Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mai Oh Mai

Can I just start off by saying that springtime in Norway is fabulous?!  I've heard this has been a somewhat rare, extra warm, and amazing I'd like to thank this fair country for giving us this lovely gift.

May is an excellent time to be in Norway, as their National Day is celebrated on the 17th of May (syttende mai, as it's called here i Norge).  The Norwegians dress up in their traditional gear (bunad), and the rest of us wear dresses and suits.  Everyone fills the streets, watching parades and celebrating.  And people smile at each other and talk to strangers - gettin' all crazy!  It was such a fun and festive day, and  I couldn't believe how many people poured into the streets.

We started the day off with a traditional breakfast at Pierre & Silje's apartment.  Pierre is British, and Silje is Norwegian.  So Silje decided it was her duty to show the immigrants a proper syttende mai frokost.  It was lovely...

Silje's homemade kransekake - very tasty.

The remnants of the kransekake after an attack by the hungry non-natives.  You also drink champagne with the breakfast.  And no, the chocolate cupcakes in the background aren't normally part of a Norwegian breakfast, but they are all this American knows to contribute to a gathering.  If you put flags on them they seem more legit, right?

After breakfast, we hit the streets to catch the parade and continue the celebration.  There were so many pretty bunads everywhere, and it was funny to see people partying it up in such traditional costumes.

With Silje in her bunad - I loved her cute hat.

Lovely details on Silje's bunad.

I then proceeded to photograph random people for other examples.

Pierre modeling Silje's hat.

Ken and I in our Tuesday best.
This pic doesn't do the crowds justice - insane amount of people and flags lining Karl Johan up to the palace.

The Royal Family waving to the crowd.

Another important aspect of syttende mai is the russ.  A russ is a graduating high school senior who is celebrating this milestone in life.  The russ version of celebrating includes buying buses that they decorate and pimp out with huge sound systems and lights, and driving the buses into the forest every night for a couple of weeks to party with their sound systems, get wasted, and do who only knows what else.  They also wear blue and red jumpsuits every day, so they're easy to spot on the streets.  Syttende mai is the last hurrah for the russ, and they park their buses in the city and party all day.  

Pierre needed help opening a beverage at one point in the day, so he stopped off in a russ bus, where some nice teenagers helped him out.

We don't know this teenager, but I had to capture Pierre reliving his glory days.

So, it was a great day, and we appreciated seeing a bit more Norwegian culture!

Other than syttende mai, we've been cruising around the city on foot and bike, enjoying all this spring loveliness.  

Botanical garden in Tøyen.

St. Hanshaugen.

More Tøyen.

Outside of the Munch Museum.

Authentic Scandinavian engangs grill-style grilling in Frognerparken.  Please note the blue bikes in the background.  These are the Oslo City Bikes, and they're awesome.  You pay a tiny amount for the year, and you can swipe your bike card to check out bikes at stands all over the city.  Then you just drop it off at any stand when you're done with it.  We love it!

I hope you've enjoyed the pics above.  For the Moment of Zen this week, I'll give you the gift of this photo.  

Nader, Ken, and Daan all Euro'ed up for Connie's Eurovision party.  Sorry ladies, they're all taken.  I'm sure you're pretty jealous...