The hearts of Stavanger

Every year, one of the trees surrounding Breiavannet in the center of Stavanger are filled with hanging heart lights. And every year I see it and sigh as if things are right in the world. While other trees are also decorated, they are decorated with more common lights, making this tree extra special.

This picture was taken in mid-December 2009, but the lights are back this year as well, looking as heart-filled and -shaped as ever. I’ve posted pictures of the tree before, but it’s one of the things that gets me ready for the Holidays.

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#Panther project

Street art covers a piece of a wall or a box and adds something to it, without it being in the way for the use of the thing. As with this box in Kristiansand, the code can still be read, but the box adds a bit color and charm to the place.

I took the picture in early May 2017, but by then the piece of art had been there a while. It seems to be part of something called Panther project and there are a few other places around in Kristiansand that also has some sort of street art by the same artist. What I’ve seen from the Panther project seems like a simple piece that adds something to a blank space, and it gives it something special.

 

Some parts frost, some parts wet leaves

One of the weird things about fall turning into winter is how the parts of nature that seem to have been dying the last few months suddenly are covered with frost and snow, and the world seems slightly more alive again. Gone are the brown leaves on the ground, and suddenly the world is colder yet cozier. I really like fall, with the trees going yellow and red, the wind blowing (more than usual), and the temperatures falling, but not enough for snow yet, just time to find scarves and a coat.

Even if I’m from Norway, I’m not used to the snow staying for longer periods of time around where I live, so the times it happens, I try to adapt to what’s happening around me. And I’m still trying to find a way that will keep me warm, but not have me looking as though I’m on my way to a kindergarten.

This picture is from Jegersberg, which is an area in Kristiansand where one can go for a walk or a hike, swim or bike, and it was taken at the end of November 2015. The strangest part of taking this photo was that on my side of the road it was frost and on the other side there was no frost at all.

The dark and gloomy places

Not all cemeteries are dark and gloomy, well… at least not all the time. Walking around in a cemetery in daylight with someone can be quite fun. Finding cool names, finding tombstones with descriptions like what they worked with or how they died. Making up a story in your head about someone who died as a salesman over 100 years ago.

When you visit a cemetery with both older and newer tombstones, you can compare both the design of the stone, as well as the differences in how the person (or family) is described for the rest of the world to know after their death.

This picture was taken on a cemetery in Stavanger on a not so gloomy day in early May 2010. There’s a lot of old and tall trees there so it can be pretty dark and gloomy at night.

Flags, and not the Internet-kind

This picture is taken on the 17th of May 2016 in the city center of Stavanger. The 17th of May is the date Norway celebrates its constitution, and it’s one of the days when all public buildings and other places with a flagpole will put up the Norwegian flag.

It’s not common in Norway to hoist the flag every day. We have a set of days where one must hoist the flag (i.e. 17th of May, the birthdays of the royal family, some Christian holidays, and other days of historic importance for Norway – Wikipedia list), and otherwise it’s a bit more optional if you have a personal reason to put a flag up on the flagpole.

17th of May is always the day when you’ll find the most Norwegian flags around in the city. We’ll walk in parades and wave our flags, or watch others walk in a parade, and wave our flags at them. It’s a day we express our joy of the nation, the joy of being part of something bigger, and the joy of celebrating something together with family, friends, and total strangers that you’ll say hi or congratulations to at some point of the day.

The rest of the year, we’re mostly not that nationalistic. We’re not that celebratory. We won’t put our flag up for no reason. We know that as a nation and a people there is more to do to make the country a home for the people who live here, and the people who come to live here. We’ll criticise the government, and we’ll vote at the elections to earn the right to criticise it.

But every year on the 17th of May, without fail, we’ll put up our flags, sing our national anthem, and mostly criticise the weather or the woolen bunad-costumes we wear (that are heavy, and doesn’t really flatter anyone, yet looks good on pretty much everyone).

This post mainly comes from all the stuff that’s been going on lately, and me thinking about how flags are treated differently around the world. I’ll leave you with one last fun fact about the Norwegian flag: When the flag is getting worn or broken, one is to separate the flag into the different colored pieces, so it’s no longer recognizable as the Norwegian flag, and dispose of it or burn it.

 

More or less a bridge

Luckily I wasn’t planning on crossing this bridge when I was out for a walk in Jegersberg in early May 2016, but it’s not that uncommon to find bridges and other things that haven’t been fixed in a long time around in the nature in Norway.

But that is one of the great things in Norway, it’s usually not far to nature and places to go for a walk. That also means it’s pretty common to go for smaller walks often, than preparing for a longer hike less often. I used to live nearby Jegersberg, and it was nice being able to go outside and walk on gravel or dirt roads and see what nature has to offer. I used to do it a lot if I needed to clear my head and not think about all the pages I needed to read and write for my studies.

A place I miss

I spent three years as a student living in Kristiansand, and two of the things I miss most (in addition to the people) is the weather and nature. I miss walking around and exploring the town and nature surrounding it, and I miss having the nice weather to do it. Kristiansand doesn’t have that many steep hills, so a Sunday walk can be pretty common in nice weather.

This picture was taken in mid-July 2016 from Christiansholm fortress in Kristiansand. The blue building to the left in the picture is the location of NRK Sørlandet, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation in southern Norway.

Crossing borders

Crossing borders can be a strange thing. I’ve grown up in a Europe post the Schengen Agreement (at least the part of my life I remember), so the crossing of borders has often been “OK, according to the signs, we’ve passed the border now”. Lately, the borders have been more enforced, but to a varying degree.

Last year we went in a car with Norwegian plates between Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and back to Norway again, and there was some variation. Norway to Denmark was getting off a boat, and no checking of passports. Going from Denmark to Sweden it seemed like it was enough to be white and female in a Norwegian car. And from Sweden to Norway we started to hand them our passports, but seeing the outside seemed to be enough.

This year, between Norway, Denmark, and Germany, there was also not much checking. But it seems noticeable in a different way than when I was a kid. Mostly because of the media and the ferry company telling us to remember our passports, because they’ll check, but also because

But it seems noticeable in a different way than when I was a kid. Mostly because of the media and the ferry company telling us to remember our passports, because they might check them, but also because I pay attention to it in a different way as an adult. Are the borders noticeable if you cross them where you live? And do the people and affairs surrounding the borders affect how you feel when you cross them (if you can)?

Are the borders noticeable if you cross them where you live? And do the people and affairs surrounding the borders affect how you feel when you cross them (if you can)?

This picture was taken as we entered Norway driving north on E6 through Sweden in late July 2017.

The University of Agder

This is the University of Agder, or at least a part of it. This is Campus Kristiansand, which is one of the campuses of UiA. (I’ve written about the University before here and here.)

I’ve been a student here the last three years, and while it’s been weird knowing I’m not going back in August, it’s also slightly good. It was three great years with plenty of good teachers, fellow students, and fun stuff, but good things must come to an end to move forward with one’s life.

The picture was taken on a very nice day in early April 2017, when I needed a break from studies.

Dancing

This picture was taken in mid-March 2017, near Bertesbukta in Kristiansand. It’s a graffiti piece, a heart and a dancer on top of the heart. I needed some air during the semester, and the piece was pretty easy to find on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Over the last years the attitude towards graffiti has changed a lot in Norway. There has been multiple laws against it (and probably still is, so don’t go crazy with the paint yet), but slowly it has become a more accepted, often welcomed, part of the cityscape. By which I mean that there are buildings offered up to paint on, and there are guided tours to see the different pieces. Examples are Stavanger where there is the NuArt festival and Kristiansand that also decorates parts of the city with street art.