Norwegians seem to be constantly coming from, going to, or actively engaged in robust outdoor activities.  Oslo is a sea of bouncing ponytails (from the almost comical amount of joggers.)  The trains are full of cross-country ski shleppers.  Women in their seventies are hiking with backpacks and bedrolls.  There’s a national obsession with cabins (one […]

Before we went to Norway I did a bit of research and then I emailed a tourist information office who forwarded me to someone at a museum… ….who scanned me a hand drawn map… …which directed us to a train station called Hell…. …and a short walk through a moss covered forest… …where we found […]

Did you know Norway has a pilgrimage?  Well, I didn’t until we stumbled on it. The pilgrimage is called St. Olav Ways—“ways” because you can choose one of several routes, as long as you end up at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Here I am at Old Aker church in Olso next to kilometer marker 639 (that […]

Norway’s tourist season is mid-June through mid-August, meaning that’s when most attractions outside of Oslo (besides ski hills) are open.  Traveling here in April has been a relief after over-touristed Portugal, but you should know about the challenges too, particularly in Ålesund. Our main reason for visiting Ålesund, a windy town in the western fjords, is […]

Oh hey, we’re in Norway. I know, I know, why would cheapskates like us be traveling in one of the world’s most expensive countries?  What happened was, I was looking at airfares online and I saw flights to Norway for $333 round-trip from Chicago.  How could I resist? So I bought two tickets to Oslo with […]

The way I understand art is through other art.  Like I don’t just look at something and say to myself, “Oh here we have a rare example of Midwestern Stick Style architecture from the 1880’s.” What I actually think is “Oh here we have an example of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring in the form of […]

Sandwiched between boring high-rises, the Chicago Loop Synagogue is one of those sacred spaces that make you say “Gah!”. The building, constructed in 1957, is nothing special, but step inside… And CHECK OUT THIS STAINED GLASS. Artist Abraham Rattner loaded his glass masterpiece with symbols of the Jewish faith. And G-d said, “Let there be […]

Fellow church hounds, I know you get it: the delight of stumbling on an unexpected and, more importantly, unlocked church. With an unanticipated free afternoon in northeast Portugal’s Vila Nova de Foz Côa, HOB and I were lucky to find the 16th century parish church Igreja Matriz, smack in the middle of Foz Côa’s main […]

There’s a monastery in the town of Batalha that looks as it is carved from crystalized honey.  One of my finer life choices was to spend an entire day looking at it. (Okay, full disclosure, I probably would have crammed in at least one other monastery in our itinerary that day had the bus schedules […]

Arriving at the site of the 22,000 year old rock art in northwestern Portugal was uncomplicated—too uncomplicated.  I enjoyed getting there so much that I was hoping to drag the experience out more.  After sharing jeep ride with our guide from the Museu do Côa and another couple, we hiked a short distance through a […]