Original Blog Post on Switzerland can be found here.
Original Blog Post:
Gfrill and Villanders:
Hiking Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites:
Links to the original blog posts:
Tuscany and Florence:
Romeo and Juliet’s Balcony:
This is the video of our journey from Naples to Rome.
The link to the original blog post can be found here:
Naples, city of chaos:
All roads lead to Rome:
The most dangerous risk of all – The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.
We already parked at the Norwegian Folklore Museum on the museum island in Oslo last night, to be able to start our second day museum marathon as early as possible. Unfortunately the museum doesn’t open until 10am so we feel a little rushed as we have planned up to 4 museums for today.
I didn’t really know what to expect before entering the museum. I thought we might see some traditional Norwegian clothes and furniture but just like yesterday my expectations are being exceeded by far! Not just the content but the sheer size of it! You can easily spend all day here, it is more like a museums village!
We randomly start at the children’s section. Various toys are displayed here cutting right through Norwegian history. I personally remember most of these toys myself, as I grew up in Germany, not far from Norway.
The next section is an exhibition showing some features of daily life in Sami communities with emphasis on hunting, fishing and farming, as well as reindeer pastoralism.
Some facts about the Sami:
The Sami live in four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
The state of Norway was founded on the territory of two peoples: The Norwegian and the Sami.
There may be around 70.000 Sami, about 40.000 live in Norway.
Sami languages belong to the Ural-Altaic family of languages, like Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian, whereas Norwegian belongs to the Indo-European languages like English, German and Russian.
Norway has recognised the Sami as an indigenous people. The Sami had come to Norway long after the ancestors of the Norwegians.
The answer to the question of where the Sami come from, can only be speculated. Sami identity has probably evolved gradually over a long time span in the areas where the Sami have lived in historical times. The Finno-Ugric language heritage certainly suggests that they had slowly migrated from the east or south-east.
A large costume collection reflects the diversity of Sami culture. While the exhibition doesn’t attempt to tell the history of the Sami, some important historical events have been included, such as the carving up of the Samiland between the states or the devastation of the Second World War. A new part made in 2007 also describes recent development in politics, culture and society.
Before radios came into common use, many Sami children hardly knew a word of Norwegian when they started school. In the schools only Norwegian language was to be used. Many Sami children spent years before they could understand what the teacher said. From the 1950s Sami language was gradually introduced in some schools. Lack of textbooks and skilled teachers remained a hindrance for the use of Sami language in schools.
Originally hunting and gathering was the way of living for the Sami people. They moved in a yearly cycle between various dwelling-sites according to what resources were available in the different seasons.
In spring they would fish for cod in the fjord, gather eggs and down of seabirds.
In summer they fished for salmon in the river, gathered berries and cut shoe-grass.
In autumn they hunted wild reindeer and fowl and fished in rivers and lakes.
In winter they trapped fur animals and grouse, and went ice fishing on frozen lakes.
Until the second World War they lived in turf and wooden huts or in tents. Annual markets were important events to sell hides and furs, meat and fish for money or in exchange for goods such as flour, sugar, salt, cloth and utensils. Market days were also occasions to meet friends and to exchange news.
Events from outside changed life of the East Sami. In 1826 their land was divided between Norway and Russia, which then included Finland. The Neiden Sami became Norwegian citizens but their autumn and winter sites had become Finnish territory. Norwegian and Finnish colonists moved in and the population grew. The Sami became a small and almost invisible minority.
Further east too, things went bad for the Sami. In the Soviet Union they were forced to move from their old areas. During the wars between Finland and the Soviet Union 1939-1944, the core areas of the East Sami became a battleground and Finland had to cede them to the Soviet Union. The Sami had to flee. An ancient way of living came to an end.
Today the Sami are torn between two worlds. Many have moved to the bigger cities and some have consciously put their Sami history behind them, as they have painful memories of the times when Sami identity was looked down upon and ridiculed. There are several thousand Sami living in Oslo today but only few choose Sami education for their children. Others still show their Sami background by wearing traditional Sami costumes on feast days and there is also a Sami house in Oslo (Akersgata 34) where Sami and those who are interested in Sami culture can drop by for a cup coffee and a chat on Saturdays.
We continue on to the outside area of the museum. Here you can try and catch a wooden reindeer with a lasso and have a look at Sami huts and tents.
Now we realise that the museum has built a whole village with replicas of houses, sheds, gardens and farms including animals such as horses, pigs, cows, sheep and chicken. The village is sectioned into Norwegian areas such as the Telemark, Ostland or the Hallingdal valley and cover a time span between the 16th and 20th century.
Inside the old wooden houses there is no electricity and the small windows only let little light inside.
The more modern farm houses and shops in the Ostland had electricity. The first lightbulb in Norway was lit in Fredrikstad, Ostfold in 1897.
The Stave Church in the museum village was originally built in Gol in 1200 and relocated here in 1884:
In the next part of the museum, we take a journey through the rooms of the 19th century upper class Norwegian family:
The museum also shows a collection of Norwegian folk art up to the middle of the 1800s, when the tradition was strong and vibrant.
It was in around 1870, when the decorated articles farmers used in their everyday lives, began to be identified as “art”. The exuberant decoration – colourful rosemaling, robust wood carving and richly detailed woven textiles – was given the name “folk art”. This was a new concept along with folk poetry and folk music and was useful in building a cultural identity for the new nation.
The exhibition also displays work from the period of 1850 to 1920, which in many ways represented a break in tradition and reflects trends that are still apparent today.
In the last part of the exhibition we get to see a photo collection of some Norwegian traditional folklore costumes:
After three hours in the Norwegian Folklore Museum, we rush to the next museum, only to realise days after, that we still have missed parts of the museum. As I already mentioned, you can easily spend a whole day here, exploring most, if not all, aspects of Norwegian life since 1500.
Without the Oslo Pass, this museum is 100NOK.
We just woke up to the sound of birds and the wind blowing through the trees… and a big bull (!) standing in front of our van.
The forest is inviting us for a pleasant stroll, or in Logan’s terms: a power hike into the woods. I discover many unique ancient trees, beautiful flowers in yellow, purple and white and also red berries. I’m taking my time to film and gaze at everything while Logan is impatiently waiting 50 meters in front of me.
After an hours walk, we decide to backtrack where we came from, as we have no idea where the path will be leading us. Back on the road, we are heading south towards Bari and then Monopoli. Finding a petrol station in Italy is not easy! If you assume that petrol stations are on the highway: Not in Italy! Every so often you will find a sign saying: 350m petrol station. You ask yourself: 350m TO the petrol station or to the exit to the petrol station. The next exit, maybe 200m from the sign, hasn’t got any other sign. Can’t be this exit then, right? And then you see it from the distance. Well exit missed. Surely we can take the next exit and drive back? No, that’s not possible because you can get off the highway but not back on. Meanwhile you waste the last drops of your petrol. Half an hour later we finally find a petrol station and are being waved right back out of it. “Closed” even though the sign says: “open”. A few hundred meters later we finally find an open petrol station and fill up our thirsty Globetrotter. Just before Monopoli we find a nice spot with a cliff down to the sea and an inlet. After Logan went for a run, he jumped into the refreshing (freezing!) cold water. Unfortunately we have run out of water and also need to do our dishes in the sea. That made for a salty aftertaste. Oh well.
We are getting our push bikes ready to discover Manfredonia today. First we are riding along the (polluted – for Australian standards) beach and then head into the city. The cliffs in the background look interesting to us and we are planning on driving up there after some sightseeing in Manfred.
Most of the city’s buildings are white and joint to each other with balconies. The streets are small but since it’s Sunday, everyone is out on the streets and walking into the cathedral.
We are riding back to our van and then make our way to the Gargano National Park (the home of Gargamel – I’m kidding!). To get there we have to drive very high up over the
cliff and mountains on which Monte Sant’ Angelo is situated. The views are impressive but we keep going further inland, into the National Park, where we find ourselves a beautiful little spot in the ancient forest, covered with a green canopy.
Another shower experience! This time it’s different, so I feel like sharing this fun story once again! The shower at Azzurro Lido needs tokens to work. My first mission is to find the owner. Equipped with a towel and my toiletry bag, I search for Mr. Azzurro Lido all over the campsite, including the house, when all of the sudden the alarm goes off. I’m sure that at least now he’ll turn up somewhere. But he doesn’t! I then see some smoke trailing behind an old caravan and find him and his wife cooking a BBQ. His wife is getting a token out of the house and exchanges it with me for 2Euros. I assume that the time is limited, so I get undressed first, before inserting the token. Then I pop in the token and quickly get my hair wet under the still cold water (don’t want to waste time). All of the sudden the water gets boiling hot and there is no way of changing the temperature as there is no tab. I step aside from the water and quickly get shampoo in my hair and over my body. The boiling hot water burns my feet and I force myself to at least quickly rinse the foam out of my hair. The moment I step under the water, the water flow stops! WHAT IS THAT? A 30 SECOND SHOWER??? I’m full of shampoo foam everywhere, including my eyes! Half blind I reach outside, hoping the token may have come out – no luck! My eyes burn and I’m so frustrated, a few tears are flowing. I paid 2 Euros for this shower and would have been better off washing myself with a hose! Well all the frustration doesn’t help, so I walk over to the tab which is for cleaning your feet and squeeze underneath to rinse the shampoo out of my hair and then splash it over me, to rinse myself too. Lucky there is only a few people on the beach, quite far away, not knowing I’m half naked and blind.
When I tell Logan about my lovely experience, he is laughing. He had the same experience yesterday but he was given two tokens for 2 Euros and he didn’t wash his hair.
All batteries charged up we leave Azzurro Lido and drive through Pischici. The very steep and tight streets make it hard not to damage our Globetrotter. At times, I have to get out and guide Logan through between cars and walls, only having 1-2cm on each side!!! At one point we realise all our fresh water is running out of the pipe. Just out of nothing! Oh no! What did we damage now?? We find out, it’s only a valve that needed to be turned back and everything was closed again. Phew!
We soon keep going and choose to stop along the coast at a few lookouts. The dramatic cliffs and small coves are picture-perfect!
The road leads us to Manfredonia. The architecture shows signs of Greek influences, probably because the city was settled by the Greeks in ancient times. We only drive through once and then go grocery shopping in a nice shopping centre, before finding ourselves a car park next to a small takeaway bar.
Logan got motivated and is having a bottle of vodka tonight and soon is feeling social again, talking to some strange characters at the take-away bar next to our van. “Oh no”, I’m thinking. I hear him talking about our travels and I really hope the person he is talking to, and the two dodgy looking Italians behind him, are good people, since we are planning on staying the night and next day here and I wouldn’t appreciate any visitors or people stealing things from our van.
While I’m having a shower (this time it’s warm!), Logan is trying to prepare the van. When I come back he tells me what just had happened: When he disposed the toilet contents into the drain, it splashed back onto his hands. Hahahaha!
At 11am we are being picked up by three Italians: Toni, Guido and his girlfriend, none of them speaking English. Since Logan was talking about a four-wheel drive adventure, we expected a 4WD but instead they arrive in a black Golf IV. They take us up to Scanno where we are supposed to leave our Globetrotter and then jump into the car with them. We have no idea where we are going; we can’t even ask them because they don’t understand us and I really don’t like this.
Toni drives into a little yard and there is the 4WD – an old Defender. We swap cars and with Toni and Guido in the front and Logan, Guido’s girlfriend and myself in the back. There are no seats, only two metal side benches and a spare tire in the middle.
Once we got onto the 4WD track I start to enjoy the crazy ride, while Guido’s girlfriend seems to get greener in her face. With the cliff dropping hundreds of meters next to us, we drive up a rocky gravel road for about half an hour. While we get higher and higher up the mountain, the views get better and better. Still not knowing where exactly we are going, we arrive at a mountain hut in a place called Jovanna. It is Toni’s home. The hut is built with natural rock and cement and has a big wooden door. Inside he’s got a dining table with chairs on a cold stone floor and a big fireplace above which is a bull’s skull with boots hung up on the horns. There’s also a wheel barrow inside filled with wood. In the corner I discover a large jug filled up to the top with cork from whine bottles. The same moment Guido pours us a glass of red whine, supposedly the best red whine in all of Italy. We sit down in front of the fire trying to warm up. Meanwhile Toni and Guido’s girlfriend disappear upstairs and prepare our spaghetti.
Guido, Logan and I go to pick up some fresh cheese from the neighbour. He’s digging in the sand with a tractor when we arrive and jumps out with a big smile to greet us. Back at Toni’s house, we cut up some fresh bread and put the cheese on top. How very delicious!
For lunch we are going upstairs into Toni’s kitchen and are being served with some great pasta and real Italian tomato sauce. It is amazing how basic everything is. There is no electricity in the house at all. No computer, no TV, no telephone, no kitchen appliances. The pasta was cooked on a wood fired stove. Toni calls himself “lupus solitare”, the solitary wolf and Guido calls him “The mountain man”. I’m amazed about what a happy go lucky person he is. He keeps talking on in Italian and doesn’t care if we don’t understand.
After lunch, we head over to Toni’s only two neighbours: The farmer we just got the cheese from, and his father just up the hill. The old man has about 12 sheep dogs, two of them being puppies, goats, a little (big! And curious!!!) fawn, ducks and lambs. Again everything is very basic and somewhat impressive to Westerners like us. The old man shows us deer skulls hanging up on a tree which were killed by wolves when they were trapped in deep snow. Apparently deer find it hard to travel quickly in deep snow, whereas wolves are very quick and agile in snow.
We walk back down the hill to the son, who is about Logan’s age I’d say and are given some home made radish liquor. The ranger also drops by and we are all having a “chat”, with us guessing words and using hands and feet for communication. We find out that Toni is 39 and Guido 40 years old. I suppose I’m feeling more comfortable by now and enjoy learning some Italian. He tells us that his house is actually a restaurant and guesthouse for hikers, who are mostly German, Austrian and Swiss. But since it’s only April, the season hasn’t started yet. I think Logan loves it that much, he’d like to live here for a while and he asks if they got employees for the season. He responds that his mother does the cooking and his brother is the builder and helps out as a waiter. It is a lovely place and we keep seeing animals around, still hoping for a wolf or a bear to turn up.
Toni suggests we should go for a “real” four-wheel drive now! So we all hop back into the Defender and ride through the deepest mud a 4WD could possibly get through. I have no words for describing the next hour of driving but I don’t think it get’s any more “off-road” that this!!! Logan, who is experienced in 4WD-ing in sand, is astonished how we keep getting through mud, water, rocks, grass and dirt. Holding on with two hands, both feet and still filming this amazing ride, is hard work, but we manage to get some footage and will upload it onto YouTube as soon, as we get internet here in Italy!
With the Defender covered in mud to the top, we stop by a nice restaurant near Scanno. Again, we are out of season and no one is here. Since the locals know each other we all get a free beer and crackers while having an Italian gobbledygook chat. The owner shows us video footage of wolves he’s filmed right outside of the restaurant and Guido shows us a video on YouTube of bears roaming through the centre of Scanno.
Guido says: “We go back now to Toni’s house for more spaghetti.” I look at Logan, slightly surprised and think, well, even though I’ve enjoyed the day so far, I would like to go home soon. I don’t want to be rude, so we are going back with them for dinner. Back at Toni’s house, we come to realisation what it is like not to have electricity and lights. All we got is fire for light and warmth.
We are being served spaghetti with olive oil and garlic and a few more wines. Time passes by and soon it’s 10pm. I really feel like going home and I also wonder how much Toni has been drinking. Surely, he’d be sober still?!
Logan says: “Maybe we are staying the night?!” I hope he is joking…!!!
Finally we are heading back. I think. But when getting to Scanno, we suddenly stop at a pub. I give Logan signs in all possible ways, without being rude, but he doesn’t get it and we are going inside, all of the boys having another drink. Logan wants to show them how much we appreciate their hospitality, by shouting them a Jagermeister shot. I thought it was nice of him but on the other hand I’m getting concerned about Toni’s driving skills.
Finally we are back in the car with Toni and Guido. First we drop off Guido somewhere near the lake and then drive back to Scanno. Toni then tells us, that he hasn’t got a driver’s license, nor is his car registered. When a police car appears in front of us, he throws up both his arms in the air, shouting: Polizia!!!
Great, I’m thinking. A few minutes later, we arrive back at the yard to swap cars. Back in the Golf IV, we are driving backwards.. against a big rock! Logan and I look at each other shocked. Toni instead says: Tranquilo, Tranquilo! (stay calm) He gives it another try, this time past the rock and with quite some momentum against the concrete wall! He just demolished his car! Toni keeps saying: Tranquilo, tranquilo! I’m hoping we make it back to our Campervan without any more incidents. Suddenly we stop: at the pub again. Logan doesn’t want to be rude but I’ve had enough. “Toni, Campervan! NOW!” He says: “Ora?” I assume it means “now” and say “yes!”. Then Guido walks up to the car and we say good bye to each other and thank you for the lovely day and hospitability. Finally Toni takes us back to the Campervan and I’m just relieved we are back safe and sound.