Norway: the trip of a lifetime to the land of my father’s Viking ancestors


Norway: the trip of a lifetime to the land of my father’s Viking ancestors
by Pauline Park

Norway has always had a special place in the imaginary of my mind; it is first of all the land of my father’s Viking ancestors; it is secondly one of the most progressive countries in the world, a pioneer in ; and last but not least, because it may well be the most beautiful country on earth. Any one of those reasons would be sufficient for me to visit Norway, but when I was invited to speak at Oslo Pride House in June 2017, it was the ideal opportunity to visit the country that was at the top of my bucket list.

My trip began on Monday, June 19 with a flight from JFK to Stockholm Arlanda. On Tuesday, June 20, I flew to Gardermoen airport and took a speedy, efficient train into Oslo, meeting a friend and going with him for dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant Monsun in Grünerløkka.

Olaf Ryes Plass at Markveien in the Grünerløkka district of Oslo

Over the course of my first week on Oslo, I got the hang of the Trikk Trakk tram, which I rode between the Grünerløkka and Sentralstasjon (Central Station).

What brought me to Norway was an invitation to speak in Oslo and I had three speaking engagements in late June. On June 23, I spoke to members of the Palestinakomite i Norge at Maksitaksi in Oslo about the ‘pinkwashing’ of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

On June 24, I gave a talk at Oslo Pride House on “The Triumph of Trump & the Future of LGBT Rights” at El Dorado Bookstore; and the following day, I gave a talk about “Transgender Rights in the Age of Trump” at Oslo Pride House.

But in my first week in Oslo, I also took the time to see many of the sights that make the city so interesting, including the Munch Museum, which is dedicated to the work of Norway’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch.

The special exhibition of Munch’s work that I saw there just underlined the fact that his art is so much more than just “The Scream,” his iconic masterpiece.

I also visited the Henrik Ibsen Museum, which includes the commodious flat in which Norway’s greatest playwright lived in his last years.

On a very rainy day in June, I visited the Historisk Museum (Historical Museum) and was delighted to see the beautiful architecture of the building, which is very similar to the fin-de-siècle Jugendstil and Wiener Secession styles.

Oslo: Jugendstil door in the Historical Museum

I was surprised as well as delighted to see an exhibition about the Sami (‘Lapps’), the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia, that included images of a transgendered Sami.


On June 24, I visited the informative Norsk Hjemmefront Museum to learn more about the Norwegian Resistance during World War II; the museum is next to Akershus festning, the great fortress that overlooks Oslo harbor and possibly the single most impressive sight in the Norwegian capital.

Akershus festning has a

Akershus festning

On June 25, I too, the ferry to Bygdøy peninsula to see the Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Folk Museum)

Norsk Folkemuseeum


and the 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

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)

On Monday, June 26, I flew to Spain and returned to Norway two weeks later on Monday, July 10, for my second week

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
I found some narrow streets with quaint old houses in Bergen not far from the Brygge after coming down from
I found some narrow streets with quaint old houses in Bergen not far from the Brygge
Friday, July 14

Edvard Grieg is Norway’s greatest composer and I was fortunate enough to get to Troldhaugen to see his house, which is smaller and more rustic than I expected…

Bergen: tour bus to Troldhaugen, tour of Edvard Grieg’s house; recital by Joachim ; Gamle Bergen

Edvard Grieg’s house in Troldhaugen 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;

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