Friday, October 14, 2011

Mount Fløyen: The Oscar Edition

Those of you who have been following the Heckman Family's exploits in Bergen will recall that only days ago Oscar's lifelong ambition to go rock climbing had been dashed against the jagged boulders of reality, when we discovered: a) there was free rock climbing, b) it ended at 3 o'clock, and c) it was 3:10 (or 15:10, if you're Norwegian).  To make matters worse, Jonah had scaled the face only moments before.  On that afternoon, I watched Oscar walk quietly away from the stern gray wall, his eyes downcast, welling with tears, as stifled whimpers cast a pall of gloom on what was otherwise a sunny afternoon.

But, as fate would have it, his little mountaineering fantasy, battered though it was, had not died that day on Mt. Fløyen.  While we mourned the loss of a childhood dream, Fate was busy making other plans.  Oscar's school, we discovered, was closed for a staff meeting today.   The dark clouds and heavy rains of the season had been displaced by a bright blue Scandinavian sky.  And, as though enchanted by a benign, but powerful, trollmann, the Athletics Administration was offering another day of free activities.  Thus, Oscar's rock climbing ambitions would rise from their ruined state, and see him safely to the pinnacle of his dreams.*

At about 10:30 in the morning, we made our way into the city, and walked down Skostredet, which seems to mean "The Shoe Lane."  Appropriately enough, we found a building covered with shoes, which made for a nice start to our walk.

The Building on Shoe Lane
From Skostredet, we made our way up to the funicular, and as it was Friday, we were lucky.  After all, Friday is "Freia's Day," after the enormously popular brand of Norwegian chocolate.**     

Heading up Mt. Fløyen
Anxious about the 3 o'clock deadline, we made our way to the climbing place by 11 am.  Since we were the only ones there, Oscar was able to get to work climbing the mountain.  He got about 10 feet up before he decided to turn around and look where he was standing.  Very quickly, climbing gave way to a long monologue about mountain climbing, which included observations about the strength of the rope, how hard his helmet was, how competent his adult helpers were, and how safe he was on the rock face.  Eventually, he decided he'd done enough climbing, and made his way down the wall (with a little help from one of the men who was running the activity).

They let kids do cool stuff in Norway.
Oscar, still doing cool stuff.
After this climb, Oscar went in search for his own place to climb.  The new climbing spot wasn't quite as steep as the first, but a nice climb nonetheless.

Oscar's own climbing spot.
Next we hiked over to the lake where we had gone canoeing a few days earlier.  We took a lap in the canoe, then went over to the archery range to shoot some arrows.  When we had exhausted the opportunities around the lake, Oscar led me on a long meandering walk through the woods.  He found little footpaths where I thought none existed, we mucked our way through bogs, tramped across bridges, and ended up on a bench overlooking the city.  We stopped to have lunch.

Sandwich break.
We found a trail near the bench and decided to follow it down the mountain.  It wasn't the most direct path, but it took us to a great spot overlooking a reservoir.  We paused again to rest and eat some fruit leather and admire the view of Mt. Ulriken.  This was where Oscar had found a spear that someone had made from a stick. 

Oscar, with Mt. Ulriken in the background.
Oscar with the spear.
By now, we were nearing the edge of the city and, wanting to avoid the long lateral roadways that zig-zag lazily down the mountain, we went in search of shortcuts.  The best one was an abandoned staircase that ended in several missing stairs.  The path at the end of the stairway had been given over to neglect, and was little more than a narrow, craggy rut running along a precipice.  At the end of the path, we found a tree fort with a missing ladder. The perfect place for mountain climbers and spear wielding thieves to rest their weary bones.

Gaining entry to the tree fort.

On the lookout.
Somehow, we ended up on Kong Oscars Gate, which is Norwegian for King Oscar Street, a perfect way to bring our long journey to a close. 
The old city gate on Kong Oscars Gate.
We made our way to Festplassen (which means "party place"), and, what do you know, they were getting ready for a party.  Oscar was exhausted and ready to go home, but not before we noticed a miniature racetrack with little radio controlled cars.  The event was sponsored by Red Bull (a distant relation of both Ole Bull and Erik the Red) and featured cars made out of Red Bull cans.***  Oscar's was a helicopter.

Oscar, exhausted after a three mile meander.

Driving a helicopter-shaped car made out of Red Bull cans.
*Editor's Note: Actually, we knew there would be rock climbing all week.  We had planned to take him up there.  And, his ambitions only carried him partway up the cliff, because it's kind of scary, once you're up there.

**Editor's Note: Actually, Freia (Freyja, Freya) is a Norse goddess.  

***Editor's Note: This is what we in the US call a "Load of Bull."  Red Bull is an energy drink, and has no relation to the Viking explorer or the Norwegian violinist and composer (whose name is pronounced "ooleh bool," and is the inspiration for the song "Wooly Bully" by Sam Sham and the Pharaohs).****

****Editor's Note: This is also a bunch of bull, "Wooly Bully" is not about Ole Bull.

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading this! I'm not surprised Oscar has mountain climbing ambitions, having observed him more than once trying to climb library shelves!