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Extreme Voss and Midsummer's Eve in Oslo
Rating: (5.0) (3 votes)

Oslo, Norway
June 23rd, 2005

Pros : We saw real reindeer!
Cons : None

We left a once again rainy Bergen to head back to Voss to spend the day watching some extreme sports before we headed back to (gasp!) drop off the car and spend a few days in Oslo.

The Voss Extreme Sports week seemed to be a big deal from what we heard. When we arrived, the town was a little quieter than we expected…but nonetheless there were numerous events going on. We tried unsuccessfully to watch rafting and river boarding, but were able to find the skydiving. After managing to drive through a Norwegian military base (after a few wrong turns) we found the airfield and watch some heli-skydiving. The copter would take up two or three people at a time while the rest waiting on the airstrip. Planes were taking off all over the place…it seemed sort of unorganized. But it was pretty amazing to see these little dots appear from a hovering helicopter and slowly gain speed and parachute to earth.

After enjoying a little sun down on the main lake in Voss we headed up to Eli’s Farm for our dinner with her family. I let Ashley drive the car the few miles up to the farm…so needless to say, I was pleased when we arrived in one piece.

Eli’s daughter Celia joined Erlend (the son), Arvid (father), Eli and us for a wonderful dinner of Salmon with vegetables. None of the family had even been to America and we had great discussions all about America, Detroit, healthcare, and traveling. Arvid was quite interested in taking a road trip across the states and we were trying to tell him about all the different parts of the country. Eli made these wonderful panache type things (with all or some combination of the following) where you put jam, sour cream, sugar and cheese and roll them up inside. Ashley and I ate WAY to many and Eli just kept putting them in front of us as we chatted with everyone (Celia’s boyfriend and other friend joined us, as well as Lucas, the Brazilian exchange student).

After dinner we headed into Voss to watch the skydiving extravaganza (if you will…) that takes place every Extreme Week. On our way, I let Celia’s boyfriend drive my car (he was a big car guy and I told him he had to drag on Woodward) and he seemed to be a bit more excited than I would expect…but he went on to tell us, that with taxes the Volvo s40 would cost close to 700,000 Norwegian Crowns or about $100,000 US Dollars…crazy! Taxes on cars here are over 100%...to have a car as a young person is nearly unheard of…I wonder what these kids would do walking around the Cranbrook parking lot!

After we watched the skydiving formation (it was a little thrown off because of the clouds, but was still quite amazing as some of the divers flew crazily down at nearly 100 Km/hr) we said our goodbyes as we wanted to head closer to Drammen (near Oslo and six hours away) where we had to drop the car off by 3 PM.

We sort of just planned to drive as far as we could and then camp on the side of the road. It’s legal in Norway to camp anywhere as long as you are more than 100m from a house. Our drive took us across the narrow and windy Route 50 up and around on the Hardangervidda Plateau. Of all the drives we had made, I really think this, our last, was the most amazing. We literally were the only car on the road as we would up and around a few small fjords and on top of the plateau. We came across a beautiful mountain lake (that was formed by a massive stone dam) and up in the hills we saw a herd of Reindeer (WE SAW REAL REINDEER! I have been talking about this non-stop and Ashley is getting quite annoyed). Around midnight we finally called it quits a few hours from Drammen and pulled over.

Today the drive to Drammen was quite painful as the directions and terrible map made it near impossible to find the damn auto transport service. After finally arriving (I did somehow manage to get off at the right exit, but the five exit traffic circle sort of made things difficult) we sadly signed off the car and took a taxi to catch the train to Oslo.

Our hotel in Oslo is located near the train station and close to Karl Johans Gate, the main pedestrian street complete with shopping, cafes and street performers. After cleaning up we headed to the Munch Museum, freshly reopened after a few of their paintings were stolen last year (a color sketch of “The Scream” and “Madonna” were stolen and recovered). The redone museum was almost like a fortress. It was nearly impossible to not set off the metal detector and you had to enter through two electronic gates to just get to the paintings, which were mostly surrounded by glass. Each room had numerous cameras as well as “an eye in the sky”. Once you finally were able to see the paintings, Munch’s inner demons showed through. They had a small permanent collection of his works (most are loaned out), the majority of the museum was the current show called “Munch by Himself”. It showed the transition of Munch from his early self-portraits of 1892 to his highly disturbed and dark paintings all the way up to his death in 1944. “The Scream”, “Starry Night” and “Man Between his Bed and Clock” were all deeply disturbed and dark. I was relatively unfamiliar with Munch (other than “The Scream”) and this collection of a few hundred of his self-portraits really gave one insight on his troubled and turbulent life.

After the museum we took a stroll down Karl Johans. During a brief stop at a café (it was 70+ and Sunny out!) we ran into some random French dude wearing a Pistons shirt. I thought maybe he was from the Big D, but his Frenchness made it quite apparent that he was not. He was however a bit fan…so we gave him props for sporting the blue and red and sent him and his little lady from Chicago (who made fun of us for telling everyone where we are from by showing them on our hands) on their way.

After the café we headed down to the old inner harbor, Aker Brygge. All the former shipping warehouses were gutted and filled with trendy eateries and stores, so it was quite nice to walk around. After making our way through the Gay Pride Festival (Ashley seems to find these wherever she goes…) we found a nice Italian place on the water called, you guessed it, Sopranos. Our quality dinner was supplemented by our gregarious waiter Sall. He invited us to sail out with him and his wealthy family on their eight-bedroom yacht along the coast all the way to Bergen. He informed us of his $15 million dollars saved and trust fund that would be used to start a Michelin 5-Star rated restaurant on the outskirts of Oslo. We were very saddened to have to turn down this offer to travel to Bergen (once again) on an Italian Yacht, but being that we are leaving for the UK on Saturday, it just wasn’t possible. Although we did drive to Bergen along all routes possible in the car and we could complete the tri-fecta by taking a boat there and train back…but sadly, it just wasn’t going to be…

So now we are back at the hotel…on midsummer’s night eve…a big holiday in Norway. Why are we going to bed so early do you ask? So we can watch the Pistons at 4 AM…that’s why! Thanks to the world of the laptop, Internet and NBA.com, we hopefully will be able to tune in and watch tonight (this morning’s game)…


Catch ya on the flip side,
- M & Turtle