Some days I’m a traveler, some days a tourist; today was the latter. It was the best a northern summer can offer—not too hot, not too cold…it was just right said the little old lady from Albuquerque. There was a whole lot of sun but it was a friendly sun making the sea all sparkly and warming us without baking us.
Every trip has that first day you must figure out how to get around the city, how you buy tickets, just exactly how many hours you can walk without it turning into painful trudging. Usually I would have encountered these trivial first-day traumas much earlier on a trip but my kind cousins have been driving me places and getting me to the various stations on time. I’m spoiled now.
But I did it. Shifted into travel mode with a nod to my tourist responsibilities as the day went on. It all began with a bus to the Munch Museum where an exhibit called “Van Gogh + Munch” is currently up. It is a beautifully curated show, with a most informative film about Munch’s life to get one in the mood. I’ve been to the museum before and am a big fan of Munch but it was absolutely striking to see these two artists side by side—the similarities and difference, both in abundance. Van Gogh’s work is almost too beautiful, thickly-painted and glistening with stars or sunflowers; Munch’s is not as pretty, it’s darker and bolder and simpler in some ways. Since there is nothing that hasn’t already been said about these artists, let me—completely lacking in art-knowledge—say no more. Loved it, so glad I went. Souvenirs, small and light. Wish I could have taken photos just for the memory.
Next the metro to the National Theater stop which is near a flower-music-tree-happy people-filled square. Ah. Wine. Which I’ve had very little of while waiting for my stomach to be made right with the world. I also ordered the smallest food I could find which, thank god, isn’t nachos here but small roasted potatoes with a sort of sweetish mayo sauce. Two Rieslings later I felt it in that pleasant relaxing way wine has with one in the sun in August in Oslo.
On with art. Down to the waterfront, busy with tourists and sunbathers and boat people. Caramel gelato, people watch. The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art is right at the tip of a very up-scale peninsula, high-end companies and restaurants and shops, handy to the many yachts moored and glossy and ready to go when master boards
Very contemporary building and very contemporary art including Damien Hirst’s “Mother and Child Divided. You know the piece with the cow and calf cut in half, forever in their bath of formaldehyde; it’s especially nice to view both their outsides and insides. I think that’s the first Hirst I’ve seen. Which is okay. Some things are meant to be once.
And to top it all off I went out of the museum to a grassy slope by the water and just lay in the sun for awhile. It was a brilliant restorative for the trip by foot and metro back home.
Made it unscathed through my first day of tourist training for the many cities to come. And very happy to be back home at Ellingsen’s where my breakfast sandwiches of bread, butter, salami and brown cheese awaited me.
Oh yeah and I bought one of those expensive Norwegian sweaters, black and white traditional patterns, red trim, thin wool, a bit fitted. The devil made me do it.