Welcome to another day of traveling around the world virtually through Noveltea! I’m excited about being (fictionally) in Norway this week. It’s a pretty amazing country from what I read and I was pretty excited to find out that when a book is published the government buys 1,000 copies for their libraries… How cool is that?
And now, have fun with week 17th of my fiction series, Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks.
|photo free from Pixabay|
Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks
Week Seventeen: Norway
Sophie, my wonder-assistant-planner-and-booker from Exploration Airlines is originally from Minnesota. Minnesota is the unofficial Norwegian capital of the United States and Sophie is of Norwegian decent. Add those facts together and you guessed it, Sophie flew in to join me during my week-long stay in the breath-taking country. Sophie was nearly giddy when she joined me late Monday night.
The first thing we did Tuesday morning was eat a traditionally Norwegian breakfast consisting of milk, coffee, and an open sandwich with meat cuts, and another one with butter and jam.
Then we headed to Nidaros Cathedral. It was built over the burial site of Saint Olav who had been a king of Norway in the 11th century. The cathedral was built from 1070 to 1300 and is of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles; it’s the northernmost medical cathedral in the world.
The building was immense and ornamental with towering steeples and turrets and archways. The inside was vast with columns and tall ceilings and high quality workmanship at every turn. The floors looked like a beautiful patchwork quilt and light filtered through expertly crafted stained-glass windows. The windows on the south side of the cathedral have scenes from the New Testament against a red background, and the windows on the north side have scenes from the Old Testament against a blue background. It was impressive.
There were so many small details and interstice and corners to explore that it felt like we’d never have enough time to see everything – to soak it all in. The air in the cathedral was cool and almost damp, perhaps a reflection from the rain misting outside. I could almost taste the history as I walked around, a magically, musty, dusty scent filling my senses. I rubbed my hand over the tall columns, tipping my head back to gaze at the ceiling that was marvelously high, leaving me to wonder how in the world the cathedral had been built without modern equipment.
According to Sophie who had researched the cathedral back during her school years and kinda fell in love with it, the building was badly damaged by fires in 1327 and again in 1531. Parts that were destroyed were not rebuilt until the early 1900s. Also, in 1708 the church burned down completely except for the stone walls. Then in 1719 it was struck by lightning and again fire broke out. The restoration (and rebuilding) of the cathedral began in the mid-1800s and was officially finished in 2001. It was astonishing to think of how many hours of work and even lives had been dedicated to the work of one building. I couldn’t even fathom it.
For supper we went to a local restaurant and had a traditional Norse dish that is well known all around the world: Smoked salmon. The salmon was severed with scrambled eggs, dill, some kind of sandwich, and mustard. The salmon was delicious and quite… Smokey, which was kind of to be expected. I didn’t enjoy the eggs much as I generally cook mine harder, but it was an interesting mixture and I was glad to have tried it.
“Did you know that the Laerdal Tunnel is the world’s longest road tunnel?” By the time we got back to our hotel room I was tired, but Sophie was too excited to sleep and was pulling facts both out of her memory bank and the internet.
“I’ve never even heard of it before.”
Her mouth dropped open as if I’d missed a very important part of my formal education. “It’s 15 miles long.”
“That is amazing.” I didn’t know if I’d like the feeling of being stuck in a tunnel for an entire 15 minutes, but I didn’t voice my thoughts.
“Guess what, the Global Peace Index from 2013 rates Norway as one of the most peaceful countries in the world.” From Sophie’s tone of voice and happy facial expressions, I almost thought she was personally responsible for that impressive claim.
“Pretty cool.” I grinned, I was happy Sophie could have some fun on my year-long adventure. She’d done so much to help everything go smoothly for me during the first four months of the year.
“The cheese slicer was invented in 1925 by Thor Bjorklund. And guess what country he was in? Norway.” Then Sophie’s face dropped, “Oh my goodness, I’ve never even used a cheese slicer before.” She looked aghast at the thought.
“You should buy one when you’re here then.”
“Perfect idea.” Sophie grinned and then went and looked out the window. “Wanna hear something strange?”
“Um, sure?” I didn’t know if she was insinuating that the last five minutes of conversation hadn’t been strange, because that’s how I would have classified them.
“Everyone who owns a TV in Norway has to pay a licensing fee each year that’s a little over $480. And that’s in US dollars.”
Now that fact did sound interesting. I didn’t have a TV (I wasn’t home enough for it to be useful), but I enjoyed watching shows in hotel rooms from time to time.
After a few minutes of gazing at the city stretching below us, Sophie was back at her computer clicking away. “Listen to this,” again her voice held excitement. “Leif Eriksson, the son of Erik the Red, sailed to Labrador and then south to a region he called Vinland in A.D. 1000. They found grapes and corn growing wild. Both places, although never settled, marked a Norwegian “discovery” of America.”
“I kinda recall that from history books.” I grinned at Sophie’s enthusiasm, it was clear she was happy to have a Norwegian heritage. I yawned, “I’m kinda getting tired, do you feel jet lag catching up with you?”
Sophie sighed and shut her computer, “Actually, yes. I think I’ll go get ready for bed now.” She yawned as she stood up. “I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
“Neither can I.” And I couldn’t. During the week we planned to see Rondane National Park, explore the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo, Camp for a night at Naeroyfijord, and fit as much other sightseeing and exploring into the trip as possible.
I was nearly asleep when Sophie emerged from the bathroom bruising her teeth.
“Indiana?” My name was mumbled around her toothbrush.
“Humm?” I squinted at her.
“Isn’t it strange that with how delicious the food was today that we ate that Grandiosa frozen pizza is Norway’s unofficial national dish?”
And so instead of fjords or cathedrals or any of the beautiful sights I’d seen during the day, I dreamed of pizza. Frozen pizza.