Friday, October 23, 2009
Last weekend, I made my way up north, way north. I spent the weekend in the land of the vikings, Norway. It was perfect weather for a nice fall weekend, upper 40s with blue skies spotted with a few clouds. The trees were just beginning to change, so I got to actually see fall in action, which was something I was worried I'd miss during my stay in Spain. Upon arriving, I made my way to my hotel and grabbed some food. I asked the front desk what I had to do while I was in the city, since I didn't have a ton of time. She gave me a few ideas and I went on my way. I made my way towards the city center, stopping at the Royal Palace, where I saw some sharply dressed guards. The inside was closed, because tourist season is over, and I decided to head towards the castle that was on the bay. On my way, I stopped in the city hall, which was amazing on the inside. The walls of the main room were covered in beautiful renditions of the founding of Oslo, and scenes of the citizens throughout the city's history. There was also an awesome room with interesting portraits of the royal family that I liked a lot. While I was there, I also learned that Oslo used to be call Christiana after one of their kings. After the city hall, I finally made my way to the castle, which had beautiful views of the bay, the ships coming in and out, and the islands that dot the coast of Norway. It was really well preserved, with most of the original buildings still standing. After spending some time there, I continued to walk around the area and went to the Museum of Modern Art, which wasn't that great, especially looking back on the other galleries that Oslo had to offer. The city built a beautiful new opera hall about a year ago, and that was next of my list of what to see. I was able to walk around and up the ramps leading to the roof and get a nice view of the city skyline. The inside was pretty awesome too, because all the walls are glass, giving it a classy look. Since it was hard to spend a lot of time at an opera house without seeing an opera, I headed over to the Viking Ship Museum, that I had heard a lot about. I was not expecting what I ended up seeing. When I arrived, I was greeted by two HUGE viking ships that were perfectly preserved and were about 1200 years old. Apparently, they were found in burial mounds for people who had died. Tents were set up on the decks of the ships, and that was where the viking royalty were burried. These were awesome pieces of history that I could not have a chance of seeing anywhere else in the world. After a full day of sightseeing, I retired to my room, and woke up early the next morning to see more of the city. In the morning, I grabbed some food and walked around, finally arriving at the Edvard Munch Museum, who is known for his painting The Scream which has two copies, both of which reside in Oslo. It was really cool to get to see a painting that I've seen and learned about since I was young in person. I guess that's kind of a theme of my time in Europe! I then went to the National Gallery, which had a ton of paintings that I really enjoyed. The Norwegian artist aren't the first that people talk about, but they're very talented, especially their landscape paintings. They looked like someone grabbed a square of nature and put a frame around it. They were simply amazing. Norway has such beautiful scenery and nature, and these artists were really able to capture that, whether they were painting spring, summer, autumn, or winter. After the gallery, I made some souvenir purchases and headed to take the bus back to the airport, where I flew back home to Madrid after a great weekend in Oslo.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
So, since I haven't updated recently, I'm going to do a quick run through of how awesome Lisbon was. Portugal was amazing, mostly because Lisbon felt like a small city, but had everything a big city has. I loved the history and the landmarks that I was able to see, and the city was very clean and the people were very kind. I have never seen a nicer hostel than what we stayed in. The people working there hung out with us, they offered a tapas night saving me loads of cash, they hosted people for the Portugal-Hungary game, and had amazing rooms and beds. They even helped us with planning our trips around the area and told us what we MUST see. We spent our second day in Cascais and Sintra, two neighboring towns on the coast. The areas were amazing, and I was able to see a lot of really cool castles, palaces, and lighthouses. The pace of life and beauty of the cities just made Portugal an amazing trip.