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Finland Part Two

Great news! I had saved part of Finland under a different name! So, here’s part of it and the rest will be continued. We arrived at the Odlo airport and then had a 40 minute ride to the hotel where ee dropped off our luggage and headed on a walking tour. On the way to the hotel, we passed small farms snd open spaces with beautiful red buildings. They were wooden structurrs painted a beautiful bright red. The paint is made from a natural red mineral or something of the sort. We walked around the city, which I wrote a bit about in my last post. We went to a pretty, old Catholic church- the Oslo Cathedral. It had beautiful stained glass, a big fancy organ and lots a large circular candleabras. My favorite was a small sert of statues of Jesus and the apostles. People wrote prayers on small scraps of paper and yhen stuck them in the hands of the statues. Then we went to a square in front of the parliment or the royal palace or something of the sort. The royal residences are very understated here so I can’t remember which building is what. Anyway, there were armed guards with big plumes on their hats. Our guide, Mattie (a handsome German man in hid late 40s who apparently used to be a movie star, although that may just be a rumor). Anyway, Mattie told the us that ee could get close to the guards but that they would smack them if they got too close. zsome got too close and did not get smacked but did the guard did slam his gun on the ground. He was good natured and talked to people who came up to him. Then we headed to the harbor. It is the new up and coming part of Oslo. There is a mall with tons of empty shops or ones that are in the process of being set up. There were cute restaurants on the water and apartments. There was a statue of a monk next to a ten foot lotus flower with an eternal flame in the center. On the other side of the harbor there was an old fort. We walked up and had a pretty view of the whole harbor. On the side of harbor closest to the city was the Nobel Peace Museum and the center where the Nobel is awarded (or voted on?) each year. Nobel wad a Swede but in his will, he left his money towards the prize and said that it needed to be presented in Oslo. No one knows for sure why he decided on Oslo, but at the time they were trying to peacefully become independent of Sweden so one theory is that it was a nod to Norway’s choice to fight peacefully. After our walking tour, we headed to our first meal. Breakfast and dinner are included. They’ve all been buffets except for the first one. So, it was meatballs, potatoes, and mushroom cream soup. I like neither cream soups nor meatballs but it wad pretty good. Oh p.s., I am not following my new diet here- it could be doable but I don’t want to miss out on local food. Then we had a yummy custard like dessert and the we had a fabulous cake for one of the boy’s 16th. It was creamy and I think that it had lingonberry jam in it with tiny chocolate flakes. A-mazing. Pause- were on the bus to Stockholm right now and the view out the window is spectacular- the choppy waves of the Baltic Sea and more land on the horizon. We are constantly by water but can slways see land on the other side. Delightfully peaceful. Anyway, then we headed back to the room. I wished that we could have stayed out later but it was cold and honestly, I was exhausted. The next morning we left on a tour witb a local guide. It was a bus tour but we got to get out a lot. Our first stop was a strange sculpture park. It had beautiful trees lining walking paths but everything else was dead and it was covered in strange sculptures by a famous Norweigian. All together there were something like 700 naked people. He made the people naked because he felt that it made them timeless and classless (as in socially, not crass). But seriously, they looked totally crass and when you’re with teenagers, they’ll take full advantage. After that little excursion, we headed to a crazy cool ski jump. On the way in the bus, the local guide was telling us about Easter traditions. The Finnish invented cross country skiing and she made it sound like everyone goes skiing for the week before Easter. She also said that everyone loves detective stories and will read them over Easter week but she couldn’t explain to us why. She told us that kids dye eggs and there is an Easter chicken but I don’t know what his role is. Anyway, we went to Holmenkollen, the super cool ski jump, which the Finnish also invented. It looked so incredibly steep. I can’t remember how fast they go, but I assure you, it’s fast. Holmenkollen Sunday is the second biggest national holiday after their Constitution Day. It is a big ski jump competition each March. Oh yes, we also learned that they start skiing at 4 in kindergarten. And there is a statue of one of the kings cross country skiing with his dog. She was proud because it is unusual to see statues of world leaders doing leisure activities. Two side notes- In Thailand there were huge posters of the king with his camers because photography is his hobby. #2- There were many people with motorized wheelchairs but I’m not sure why.

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