Ja, vi eslker dette landet
som det stiger frem!
[Yes, we love this country
as it rises forth!]
Sunday was the 17th of May, which is National Day here in Norway. The day was full of fun events and traditions. The morning kicked off with the children’s parade, when students from all of the local schools march in their classes, singing and chanting. The school we visited last week, Vardenosen, invited us to march behind them in the parade. So a group of us, got up, put on our Norway ribbons, and headed down to the city square. Everyone was very well dressed, and many people wore traditional Norwegian dress. Norwegian flags were waving everywhere, and everyone was cheering and celebrating. The Russ students were running up and down alone the parade route, throwing out their Russ cards and spraying everyone with water guns. (What’s Russ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russetid )
The rest of the day was filled with singing, dancing, a tour of the ship Sorlandet, and a public parade. For our final meal in Kristiansand, we had Chinese! We all received certificates proving our participation in Experience Norway (and the girls got hugs, too!).
Around 10:30 p.m. several of us participated in Tapto, a local tradition. People meet up at one of the starting points in town, grab hands with their friends (and others, too), and run down to the harbor to see the fireworks. Tapto was crazy! People were weaving in and out of each other; we had to dodge the march band that was in front of us, other runners, lamposts, and trash cans. It was raining, so we were pretty soaked by the time we reached the harbor, out of breath and totally exhilerated. The fireworks were a little late, but awesome. There were a few that I don’t think are legal anywhere in the states.
We were still hyped when we, at long last, reached the hotel lobby dripping from head to toe. We stripped off our shoes and socks and got some towels (and hot coffee). Then came a bunch of hugs and well wishes, as we said our goodbyes to the UNO students and Norwegians who helped show us around Norway.
We had to leave at 5 a.m. this morning to catch our train to Oslo, and, when we got down to the lobby, there were our Norway friends with a bag full of chocolate for us! (Thanks Lasse & Kristian — it was all delicious!) It was the first train ride for a lot of us. Most of us slept along the way, but we also got to enjoy the beautiful Norwegian scenery. We made it to Oslo around 10 a.m., dropped our luggage at the hostel, and hopped back on the bus for a short city tour. We stopped by Vigeland Park, a garden of sculptures created by Vigeland themed around the circle of life. Some of the sculptures aligned with sunrise and sunset, those in the east centered mostly around life, working towards the west where they were focused on death. We were able to see the lovely downtown of Oslo, where we ate and caught a tram back up to our hostel. Our hostel is, in a word, freaking amazing. I know that’s two words, but I think it deserves it We have free internet (yay!), our own bunk beds, and good coffee. Most of us chilled here, and utilized the kitchen accommodations. We spent dinner reminiscing about our wonderful trip and shared our favorite experiences (and a lot of junk food). Zac made us a lavish Italian dinner aka pasta, and we had some “pizza au freezer.”
Now, we’re spending the evening digesting our Norway experience and turning in early after a wonderful and full day.
P.S. Nick ate whale. (live whale)