Photos: Navigating Norway

As a TV producer, it’s a challenge when my crew sees a gorgeous view and I want them to wait for a better view that I know is just up ahead. After driving all day across Norway, from Oslo to the fjord country in the west, we descended from the mountains, and this was our very first fjord sighting. Even though I knew better vistas awaited, the crew had to get out and film the sight. This is the farthest point inland of Norway’s longest fjord — Sognefjord.
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When the sun came out, we made sure we were in position for vistas like this to show off the fjord’s wonder. Simon Griffith (producer) and Karel Bauer (cameraman) worked tirelessly for 20 days last month, helping me bring home three exciting new shows on Scandinavia.
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A big part of my research work is running down leads. Most are dead-ends. At the end of a busy day on the fjords, I followed one such lead up a gravelly road to a cluster of 27 abandoned farmhouses — once a goaty gang of farm families, then abandoned, and now coming back to life. Thanks to Lila, who’s monitoring this project, Otternes Farm is a place where travelers can connect with Norway’s past on a breathtaking perch high above Aurlandsfjord. It’s in our upcoming TV show and covered in the new edition of our Scandinavia book.
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For years, I’ve told the story about the eureka moment I had as a 14-year-old kid in Oslo’s Vigeland Sculpture Park. I noticed how my parents were loving me so much, and I looked around and saw a vast park speckled with others’ families — parents loving their children just as much. Right then it occurred to me how our world is filled with equally lovable children of God. While I’ve traveled with this wonderful truth ever since, I’ve never been able to capture that feeling on film. And every time I’m in Oslo I try.
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As a teenage ragamuffin vagabond slumming through Europe (with high-school buddy then and co-author buddy now, Gene Openshaw), I’d pop in on relatives in Norway. It was a much-needed depot for a bit of family warmth and some good food (notice the bulging bag Gene is toting). Thirty-five years later, Uncle Thor still meets me at the train station in his little town of Sandefjord. While I no longer need the free food, I still enjoy the dose of family warmth just as much.
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5 Replies to “Photos: Navigating Norway”

  1. The caption for the Vigeland Park photo is inspiring. I had a similarly inspiring moment the evening I visited the park (besides a chance meeting with Rick Steves himself). While standing back from the platform on which the monolith stands, I couldn’t help but notice all the people doing typically human things intermingled among the statues of people also doing typically human things. Many of the humans, particularly the children, seemed to want to engage with the statues in whatever the statues were portraying. I noticed a 5 year old girl hugging a statue boy of a similar height. The boy was crying and reaching for its parents, and the little girl was trying to console him and seemed to want him to notice her. I’ve never seen people interact so with statues. It isn’t because the statues are so realistic; they are stylized versions of humans. What makes them so engaging is their portrayal of such commonplace, identifiable human motions and emotions. A human, especially a child not constrained by inhibitions, is compelled to empathize and react. If the success of art is determined by the measure of reaction it recieves, the sculptures that populate Vigeland Sculpture Park are among the most successful pieces of art I’ve ever encountered.

  2. Rick, I really love your dvd’s and think your swell. For the record, you are far from “Woody Allen or Mr. Magoo- You are such a classically handsome man. Your wife is a lucky lady…

  3. I applaud your “international” appreciation, and bless you for my trip to Europe, via your guidebooks and DVD (I also got my Eurail Pass through you). I am of Swedish descent, and would suggest that encouraging foreigners of any sort just to pull up their stakes and go to Sweden, or Germany, or France — it matters not — means they cannot redress their problems at home. In Geneva, many Africans fly there legally, tear up their passports, and declare themselves “refugees.” So, encouraging blacks, or Arabs, or Swiss, or Mongolians to relocate to Sweden (in this example) is neither going to help them or their “new country.” Europeans “evolved” during the Middle Ages into “Germans,” “Swedes” or “Norwegians.” Maybe, the gene pool needs stirring up. But, considering all the cultural treasures you explore, there may be something to in-breeding also. Lest these comments seem “racist” (a term used by mainly hypocrites) I suggest there is ONLY ONE HUMAN RACE, but MANY FAMILIES WITHIN IT. It is funny that the biggest Swedish prejudice is against Norwegians. Hope that doesn’t upset you, Mr. (of Norwegian descent) Steves! Keep up the good work. Your humanitarianism is true, and if we traveled more, we not only appreciate what others can do, but what we have at home. SRD

  4. Rick, I am a big fan of Croatia. Reading your blog and all the names you thought of for your program on Croatia everything had Medderterainian in front of it. You might want to think about Croatia not being on the Med but infact on the Addriatic. You could call it Addriatic Adventures, which would be more realistic. BTW, I’ve read some of your earlier work this year and thankfully you haven’t found Croatia’s best yet. I’m keeping it a secret as I would hate to see it overcrowded by people with Rick Steves books in hand. I guess that makes me selfish, so be it.

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