After staying a few nights in Oslo I took the train to Bergen, on the west coast of Norway for a few nights there. Bergen is a nice city but it was the first place on my trip that I had to adjust plans due to bad weather, supposedly the norm for the city. Bergen’s smaller than Oslo and I think because of that you notice the presence of tourism a lot more than larger Oslo which has a lot more non-tourist stuff going on. But even though you could tell tourism was much more of a focus in Bergen I still thought it was a nice city with just a short hike taking you out into some beautiful natural scenery. Most of these pictures here show the old town of Bryggen, a UNESCO world heritage site featuring old wooden buildings and alleyways that were originally built on a wooden wharf (since filled in with concrete). One picture was taken through the train window going from Oslo to Bergen where the train gets up to about 1200m, passing through ice-fields where it was snowing quite hard before dropping down to sea level at Bergen. Another picture shows the city of Bergen from Mount Fløyen, and a sign on the route down that I thought was funny. I will have more pictures from the hike up Mount Fløyen in the next post.
Recently I read this article about a family that lives in an off-the-grid yurt (actually a couple yurts linked together) in the Kingston area and thought it was really cool. I am a big proponent of small and simple accommodation and love the idea of this after reading the article. I had heard of yurts before this, but only associated them with nomadic Mongolians, not fairly normal Canadian families. You can read about a yurt making company here. I can’t really say where I can see myself living down the road but I know I would want to live in such a way that is reflective of my ideas and ideals, and simple living is a part of that. Similarly, I have been interested in the homes of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Admittedly I would find some of their homes too small, but many I think could be enough. I want practice simplicity in many aspects of life because of both the obligation I feel to live lightly in the world, and so that I can live in and truly enjoy my life instead of wanting more. Supportive of this ideal I believe is a small simple home that prevents the accumulation of large amounts of possessions, as Thoreau said in Walden, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”
I thought I would follow up the post on churches with another one about a place with a history that is on the darker side of life, the Coliseum. It is certainly an interesting piece of history, but what it was used for probably shows some of the worst in human behaviour. The slideshow starts off with a couple indoor pictures at the museum section of the Coliseum (white marble bowl and white marble pillar with jade), then a number of pictures from the Coliseum it’s self. Shown next is Arco di Costanio, which sits just outside the Coliseum and Roman Forum. The other large ruins pictured are the ruins of a temple built in honour of the goddess Venus, as well as another god I cant remember (Neptune or Apollo maybe), it is the largest temple ever constructed in Rome. After that there are a few pictures from the Forum, including the stadium, what’s either an aquaduct or just a wall, a fallen orange marble pillar, and an engraved pot that was part of an exhibit on the usage of the Forum area pre-Roman empire.
I went to a fair number of churches when I was in Europe. When you are just wandering around and want to see stuff but also want to avoid spending money they are a good place to go because they are usually free to get into and they are also often quiet, offering a nice break from busy city streets and tourist sites (even if some of the churches are sites themselves). The old churches are very interesting architecturally, have amazing artwork, and interesting histories. Being inside them I do feel as though I’m connected to the history you learn about in school textbooks and it seems so much more real. But they always leave me with mixed feelings, these churches are amazing to look at but the reality masked by the glittering gold and dazzling colours is much darker. To pay for these buildings and the organizations they stood for, wars were fought, cities pillaged, and “heathens” out down. People just scraping by tithed so new frescoes could be painted and ceilings be lined with gold. But being in them I feel I could understand why some illiterate peasant, who has heard no dissenting opinion, could believe that because of the grandeur of these buildings, the people who built these places must have some special connection to the divine. What these places stood for is power, oppression, hypocrisy, and a total aversion to the rational or factual. So here is what you are looking at:
– The first seven pictures are from the Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome. This was actually built upon the ruins of an ancient Roman temple, the walls of which can be seen in two pictures. Groundbreaking was in 1562 and it was Michelangelo’s last architectural work.
-The next four pictures starting with the picture of the Greco-Roman columns, are of the Pantheon in Rome, another Roman temple (126 A.D.) converted into a Catholic church.
-The next five are the Cologne Cathedral (Kolner Dom in German, officially Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria), Catholic Church, took from 1248 to 1880 (with interruptions) to complete.
-The final five are from another church in Cologne I cannot remember the name of.
“Blessed are the working poor, whose high hopes pay for all these golden crosses.”
I stayed in a small village in the Swiss Alps called Gimmelwald for a few nights, and thought I would make a post about the houses of the village that are typical of the traditional style of the area. Here are some general tidbits about what you are looking at:
-The picture of the building with the picnic tables out front is the hostel I stayed at, which was once a family home. You can also see pictured the sign outside the hostel that gives you some info on it. This place had possibly the best atmosphere of any hostel I stayed (in literal terms too, the air is really fresh up in those mountains). Everyone who stayed there is generally looking for something similar in coming there and so got along really well. Most people are gone during the day but the place fills up at night, there being nowhere else to go in town, and talks about their hike that day as well as swapping travel stories. It was also the only restaurant and bar open that time of year, the only other not opening until June, and so many locals come there to hang out as well. It gives you the feeling of being a lot more connected to the place you are in to be sharing the space with local people. As well, the hostel staff were a mix of both people from the area and internationals. Every hostel has it’s positives and negative though, and the downsides of this place were that you had to pay for showers, the rooms fit a lot of people into a small space, and there was a guy snoring incredibly loudly every night I was there.
-Many homes of the traditional style will have the family name above the door, and/or a good luck saying.
-Many of the homes are split down the middle, being shared between two families.
-A number of homes in town have small shops selling souvenirs, alpine cheese, or eggs on the ground floor. One of which is the honesty shop. The door to this store is just open, and there is no one there. Everything has a price on it and when you take something, you are asked to put your money in one of the envelopes provided, and write on it what you took and the price. Another shop that was in a family home asked you to ring the doorbell, and the owner would come down and let you into the store.
Overall this was one of my favourite stops of the trip so there will be more pictures to come from my time there.