What I’ve Been Reading Lately: October 2017

It’s been two months since I last shared what I’ve been reading. In addition to the books for my Scandinavian Book Group and local book club, I read books that hadn’t even been on my radar before, which is always kind of fun. School and fall activities have begun in earnest, so it wasn’t as productive a reading time as last time, but it was still very fulfilling.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This was the latest read for my local book club. Pachinko opened up a whole new world to me, both about world history and prejudice in other places. It combined elements of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles in that the book follows a family through generations (though not as many as Homegoing), and it skips years and doesn’t get into the details of the specific history taking place. Instead it focuses on the characters and their lives during those times. Historical events (Japanese occupation of Korea, division of Korea into North and South, presence of US troops, Korean War) were just in the background. After having read about Korea’s pictures brides of the 1910’s in Alan Brennert’s Honolulu, this was a great follow-up for a deeper understanding of what was going on in Korea during that time. Also, The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (a fascinating but extremely disturbing look at life in North Korea, one of my favorite books of 2016) added some interesting background knowledge as well.

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

We chose this book to read for a small reunion of high school girl friends. We had a long list of titles with themes relating to friends, family, women’s issues, and current issues that we considered, and this was our final choice. I had heard high praise for it around the internet. It was even recommended specifically for our occasion by the hosts of Book Riot’s “Get Booked: Personalized Book Recommendations” podcast. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to the hype for us. We had been warned by Get Booked’s hosts that we wouldn’t all like the main character, and it turned out that none of us did. I also had an issue with the structure of the book. The chapters seemed more like short stories and jumped back and forth in time. Characters that we had already been introduced to were introduced again which I felt was unnecessary and at times confusing. But I do agree that it could make a good group read because it has plenty of discussion material, and obviously other people do like the main character and can relate.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

I was introduced to Jesmyn Ward by the hosts of Reading Women, a podcast and blog devoted to books by or about women. I had never heard of Jesmyn Ward but was intrigued after the hosts raved about her work. I read Salvage the Bones just after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and as Hurricane Irma was making its way through the Caribbean towards Florida. It could not have been a more timely read since it’s about a very poor family in rural Mississippi bracing for Hurricane Katrina. It’s a tough book in that the characters are living such hard lives. But it’s beautifully written, poetic at times. The contrast between the language and characters’ lives is stark. And what made this an even more timely read was that Jesmyn Ward’s latest novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, has been shortlisted for the National Book Award. I am so glad to be familiar with Jesmyn Ward as a writer and look forward to reading another book of hers.

Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin (translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy)

Echoes from the Dead is a Swedish mystery by Johan Theorin translated by Marlaine Delargy that I read for my Scandinavian Book Group. It takes place on the Swedish island of Öland in the Baltic Sea, and the setting is a huge part of this book. It’s about Julia, a mother who comes back to her childhood summertime home where her 5-year-old son disappeared without a trace 20 years earlier. After receiving a sandal her son wore the day he disappeared, Julia and her elderly and ailing father try to solve what happened to the boy. The book jumps back and forth in time between current time with Julia and her father and the past with local misfit and psychopath Nils Kant. As the book continues, the two stories begin to lead towards each other and you’re left to wonder what the actual connection is. I was drawn into the mystery and really appreciated the strong presence of the setting with a bit of local history thrown in. This is the first of four books that take place on Öland, and I’m curious about the others.

Currently reading and next on my list…

I am currently reading Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic. My book club picked this book in anticipation of Alice Hoffman’s upcoming visit to town to speak about her latest novel The Rules of Magic. After that, I’ll be reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me before I hear him speak in November. This book is also a book I vowed to read in my effort to move forward after our latest presidential election results. Nothing like an author talk to help motivate you to read a book! I’m still working my way through Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. Nothing against it, just so many other books that I’m also reading, and a book of essays is easy to put down between chapters.

What have you been reading lately?

 

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for October 2017: Norwegian Movies, CicLAvia, & Scandinavian AutumnFest

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. Here are some special events happening in LA this month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

For Scandinavian enthusiasts, there are a few events this month!

Opening October 6 at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles and Town Center 5 in Encino is the Norwegian movie The King’s Choice directed by Erik Poppe. The movie is based on the true story about three dramatic days in April 1940 when the King of Norway was presented with an “unimaginable ultimatum” from the German armed forces: surrender or die. It is only playing for one week until October 12. See it while you can! I recommend it. I even took my kids to see it when it was screened at the Scandinavian Film Festival earlier this year so they could learn about the country of their heritage. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote a strong review of the movie: ‘The King’s Choice’ takes a gripping look at Norway’s little known conflict during WWII.

On Sunday, October 8, the Scadinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation will honor Leif Erikson, the first European to discover America, and John Ericsson, the designer of the revolutionary ironclad ship USS Monitor (1862), at their Leif Erikson Day Celebration at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

On Thursday, October 12, Norwegian film Vidar the Vampire will be screened at ScreamFest LA in Hollywood. The director will attend and do a Q&A following the film. For details on the screening, click here.

And finally, later in the month, on Sunday, October 22, Vasa Park Association will host their annual Scandinavian AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration in Agoura which includes a Swedish meatball contest. More details are available in the description below.

One of my favorite LA events returns this month – CicLAvia. It has become a yearly tradition that they plan an event in Downtown LA in October, where it all started seven years ago. Echo Park is new to the route this year, which I’d love to check out. The big question is, who in my family will join me this year?

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 7 & 8 *

L.A. Greek Fest, Saint Sophia Cathedral, Pico & Normandie Blvds, Friday, 10/6, – Sunday, 10/8. The L.A. Greek Fest is the largest and most iconic Greek food and wine festival in Los Angeles, California, bringing over 15,000 attendees together for a three-day weekend of all things Greek. Each day of festivities is a celebration of food, wine, dance, games, performances, and one-of-a-kind cultural experiences.

22nd Annual Multicultural Festival, Oxnard, Saturday, 10/7. Visit Oxnard for a day of music, dance, and cultural booths from around the world. The festival features live music and performers, food and vendor booths, exhibitors, demonstrations, arts & crafts, and plenty of family friendly activities. Every year, hundreds of guests look forward to coming together to celebrate the many diverse nations, languages, and cultures of the world.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Saturday, 10/7, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Live Mural Painting in Leimert Park, Leimert Park, Saturday, 10/7, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. The Fowler Museum at UCLA, LA Commons, and KAOS Network invite the public to watch world-class artists at work on the spontaneous creation of a new site-specific mural for the community of Leimert Park. This international collaboration between Brazilian artist Eder Muniz and LA-based artist collective RTN Crew will result in a large-scale spray paint mural highlighting cultural connections between the Sister Cities of Salvador, Bahia in Brazil and Los Angeles. The project is organized in conjunction with the Fowler’s exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis, part of the city-wide dialogue between Los Angeles and Latin American art through the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.

Chinatown Moon Festival79th Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 10/7, 5:00 p.m. The annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival celebrates the full harvest moon and is a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest, and to celebrate and share the generous bounty with family. Traditional Chinese cultural demonstrations alongside hot local bands and DJs mark a celebration uniquely Angeleno and uniquely Chinatown. Come by for the annual Dessert Eating Competition, or to taste Mooncake samples from Chinatown’s popular bakeries, or to take a peek at the full moon in her glory through scientific telescopes.

CicLAvia: Heart of LA, Downtown LA, Sunday, 10/8, 9:00 a.m. –  4:00 p.m. Leave your car behind and explore LA like you never have before. The Heart of LA route will allow you to explore Downtown LA, Echo Park, Chinatown, and Boyle Heights in a unique way. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners, and skaters to use as a recreational space. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Design/Diseño (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 10/8, 12:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in October). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. During the month of October, explore how designers in California and Mexico shared ideas to create fabuloso design in the special exhibition Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985. Orale! Be inspired to make your own diseños. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

Family Jam: Mid-Autumn Festival with UCLA’s Music of China Ensemble, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 10/8, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the Chinese and Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival with an afternoon of art-making and music by UCLA’s Music of China Ensemble. Create your very own paper lantern and find inspiration in the exhibition How to Make the Universe Right: The Art of Priests and Shamans from Vietnam and Southern China.

Leif Erikson Day Celebration, California Lutheran University (Overton Hall), Thousand Oaks, Sunday, 10/8, 2:30 p.m. At this event, the Scadinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation will honor Leif Erikson, the first European to discover America, and John Ericsson, the designer of the revolutionary ironclad ship USS Monitor (1862). The event will include a special video about USS Monitor’s great performance against Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia.

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 14 & 15 *

Los Angeles Korean Festival, Seoul International Park, Normandie & Olympic Blvds, October 12 – October 15. This is a free four-day festival whose mission is to provide the community with the best possible outlet to learn about the roots and traditions of Korea. Entertaining performances will lighten up the festival’s main stage. Thoughtful cultural exhibitions will educate visitors about South Korea’s history and culture. Local restaurants as well as vendors from South Korea will present a wide variety of food in one space. The shopping space will consist of booths selling Korean products such as cosmetics, appliances, apparel, and accessories.

Transpacific Musiclands, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 10/14, 5:00 p.m. Come for an exciting outdoor concert event with performers from Latin America, Japan, and Los Angeles, held in conjunction with the exhibition Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo which is part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative. Featured acts will include Afro-Latino jazz-rock fusion bands from East Los Angeles, a Los Angeles–based band with Peruvian and psychedelic roots, and a group from Japan that plays Mexican border music. For ticket information, please visit website.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/15, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Design/Diseño (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 10/15, 12:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in October). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. During the month of October, explore how designers in California and Mexico shared ideas to create fabuloso design in the special exhibition Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985. Orale! Be inspired to make your own diseños. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 21 & 22 *

Edible Adventures: Vegetarian Little Tokyo Walk, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 10/21, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Take a healthy stroll through Little Tokyo and listen to neighborhood stories while sampling vegetarian fare from kabocha to edamame, capped off by a macrobiotic lunch. $48 members; $60 non-members. Food and museum admission included. Limited to 14 participants. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

Scandinavian AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration, Vasa Park, Agoura, Sunday, 10/22, 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. AutumnFest offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. In addition to enjoying traditional foods of Sweden, you can be a judge in the 9th Annual Swedish Meatball Contest. You can buy beautifully crafted gifts and souvenirs and enjoy Scandinavian musicians and folk dancers, demonstrations, and a Viking reenactment group that shares stories about Viking times. There will be many activities for kids including a waterslide, an alpine tube slide, swimming, a rock climbing wall, and field games.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/22, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Design/Diseño (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 10/22, 12:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in October). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. During the month of October, explore how designers in California and Mexico shared ideas to create fabuloso design in the special exhibition Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985. Orale! Be inspired to make your own diseños. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

* WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 28 & 29 *

Dia de los Muertos Festival, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Wednesday, 10/25, – Thursday, 11/2. Olvera Street is home to a colorful celebration that takes place over nine days. Merging ancient traditions with modern-day interpretations, you are invited to join in honoring deceased loved ones. Each evening, colorful and vibrant novenario processions take place at 7:00 p.m. The traditional, pre-Columbian procession evokes special memories of deceased loved ones with colorful pageantry and indigenous blessings. Pan de muerto (sweet bread) and champurrado (a Mexican hot beverage) are provided after the processions. During the festival days on the weekend, there is entertainment and face painting throughout the day. Community altars, or “Las Ofrendas”, are on display in the plaza.

Asian World Film Festival, Culver City, Wednesday, 10/25 – Thursday, 11/2. The Asian World Film Festival brings the best of a broad selection of Asian World cinema to Los Angeles in order to draw greater recognition to the region’s wealth of filmmakers. The festival screens films from 50 countries across Asia spanning from Turkey to Japan and Russia to India.

 

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 10/28, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (Offered every last Saturday of the month). Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

Dia de Los Muertos, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, Saturday, 10/28, 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Spend an eventful day watching as the cemetery comes to life with joyful celebrations. Highlights include a vibrant traditional procession with traditional Aztec blessings and regional musical dance group dedications, 100+ altars created by members of the community to their ancestors and loved ones, four stages featuring music and theatrical performances, an art exhibition in the Cathedral Mausoleum, and a wide variety of Day of the Dead arts and crafts available for purchase. See website for complete schedule and ticket information.

Kids in the Courtyard: Teaching with Tithu, Fowler Museum Courtyard, UCLA, Sunday, 10/29, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Certain artworks are central to children’s education, including dolls. Explore the role of Katsina dolls (Tithu) in North American Hopi communities and learn how art can be used to teach children of all ages. Find inspiration in the Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives exhibition and construct your own paper doll based on your family’s history.

* ONGOING EXHIBITIONS *
Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA. The exhibition celebrates the rich social fabric of Los Angeles through the lens of the city’s vibrant Oaxacan community — specifically, the Zapotec communities which make up one of the largest Indigenous groups in Mexico and Los Angeles. The Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos has created a series of new murals for the Central Library’s historic rotunda that explore language and culture as a key lifeline sustaining the shared experience between Mexico, Los Angeles, and beyond, with a look at how migration and the socio-political environment shape identity and cultural traditions. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until January 31, 2018.

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City. Revealing complexities both on and off the island, Cuba Is explores aspects of Cuba not easily accessed by foreigners, and sometimes not even by Cubans themselves. Born from indigenous, African and European roots, divergent politics and limitations in communication and commerce, the Cuba seen in this exhibition goes beyond the folklore and offers new insight into its current reality. Over 120 photos feature subjects ranging from defiant youth known as “Frikis” to the hard-partying children of the 1%, the underground system of sharing digital content—“El paquete”—to Miami’s Chonga girls. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until March 4, 2018.

Feel free to add events for the current month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me the details. Thank you!

In Translation: Maja Lunde’s The History of Bees (Bienes historie)

Knowing my love of reading and joy in discovering new Norwegian works, my parents gifted me Maja Lunde’s The History of Bees in Norwegian over a year ago. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it. It is such an interestingly structured and thought-provoking book about humans’ relationship to bees as well as relationships and expectations between family members. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it, and luckily, now non-Norwegian readers in the US can enjoy it as well since it very recently came out in translation here.

I’m always curious about how works in original language compare to their translated versions. Usually, I just read my Norwegian books in Norwegian, but this time I actually had the opportunity to read it in English as well. (The US publisher Touchstone kindly provided me with a digital advanced readers copy.) I was impressed by Diane Oatley’s translation. It was a very smooth reading experience in English. Nothing jumped out at me as being different from the Norwegian edition. In particular, I was impressed with how well she treated the different language usage by each of the main characters.

Though I haven’t seen the American edition’s physical cover in person yet, I hear it’s gorgeous! It shimmers and is textured. I may just have to buy myself a physical copy of the American hardcover just for the cover.

The novel is made up of three distinct storylines revolving around bees. It’s basically a look at the role of bees in the past, present, and future from the perspective of a family in each of those time periods, and the chapters alternate between these three narratives. The first storyline begins in England in 1852 when beehives are being perfected, the second one in the United States in 2007 when there is an increase in the number of colony collapse disorders being reported, and the last one in China in 2098 when humans have had to resort to hand-pollination due to the total collapse of bees. As the book progresses, the reader begins to see how the three families’ stories intersect. Once the book is finished, it’s interesting to look back and notice the common threads that weren’t obvious before.

On top of it being a book about human’s relationship and reliance on bees, it is also about family relations and expectations. It looks at husband-and-wife relationships as well as relationships and expectations between parents and their children. It is not a smooth journey for any of them. The most heart-breaking family dynamic is that of William’s family in England. William puts all his time and energy into trying to prove his worth to his son. However, it is his daughter Charlotte who is interested and eager to learn from her father and help him with his work.

Each of the narratives was very engaging, and it didn’t take long before I was totally absorbed in the book. My favorite narrative was that of Tao in China. It was a depressing and grim world she lived in, but her quest to find out what happened to her son when he suddenly got sick and was whisked away by authorities without any explanation was a definite page-turner. Through the different storylines, I not only learned about the history and practices of beekeeping, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I also got a glimpse of a world suffering from a total bee collapse, which was unnerving. Luckily, there was a glimmer of hope at the end.

My only complaint of the book was that in each of the three families, the hopes for the future were placed on a son. I understand that might have had to be the case for England in the 1850s, but it didn’t need to be that way in both the 2007 and 2098 narratives. Having the emphasis be on a daughter in one of those two later time periods would have been okay, I believe.

Overall, this was a unique novel combining dystopian, contemporary, and historical fiction into a very engaging and thought-provoking piece, which will stay with me for a long time.

The History of Bees is the first book in a planned series called The Climate Quartet. Maja Lunde explains The Climate Quartet on her website as follows:

“I realized I was nowhere near done writing about man and nature, neither had I stopped imagining a future where the consequences of the way we treat our wonderful earth has become ever more grave than what we see today. And from these thoughts, the idea of writing four, loosely connected books evolved, each one a stand-alone novel emphasizing specific, clima related themes: Insects, water, animals, and finally seeds and all things that grow.”

“Each novel has parallel storylines that play out both in our time and somewhere in our not-too-distant future, in addition to gazing back at our past. All four explore humans in nature and the consequences of the choices we make, not only with regards to nature and the climate, but also the people around us. Because it is through the exploration of our closest boundaries – within families, between lovers, between parents and children – one best sees the reflections of the larger picture.”

The next novel in the series, Blue, comes out this fall in Norway. I’m eagerly awaiting its publication.

Book Details:

You can support what I do on this website by purchasing the book at Amazon (or any other book or item for that matter). AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. At no extra cost to you, you support my work. Thank you.

September 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Vista Viking Festival & Solvang Danish Days

If you weren’t able to travel as far and wide as you would have liked to this summer, then September is your chance to make up for it. Throughout the month, there are special festivals, exhibits, walking tours, and workshops that offer you the chance to explore cultures from all over the world right here in Los Angeles as well as visit new-to-you areas to broaden your horizons. And this Labor Day Weekend in particular there is an exceptional number of events to consider.

And for Scandinavian enthusiasts, there are two special Scandinavian festivals going on this month. Unfortunately, neither are in the local Los Angeles area, but both could make for interesting excursions out of town. During the weekend of September 15 to 17, Solvang in Santa Barbara County celebrates its Danish heritage with the 81st annual Solvang Danish Days festival. The following weekend, September 23 and 24, you can experience all things Viking and Scandinavian at the Vista Viking Festival in San Diego County.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* LABOR DAY WEEKEND, SEPTEMBER 2 & 3 & 4 *

Orange International Street Fair, Orange, Orange County, Friday, 9/1, – Sunday, 9/3. Every Labor Day Weekend since 1973, the Orange International Street Fair in downtown Orange has been the place where friends, families, and neighbors get together to experience a wide variety of food, music, and dance from cultures and ethnicities throughout the world. Besides the streets lined with international food booths, there are also arts and crafts booths and a children’s street geared towards the younger crowd.

E Hula Man, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Long Beach, Friday, 9/1, – Sunday, 9/3. Come experience Southern California’s 23rd annual hula and chant competition. This three-day event blends honored traditions with innovative ideas, creating a wonderful Hawaiian experience and feeling of ’ohana (family) for event participants and patrons alike. Hawaiian cultural workshops taught by creative artisans and cultural specialists are also offered. Visit website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Long Beach Greek Festival by the Sea, Assumption of Blessed Virgin, Long Beach, Saturday, 9/2, – Monday, 9/4. Eat, dance, and drink all things Greek during this three-day event. Enjoy delicious Greek food (rotisserie chicken, gyros, Greek salads, roasted lamb, homemade Greek sweets, and more!), Greek beer and wine, live Greek music and dancing (lessons, too!), cooking demonstrations, specialty vendors, and carnival rides.

27th Annual Exhibition of Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A, Korean Cultural Center Art Gallery, Los Angeles, ongoing until September 15. The Korean Cultural Center LA hosts an exhibition with the Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A in which over 42 local artists show various calligraphy characters and Korean traditional paintings.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. Cost is $20. Please click here to RSVP.

Roman Holidays, The Getty Villa, Malibu, Saturday, 9/2, & Sunday, 9/3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Discover the sights (and smells!) of ancient Rome, offer your prayers to Venus, read your future in a sheep’s liver, and enjoy live musical and comedy performances by the historically hysterical Troubadour Theater Company. Free but Advance Villa entry ticket is required.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 p.m., this is a 1 1/2 hour walking tour. See listing above for description of tour. Cost is $15. Please click here to RSVP.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Central Plaza, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 5:00 p.m. This is the last of three Summer Nights this summer. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos during the summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks, sample the neighborhood’s wares, watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations, experience large-scale outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums, sip on craft brews, and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs!

Mexico: Huichol Beaded Clay Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/3, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

International Mask Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 9/3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Enjoy a day of cultural and educational engagement with family-fun activities including papier-mâché mask-making, face painting, and music. Paso de Oro Dance Troupe, Taiko Center of Los Angeles, and Dafra Drum will present Mask Dances from Mexico, Japan, and Africa.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/3, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

Broad Fest, The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, Sunday, 9/3, 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Broad Fest returns for an afternoon of music, food and interactive entertainment. DJ duo Sadubas sets the festive tone with an eclectic mix of world sounds between live performances of Blues music, pop symphony of song, Bolera music, and reggae. In the Edye Second Space, enjoy a Heal the Bay educational talk, cool rhythms from SMC Jazz Ensemble and dances from around the world with SMC’s Global Motion. Join in tango lessons, hula hooping, and art-making experiences for all ages. Delicious food and drink from local favorites will be available for purchase. Admission is free. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 9 & 10 *

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, opens Saturday, 9/9, and is on display until 3/4/18. Revealing complexities both on and off the island, Cuba Is explores aspects of Cuba not easily accessed by foreigners, and sometimes not even by Cubans themselves. Born from indigenous, African and European roots, divergent politics and limitations in communication and commerce, the Cuba seen in this exhibition goes beyond the folklore and offers new insight into its current reality. Over 120 photos feature subjects ranging from defiant youth known as “Frikis” to the hard-partying children of the 1%, the underground system of sharing digital content—“El paquete”—to Miami’s Chonga girls. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

Peru: Inca Sun Disc (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, create Inca sun discs with metal foil.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/10, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

27th Annual Exhibition of Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A, Korean Cultural Center Art Gallery, Los Angeles, ongoing until September 15. The Korean Cultural Center LA hosts an exhibition with the Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A in which over 42 local artists show various calligraphy characters and Korean traditional paintings.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 16 & 17 *

Solvang Danish Days, Solvang (Santa Barbara County), Friday, 9/15, – Sunday, 9/17. Solvang has been celebrating its Danish heritage at this annual festival since 1936. Events and activities take place all over town and include live music, comedy shows, Hans Christian Andersen storytellings, a parade each day, a Viking encampment with historical reenactments bringing Viking times to life, and a Living History Festival with artisans, craftspeople, storytellers, and interactive activities for all ages. There’s even a special kids area with snacks, beverages, games, and fun (including LEGOS!). Don’t miss the æbleskiver breakfasts and eating contests as well as the Old World Artisans Marketplace with demonstrations and artisanal hand-crafted items including Scandinavian arts & crafts, woodworking, papercutting, rosemaling, fabric art, jewelry, and pottery.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, opens Saturday, 9/16, and is on display until 1/31/18. The exhibition celebrates the rich social fabric of Los Angeles through the lens of the city’s vibrant Oaxacan community — specifically, the Zapotec communities which make up one of the largest Indigenous groups in Mexico and Los Angeles. The Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos has created a series of new murals for the Central Library’s historic rotunda that explore language and culture as a key lifeline sustaining the shared experience between Mexico, Los Angeles, and beyond, with a look at how migration and the socio-political environment shape identity and cultural traditions. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

Mexican Independence Day, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/16, & Sunday, 9/17. Celebrate Mexican independence from Spain with popular and traditional entertainment, cultural activities, historic displays, food, artisan exhibits, and more.

 

Aztec: Sun Stone: Tonatiuh Sun God (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/17, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 23 & 24 *

Pasadena Greek Fest, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church, Pasadena, Friday, 9/22 (evening) – Sunday, 9/24. Enjoy performances of Greek dancing and music; talks on cuisine, history, and travel; and tastes of Greek foods such as gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava. A special Kid’s Zone entertains kids with bouncy inflatables, games and a climbing wall.

 

Vista Viking Festival, Vista (North San Diego County), Saturday, 9/23, & Sunday, 9/24. Make your way to Vista to see, share, and sample all things Viking and Scandinavian. Learn about Viking life in the living history encampments of the Viking Village and watch exciting Viking battles on the field. At the Weapons Range, expert instructors will train you in the skills of axe throwing, spear throwing, and archery. At Heritage Hall, learn about Scandinavian history, genealogy, and culture, and watch cooking and craft demonstrations. In addition to these events and activities, enjoy a variety of live entertainment all day long on two stages. You can also be part of the show and make Viking Festival history by participating in one of their signature competitions — Fish Fling, Log Toss, Horn Blowing, and Battle Cry. There are also arts and crafts and games for children, delicious Nordic food throughout the grounds, and beer gardens.

Baja Splash Cultural Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 9/23, & Sunday, 9/24. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and Mexican Independence Day, the Aquarium of the Pacific will host its sixteenth annual Baja Splash Cultural Festival featuring live entertainment, crafts, educational programs, ethnic cuisine, and much more. Mariachi music, Mexican folkloric and Aztec dance troupes, interactive mural painting, Salvadoran dance, Guatemalan performances, and other special programs are featured.

Chile: Arpilleras Art and Protest (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/24, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/24, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This Sunday, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Kids in the Courtyard: Axé Bahia, Fowler Museum Courtyard, UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 9/24, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the opening of the new exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis by creating a collaged landscape honoring Los Angeles’ sister city, Salvador de Bahia. Combine your own drawing with images from magazines, books, and more to illustrate a hybrid skyline of LA and Salvador!

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 30 & OCTOBER 1 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/30, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (Offered every last Saturday of the month). Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

36th Annual Watts Tower Day of the Drum Festival & 41st Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival, The Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, Los Angeles, Saturday, 9/30, & Sunday, 10/1. Start the day with a Yoruba ground blessing uniting all cultures based on common themes and principles. Then continue the celebration with drum, dance, and rhythm. Guided tours of “Nuestro Pueblo”, the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, and supervised children’s activities will also be offered, along with food, arts, and craft vendors. Festivities and activities continue the following day with the 41st Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival.

China: Autumn Festival Lantern and Sweet Treats (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/1, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Design/Diseño (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 10/1, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in October). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. During the month of October, explore how designers in California and Mexico shared ideas to create fabuloso design in the special exhibition Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985. Orale! Be inspired to make your own diseños. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Feel free to add events for the summer months in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me the details. Thank you!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: August 2017

Once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. It’s been two months since I last shared what I’ve been reading, and it’s been vacation time with plane rides and down time, so I’ve had a chance to read quite a few titles. Luckily, all of them were worth finishing this time.

Did you know that August is Women in Translation Month? I just learned that this month. I seized the opportunity to add some female authors in translation to my reading list. Continue reading

Norwegian Women in Translation for WITmonth

I’m always so surprised when I hear about something which I feel I should have known about before but didn’t. That happened recently with Women in Translation Month (WITmonth), an annual month-long reading event dedicated to promoting women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. It takes place every August. This is right in my wheelhouse – reading, books in translation, women – how could I miss it?

WITmonth has given me incentive to dig a little deeper to find Norwegian female authors whom I may not have been aware of it. A great source of information was lists of winners of various Norwegian and Scandinavian literary awards (see end of post for list of awards). My list of Norwegian female authors is by no means an exhaustive list. In my digging, I found that many Norwegian female authors’ works in translation are not available in English (but readily available in many other languages!) or no longer in print in English.

Usually, I read my Norwegian books in Norwegian, but occasionally I make an exception. For example, sometimes the cost of getting a book in Norwegian instead of English is not warranted. Other times, if the book is written in nynorsk (New Norwegian) instead of Bokmål (Book Language), I will read it in English instead since I’m not as comfortable with nynorsk. Now, I have another reason, to support Norwegian female authors in translation and their translators.

Many of these authors I’ve already heard about, some I’ve already read, others were already on my TBR list, many were new to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these authors. Continue reading

A Glimpse of Oslo: Vulkan Bee Garden

Seeing Vulkan Bee Garden at Mathallen was high on my wishlist for this summer’s visit to Oslo. These urban beehives are not your ordinary beehives. They are an art installation as much as a beehive. The Vulkan beehives were designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, the same firm that designed Oslo’s National Opera House, New York City’s National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion, and so many other interesting projects around the world.

I remember reading about Oslo creating the world’s first highway for bees a couple of years ago and feeling great pride that my country was doing that. The bee highway’s aim was to “give the insects a safe passage through the city” by providing food and shelter as they traversed the city from one end to the other. This was not a government initiative, but rather one by ByBi, an urban guild of beekeepers. Participants in the project are varied – businesses, schools, associations, and private individuals. Everyone is encouraged to build bee-friendly feeding stations and accommodations in the city.

The Vulkan beehives were installed in 2014. As explained by Vulkan on their page about the bee garden, “The natural honeycomb geometry was the inspiration for the form and pattern, along with the bees own production pattern; the hexagon-shaped cells bees store their honey in. Using a light colored wood with a finish that is honey in tone makes the hives look like big hexagon jars of honey.” Inside the structures are standard foam beehives.

So I made plans to meet my aunt for lunch at Mathallen, a food court with specialty shops and cafes, and a lovely lunch we had. It wasn’t until we were on our way out that I discovered where the beehives were. Next time I’ll see about enjoying my lunch outside Mathallen instead so I can appreciate the beehives a little longer than just passing by. It would also be fun to buy some Vulkanhonning, honey from the Vulkan beehives, while I am there.

On a related bookish note, I am currently reading a Norwegian novel called Bienes historie by Maja Lunde that I highly recommend. It will be released in the USA as The History of Bees on August 22. The novel includes three storylines which all revolve around the importance of bees, or lack thereof. The first storyline takes place in England in the mid-1850s when beehives are being improved, the second one in USA in 2007 when there is an increase in the number of colony collapse disorders being reported, and the last one in China in 2098 when humans have had to resort to hand-pollination due to the total collapse of bees. I’m really intrigued by the book and am happy that English readers can also enjoy it soon. I encourage you to check it out.

For some insight into the beekeeping at Vulkan beehives, here’s a short video. It is in Norwegian, but the images are worth your time.

Checked Off My Norway Bucket List: Drive the Atlantic Road!

I’ve been fascinated by the Atlantic Road on Norway’s west coast since I learned about it a few years ago. It looked like a real life rollercoaster ride hopping from island to island along the outermost edge of the coast. Bad weather seemed to make it even more extraordinary.

Photo credit: www.visitnorway.com

The road is one of Norway’s 18 official national tourist routes. It opened in 1989, and in 2005, it was voted Norway’s “Engineering Feat of the Century”. It is built on several small islands, skerries, and landfills and is spanned by seven bridges. Many consider it one of the world’s most beautiful drives as well.

We came at it from the north via Kristiansund after a visit to Trondheim. We drove through Atlantic Ocean Tunnel (an undersea tunnel about 3.5 miles long) from Kristiansund to the island of Averøy and made our way along Route 64 with a final destination of Molde.

A quick Internet search of the Atlantic Road will tell you it is a 5-mile stretch between Kårvåg and Vevang along Route 64 (WikipediaGoogle Maps, various articles). However, as you can see on the official site of National Tourist Routes in Norway, the full route is actually about 22 miles and goes all the way to Bud from Kårvåg on a series of smaller roads (Roads 64/242/663/238/235). The most dramatic stretch, however, is probably the 5-mile section between Kårvåg and Vevang.

Due to time constraints, we were unfortunately only able to drive the 5-mile stretch. Bad weather during our stay in Trondheim meant we had to use the morning of our departure for some must-see sightseeing and so we got on the road much later than planned. Also, we were delayed by an unexpected ferry ride which added some down time to our drive.

We didn’t get to the start of the Atlantic Road until 6:30PM! Yes, it stays light late during summertime, but we still had to get to our hotel in Molde that day and the kids could only handle so much in a day. And our stomachs were getting hungry for dinner as well.

For us, the weather was neither good nor bad. It was cloudy and drizzled on and off. In one way, that was good because it allowed us to get out of the car without getting soaked. But, on the other hand, a beautiful evening sun and clear skies would have added greatly to our enjoyment of the area.

Despite the constrained time and lackluster weather, it was an interesting experience to drive along the Atlantic Road and I’m glad we went out of our way to do it, but I was a little underwhelmed and feel it merits a revisit. Part of the reason I felt a little underwhelmed was that 5 miles is a very short stretch after 4 ½ hours of driving from Trondheim. Had we had time to drive and explore the full route I’m sure we would have felt it much more worthwhile.

The family along hiking path on Eldhusøya with Storseisundbrua in background

For us, the highlights were a short walk around the island of Eldhusøya and the drive over the main bridge Storseisundbrua. The island of Eldhusøya has an elevated path that goes around the island and provides views of the open ocean beyond. Along the path, there is a memorial to those lost at sea (and even a geocache!). Storseisundbrua is the longest bridge on the route and the route’s symbol. As you hit to crest of the bridge, you get a wonderful view of the road and the many little islands ahead. Too bad there wasn’t a stopping point there. Another interesting bridge we crossed was Myrbærholmbrua. It has specially built fishing walkways on either side. Had we had more time I would have liked to park and walk along them to see what kind of fish they were pulling in.

At the top of Storseisundbrua with a view of road and small islands ahead

The rest of the tourist route after we turned off for Molde seems to have some interesting attractions as well: Hågå with the broken-looking serpent-like marble sculpture called Columna Transatlantica, Askevågen at the end of the breakwater with glass walls for protection against the weather and spray, and Kjeksa with paths and steps leading down to the edge of the sea. They all seem worthy of visits. (Photo credits for images below: Nasjonale turistveger)

Once back in Los Angeles, my aunt shared with me a Norwegian article and video from Møre og Romsdal Reiseliv’s website describing seven “fresh experiences” you should make time for if you’re visiting the Atlantic Road.

As seen in the video, they recommend making time for the following activities:

  1. Float 550 meter around Eldhusøya (walk the elevated path)
  2. Go deep sea fishing with an expert (or fish off the walkways on the bridges)
  3. Visit the coastal town of Håholmen (and eat clipfish and experience Viking culture)
  4. See the artwork Columna Transatlantica
  5. Bike or hike the coastal trail at Farstad
  6. Windsurf or kitesurf on Farstadstranda
  7. Hike to the top of Stemshesten for an alternate view of Atlantic Road

One of those experiences, the Eldhusøya visit, we did have a chance to do, and others would not have been appropriate for our family, but I would have loved the opportunity to visit Håholmen, hike the coastal trail at Farstad, and see Columna Transatlantica with our own eyes (does it really look like toothpaste as my kids believe?). Those activities are on my list for next time.

My tips for travelers headed to the Atlantic Road – make sure you have lots of time to enjoy and explore and plan to drive the whole 22-mile route. If I have the opportunity to return to the area, driving the whole route with time to spare will be top priority. I would even consider bookending my visit with nights in Kristiansund and Molde (or maybe even on Håholmen) so that I could have a whole day along the route. The Atlantic Road deserves so much more time than we were able to give it, but I really enjoyed the introduction to it.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: June 2017

I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. It’s been two months since I last shared what I’ve been reading lately so I’ve had a chance to accumulate a few titles. Continue reading

The New & Less Traveled Oslo

new and less traveled sightseeing in OsloAre you headed to Oslo this summer, and maybe you’re looking for something besides the normal tourist sights? Here are some newer sights and hidden gems to consider.

Harbor Promenade – Havnepromenade

Oslo has a very new harbor promenade to explore. It runs 9 kilometers (about 5.5 miles) along the waterfront and hits many of the main sights of Oslo including Tjuvholmen and Aker Brygge, the inner harbor with City Hall and Akershus Fortress, and the Opera House.

I look forward to exploring this route by bike with the family. I may finally have a chance to get a close-up look at the Opera House with its dramatic architectural features. I also hope to include a swim at Sørenga Seawater Pool and a meal at Vippa (a huge warehouse recently named one of the “10 hottest new restaurants in Oslo” according to eater.com).

Hovedøya

A few years ago, a cousin of mine recommended a visit to Hovedøya, an island a short ferry ride from the city center known for its beaches, forests, and cultural heritage sights. There you can explore the ruins of a Cistercian monastery from 1147. In 1532, the monastery was pillaged and burned down, and the ruins weren’t excavated until 1840’s. You can also see two canon batteries from 1808 and two gunpowder depots from when the island belonged to the Norwegian army. It would be a nice excursion on a day with beautiful weather. Bring swim gear and a picnic (or eat at one of the cafes) and spend the day exploring. It also has plenty of geocaching opportunities (see map above with all the geocaches!) which is always a fun addition to an outing.

Viking Ship Museum’s Vikings Alive Film

I have been to the Viking Ship Museum on several occasions, but somehow we have not yet managed to take the kids. It used to be that the main attractions were three Viking ships, one of which is completely whole, along with a display of Viking Age artifacts. Now, there is a new attraction: the film Vikings Alive. It’s a film that takes the audience on a unique visual journey into the history of a Viking ship. A Viking ship is built and sails along the Norwegian fjords and on the ocean, ending its days as a grave ship for a king. The film is projected onto the vaulted ceiling of the museum. On our next visit to Oslo, this will be a must-see attraction.

Museum of Oslo

Museum of Oslo is another museum I’d like to take the kids to. It’s located right in Frognerparken which makes it a convenient bike ride from my parents’ home. It presents the city’s history through models, paintings, and photographs. The museum’s exhibitions are mainly in Norwegian, but a free audioguide of “1,000 years in 20 minutes” is available in English, French, German, Somali, Punjabi, Polish, and Arabic as well as Norwegian.

What piqued my interest in bringing the kids was that the museum offers a special family activity called City Detectives (recommended for kids age 5 to 12). It’s an augmented reality app that allows visitors to get a glimpse of Oslo’s past. The goal is to find 10 historical stations in the exhibition “OsLove – City History for Beginners”. With the app, participants visit the 2-bedroom apartment of a big family, experience the power of Aker River, and see how the main street of Karl Johan has changed over time. The app is only available on site. You can borrow ipods or download the app to your own Apple device. You do not need to know Norwegian to use the app.

Special Exhibit at Munch Museum

Every summer the Munch Museum puts on a special exhibit. This summer visitors will have a chance to experience Edvard Munch as seen through the eyes of Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård. The exhibit, Towards the Forest – Knausgård on Munch, will feature many paintings, graphic prints, and sculptures that have never been exhibited previously. As described on the museum’s website, “the exhibition takes the form of a journey from light and harmony through darkness and chaos – returning finally to a controllable reality.” I’ve read and enjoyed Knausgård and like Munch so I’m curious to see this exhibition, something probably done more enjoyably without my children. Exhibit is on display from May 6, 2017, to October 8, 2017.

Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum

I learned about Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum from the book Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders. We are certainly familiar with the work of his brother Gustav Vigeland whose bronze and granite sculptures are on display in Frognerparken, but I did not know about Emanuel.

The mausoleum is part of Emanuel Vigeland Museum. The museum’s main attraction is a dark, barrel-vaulted room, completely covered with fresco paintings. According to Atlas Obscura, “entering the mausoleum is a solemn, even haunting, experience. Even the quietest footstep echoes across the barrel-vaulted ceiling for up to 14 seconds. A flashlight is needed to reveal the room’s dark, painted walls.” I think this “hidden wonder” is best explored without kids due to the paintings that show “life from conception till death, in dramatic and often explicitly erotic scenes.” (Note: The museum is only open to the public on Sundays. Summer hours are May 15 through September 15, 12pm to 5pm.)

Damstredet & Telthusbakken Area

Damstredet and Telthusbakken are two roads known for their well-preserved and inhabited wooden houses built in the late 1700s and the 1800s. They are located near each other in the St. Hanshaugen/Gamle Aker area in central Oslo. There are other sights in the area as well, so a visit to the area can make a worthwhile self-guided walking tour. Very nearby is the medieval church Gamle Aker kirke (Old Aker Church), oldest building in Oslo, as well as Vår Frelsers Gravlund, the cemetery where writer Henrik Ibsen and painter Edvard Munch are buried. This excursion is easily combined with visit to nearby Mathallen, an interesting food court with specialty shops and cafés. And while at Mathallen, you can see if you can spot the Vulkan Bee Garden, which is two huge beehives on the rooftop between Mathallen and Dansens Hus next door.

Stay tuned for a report on how our exploration of these new-to-us places and hidden gems of Oslo goes!