Hiking Bergen!

Bergen is renowned for its mountains. They surround the city; are there in the distance no matter which way you turn. I recently climbed my third one, and hope to find myself at the top of at least two more this year. I wanted to share some pictures from the three I have been to: (Travel inspo people!)

Fløyen: The Family-friendly mountain

Fløyen is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bergen. It takes roughly 30 minutes to the top, and the whole way is asphalted (so some sporty Norwegians even bring their youngest in strollers) On the way you can take a detour and find Norway’s largest tree.

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Ulriken
: The Are-we-even-getting-closer

Ulriken is Bergen’s tallest mountain. There are several tracks to the top with a varying degree of difficulty, but no matter which one you choose you’re going to be tired when you reach the top. Bring lots of water, lunch, and a I’m-not-giving-up attitude.

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Blåmanen
: The Companions-More-Sporty-Than-You-Not-Adviced

Blåmanen is up Fløyen and onwards. The path is good, and the hike is suitable for most people as long as you have time to walk in your on tempo. The view is magnificent, so if you do Fløyen, do this one too (3-4 hour trip – depending on how camera crazy you are!)

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sdr

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Happy hiking!

A Norwegian’s view on the US election

I have thought about this post for a long time. I have tried to find the right words, but I am still shocked; still watching with eyes wide open. Tomorrow evening (or night for us Norwegians) either Hillary or Trump will become one of the most powerful people in the world. The President of the United States. Except the united part.

The Norwegian media has covered the election, and many Norwegians have followed it from the start. I wonder what it is like to be an American right now. What it is like to be in what seems like utter chaos to an outsider. It looks like neither of the candidates is suitable for the job, and one of them should never have been a candidate in the first place.

In 2012 only roughly 55% of voters voted. I hope more people will vote this year. The outcome of the election will affect not only Americans, but the rest of the world too. It would be naive to think otherwise. Even I, far away as I am, will feel the ripple effects. A lot of non-Americans wish they could vote. Me included.

So this final paragraph goes out to you. Dear US citizens, your vote is your voice. Please speak up. The rest of the world wants to, but cannot. Tomorrow you will sit down in front of your TV’s and hope that a person with an opinion completely different from your own, does not become president. And know that, even though it will be 3 am in Norway, I will be watching with you.

The Happy Food Festival

There’s one festival I go to every summer. In norwegian it’s called “Gladmat” which directly translates to HappyFood. It’s a festival held in my own city, Stavanger, and there’s food from all over the world. From Norwegian to Ethiopian to Indian.

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Omnomnom. Yum ❤

I think food is a great way of experiencing different cultures. If you want to experience Norway, one of the things you would have to try is our fish. We are very proud of it, and before we found oil it was basically how we made a living.

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Not my picture, but it shows the atmosphere perfectly.

Gladmat is a festival for everyone, all ages, and good food brings people together. I don’t think you’ll ever get more smiles from Norwegians of Stavanger, than on Gladmat. Happy eating folks!

 

A Nationwide Grief

In my previous post I wrote about taking a step back from all of the terrible happenings in the world. This post is about when we need to stay put, when we need to remember. Today is the 22 of July, and it is five years ago since a terrorist killed 77 people because of their political views.

Ask a Norwegian, any Norwegian, about 22 of July she will be able to tell you exactly what she did that day. Exactly what happened in the moment when she first heard the news. 22 of July is Norway’s 9/11. I remember I was scrolling through Facebook. I thought it was some kind of sick joke, a bomb could not possibly have gone off in Oslo. No way. Not here, not in peaceful little Norway.

But a bomb did go off. And a man, whom I will not name, (because I hate how everyone knows his but none of the victims’) made his way from the site and to an island where a large group of politically active youths had gathered. He marched through their camp, like a soilder, and killed 69 of them, injuring 66. I cannot put into words the shock Norway was in. Cars pulled over all over the country because the drivers had to focus on the radio. A nation gathered in front of the TV, a nation shook their heads no. No.

Two days later we took to the streets. Some pain is too great to handle alone.

He was ruled sane. I find it astounding, the amount of damage one single human being can cause. The way we manage to justify the most gruesome acts. Horrible things happen every day, but we do not understand until it happens to us. Five years ago today, Norway understood. We will never forget. We will tell their stories. We will say their names. Now, and for as long as the people left behind live, we will feel a nationwide grief.

Southern Norway – far away from France

I’m from the west coast of Norway, so cloudy with a 100% chance of rain is pretty much my reality. This weekend I met up with friends in Southern Norway, in an obscure little place no one has ever heard of. It’s these weekends, these times surrounded  by friends, that truly make summer the warmest season of the year.

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We went sailing and I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.

When the sun comes out we can forget. Sometimes only for a little while, but we can foget all the terrible things that happen in the rest of the world. We can close our eyes and feel the sun on our skin. Listen to the laughter of our friends. Feel that it’s good to be alive. France and Turkey becomes so, so far away…

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Pretending that I know anything about mini golf.

I believe we need these moments, these memories. To push the bad out of mind for a weekend. We need to look around and be reassured. We need to be reminded just what we are fighting for. Love is so easily consumed by fear and hate. However it will rise like a phoenix from the ashes – because someone somewhere remembers a weekend like this.

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Close your eyes. Feel the sun. One day you’ll remember that today was a good day, and that will get you through whatever hardship you face.

A Norwegian’s view on Brexit

I had to wait with this post; to take it all in. I never really believed they would go through with it. However, Brexit is a fact; dividing the UK as effectively as it seperates it from the EU. Some believe that they’ll finally be free, while others feel like they have just been robbed of their future. The end of the UK’s membership in the EU promises change.

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The main reason outsiders are against Brexit is the worry of an unstable Europe. Everyone is stressed out about today’s amount of refugees, the terrorist attacks that seem to happen more and more often, and the increased support for right wing populism worldwide. We know something has to be done, but can’t find a solution. We’re scared that while we ponder this, new terrible events will take place.

On the 22 of July, 2011, the far-right terrorist Anders B. Breivik killed 77 people for their political views. He placed a bomb in the government district of Oslo, and then went to a summer camp for politically active youth and started shooting. Before we knew who he was, there was a lot of finger pointing. No one expected it to be an ethnical Norwegian. One who looked like us. Talked like us. One of us. Inception isn’t just a movie; dangerous ideas are spreading, and the idea that it is us against them is the most poisonous of them.

The cold is seeping in, and we are closing our borders in an attempt to keep it out – forgetting that sticking together keeps us warm. Tension is rising and we’re eyeing each other with suspicion, making mistakes humanity should know not to by now. Brexit is marking change, and while we wait for the outcome, hoping for the best – we need to keep our eyes open.

The Prison that became a School

You may have heard about Skien. It is a tiny city in tiny Norway. Why, you wonder? It’s because it’s where the Norwegian terrorist Anders B. Breivik is held. I’m not going to talk about him though; he has been talked about too many times, by too many. No, this post is about the city I came to after traveling Norway for nearly three weeks, and about the old prison that became a school.

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Welcome to Skien city!

I stayed there for three nights. I was visiting a friend and thought I had a pretty good idea of what the place looked like – I didn’t. There were bars over the windows, heavy doors to each room (some of which still had functional food hatches), and a net separated the floors. Needless to say I loved it.

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Today, the building is used for Discipleship Training School – DTS. Young people from all over the world (like from: Peru, Germany, India and the US) attend this school. Many of them have a Gap Year, but some also want to become missionaries.

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A food hatch. Disclaimer: not my hand.

It was strange seeing a person in slippers, busy brushing his teeth, causally walking past me, yelling over his shoulder that he would join his friends for pool later. What was it like when there were still inmates here? That guy now gurgling loudly would have had a position at the top of the hierarchy, in for fraud perhaps? Great at talking his way out of things. Great at talking others into them too, like the tall fellow reading on the coach. That one would probably have been in for a violent crime. He would have been great with numbers, but have a poor self-esteem and a slight anger management problem. Had anyone even remotely like this served their time at the prison? I’ll never know, and perhaps that is for the best.

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I’m not the most religious person, and it didn’t take long before I was exposed. However, I was still just as welcome, because a friend of my friend was a friend of everyone. The building might have been a prison before, but for the people I met – it was a home. We sat down together and discussed religion and prison, and when it all got to tense, we decided that it all didn’t really matter at the moment. So what if there are several different types of Christianity, if some believe in the Big Bang and some don’t. There is a time for everything – and we found that it was time to dance.

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So somewhere in the world, right now, there is a place where there used to be a prison, which now is a school. In that place, people, from all over the world, with differences in opinions and beliefs, coexist. Peace is possible, and when a disagreement is inevitable, let’s turn up the music instead of fight.