OSLO # 2

September 6, 2010 - Oslo, Norway

Wow! Back in Oslo, Norway! To think that the last time we were here was over two months ago is almost insane. In some ways it feels as though we had just left. In others, it feels like a distant, faded memory. It’s that odd concept and feeling of time lapse (or lack thereof) while traveling on a cruise ship that really plays with your head. I still haven’t gotten fully used to it. Regardless, no matter how much time has passed, or has not passed, here we were…back in Oslo

Today, the port buddies (Nic, Kaitlyn, Carly and me) were back at it in full action. Today, we had plans to head to Frogner Park.

This 75-acre park contains a lifetime of work by Norway’s greatest sculptor, Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943). In 1921, he made a deal with the city. In return for a great studio and state support, he’d spend his creative life beautifying Oslo with this sculpture garden. From 1924 to 1943 he worked on-site, sculpting 192 bronze and granite statue – 600 figures, each nude and unique. Vigeland even designed the landscaping. Today the park is loved and respected (no police, no fences, and no graffiti) by the people of Oslo. The garden is always open, always free, and more than great art. It’s a city at play and one should appreciate its urban Norwegian ambience.

The park was a good distance away from the ship and along our walk we passed the Royal Palace where we watched part of the changing of the guards. Our trek also found us walking through many different shopping districts. And it was in one of these shopping districts where I came across the ultimate store. A store completely, and only, filled with onesies. You all know what a onesy is. Remember those pj’s we all had growing up, basically a jumpsuit with feet? Well, they make them for adults (minus the feet) and after Beckie had come back with one from the last time we were here, I just had to have one! The problem was the store we stopped in apparently only carried “designer” onesies because the cheapest one they had was about $160! And I was not paying that! So we continued on our way.

Frogner Park was absolutely beautiful! It was also absolutely gigantic! Luckily Kaitlyn had a guidebook which took us on a quick, four-stop, straight-line, gate-to-monolith tour. It was perfect! We first looked at the statue of Gustav Vigeland and “considered his messed-up life as we enjoyed his art”, just as the guide book suggested.

…He lived with his many models. His marriages failed. His children entangled his artistic agenda. He didn’t age gracefully. He didn’t name his statues and refused to explain their meanings. While those who know his life story can read it clearly in the granite and bronze, I’d forget Gustav’s troubles and see his art as observations on the bittersweet cycle of life in general – from a man who must have had a passion for living.

Next, we crossed the 300-foot-ling bridge adorned with 58 bronze statues, which deal with relationships about people.

…find the circular statue of a man and woman going round and round – perhaps the eternal attraction and love between the sexes. But directly opposite, another circle feels like a prison – and man fights to get out.

The entire park had a very sexual feel to it and that was directly linked to the statues which fill it! Each one was naked and typically in some embrace who strong stance. This was contrasting to some of the other statues in the park, which brought on a bit of a disturbing feel. For example, in the children’s playground, eight bronze infants are circling a head-down fetus. Another statue I remember, although didn’t get a picture of was…

the famous Sinnataggen, the hot-headed little boy. It’s said Vigeland gave him chocolate and then took it away to get this reaction. The statues capture the joys of life (and, on a sunny day, so do the Norwegians filling the park around you).

After the bridge, we continued through a rose garden to the earliest sculpture unit in the park.

Six giants hold a fountain, symbolically toiling with the burden of life, as water – a.k.a. fertility – cascades steadily around them. Twenty tree-of-life groups surround the fountain, each echoing the shape of the fountain in miniature. Four clumps of trees (on each corner) show humanity’s relationship to nature and the seasons of life: childhood, young love, adulthood, and winter.

Finally, we headed to the Monolith, the centerpiece of the park – a teeming monolith of life surrounded by 36 granite groups.

The figures are hunched and clearly earthbound, as Vigeland explores a lifetime of human relationships. At the center, 121 figures carved out of a single block of stone rocket skyward. Three stoned carvers worked daily for 14 years cutting Vigeland’s full-size plaster model into the final 180-ton, 50-foot-tall erection.

Covered with bodies, it seems inert at the base and picks up speed as it ascends. Some people seem to naturally rise. Others struggle not to fall. Some help others. Although the granite groups around the monolith are easy to understand, Vigeland left the meaning of the monolith itself open. Like life, it can be interpreted many different ways.

The four of us had a great time in the park and were definitely glad to have made the trek to see it. It is clearly one of the highlights of Oslo, not to mention, a very impressive sight to see, and a fun one to try to recreate, as you can see from Kaitlyn, Carly and my picture at the monolith!

After the park, we all made our way back to the ship. Nic had to be back for afternoon duties and the girls and I wanted a quick break to relax and grab something to eat. I decided to go to the Pool Grill for my lunch and so Kaitlyn and Carly headed back out without me, but I didn’t mind because I had a different agenda than them anyway. They were going to find some free internet, but I had to try to find a birthday present for Beckie. Her birthday is on September 9th, and seeing as how Oslo is packed with shops and malls, I figured it may be my best (or only) opportunity to find something.

Well, there’s good news and bad news. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find Beckie anything I thought she might like, so I ended up present-less. However, when searching in one of her favorite stores, Vera Moda, I found what I had been searching for all along…my onesy! I knew Beckie had got hers for that store, but all the other Vera Moda’s I looked in didn’t have them, but this one did! And after several trips back and forth from the rack to the dressing rooms, I am proud to say that I am the owner of my very own white onesy, which I will so be rocking out Christmas morning (and due to the bet I made with Beckie if I had found one: maybe on the plane ride home as well)!

My last visit to Oslo, Norway ended very American-like…sitting in a McDonalds and using free internet! It was nice to be able to catch up with friends and upload some pictures. Half the day was used for sightseeing, the other for personal reasons, and it was great!





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1 Comment

September 19, 2010
Wow, the statues were amazing and very intersting too! Loved your re-creation of them with the girls. Changing of the Guard looked facinating also. I always like to hear you get some down time for yourself, it is good to have that time to relax.
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