June 27th - July 4th. We learned why Norwegians were such friendly, relaxed, happy people. In a country where working is almost a "lifestyle" choice, everything they could worry about is taken care of. The average citizen enjoys free health care, childcare and education. Women recieve forty-six weeks of paid maternity leave, and even being old has its benefits. All this is covered by Norway's benevolent government and funded by taxes of course, but mostly from oil revenue. So really, the hardest decision a Norwegian might make is how to spend their six weeks of paid vacation.
Here is a excerpt from a recent Rueters article - the source is Norges Bank:
The country started a "wealth fund" in 1990 from the proceeds of their oil royalties. The fund now owns 1% of all the stocks, bonds and real estate around the globe. If you take the total value of the fund in 2014, which is 5.11 trillion Krone and divide it by the 5 million citizens of Norway, then every man, woman and child is a theoretical millionaire.
|Norwegians on the way to the bank.|
They make it difficult to buy alcohol here so that saves a bit of money. When you do buy it you just have to close your eyes and not think about paying $20. for a $6. bottle of wine or 5 bucks for a can of beer. The rules are: No sales on Sunday, no wine in grocery stores - you need a special store for that and hard liquor. Not many of those to be found and they close at 5:00 on weekdays and 3:00 on Saturday. Beer can be purchased at the grocery store between 10:00 and 8:00 on weekdays, and until 6:00 on Saturday. The moral here: drink in moderation and plan ahead!
|A typical Nomad dinner with a dash of NBC Nighly news.|
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We were prudent and found several inexpensive concerts and of course took the free walking tour. Our favorite find was an afternoon concert series at the stunning opera house - so good we went twice. Not only is the building stunning - the music was really great. Opera arias on one day and a very entertaining male A Cappella quartet the next day who had some some with Barbershop.
|The stunning Opera House dips into the North Sea.|
|Taking advantage of the short Scandinavian Summer|
|A busy Norwegian Stay at Home Dad|
|Honestly, we didn't do it!|
|123 figures are striving for the top in this centerpeice.|
|"I just realize I am naked. Wait - all the statues are naked!"|
|Only Vigeland could capture what it's really like to be a mother.|
|If you do want to earn money in Oslo - you have options.|
|A glimpse at the merry marchers in the EuroPride Parade.|
|Happiness, rainbows, butterflies and glitter. Lots of glitter.|
|Several styles of street art on one corner.|
|Me surrounded by cats, of course!|
|Street art naturally makes you hungry for street food!|
Another piece of public art we found fascinating was layed out in front of the City Planning building. The piece is called Grass Roots Square and was created by Korean artist Do Ho Suh. At first glance it looked like the paving stones were interspersed with squares of grass, but on closer look, the "grass" was actually made up of hundreds of tiny bronze figures. There are 500 different types of people created in different sizes for a total of 40,000 figures.
|Grass Roots Square. At first we thought this was grass.|
|With a closer look we could see the squares were filled with people!|
|I could have looked at this all day. Absolutely amazing in it's scope.|
|These buildings are fondly referred to as The Barcodes.|
|The Ski jump from a safe distance.|
|The grand Holmenkollen Hotel.|
|The view from the top of the hill towards the fjord and the city center.|
|This shot was taken shortly before Midnight!|
|The Cathedral ceiling.|
|Michael took some time to tour the Parliament building|
|A hint about the weather here.|
Happy Fourth of July America! We love you, too.
Debbie and Michael