Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bergen, Norway

After I arrived in Norway, I was ready to achieve another part of my dream. This was to walk the same narrow, cobblestone streets that my great-grandparents walked at the turn of the 20th century - my great-grandfather as a missionary, and my great-grandmother as a resident. Other than the satellite dishes, many of the streets looked as if they had not changed much. I enjoyed the harbor, especially in the evening with the street performers, my first-night downpour without my umbrella, walking through the fish market on a Saturday morning (except for the smell), and the lovely shops that have existed for more than a hundred years.

One of my stops on the trip was to visit the home of Norway's most famous composer, Edvard Grieg. His name may not sound familiar to most people, but his music is. What I like most about Grieg is his ability to transform the emotions of life's ordinary and extraordinary moments into beautiful music, as well as his ability to embody the inspirational and spiritual nature of his surroundings (i.e. the wilderness of Norway.) Not surprising, his composing hut has a beautiful view overlooking a tree-lined lake that undoubtedly inspired his music.

One of my mandatory sites in Norway was to see a stave church - the centuries-old wooden churches with unique architecture and design that, as a tool to convert former pagans to Christianity incorporated early Christianity with pagan symbols. Unfortunately the original near Bergen burned down in the 1990s, but it was rebuilt. A stone cross from the early years of Christianity still remains there. I also had a good conversation with a graduate student conducting a survey about churches as tourist spots in Norway and Europe. We talked about his study, the religious lifestyles of Americans and Europeans, as well as a little of my own beliefs.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was my journey to Flam and taking a little cruise around the infamous fjords of Norway. It was incredible! I would love to return again someday and maybe take a hiking/kayaking trip around the fjords just like the American girl I met at the laundromat.
The train ride down into the Flam Valley was impressive and throughout my whole fjord journey I saw numerous cascades flowing down the deep green, and sometimes snow-topped, fjords. I also enjoyed seeing the beautiful little towns scattered throughout the fjords, from the deep valleys to the high peaks. The envy toward those Norwegian shepherds continued to grown inside me...
I enjoyed a sunset at the Bergen fortress one evening and it was very beautiful. My favorite sunset of the whole trip was enjoyed at the top of a hill overlooking the whole city and harbor of Bergen. I was able to take a tram up to the top and stayed until 11:30, just enjoying the view.

This pretty much wraps up my Scandinavia trip. Hope you enjoyed the ride. I would love to take this trip again, but I'm afraid it's going to have to wait for a very long time. I guess it's back to more diverse blogging.

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