England 40 Years Ago — August 10, 1981

At Aarhus we walked through the open air museum of old houses which had been taken apart and reassembled, coming from all over Denmark. It was something like Mystic Seaport or Williamsburg.

A prehistory museum had artifacts from the stone age and up. We were most impressed with the well-preserved man who had lived about the time of Christ. His throat had been slit, and he was thrown in a peat bog where the tanic acid kept his body in such shape that scientists could identify the seeds he’d eaten just before he died.

In Odense we lost all track of time reading all the labels in the Hans Christian Anderson museum. The poor fellow was indigent when young, fell in love three times, but never married, and lived most of his life staying with well-to-do people who befriended him. He repaid his hosts by entertaining them with stories, giving them his drawings, and cutting fancy paper shapes for them.

We saw the cathedral in Odense and discovered an organ concert scheduled for that evening. We ate at our motel, then went to hear the largest church organ in Denmark. Beautiful.

For dinner at the motel John and I had plaice fillets bonne femme with onion and mushroom sauce, boiled potatoes and home made ice cream with fruit sauce.

England 40 Years Ago — August 9, 1981

We arrived at the cathedral outside Copenhagen in time to hear the service going on and find all the doors securely closed. Felt as if the bridegroom came and we missed him.

In Odense we went to a railway museum which Kate and John thoroughly enjoyed. I saw a waiting room bench I’d like to have taken home; it was painted green and decorated with gold crowns.

Upon arrival in Aarhus, we settled in our fairly spacious room and headed for the restaurant. The motel itself was dinky looking from outside and didn’t prepare us for the exquisite restaurant. The service was French style, the most elegant we had on the whole trip. The food was marvelous – and at that, we weren’t sure what we were getting. The menu was in Danish; the waiter could speak little English and knew few names of foods to describe them to us. I finally asked him what he liked best and ordered that. Turned out to be a thick pork chop with sauce, pineapple slices and water cress served with rice and two little pots of sauces. John had chopped steak covered with onions, and the girls a kind of beef stew. This was also the most expensive meal of the trip.

My jaw dropped when I noticed the hand basin in the motel bathroom – it boasted the first built in metal stopper that we have seen in all Europe. The last one we used was in Stony Brook more than a year ago!

The toilets come in all sizes – or rather, heights. The family room in Sweden with bunk beds had a very low toilet in the bathroom, probably for the benefit of small children. I always wondered half way down if I were aiming right. The toilet in Copenhagen was Just Right, and the one in Aarhus should have been equipped with a step stool.

It afforded much merriment in the car at the Danish word for entrance – infart. Exit – outfart, and a town we passed near – Middlefart. A bus of tourists was labeled right on the front – Tourisfart.

I took the photo below at some point in the trip. We must have been about to board a ferry and found this scene amusing. As cars waited, a petrol cart worked the line. How convenient to have your tank filled when you were forced to sit in your car!

England 40 Years Ago — August 8, 1981

Breakfast in the hotel in Copenhagen was a buffet of cold cuts, cheeses and tasty Danish pastries – the real thing!

We were staying near the palace and walked by to see the guards walking. Every quarter hour they click their heels, fold their arms across their chests to hold their guns, and stroll around. They don’t have the rigid discipline of the English guards.

Royal Palace
Palace Guard
Kate at a guard station

A ride in a harbor boat brought us to the little mermaid statue.

Little Mermaid seen from tour boat
Our Mehrmaid with the Little Mermaid

On the walk back to the hotel we saw old row houses built for seamen in the 1600’s. [Lise said this was near her bus stop when she worked in a building near the Little Mermaid.]

European cities have public toilets galore and places to buy expensive sodas on every other corner, but no water fountains! We got so thirsty walking around on dry, hot days, but didn’t want to lug heavy water around all the time.

We found an ad for a 100% Danish restaurant that welcomes children and was within walking distance. There was even a children’s menu! – unheard of in England at a good restaurant. Kate chose chicken; Lise, beef, and John and I fried fish. His had Bearnaise sauce, and I had the sauce with shrimp and asparagus again.

Birds were on the table when we sat down; their calling cards prompted us to request cleaning of the tablecloth. The waiter solved the problem to HIS satisfaction by cheerfully turning the dirty cloth over.

England 40 Years Ago — August 6, 1981

Sweden is a land of broad valleys near the sea, and the wheat harvest was in full tilt. We drove from Oslo to Helsingborg, spent the night and began our exploration of Denmark. We really didn’t see enough of Sweden to be able to compare it with Denmark and Norway.

On arrival in Copenhagen, John was told at the desk that the room he had booked was not available! Would you believe we slept in the loft of a warehouse? That’s the luxurious warehouse at right.

Actually the whole hotel was a converted warehouse right on the water front. We were given a two-story room on the top floor, which was better than the one we’d booked. The lower level had the bathroom and living room with convertible sofa. Up the open curved stairway was the sleeping loft with king-sized bed. We liked the huge exposed beams – at first to look at, and then to hang the wash over when we found no laundry open on the weekend. The window in the roof opened, and really kept the rooms cool.

This is the only photo where I can’t tell the sisters apart.

We arrived in Copenhagen at the height of summer weather. Half of Europe seemed to be thronging the pedestrian streets. We wandered along the shopping area and into Tivoli gardens.

We thought the entrance fee for our family at $6 was expensive, so we stayed to get our money’s worth. After a couple of hours, I thought the park benches worth the price!

Kate cooled her feet.

The girls had carnival rides, and we bought food. I was amazed at all the people. According to a tourist guide 40,000 people stroll in Tivoli every day. I think we met them all! From the restaurant where we ate dinner, we heard a band and saw a tight-wire act. The free concert that evening was a treat – two pianists playing Haydn and Brahms. Sitting for the music helped our sore feet so that we felt like strolling further to enjoy the lavish display of lights around buildings, over walkways, under water and in the trees.

Several times in Denmark we ate fried plaice with a sauce of asparagus and shrimp. It seems to be a national dish, and what a good one!

England 40 Years Ago — August 5, 1981

Our family went out alone to do a few errands in Oslo. John and I did one errand together, then split while leaving the girls in the car. Much to my surprise, I got lost and couldn’t find the car! I almost broke out in a cold sweat, but then found the right parking lot.

We went to museums to see a part of a real Viking ship and a reproduction of another. Also saw Kon-Tiki and Fram.

Part of a real Viking ship
Reproduction of a Viking ship

We went to Frogner Park, the one with lots of statues.

Seeing the ski jump, Holmenkollen, was fantastic. It’s where the next world’s cup match will be held. This is a view from one side.

They have just finished extending the gate at the top; I was very uneasy that high up with the gentle summer breezes almost howling. Kate joined me in those feelings. I can’t imagine anyone being willing, much less eager, to step out and sail down on skis.

For dinner we had home made soup and Norwegian pancakes. After that the Osnes girls stayed home with the boys while the rest of us went to visit Hal and Bjorg at their apartment. What a lovely home! The colors and woods and fabrics are so warm. Bjorg served Julekaka, coffee cake, a chocolate biscuit and candy dessert with coffee, then a choice of 7-Up or a non-alcoholic Norwegian beer often served to skiers. We were glad to have tasted it, but decided the taste would have to be acquired.

England 40 Years Ago — August 3 and 4, 1981

August 3 Olag and I went shopping in downtown Oslo taking the six children with us. We had a picnic between the palace of the king and the parliament building. Olag had prepared open face sandwiches of cold cuts, cheese, and brown cheese on waffles. We were royally entertained by a band and soldiers drilling. To cool us off we had ice cream cones. What a treat! The ice cream was so much better than anything we’ve had in England.

Riding the T-Banen was much like riding a clean New York subway of years ago. It was very convenient to walk to from the Osnes home, let us out at the shops we wanted to explore, but cost a total of $10 round trip for the 8 of us.

In the supermarket near their home were the cutest miniature shopping carts just the right size for 2 – 6 year olds to push beside their mothers. On further thought, it might be that since food is so expensive there, you can only afford to fill one of those tiny carts.

For dinner that night we had fried fish pudding, boiled potatoes, mixed vegetables and cherry cake. They put slices of tomato and springs of dill on the fish pudding and made it look festive.

August 4 We made a leisurely start for the Osnes summer house south of Oslo. Eivind’s parents seemed glad to see us swoop upon them without warning. In one trip down the only access to the house from land, a steep footpath, we managed to carry bathing suits, towels, food for two meals, a grill and charcoal. The children paddled about in the freezing water, went in the rowboat with Mr. O, and had fun running and yelling.

The house was right on the fjord with a lovely level yard in front. The cottage had four bunk beds, a living/dining room, kitchen and no running water. At the moment all the water is walked down in bottles.

Kate was impressed with the toilet facilities. She said, “I’ve never seen a loo and a garden shed all in one!”

For middag we had grilled hot dogs, rolls, potato salad, Olag’s homemade cloudberry cake, and the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever eaten. Putting sugar on those berries would be like pouring syrup over a candy bar. They were perfect just as they were.

We relaxed and talked with the senior Osnes couple before leaving for World’s End. The boulders are all rounded at the tip!

Our families at World’s End

We picked a few raspberries beside the road, had a picnic of cheeses, cold cuts, home made rolls and cake.

Vertical picking of raspberries

The drive back to Oslo was pleasant in the evening twilight and mist. As an extra special treat the girls were allowed to stay up till after midnight looking at home movies. We saw clips of John’s sister’s family in Oslo and all the movies from the O’s year in the US.

England 40 Years Ago — July 31 – August 2, 1981

July 31 The directions for getting to the hutte showed only a few stores, two houses and a barn. We were shocked to see hundreds of houses scattered over the barren hills. We’d all imagined lots of trees and no other houses nearby. However, very few had anyone staying in them while we were there. The air was cold, and most Norwegians had returned to work after their holidays. They usually fly a pennant when in residence – almost every hutte has a flag pole.

We walked to the middle of the settlement and happened (?) to be at the train station when some switching was done. After lunch we explored a mountain stream. I found I could walk twice as far to the accompaniment of water music. Exquisitely lovely! The wind was fierce when we climbed a tiny mountain, leaving a roaring in the ears. We noticed clouds were lower that second day and hung their feet on the edge of the highest mountains in sight.

August 1 On driving to Oslo, we noticed that the valleys became broader and the streams wider. Several towns were ski resorts – easily spotted by big hotels, small paths up the mountains for ski lifts and wide swaths for downhill skiing. Lots of hay was being hung on long racks to dry.

[We visited friends we met at our home church on Long Island when Eivind was working at the university there. The family lived in the US several times. They were very close to John’s mother, who could speak Norwegian with them.] Olag, Eivind, and their family gave us a royal welcome with signs made by the children and American knick-knacks displayed. For dinner we had fiskeballer, boiled potatoes, grated carrots on lettuce topped by almonds and blueberry torte. Eivind and his children had picked the berries; John and Eivind sorted and cleaned them.

Olag and Eivind with their four children. Another boy came later.

August 2 We walked to the local church where the young pastor preached an excellent sermon, and his wife played beautifully on the piano. Olag whispered some translation during the sermon.

We recognized some of the hymn tunes and did our best to follow the language. The parts of the liturgy were easy to follow, and the text familiar because Eivind had looked it up to have with our devotions the night before. That was a special part of the evening – to sing a hymn, read the Bible and pray together.

At that church you don’t have to speak with the pastor ahead of time, so we went for communion. Their way of serving was very different. You picked up a tiny silver chalice on the way to the altar. The bread was handed to us, and then the wine poured into our cups. Used cups were put on a tray when leaving. At the end the pastor stood to say the words of distribution, knelt and took communion himself. He was first the priest, then the layman.

For lunch Olag served porridge (a white sauce with butter, sugar and cinnamon), cold cuts, boiled potatoes, cooked cabbage, sour cream, fresh dill and ice cream.

Eivind had prepared breakfast of boiled eggs, toast, bread, rolls and cheeses. Mostly gjetost and Norge cheeses are served in the morning. Home-made preserves also went round. [I wonder about my spelling of these things. Surely, having just eaten the stuff, I tried to spell things correctly.]

Eivind invited John’s first cousin Hal and Bjorg over, and we went for a bird watch at the nearby lake to fill in time before they arrived.

When we went to the lake, Olag stayed home to bake a cake. We returned to help bake waffles, set tables and prepare sandwiches. When Hal and Bjorg arrived, Olag served banana slices on rolls, cheese and apple on rolls, plain rolls, cheeses, jam, waffles and cherry cake – a big cake split and filled with cherries and whipped cream.

John’s cousin Hal

Chersti (I can’t remember how to spell that one, but that is what it sounded like) was very shy. Espen was not shy but very tired at the end of the day.

Bjorg and Chersti
Bjorg holding Espen

We had devotions with the children later – Eivind read a Lutheran devotional and we sang two songs in English and Norwegian with Eivind playing the piano and Olag the guitar.

I recognized several birds at the lake – chaffinch, magpie, pied wag tail, house martin, mallard duck, coot, Canadian geese, tree sparrow, house sparrow and a two-toned brown duck.

England 40 Years Ago — July 30, 1981

We drove till mid-afternoon to get from Bergen to the mountain hutte (pronounced hoot-a) where we spent two nights. The scenery was spectacular. We started off driving along the edges of several fjords, thoroughly enjoying the breathtaking vistas of water and mountains and opening the windows to hear water hurling itself down rocky gullies.

We climbed higher and higher until there were no trees. High plateaus with out-croppings of rocks were bleak. All along the way were lakes, some huge and some small. It was almost unbelievable that we stopped by the side of the road to play in snow. We actually saw people sunbathing, sitting in snow.

Lisa and Kate play in snow

The road was something else again. It was so narrow at times – the widest places were in the tunnels! Riding in our English car, John was sitting on the outer edge of the road, and I was exposed to cars hurtling down the road and much too close for comfort. My left knee was actually tired from the reflexive action of trying to draw in my side of the car.

The mountain hutte loaned to us by a brokerage firm had five bedrooms with enough beds to sleep 12!!! They mainly use it for skiing holidays. Ski racks were in the wide, rough entrance hall. The shower was a bit primitive, but there was a real sauna complete with benches to sit on and a wood burning stove.

Area with mountain huttes where we stayed
John outside the hutte where we stayed

We were needing more clean clothes, so I washed by hand and John hung them outside on a line. That line was situated half way up the mountain and is more efficient than an electric English drier! The first set was soon knocked dry by the wind, so we did more. After they dried, we did two pair of jeans.

The kitchen was a bit primitive. There was room to install a sink, but there wasn’t one. The stove was a wood burning thing. The kitchen does have one electric hot plate and three burners that run on bottled gas. The fridge didn’t work. Cold water only ran into a tiny receptacle. We had very simple meals.

Lisa and Kate in living room
Girls in dining room

England 40 Years Ago — July 29, 1981

Royal Wedding Day in England! We didn’t see a bit of it, but found when we got back home that Thom had done a superb job of taping the whole thing for us. He had carefully planned the timing so that the major portion of the wedding itself is on one tape with other related bits collected on other tapes and meticulously labeled.

In Bergen we saw King Haakon’s Hall and went to an organ recital and service at the church where Grandpa Ellertsen had gone as a boy.

It was raining nearly all day long, but we kept going. We ate lunch at an outdoor museum of old Bergen and took the tour of the place with a German family. I liked the barber shop and dentist’s home. The waiting room for the dentist was his dining room, and the dental chair was in the living room. A great instrument of torture must have been the foot-powered drill.

The stave church felt as if it were at the top of a mountain – what a climb! It was a lovely little church.

John works with a woman in London whose niece was vacationing in Bergen. The girl, Trude, stayed with Lisa and Kate at our hotel while John and I ate at the Norsk Hotel. We had smoked salmon and a seafood casserole served in a shell with rice beside it.

The food was served so attractively all over Scandinavia; even simple sandwiches were beautiful. Cheese was swirled on bread, twists of lemon and cucumber topped things, and lettuce peeped out for a frill of green.

England 40 Years Ago — July 28, 1981

John’s distant cousin Bjarne met us at the door of the Institute in Bergen, handed the girls booklets about the aquarium, and we were off behind the scenes where the public cannot go. John, meanwhile, walked back to town to go to two shipping offices.

The girls thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the exhibits. They’ve not been to an aquarium before, and their enthusiasm showed. We saw all the fish from above the tanks, but the public looked at them at eye level and couldn’t see us. Bjorner brought us right by the seals and penguins outside just at feeding time. He answered my question about whether it matters to a penguin which way the fish goes into his mouth, and it seems the fish must always be swallowed head first! If the tail is nearer, they turn the fish around before gobbling it.

In the lobby was a very low tank with a rim that invited sitting. Bjarne explained that it was made big and low so that children could touch the fish! He picked up a cactus-type creature for us to touch.

Bjarne went back to work, and we girls went shopping. We bought trolls and a cheese knife. We looked at countless things and found them terribly expensive.

Edward Grieg’s house was simple, but pretty. Outside it was painted white with green trim.

John posed for a quick photo with Grieg’s piano as we took the tour.

John was dressed for going to shipping offices downtown.

We also saw the studio nearer the water where Grieg did most of his composing. He and his wife are buried in a tomb hewn out of rock about 15 feet above ground.

Lovely music was written here.

We met the three Ellertsens to eat at a restaurant in the oldest section of town.

Buildings of the Hanseatic League.

Kate chose biscuits and cheese; Lise ordered beef, John and I, whale. The whale was terrific – tender and tasty as beef with a very slight taste of seafood.

This is the photo that belongs here. We were with Hildur and Bernt, to have dinner in the old section of the city.