Alesund, Norway

Okay, you are locked away at home, hopefully, you are working remotely, and everyone is well.  It is May, the sun is shining, the weather is warm, and you are itching to travel, but not quite ready to go.

Alesund, Norway
Ålesund , Norway

It is time to go virtual traveling. It is not a new thing. We’ve been traveling virtually for centuries. Homer’s Odyssey, told around table with a cup of wine was the first virtual story. That is unless you count the hand paintings on the walls of the caves of Lascaux, in Dordogne, France. Today, hunters are still telling stories of getting up before dawn to tramp the fields for birds. Storytelling, like hunting, is in our DNA.

The Egyptians with their cuneiform told pictorial stories, and the Phoenicians and Greeks turned symbols into letters and a whole new way of telling a story. Modern inventions helped us visualize what was written. Photographs and postcards gave us a picture, and stereoscopes made those pictures 3D.

Movies made them move.

There is nothing new under the sun. The whole point of going back to Homer’s Greece and to the French Caves of Lascaux is to remind us that, we are at our very core storytellers. We like to remember. Happiness and sadness, comedy and tragedy – we learn, we enjoy, we remember.

I remember Ålesund , Norway.

If you are lucky enough to travel to Norway, do it in the summer. The days are long, the nights short, the weather is sunny and spectacular. If you go, you are likely to land in Oslo the capital. But if you want to see Norway, travel north to the fjords of the western coast. And that will take you to Ålesund , the gateway to the fjords.

Enough with the story telling. The guy at the front of the tour bus eventually needs to shut up and let the tour group gawk and the beautiful scenery. What we all want to do is to see. Here is a smattering of what I saw:

Visit Ikornness, Norway

While in Alesund, don’t forget to take a boat trip up the fjord to Ikornnes, where Stressless recliners are made.

 Visit Traditions Home and discover Stressless

If you are in Wichita or Overland Park, visit Traditions Home and Traditions Furniture to discover the Stressless sensation.

reno-office

sykkylven fjord

ikornness-water-logo

sykkylven fjord, norway
[Sykkylven fjord in sunny Møre og Romsdal county, leads to Ikornnes where Stressless recliners are designed and made.]

The fjord is not a tube of blue
So, don’t forget the gray and black
To paint the rocks along the shore
And here and there a dab of white

On the mountaintops to represent the snow
And in the distance
Gentle strokes of green mixed with brown
Where we keep our farm

Now, tilt your head right and left
Like all good artists do and

Take a sip of wine
Wait, my dear, don’t put down your brush

Please paint a patch of yellow for a house
A bit of red for the roof
A chimney made of brick
With smoke that curls to the sky

A home for you and me to watch
The coming of the tide

3823-Playful-wine

Getting around in Ålesund, Norway

Sultry Seattle soul singer Oleta Adams was visiting Oslo, Norway a while back.

Not sure how far north she got, there are hills and mountains between Oslo and the far north where the fjords stick out into the icy North Sea like so many fingers pointing west. Which got me thinking about one of her biggest hits, Get Here, written by Brenda Russell in 1988, which Oleta first heard in Oslo, the very same year.

Thinking, like I said, that the song resonates the very same way today that it did back then, and always will, when something separates us from the one we love.

The lyrics start out like this:

You can reach me by railway
You can reach me by trail-way
You can reach me on an airplane

I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can

In Ålesund, Norway you can only get there by an airplane, or a sailboat on a clear day. And they have a saying for rainy days – Alt vejr passerer, meaning all weather is passing.

alesund (2)

[Ålesund, population of 47,199, a port town built on seven islands, high on Norway’s west coast, in spectacular Møre og Romsdal County, at the entrance to the Geirangerfjord, on the way to Ikornnes, home to Stressless recliners.]

Directions in a foreign country can be confusing. The letters are different, the speech incomprehensible, the weather sometimes impossible.

Gudskelov (Thank God) the Norwegians speak English and good music is a universal language.

alesund-fingerpost-stressless-logo

Stressless Stories

white-house-1

The White House

The traveler caught a glimpse of the white house outside the bus window. It was just a momentary glimpse and he would not have remembered the moment or the house had he not taken a picture.

What was it about the white house?

Strange, the traveler thought, it was a farmhouse without crops or animals. Perhaps it was the ordinariness, a plain white box look, symmetrical but for the front door, that revealed nothing of the personalities of those who lived there. The bus was on its way from the western coast of Norway, from Ålesund to world-famous Geiranger with a stop in Ikornnes. If you are counting in kilometers, it is around 120 km passing through and over three distinctive fjords, watching all the while spectacular landscape unlike anything the traveler was familiar with. The roads were two lane, adequate for the summer traffic, and winding, as they make their way along the waterway with a ferry or two to cross to the other side of a fjord.

It was not unlike the farm houses in Maine, where the traveler had been the summer before. Nor was it unlike the mountain cabins in Montana where private people went to get away from the city. To the traveler, the White House would forever remain a mystery like so many places.

The traveler put down his camera and continued to watch the scenery roll by. The traveler was looking forward to Geiranger, the waterfalls, the hiking trails and people.

playful-flag-norway

Hello and Goodbye in Norwegian

Hallo Norway

Most Norwegians speak English, but isn’t it nice to try and blend in (hint, loose the fanny pack) and get along. Here are a few essential phrases so you don’t look like a complete ninny.

Hei means Hi and sounds like it too.

Hallo means Hello. A slight smile goes a long way to break the ice.

When leaving, say: Ha da bret, meaning well being or goodbye; or Sees (Say-S), meaning see you soon.

God dag, Good day works most times of the day.

Takk, Thank you is also good to have in your repertoire.

By the way

Did you know that the Beatles never played in Norway. Touchy subject for Norwegian Beatles fans. They must be thinking:

“You say “Goodbye” and I say “Hello, hello, hello”.
I don’t know why you say “Goodbye”, I say “Hello, hello, hello”.
I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.”

Or maybe they are still trying to figure out what Norwegian wood is.

viking-soldier

The View is Spectacular

cowboy-northern-lights-logo

The view is spectacular

Ikornnes village, where Stressless recliners are made, is located along the Sykkylven fjord, way up north on the Norwegian coast where the Aurora Borealis lights the sky. Best seen from the Fjellstua Viewpoint, the locals say.

What are the Northern Lights, you ask?

Those bright dancing green lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun’s solar wind and oxygen (and on occasion nitrogen) particles in the earth’s atmosphere.

Where to see them?

Attracted by the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres, they are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south. A pale yellowish-green is the most common auroral color, found about 60 miles above the earth. Rarer, all-red auroras are produced by higher-altitude oxygen, and nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.

Best viewed from a Stressless recliner.