Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last Hurrah

Our friend, Chris Matthias, was visiting from the US last week (June 9-17).  It was fantastic seeing him, and it was also a perfect opportunity for us to go to many of our favorite places in Norway one last time before focusing on packing and getting the house ready for our move back home (we leave Norway on July 1).  Here are some photos of what Chris saw and did with us during his visit:

Day 1:  Oscar's Fort, Bergen City Center

As soon as Chris arrived, Oscar invited him to check out his fort up on a mountain near our house.  Then he brought him to the nearby ruins of some German military installations from WWII for a little jumping...
...And a snack.  He'd packed a little bag with rice cakes and a thermos of saft (a drink made from fruit juice concentrate).

Later, Izzy and I took Chris Downtown to have a look around.  He snapped this picture of us while we waited for the bus home.  We've spent many, many hours at this bus stop over the past year.  I'll miss it when we're gone.  

Day 2:  Corpus Christi Mass and Procession

The Corpus Christi procession celebrates Christ's Body and Blood and is a very significant event for Catholics in Norway.  Banned during the Protestant Reformation, the procession has only very recently been reintroduced here.  Thousands of people showed up for the celebration--an impressive turnout, considering Greater Bergen has a Catholic population of only around 12,000.  Davin and Chris had an important role during part of the procession, helping to carry the canopy above the monstrance.

The procession traveled from altar to altar throughout the city.  Prior to the celebration, we saw an altar being erected near the lake Lille Lungegårdsvannet, a well-known landmark in Downtown Bergen.  This particular altar, prominently featuring Pope John Paul II, was set up by members of Bergen's Polish-Catholic community. 

Day 3:  Fish Market, Bryggen, Bergenhus Fortress

Two Big, Ugly Angler Fish on Ice at the Fish Market

Oscar and Izzy and I showed Chris around Bryggen.  We explored the wharf, looked at some really funny dollhouses in a gallery, spent time in a gem and mineral shop, and had a picnic lunch on the grounds of the castle.  Then I left Chris and Oscar at Bryggens archeological museum and went to get Jonah from school.  Oscar may have been a little bored by this display...

...But it seems he really enjoyed the skulls.

We met up again so Jonah, Oscar, and Chris could explore the castle together.

Young Harry Potter prepares to travel by Floo Network.


Day 4:  University Museum of Bergen, Vilvite Science Center, Art Museums of Bergen, Fantoft Stave Church

While the boys were at school, Davin took Chris to see the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Bergen.  Among other fascinating exhibits, they have a very impressive collection of church art from the Middle Ages.  It's my understanding that theirs is the largest collection of pre-Reformation religious art in the world outside of Rome.

Once the kids got out of school, we all went to the science center, where Chris realized his dream of riding the upside-down bike.  Here he is with Davin and the boys programming a robot.

Jonah and Sergio Rockin' Out

Hidden somewhere in this picture are Sergio, Chris, and Oscar--if you look very carefully, you may spot them despite their cunning disguises.

After the science museum, Chris checked out some art museums on his own.  And once the older boys were in bed, he and Izzy and I went to Fantoft to see the Stave Church.  Without meaning to, we hiked around the area until nearly midnight--with so little darkness, it's easy to lose track of time.  The picture above was probably taken close to 10pm, but look how blue the sky is!

Day 5:  Norway in a Nutshell Fjord Tour

Chris, Davin, and Sergio went on a "Norway in a Nutshell" tour (the same one I'd taken with my parents in October).  It included a fjord cruise as well as travel by bus and on two different scenic railway lines.  Meanwhile, Jonah, Oscar, Isidore and I took a boat ride as well (though a much shorter and less spectacular one) to the Bergen Aquarium.

A Stunning View of the Fjord

Sergio met lots of women on his journey.  Here he is with his new friend, Maria, from Spain.

Chris in front of Kjosfossen Waterfall, a stop along the Flåm Railway line

Sergio helps out at Ægir Brewery and Pub in Flåm.

Day 6:  Vannkanten Indoor Water Park

After reading my post about Jonah's birthday back in January, Chris sent me an email saying, "I want that exact birthday for my birthday."  I told him if he came to Norway we'd try to make it happen, so here he is at the water park with a chocolate Mario cake.

Sergio put in a full day of feeling THIS happy.

Day 7:  Cable Car - Mount Ulriken

Mount Ulriken is the highest of the 7 mountains surrounding Bergen.  On June 3 there was a huge hiking event where participants walked from mountain to mountain, climbing all 7 in a single day.  It's an annual event and tons of people--normal people, even little kids--participate.  It's amazing.  Davin and Chris rode a cable car up Ulriken (they didn't take this photo, though--I found it online) and hiked around a bit, enjoying spectacular views.  Coincidentally, Jonah had also taken the cable car to the top of Mount Ulriken that day on a field trip with his class.

Chris outside a cottage near one of the lakes on Ulriken

Day 8:  Fløibanen Funicular - Mount Fløyen

The Fløibanen Funicular

Family Photo with a Mountain Troll

Day 9:  Father's Day/Goodbye Breakfast at Rica Hotel Bergen

Before seeing Chris off, we all had a fancy breakfast with him at a hotel Downtown.  Here he is in the lobby with the kids.

Davin with his Boys on Father's Day

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