Frogner Park and Vigeland’s Whimsical Statues in Oslo

The next stop on my travel agenda was Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway to see the whimsical statues created by Gustav Vigeland I’d read about!  It was exactly the kind of place I envisioned with broad spans of green lawn, a beautiful fountain, and quirky statues!  Frogner Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway with 1 to 2 million visitors per year.  It’s the World’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist.  I endeavored to capture photos without “real” people in them, but it was challenging…

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Everyone was naked…I’m not sure why.

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Viking Ship Museum and the Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway

With less than full two days to explore Oslo, Norway, the Viking Ship Museum and Fram Museum located a short 15 minute ferry ride from Oslo to the Bygdoy Peninsula, were definitely on my list of places to see!  This is the Gokstad ship that was found in a burial mound in Norway, dating back to around 890 AD.  It was found with the remains of one male skeleton, believed to be a King from that time frame.

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The Oseberg ship was also discovered at a different burial mound in Norway, dating back to approximately 800 AD.  Two women skeletons were recovered, one believed to be a Queen, along with 14 horses, an ox, and three dog skeletons.

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A few days prior to visiting this Museum, my Tour participants and I had visited the amazing Vasa Ship Museum in Stockholm.  When I travel, I tend to prefer other types of activities such as bicycling, relaxing at a side-walk Cafe’ while people watching, etc. rather than going to museum after museum, but I found these ship museums to be really interesting!

We walked across the street to see the Fram Museum which tells the story of Norwegian polar exploration, in particular three great Norwegian polar explorers, Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen.  The Fram was used for a few expeditions to the Arctic and the South Pole during a period in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, spanning almost 20 years.  One of the cool things about this ship was you were allowed to go aboard and see how the explorers lived out at sea for years at a time. Continue reading

Self Guided Walking Tour in Oslo, Norway

After checking into our hotel in Oslo, Norway, following a six-hour train ride from Stockholm, Sweden, my group of three Tour participants and I set off on my self guided walking tour, developed through Google maps, to see some of Trip Advisor’s recommended places to check out.  We were a bit concerned upon checking into the hotel, when we realized a stage was set up 100 yards down the street with bands playing throughout the afternoon and evening.  Even with the windows shut, the room reverberated!  The front desk reassured us they were only scheduled to play until 11pm, so off we went!

One of the most impressive architecture marvels was the Oslo Opera House.  The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with Italian marble and white granite and make it appear to rise from the water.  I can’t believe it has 1,100 rooms and the main auditorium seats over 1300 people!

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I’m getting ahead of myself…when we left to go walking, the square right down the street where the bands were playing has this unusual creative fountain…

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Vasa Museum and the Island of Djurgarden

After disembarking from our ten minute ferry ride from the Island of Gamla Stan in Stockholm to Djurgarden Island, my Tour participants and I walked along the harbor in search of the famous Vasa Museum.

I noticed these little girls sitting on the dock, savoring their ice cream cone…

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We all said, “Wow”–when we walked in and saw the Vasa Ship!  She sank on her maiden voyage back in 1628 and is the only fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged.  It was times like this when I wished I had my tripod and wide-angle lens with me.  We spent at least an hour and one-half engrossed in the fascinating exhibits that transported you back in time.  I believe there were six or seven floors to explore!

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The Vasa measures 128 foot long and was submerged for 333 years before it was discovered again and raised… Continue reading

Taste of Stockholm and Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan is the oldest of the fourteen islands that comprises Stockholm and my group and I took a 10 minute ferry ride from that Island to the Island of Djurgarden, where the Vasa Ship Museum is located, amongst other sight-seeing places.  Here’s an interesting fellow I had my photo taken with…

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First, we went to the Taste of Stockholm.  Here in Cincinnati there’s an annual event called Taste of Cincinnati, so we had a good idea what this would be like.  The first thing we saw was a cooking demonstration on the main stage, shown in the photo below.  We passed a Champagne booth, so my friend Richard purchased a small taste for $13.  I was trying to conserve money since I was in Europe for an entire month, so I didn’t taste anything while we were there.  In fact, I packed my own sandwich for lunch and ate it there.  Scandinavia is very expensive, but I had a good time people watching! Continue reading

The Opulent Stockholm City Hall and Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace

Stockholm City Hall must be the most opulent City Hall in all of Europe!  After seeing photos online of its interior, I knew I had to include it in my tour.  It’s used for wedding ceremonies and the annual Nobel Prize banquet is held here.  The official tour is less than $16 and lasts about 45 minutes.

The view looking out through the leaded glass windows was beautiful…

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That’s real gold in them there walls…

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At first I was disappointed that there were chairs set up in the space, but then I liked the mathematical beauty of them!

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Discovering Art in Stockholm

Discovering “Art” in Stockholm isn’t difficult!  I was inspired at every turn.  Although my Tour participants and I didn’t arrive by train from Copenhagen until late afternoon, we were eager to see some of Stockholm.  So after checking into the Courtyard by Marriott, we walked along the harbor area and it wasn’t long before I found lovely scenes to take photographs of.

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These gentlemen relaxing by the waterfront appeared to be having a nice chat…

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Champagne Cures Everything

Did you know Champagne cures everything?  Well, it certainly helped me after one of my Tour participants lost (or it was possibly stolen) her purse with her Passport, credit card and debit card!  It all started one morning in June when we were to meet at a certain time in the lobby of our hotel in Copenhagen to walk with our suitcases to the train station for our next destination…Stockholm.  The lady whose flight was delayed a day and who fell off of her bicycle was late coming downstairs.  Only twelve minutes…but that can mess up everything.  Once she arrived downstairs, we walked quickly to the Metro that would take us to the train station.  Once we arrived at the train station,  we were told we would be taking a bus to the main train station instead of a train because of a strike  going on in Sweden within the transportation department.  It’s all somewhat of a blur at this point, because we were rushing from metro to train to train, again and again.  All I remember is that we ran outside in the direction they pointed for the buses and arrived just as some buses were leaving, so we had to go back in and spend an unexpected $140 for a train ticket to Stockholm.  Around this time, the Tour participant said she couldn’t find her purse.  My friend Richard went outside in the rain and searched through a garbage can near where the buses were and couldn’t find anything.  As you can imagine, it was a frantic mess!

She was told she could make a police report and go to the Embassy once we arrived in Sweden, so we bought our tickets and were on our way.  We luckily had free WiFi on the train, so I researched where the embassy was, the location of a money wire transfer, and other sites for her and sent e-mails to notify people at home of her circumstances, since she lost her car and house keys also.   Upon arrival to our hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, the front desk employees were of great help to the her.  She was able to get another Passport and replacement credit card within 24 hours!

Throughout the remainder of the trip, from time to time, she would say, with a frantic tone, “I can’t find my Transport ticket”, or “I can’t find my Passport”, and I began to have anxiety just being near her.

Champagne helped!

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Entering Copenhagen’s Christiania

Entering Copenhagen’s Christiania is a bit like entering a taboo fairyland.  If you’re not familiar with it, according to Wikipedia, “Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania, is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents, covering 84 acres.  Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune, but the area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989, which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen to the state”.  I visited on my second and final day in Copenhagen before taking a train to Stockholm.  I was on a rental bicycle, in the rain, with the lady whose flight was delayed by a day.  On the way to Christiania, she fell off of her bicycle and luckily was only bruised.

Let me back up for a moment.  I asked the other two Tour participants if they would accompany me to the Airport to meet this participant (even though that took a few hours out of our meager time allotted for Copenhagen) because I knew she wouldn’t be able to find her way without us.  So, the three of us met her at the Airport and she was very relieved to see us!  After getting her checked in, I rented the bicycles for all of us to tour around on and we ended up splitting off from the other two because they didn’t want to ride any more.

Now…we’re back in Christiania…

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I chatted with this lady for a couple of minutes and was surprised to hear that she’s been working there for 30 years!  Just beyond her on the path there was a sign that said “no photographs” and she explained, “That’s the area where they smoke marijuana”.

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Copenhagen’s Royal Gardens at Rosenborg

Copenhagen‘s Royal Gardens at Rosenborg are well-tended and quite peaceful.  The manicured trees formed an artery leading in the direction of the Gardens…

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My Tour participants and I meandered along the path eager to come upon the Gardens…

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Why you should visit Cave Run Lake in Kentucky

Cave Run Lake in Kentucky is absolutely gorgeous!  My husband and I met friends there on Thursday for a few days of camping and boating.  We’ve been there before, but I didn’t remember it being so picturesque.  We used to camp a lot before we moved to the house we’re in now, but with five acres of land and trees surrounding us, we feel like we’re camping without the tent.  Camping is a wonderful way for families to enjoy the great outdoors and each other.  My son loved it growing up!  We’ve camped at many of the area lakes located within a three to four hour drive from Cincinnati…Lake Cumberland and Laurel Lake in Kentucky and Norris Lake in Tennessee, not to mention those within an hour drive…East Fork Lake and Caesar’s Creek near Cincinnati, and Brookville Lake in Indiana.  Cave Run is a little over two hours from our home, which makes it a great option.

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Canal Ride from Nyhavn in Copenhagen

I left off yesterday with myself and two of three (the third person’s flight being delayed a day) Tour participants I would be leading throughout Scandinavia for ten days checked into the Generator Hostel in Copenhagen.  One of the reasons I chose this accommodation was its wonderful location within a five-minute walk from the Nyhavn harbor area.  After freshening up we made our way to Nyhavn, which means New Harbor, for a canal boat tour.  When I planned the trip and presented it to possible Tour participants, I included most of the activities in their total cost for the trip and this boat tour was one of the included activities.

Here’s one side of the harbor lined with delightful and colorful restaurants and townhouses…

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We needed to use the restroom (and we didn’t have to pay like we did in so many places throughout Eastern/Central Europe), so we went inside of a building located behind me as I took this photograph of the harbor area…

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Generator Hostel is no ordinary Hostel

In case you haven’t been following along, I began my month long European excursion in May 2014, escorting eleven people through four Eastern/Central European Countries in eleven days and all of them went back home to Cincinnati, Ohio after the trip except one…my friend Richard.  He and I went on to Munich and Amsterdam for about six nights, and flew to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we were meeting two new Tour participants.  Their flights were to arrive a bit earlier than ours, so they were to meet us at our baggage claim.  We found one of them and waited for about 15 minutes before receiving a text from the fourth informing us of her flight’s cancellation and new arrival time the following day.

Our first stop for a couple of nights was Copenhagen, then we were traveling to Stockholm, Sweden, and two Cities in Norway.  I had booked a hostel in Copenhagen, which was a new experience for me.  I’ve used Couchsurfing.org, VRBO, and Airbnb, but never a hostel.  Having researched lots of possibilities in Copenhagen, I booked the Generator Hostel.  It’s not your ordinary hostel as you’ll see from these photos.

Here’s a view of the surrounding buildings while sitting on one of the outdoor patio furniture seats…

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I played pool one evening in the recreational area pictured here with a twenty-something threesome and won!  Love that funky chair!

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A Walk in Amsterdam

On one of the three days I explored Amsterdam, I went for a walk with a few places in mind to visit.  One of them was the Amsterdam Library and the other was an island (that I had no clue where it was located) with unique modern architecture.  I set off on my adventure, asking people along the way for directions.  First, I passed the Science Center NEMO for children….you can’t see it in this picture, but they grow grass and bushes on the sloped side and people are walking on it!  When you cross this bridge, the view is cool!

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This photo is out of sequence, but I thought it was cute…the girl having her photo taken by her boyfriend!

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Here are another couple of canal pics I couldn’t resist putting up….

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Red White & Blue Ash Fireworks

My 4th of July celebrations included attending a friend’s party and walking from her house to a fireworks‘ display called Red White & Blue Ash Fireworks!  It’s located in Blue Ash, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cincinnati and there were over 100,000 people there!  Midnight Special and Cheap Trick were the bands playing and the Rozzi Fireworks were spectacular!  I took my tripod to capture the fireworks.  It was my first time and I had my settings on 8 seconds at 8 F-Stop.  In Lightroom 5, I edited some of the smoke out by increasing my black and contrast.

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One of my friends took my photo with my camera.  As you can see it was a beautiful day…low humidity and 78 degrees!

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My friend Frank had a temporary tattoo on his head…

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