CicLAvia: Heart of LA (2017)

CicLAvia returned to Downtown LA for its October edition. At first I was a little unenthused about returning to Downtown LA, but then I learned that this year’s Heart of LA route had a new hub, Echo Park, which I was excited to explore.

It turned out to be a solo event for me, but I was totally okay with that. Going alone allows me to do whatever I please, whenever I please, without complaints, which is a situation I rarely encounter. And, there are actually a lot of other solo riders at these events. It’s a great opportunity to connect with new people. You feel like you’re part of a greater community. Everyone is there for the same reason – to take advantage of the open streets and explore the city from a different vantage point.

Being able to take Metro Rail’s Expo Line to Downtown LA made this an easy event for me to attend. What was tricky this time was that a football game was happening at the Coliseum that afternoon as well, and the train car got really packed with passengers. Having a bike onboard was awkward and difficult. But once all the football fans got off at USC, the cyclists could relax for the rest of the ride.

At the end of the line, I surfaced from the Metro station and made my way to Broadway Hub where I joined the route. This area has the feel of a typical downtown city with buildings side-by-side along the street, but riding gives you a chance to look more closely at the buildings. There are some interesting architectural details and public art along the way.

Once I got to the main intersection of the route and headed out towards Echo Park Hub, that downtown feel quickly subsided. About 1 1/2 miles later I was at Echo Park Lake. I was so surprised and fascinated by this area. It is such a big and serene green space so close to Downtown LA.

I parked my bike and began to walk along a path that circles the lake. It was very peaceful despite all the CicLAvia participants and the regular folks who were there just enjoying the park. At first glance, I saw the fountain in the middle of the lake and the paddle boats and boat house at the edge of the lake. But exploring more closely, I noticed water lily beds throughout the lake, lotus plants at one end of the lake, and a lush wetlands habitat full of wildlife. Looking even more closely, I saw fish, turtles, and a variety of birds.

There was even a cute looking cafe in the boat house, Beacon. It boasts “a chef-driven menu with good-for-you ingredients.” I’ve put it on my list of outdoor restaurants to bring my parents to the next time they’re in town. And I’ll also have to come back at the right time to catch the lotus flowers in bloom. Apparently, this year’s bloom in June was pretty spectacular.

After exploring the park and enjoying lunch from Cousins Maine Lobster food truck, it was time to move on. Next up was Chinatown, but not until I had ridden through 2nd Street Tunnel again. This turned out to be a fun “attraction” for all ages. Adults let their inner child loose while riding through, and there was lots of howling, hollering, and whistling.

I have been to Chinatown before but not by bike, so this stretch I did more to just have done than anything. It was a relatively quick visit.

Finally, I made my way out to Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights on the east side of the Los Angeles River. This was a new destination for me as well. To get there, we rode through the Arts District with its many wall murals and over the 4th Street Bridge.

After checking out Mariachi Plaza, enjoying some live music, and supporting the local farmer’s market, it was time to make my way back to Broadway Hub and the Metro station to head back home.

It was a full day of pedaling with lots of new sights and sounds along the way – 16 miles and 6 hours total – but one I’ll be eager to repeat next time around. I do believe this is becoming my favorite CicLAvia route. There is so much variety in where to go and what to see, and the riders are spread out on the three spokes so there’s a little more breathing room when riding. There will be no hesitation about returning to Downtown LA next time CicLAvia happens there.

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. Continue reading

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? Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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