Europe 2017: Norway Iceland Spain

Europe 2017: Norway Iceland Spain

I spent five weeks in Europe in 2017, two in Norway, two in Spain and one in Iceland; it was the longest trip of my life, exceeding even the four weeks I spent in Korea in June and July 2015; these are some of my photos of the trip and some of my thoughts about what I saw there…

Monday, June 19

Flight from JFK to Stockholm Arlanda.

Tuesday, June 20

Flight from Stockholm Arlanda to Oslo; arrival at Gardermoen airport; train into Oslo. Dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant Monsun in Grünerløkka.

Wednesday, June 21

Waking up in the grendehus of an apartment building in Grünerløkka.

Olaf Ryes Plass at Markveien in the Grünerløkka district of Oslo

Trikk Trakk tram to Oslo City mall. Back to the Grünerløkka.

Oslo: in front of Sentralstasjon

Thursday, June 22

Royal Palace. Henrik Ibsen Museum. Trikk Trakk tram to Apothek restaurant for dinner.

Øystein Grønning & I spoke to members of the Palestinakomite i Norge at Maksitaksi in Oslo about the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine

Friday, June 23

Historical Museum. Oslo Pride House talk on “The Triumph of Trump & the Future of LGBT Rights” at El Dorado Bookstore.

Oslo: Jugendstil door in the Historical Museum

Saturday, June 24

Akershus Castle. Norsk Hjemmefront Museum. “Transgender Rights in the Age of Trump” at Oslo Pride House at El Dorado Bookstore. Dinner at Politiker’n with PION friends.

Akershus festning

Akershus festning

Oslo harbor

Sunday, June 25

Ferry to Bygdøy peninsula, Norse Folke Museet (Norwegian Folk Museum), Viking Ship Museum, LGBT exhibition at Oslo Rådhuset, Oslo Pride House

Bygdøy peninsula seen from a ferry on Oslofjord

Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Folk Museum) on Bygdøy peninsula

Bygdøy: Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Folk Museum): Setabu, Støylsemne: a summer cottage from Hylestad, Valle Setesdal (c.1500-1600)

Gol stavkyrkje (c. 1157-1216) is a stave church originally from Gol in the region of Hallingdal in Buskerud fylke (county) that was relocated to the Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Folk Museum) on Bygdøy peninsula in Oslofjord (6.25.17)
I saw this amazing bruderkrone in the Norsk Folkemuseum on Bygdøy when I was in Oslo in June: “Bridal crowns were used by the upper classes in Norway from the Middle Ages until the end of the 16th century. Later the custom only continued in rural areas. The lower part of this crown — in giil silver with images of saints — was probably made ca. 1520. It was still in use after the Reformation, but the upper part was renewed in the 17th century. It was strictly forbidden to worship saints for the Lutherans, but they still existed in folk tradition.” (“Bruderkroner var vanlige i høyere samfunnslag i Norge fra middel-alderen til slutten av 1500-tallet. Senere fortsatte skikken bare blant bønder. Den nederste delen av denne kronen — i forgylt sølv med helgenfigurer — ble trolig laget ca. 1520. Den var fremdeles bruk etter reformasjonen, men fikk ny bekroning på 1600-tallet. Tilbedelse av helgener var strengt forbudt i den lutherske kirke, men minnet om dem levde lenge videre i folkekulturen.”) 

Oseberg ship in the Viking Ship Museum on on Bygdøy peninsula

Oslo: an ad for traditional Norwegian bunad costumes

Oslo Rådhus: Froy & Gerd meet: a wood relief by Dagfin Werenskiold from his 1950 series of Yggdrasilfrisen at the entrance to City Hall

Arnhild Haagensen, “Himmelbåten,” akrylmaling, glassperler og gullpulver på linlerret (acrylic paint, glass beads & gold-plated powder), in the exhibition of LGBT/queer art “Blitt sånn, født sånn: Rådhusgalleriet Skeive Kunstnere” at the Rådhusgalleriet (City Hall gallery, Oslo)

Monday, June 26

Reisehus: booked flight on SAS to Barcelona. Gardermoen: slept over at the airport.

Tuesday, June 27

Gardermoen: flight to Barcelona.

Barcelona: la Sagrada Familia

Apple store in the Plaza de Catalunya;

La Rambla; Teatro Liceu; train to Madrid; taxi to Calle Padilla; black ink squid paella for dinner.

Wednesday, June 28

Lavapies; Racializados contingent in Orgullo Crítico; Metropolis building.

Los Racializados contingent in Orgullo Crítico

Los Racializados contingent in Orgullo Crítico

Thursday, June 29


Vincent Doyle & me at the LGBT@Work conference in Madrid

Friday, June 30

Madrid: “Descolonizar Espacios e Identidades” at the Matadero; dinner with speakers & other participants.

“Descolonizar Espacios e Identidades” speakers

Pauline Park & Candy Yun at the Matadero for “Descolonizar Espacios e Identidades”

Saturday, July 1

Madrid: Lavapiés; World Pride; dinner at Il Piccolo Diavolo.

Madrid: Lavapiés

Antigua Taquería at Calle de Cabestreros 4, Lavapiés

I passed by the Catedral de Nuestra Señora Santa María la Real de la Almudena at sunset.

Plaza Mayor was built (1580-1619) during the reign of Philip III; I passed through Madrid’s elegant central square at night four years ago today & it looked strangely mysterious…

Sunday, July 2

El Rastro flea market & El Escorial.

El Escorial

El Escorial
El Escorial
El Escorial
El Escorial
Monday, July 3
Toledo: the Alcazar rising above the city
Toledo: Santa María la Blanca: a Jewish synagogue in the Moorish style that was converted into a church
Toledo street scene
Toledo: the cathedral
Toledo: the Alcazar at sunset
Tuesday, July 4

Atocha: Renfe train to Málaga; Hotel Ibis Budget.

Spain: a note on history…

To understand Andalucia, one must understand the ‘Reconquista,’ the Christian ‘reconquest’ of Spain from the Muslim Arabs and Berbers who defeated the Visigoths to conquer the peninsula centuries earlier. Ferdinand of Aragon Isabella of Castille (‘los Reyes Católicos) completed a very long process of pushing the Arab Muslim rulers of ‘al-Andalus, ultimately defeating the last Emir of Granada and seizing the last part of Spain still beyond the reach of the Roman Catholic monarchs who created the Spain we know today. The Reconquista  was a disaster for the Muslims and Jews of Spain, who were subjected to forced conversion and eventual expulsion, as well as for the indigenous peoples of Latin America, subjected to genocide as the result of the Spanish conquest of Meso-America and much of the South American continent. The south of Spain is known Andalusia, which in Spanish is spelled ‘Andalucía’ and derives from the Arabic word ‘al-Andalus’ (الأندلس); the etymology of the term is controversial, though the conventional explanation is that ‘al-Andalus’ is an Arabic word for the land of the ‘Vandals,’ among the Germanic tribes that conquered Spain after the fall of the western Roman empire.


Wednesday, July 5

Seville: gardens of the Parque de María Luisa; university; Alcázar.

Seville: the Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens), a masterpiece of Mudéjar style at the heart of the Alcázar in the palace of Pedro I of Castille, who somewhat ironically built a palace in the Moorish ‘Mudéjar’ style of his Muslim Arab predecessors after the reconquest of Seville, the most important example of the mudéjar style after the Alhambra of Granada
Málaga street at night
Thursday, July 6

Friday, July 7

On my third full day in Andalucía, I took the train from Málaga to Córdoba, the first capital of Arab Muslim al-Andalus and the home to the Gran Mezquita, the largest and most important mosque in Spain.

Córdoba: la Gran Mezquita

Córdoba: la Gran Mezquita

Córdoba: a prayer alcove in la Gran Mezquita

Córdoba: arches in la Gran Mezquita

Córdoba: a prayer alcove in la gran mezquita

Córdoba: arches in the gran mezquita

Córdoba: a prayer alcove in the gran mezquita

Cordoba: a crucifix in the gran mezquita
Córdoba: bell tower of the gran mezquita

Pauline Park in the gran mezquita

arches leading to the cathedral chapel in the middle of the gran mezquita

Córdoba’s gran mezquita has a statue of a pope above classical columns: it’s a hybrid that embodies the history of Spain…

Córdoba’s gran mezquita is a forest of Roman arches brought in by Abd al-Rahman I from Roman ruins in and around the city; the addition of a Gothic barrel vaulted ceiling to this long passageway in the midst of the mosque shows how thoroughly mixed Roman, Muslim Arab and Spanish Catholic Baroque styles are in this extraordinary building…

I was struck by the sculptures of Christian saints being supported by Roman arches added to Córdoba’s gran mezquita after the Reconquista, which could be cited as a visual and architectural metaphor of Spain itself…

Córdoba: the cathedral in the mosque

Córdoba: organ of the cathedral/mezquita

Córdoba: a prayer alcove in the gran mezquita

Córdoba: arches in the gran mezquita

Nowhere in the gran mezquita of Córdoba than in this series of arches is the imposition of Roman Catholic Spanish style on the Arab Muslim style of the mosque more apparent than with this tympanum and arch decorated with sculptures of Christian saints carved into one of the great arches of the mezquita, a metaphor for the history of Spain…

Pauline Park in the gran mezquita

arches in the gran mezquita

Pauline Park in the gran mezquita

arches in the gran mezquita

Pauline Park in the gran mezquita

Córdoba was the home to a thriving Jewish community before Ferdinand & Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain after the Reconquista; this is Calle Judios (Street of the Jews) in the old Jewish quarter of the city

Córdoba: la Casa de Sefarad (museum of Sephardic Jewish history & culture)

Córdoba’s ancient walls


Saturday, July 8

The last and finest flowering of Muslim Arab culture in al-Andalus is the Alhambra of Granada and there’s good reason why it is the single most popular tourist destination in Spain: there is no palace that I’ve ever seen that is more inviting and that I’d more like to live in; other palaces in Europe may be grander, but none is closer to a paradise on earth than the Alhambra.

I actually bought tickets a few days in advance because while one can enter the Alhambra without booking in advance, entry to the Palacios Nazaríes is by timed ticket only, and so planning is required. The Alhambra is actually an enormous complex and when I arrived there, I had several hours before my ticket to the Palacios Nazaríes was valid, so I started out by touring the gardens of the Generalife, which are luxuriant.

Jardínes del Generalife

Jardínes del Generalife

Jardínes del Generalife
Jardínes del Generalife
Jardínes del Generalife
Alhambra seen from the Jardínes del Generalife
Spain: the emirate of Granada was the last to fall to the Reconquista
Alhambra seen from the Jardínes del Generalife
Granada as seen from the Alhambra
Sala de los Abencerrajes in the Alhambra’s Palacios Nazaríes
Torre de Camares & Patio de los Arrayanes (Patio de los Mirtos) in the Alhambra’s Palacios Nazaríes
Patio del Cuarto Dorado in the Alhambra’s Palacios Nazaríes (7.8.17)
Mirador de Daraxa in the Palacios Nazaríes of the Alhambra
Granada as seen through windows in the Mexuar of the Alhambra’s Palacios Nazaríes
Mirador de Daraxa in the Palacios Nazaríes
Jardín de Daraxa in the Palacios Nazaríes
Jardín de Daraxa in the Palacios Nazaríes
Granada from the gardens of the Palacios Nazaríes in the Alhambra
Sunday, July 9
Málaga: train to the airport. RyanAir flight to Sandefjord airport; bus from Torp to Oslo. Anker Hostel: bedding. McDonald’s.
Málaga airport
Monday, July 10
Oslo City: sandwich, umbrella. Oslo tourist info. office: booked train ticket to Bergen. Chinese restaurant in Oslo City.
Tuesday, July 11

Lunch; train from Oslo to Bergen; taxi to City Apartments.

Wednesday, July 12

Norges Fiskerimuseum (Norwegian Fisheries Museum): Von Tangens kremede fiskesuppe (creamed fish soup) for lunch (Kr 165)
Bergen Tourist Information office: bought Bergen Card. Bryggen. Hanseatisk Museum & Schøtstuene. Norges Fiskerimuseum (Norwegian Fisheries Museum).
Bergen: on the Brygge
Thursday, July 13
Bergen Tourist Information office: booked Zander K hotel. Brygge. Edvard Munch exhibition at the Kode 3.
Fløibanen funicular up Mount Fløyen
Friday, July 14

Bergen: tour bus to Troldhaugen, tour of Edvard Grieg’s house

Troldhaugen: the pond near Edvard Grieg’s house outside of Bergen

Gamle Bergen

Gamle Bergen

Gamle Bergen

Gamle Bergen

Gamle Bergen

Gamle Bergen

Saturday, July 15

Bus to Nordheim; Norled cruise on Hardangerfjord; Vøringsfossen; bus back to Bergen.


Vøringsfossen in the Hardangervidda is the most famous waterfall in Norway
Vøringsfossen in the Hardangervidda
Hardanger fjord
Sunday, July 16
Checking out of the Zander K hotel. Bus to Haugesund via ferry on the Banenfjord & then crossing Stord. Taxi to the Scandic Haugesund Hotel.
Haugesund: the Brygge (wharf)
Haugesund: the bridge to Risøya
Haugesund: the Brygge (wharf)
Haugesund: the Brygge (wharf)
Monday, July 17

Bus to Avaldsnes; Nordvegen History Center, Vikinggard (Viking farm) on Bukkøy island, St. Olaf’s Church. Bus back to Haugesund. Skåre kirke.

Vikinggard (Viking farm)

Avaldsnes: interior of the Viking longhouse on the Vikinggard (Viking farm) on Bukkøy island

Avaldsnes: St. Olaf’s Church

Avaldsnes: St. Olaf’s Church  

Tuesday, July 18

Haugesund Brygge; bike to Skåre kirke; Byparken. Ferry to Røvaer; Vikingtuftet at Grønevika with Jan Torgesen; ferry back to Haugesund.
Haugesund: Skåre kirke
 Haugesund Bryggen
Haugesund: an old ship in the harbor
Haugesund Brygge (wharf)
Wednesday, July 19
Haugesund Folkebibliothek, Haugesund Rådhus, Lillesund skole, Haraldsgata.
Haugesund Rådhus (City Hall)
Lillesund skole
Haugesund: a house on Henrik Ibsens gata
Haraldsgata: a typical Norwegian Victorian building
Thursday, July 20
Haugesund Folkebibliothek; checked out of the Scandic Hotel; walked to busstasjon. Kyssbus to Stavanger via ferry. Taxi to Scandic Forum Hotel; checked in; bus to sentrum. Gladmatfestivalen on the Brygge, domkirke; Kirkebakken; taxicab back to Scandic Forum.

Haugesund Folkebibliothek (municipal library)

 Stavanger Gladmatfestivalen (food festival): festival stage

Stavanger Gladmatfestivalen (food festival): tiny canapé from the Suldal Skattkammeret (Chamber of Commerce) tent

Stavanger Gladmatfestivalen: free book tent

Stavanger Gladmatfestivalen (food festival): reindeer burger

souvenir shopping in Stavanger

Stavanger harbor

Friday, July 21

Checked out of Scandic Forum; bus to sentrum; Kirkebakken 16(a); Gamle Stavanger; bus to Bergen via Haugesund & ferry; checked into the Zander K hotel.

Stavanger: Kirkebakken
Saturday, July 22
Checked out of the Zander K hotel; train to Flesland airport; Icelandair baggage check & check-in; flight to Trondheim; flight to Keflavik; Flybus to Leifur Eiriksson hotel; check-in; Icelandic pølse on Skólavörðustígur street.
Keflavik airport
Reykjavík: Hallgrímskirkja
My hotel in Reykjavík was across the street from the Hallgrímskirkja, which was designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson to celebrate the country’s extraordinary landscape.
Sunday, July 23
Mánudagur (Monday): Iceland weather report seen on TV in my rom at the Leifur Eiriksson hotel
Monday, July 24
Golden Circle Tour with Christian of Odinn; Mosfellsbaer horse farm, Þingvellir, Geysir, Gulfoss waterfall, Secret Lagoon. Reykjavík from the Hallgrímskirkja
In the morning, I crossed the square to the Hallgrímskirkja to meet the van to embark on the Golden Circle tour I’d booked upon my arrival in Iceland.
The first stop on the tour was the Mossbær horse farm outside of Laxness, where we had the chance to feed the horses in the stables horsey treats.
But I went outside to see the amazing view of the mountains from Mossbær and saw a beautiful dark chocolate brown horse; she must have realized I was admiring her and she sauntered over to me and began nuzzling me.
This was the most wonderful equine experience I’d ever had; one of the staff at Mossbær told me her name — which was the name of a flower in Icelandic — but I only had enough time to get a few photos with this beautiful filly before we had to move onto the next step of our tour.
I was

Gulfoss waterfall

Gulfoss waterfall 

Reykjavík: looking down from Hátúni to Höfði, the former French consulate, which was the site of the Oct. 1986 summit meeting between Ronald Reagan & Mikhail Gorbachve

Reykjavík sunset

Tuesday, July 25

Reykjavík: the Hallgrímskirkja

Reykjavík: the Hallgrímskirkja

Reykjavík from the Hallgrímskirkja

Bus to Árbaer;

Árbaer Open Air Museum

bus from Árbaer back into sentrum; Rådhus; post office.

Reykjavík from the Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavíka baðstofan: a communal living room (c. 1800-1900) in the National Museum of Icelandrom the Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavík: the Hallgrímskirkja
Wednesday, July 26
Reykjavík from the Hallgrímskirkja
National Museum of Iceland; checked out of the Leifur Eiriksson hotel; Flybus to Keflavik; Icelandair baggage check-in; flight to JFK; AirTrain to Jamaica; E train to Roosevelt Ave.

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