Posted by: emilyrpshea | July 26, 2011

Oslo horror

This week in Norway has been tragically painful, following the explosion in Oslo and horrific shooting spree on Utoya island, just outside of the city. The death count has been fluctuating as parents either reunite with the traumatized survivors, or sadly have to claim the bodies of their children. The shock of this terrible incident has begun to slink into disgust for the killer, and depression for the many mourners in view.
It is frightening to think how close we were to both scenes. We had just returned to my uncle’s apartment from walking in Vigeland Park (a nearby park filled with some 212 sculptures) when the explosion occurred. His daughter called to check on us, as his place is literally up the street from the parliament building. We hadn’t heard or felt it. At that point, we were hearing reports that the prime minister was injured, and still did not know if it was a terrorist act, or an accident. We decided to continue with our plan to visit the family cabin, about a 45 minute drive from Oslo, near Drammen. I especially wanted to get my family outside of the city, as we had no idea if the neighborhood could be in any further danger. I just knew that some lunatic was probably on the loose. Little did I know or could possibly imagine what was to come next.
As we were driving, we thought it was possible another driver could be the bomber, and even were prepared to be stopped by police and understandably questioned. I really wish there had been some kind of road block in place! So, we arrived at our parking area, and headed into the woods, for about an hour’s hike to the cabin… Far away from civilization and the safest place one would think. As we had no electricity and the radio stations were in Norwegian, we were unaware of what was taking place only 15 miles from us. The next morning, a hiker saw my husband and friends on the trail, and related to them what he had heard on the news. We then knew that the bomber had driven from Oslo to a socialist camp, and went on a shooting spree, killing around 90 kids and teenagers 12-19 years old. The weight of this information was both unbelievable and sickening at the same time. It is simply horrible.
When we returned to Oslo on Sunday morning, the normally bustling train station was bare except for a group of 7 or 8 policemen, and a few scattered backpackers. My uncle met us to pick up his car that we had borrowed, and said he was stopped 4 times by police to ask what he was doing and check his bag.
We left on a train to Bergen, and made a stop close to the small town where the shooting occurred. A girl got on directly in front and facing us, sat down next to her waiting husband, and burst into tears. Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of tears this week.
Upon arrival in Bergen, we took a short walk around town, and found a memorial of roses and candles spreading on the “blue stone,” a local meeting spot. Small groups of somber couples held each other under umbrellas as they took turns lighting candles and laying down roses one by one for each beloved child lost.
The following evening, 15,000 people congregated in the misty city center, around the “blue stone,” to hold hands, sing, cry, or just meditate on the youths that lost their lives. In such small country, almost everyone has been touched with grief. I believe over 100,000 people congregated in Oslo that night.
Now, four days after the tragedy, the death count is around 73, and we return by train to Norway’s capital. I anticipate seeing even more roses on the dreary, rainy streets… Each rose brings those children to mind. They are in my heart, and I ache for their families.

Posted by: emilyrpshea | July 5, 2011

Norway, experiencing the midnight sun

We arrived in Trondheim last Wednesday, at about 10pm. It was rainy and quiet, but the sun was still out behind the clouds. The next afternoon we went rambling around the streets, on a “tur” as they call it here, and were surprised to hear music in the busy, market-covered streets. Coincidentally, last week was the city’s yearly St. Olav’s Festival, which is claimed to be Norway’s largest music and cultural celebration. A little planning might have spoiled this surprise!

Over the long weekend (my hubby took off for America’s Independence Day), we wandered freely into churches that were open for service. Upon looking at a tourist map, we found that a pass normally is quite expensive. The famous Nidaros Cathedral was incredible. The exterior front wall is covered inch by inch in detailed sculptures. The interior has terrifically high ceilings and is candle-lit, which softly reveals an impressive organ above the entrance, and a few grand and small ornate stain glass windows.

Yesterday, we walked up to The Kristiansten Fortress, built after a great fire in 1681. On our way down, we passed through Lademoen. We found a lovely cafe that has cool outdoor seating, with big blankets and seats under a canopy… But inside was even better. Well, if you’re like me and love an old library. The cafe/bar was in a historic row house built against the river on stilts. So, inside in the book bar, you overlook the water in your chosen cozy nook, and peruse the thousands of books quietly tucked against the walls. It was very quiet and charming, but since we had our 1 year old with us, we ducked out unwillingly, to leave the locals in peace.

Today I made another breath-taking discovery by simply exploring my own apartment building. I marched up to the 7th and top floor, and found a spiral ladder to the roof. Atop of what I think is one of Trondheim’s tallest apartment buldings, I found a roof deck, with tables, benches, a small herb garden, and a grill. The view was priceless. It was better than from Kristiansten! I plan on enjoying my lunch there sometime this week.

Well, after about a month of walking the streets of Oslo and Trondheim, I realized that I wasn’t needing my weekly gym regime. In fact, my husband commented that my “problem area” was even looking pretty good! ;).

I think pushing around a heavy, weather-ready stroller, or carrying a 17lb squirmy boy has been an added bonus. So, to all of you traveling gym-goers out there: enjoy the long walks about the city, the unprocessed and deliciously healthy food (that includes coffees and wine), and soaking up all the spirit-lifting daylight, garden sculptures, and fresh scenery that you can!

Posted by: emilyrpshea | April 18, 2011

Hello world!

I’ve always found writing poetry or journaling to be an ideal outlet for me. The theme of this blog is my random experiences while traveling.