Bjølsen.

There are more than 450 clubs and associations for students living in Oslo. SiO oversees the associations from its office in Kristian Ottosens House at the Blindern campus.

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Laundry Neon-signage I spent my day chilling out. I rise first thing in the morning to do laundry. It's not in the hostel, rather 15 minutes down the road in a residential area. The streets are calm and still dark. I am first to the laundry. It opened at 6 a.m. I got there at 7:30 a.m.


Laundry Neon-signage

No money is used for the machines. The entire system is ona credit card. You download an app, enter a pass word, load the app with $200 NOK. You then register which machine you are going to use, oput your clothes in, and press the app for the machine to start. There is no need for detergent because everything is included. It cost $550/load; dry is the same. The machines are state of the art - Miele. I was impressed, though it is pricey like in so many cities around the world. Clean clothes are a luxury.



Laundry Machines by Miele

******************************************************** My week here has been good. I would recommend this hostel and location. It is relatively close to everything and very walkable. The people I have met in the city are pleasant and welcoming. Yes, it has been cold though no colder than Minnesota. There have been days this week that have gotten to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and high 30s. In fact, I have not wore my Patagonia snowpants or my icelandic wool sweater. That is saying a lot because I tend to be cold to the bone. The one thing that I discovered as a topic of conversation was the rising cost of housing, food, etc. (Even the hostel is pricier than most at over $35US a night.) The average beginning wage per hour is around $150 to $200 NOK. An apartment in the city is $1,800 US. Grocery items are pricey. For ex., a Coke that is a vending machine size is over $3 US, strawberries are $8 US, ice cream Haggan Daz pint is $8 US, a beer at the grocery is over $4 US or out is $9 US, a doughnut is $2 US. A basic hamburger is $15 US or dinner out for two people is $100 US at a basic restaurant. A Metro ride is more than $4, a men's basic haircut is $40, jeans are around $100. Oslo is in the top 15% most expensive cities in the world.


Public Park Art COSTS: $1 = 10.73 NOK $1100 - wash and dry at self-service laundry $598 - Oslo to Stockholm via train, 2nd Class $97.08 - 6 tangerines, cheese, salami, chocolate bar, 3 rolls of bread

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December 20 - 27, 2023 Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is the capital and most populous city of Sweden as well as the largest urban area in the Nordic countries. Approximately 1 million people live in the municipality, with 2.1 million in the urban center, and 2.4 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Outside the city to the east, and along the coast, is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. The region accounts for one-third of the nation's GDP.


December 20, 2023 I woke at 4 a.m. to shower and prepare for my train departure from Oslo, Norway. My roomie (Sharon from India but is currently living in Ireland) is also going there. I bought my ticket yesterday from the train station, and she got hers online a month ago. Stripping out bed linens and down three flights of stairs, we placed out hostel keys in the lock box by the side door to the hostel. We were ahead of schedule by 15 minutes, which I don't mind. the train station is roughly 20 minutes down the road. Just as scheduled and confirmed the day before, we leave from track 15 promptly at 5:56 a.m. The train is well appointed, clean, and modern. I am in 2nd class which is more than ample in space. Overhead I place my luggage, backpack, and coat. I pull the tray table down and place my water bottle above the ring that is protruding from the seat ahead of mine. There is an electric outlet in the side between the two seats and wi-fi is readily available. I go in and out of sleep over the course of the 6-hour journey. The tray table comes in handy as a makeshift head rest and as comfortable as I would have hoped. Fortunately for me as the journey loaded and unloaded passengers along the way, I had the entire seat to myself. Perfection. As we approach the border from Norway to Sweden, rain begins to pelt the train and bleeds across the fast moving windows. This is going to be a wet experience. Arriving shortly after 11:20 a.m. into the Stockholm Central Station, I waited for Sharon to emerge from her train car. She and I walked side by side through the terminal and then followed out GPS to our respective hostels. While should not be staying with me, I have enjoyed her talkative soul. ********************************************************** As I have stated before, and time and time again, thank goodness from GPS. It is a time and headache saver. I was able to get arrive to Craaford Place Hostel without any difficulties other than being sopping wet from the grey skies above with no sunlight in the forecast for the next few days. I rung the entrance door, and I was let into my accommodations. The hostel is on the 8th floor of the building, the top floor. Thankfully there is an elevator that gets you to the 7th with one flight remaining. Upon my arrival, I discover Muslim men at afternoon prayer on the landing. Prayer mats were laid out, shoes cast to the side, and the mantra began. I waited with my head bowed in reverence. Afterward I greeted them with, "salamun alaykum" which surprised them as they glanced back again, they chirped back, "wa alaykumus salam". I had hoped that the reception desk was there ready for me, but no. There was a sign requesting that all guests remove their shoes, which I did. I sent them a text message informing them of my arrival, and I was waiting for them to open the door because I did not receive a door code for access. No one responded. I continued to wait. About 15 minutes later a man exited the door, and I popped into the space. I could hear the housekeeping team preparing the rooms. I nestled my way toward the kitchen and chill area. I sent the reception desk a note that I was able to get into the building and where I was located. Removing my sopping wet jacket and many layers of clothing, I began to unpack my computer when a dark-haired gentlemen entered and welcomed me. He said I could check-in. I thanked him because I was 2 hours early. He provided me a code to my door that would open the downstairs entrance as well the entrance to my room. I reminded him that I needed a bottom bunk, and he said not to worry. He helped me with my luggage, showed me the shower areas, and washroom. The room while tight, will do just fine. There is a lockable wardrobe and an additional lockable storage down the hallway outside the room. Thankfully, I come prepared with two locks.


Craaford Place Hostel


Craaford Place Hostel - My Bed is the Bottom Bunk


Craaford Place Hostel As I unpack, the rain turned into snow. I decided to stay inside the hostel this afternoon and away from inclement streets and brushes with a downpour or two. Warm, dry feet does the body good. I remain in the kitchen typing my blog of my experience. "All is well that ends well", thank you Billy Shakespeare.


By 4:00 p.m., the sky is pitch dark and the rain has stopped. It feels more like 10:00 p.m., as I glance upward to check the time on my watch. I do a double take. Is it really this early? I yawn. Yes, it is.


What shall tomorrow bring? ************************************************************************* The older I get, the more I realize I am closer to death than life. There is so much to live for and experience; yet, I have barely touched the earth. I am so thankful for my health, my abilities, my senses. Each day I lift up and celebrate all that I have, and yet, I trust there is much more to give. I want to inhale life with her many possibilities. Each time I see something more spectacular than before, my mind races with what serendipitous moments is around the corner? What will be my legacy? I want to lift up all that I have and embrace life as if it were my last breath. I want to hold her close and toss her wildly in the air not knowing if she will take flight or run a mile in seconds flat as she approaches the ground. I want to dress her up in all her splendor and watch the passersby whisper about her awestruck beauty. I want to taste her on my lips and quench my thirst as if it may be my last drop of exuberance. I want to step in her shoes and know that all that I leave behind will be a testament for others to live with passion. And when I am too frail to lift my wings and fly, to walk in designer shoes, and with a flair for awesomeness while keeping people questioning the person I have become, I hope to pass quickly and with grace in a swift and gentle way -- the shift when wind wrestles in the trees while casting dandelions on her brow. And then, I will know my life was worth living. A joy for all to witness. A history that will not be soon forgotten. ************************************************************************************ There is a definite difference in the weather here in Stockholm compared to Oslo. The weather in Oslo last week was in the 30s and as high as 40 degrees in the day. Oslo is a different story. It feels more like Minnesota. It is cold, wet 20s and single digits at night. I could feel the difference as soon as a stepped out of the train terminal. It was not bitter and cutting, though you could feel the difference. For ex., in Oslo, I decided after my first day to not wear my long johns. Here in Stockholm, I am going to pull them back out.

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December 21,2023


Moderna Museet has one of Europe's finest collections of modern and contemporary art. It includes key works by Pablo Picasso, Lyubov Popova, Salvador Dalí, Meret Oppenheim, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Irving Penn, along with works by contemporary practicing artists. The Moderna Museet collection currently comprises approximately 6,000 paintings, sculptures and installations, some 45,000 watercolors, drawings and prints, and 100,000 photographs. It opened in 1958.


Niki de Sant Phalle

The museum houses Swedish and international modern and contemporary art, including pieces by Picasso and Dali. The museum's collection includes also key works by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Louise Bourgeois, Niki de Sant Phalle, Matisse, and Rauschenberg.


Salon of Modern Masters

Salon of Modern Masters