Sunday, June 29, 2008

Walking on Ice

It's sad that I was only able to blog daily for about a month, but there has been a reason for it. Matt and I have been busy painting one of the apartments, and it's beginning to look a lot nicer. It's amazing what a coat of paint will do for a room! So a lot of the last few days have been pretty much the same.
In preparation for my leaving, however, we have been doing a few different things. Yesterday we went with Dave and Liv Marit to a craft show in Jondal, northwest of us toward Bergen. We traveled up the IMG_1104.JPG West side of the fjord to Utne, and then took the single-lane, old road over and through the mountains to Jondal. It was pretty scary in some parts, especially as we had to pull off several times to let big buses and other cars going the other direction pass by. We stopped to look at some old rock pictures (petroglyphs) from the beginning of the Christian era, though probably made before Christianity arrived in Norway. We did our best to interpret whatever story might have been displayed there.
In Jondal we wandered around the craft show and looked at various IMG_1107.JPG handmade work - a lot of great woodcarving and fabrics, as well as jewelry and painting. It reminded me of various craft shows I'd been to in the US. I managed to find a good Norwegian cheese cutter (my Mom made me promise to bring one back, since they are some of the best cheese slicers in the world), and Matt got a wooden toy for his daughter.
There was also music to listen to on the bandstand - the Hardanger Big S7302576.JPG Band was a highlight. We ran into Lajla Storli as well, a local folk musician, who together with her folk musician husband John Ole Morken recorded with Ove and I last week. Lajla's main instrument is Hardanger Fiddle, a particular type of violin that has four under-strings strung below the regular strings, which are tuned as sympathetic strings and resonate when the top strings are played. It has a IMG_1040.JPG really unique sound, one instrument that I've never heard before - it sounds like a couple violins at once. BUT it also means it can only play in certain keys, because of the harmonic resonance of the under-strings. It was really neat to record them - John Ole's main instruments are the viola and violin, and he just completed an album of Norwegian folk tunes, which sounds quite good. Here's a picture of Lajla recording with us last week. Some great musicians around here.
Before we left Jondal to go back home, we decided to drive up the mountain to the glacier, Folgefonn. This is the glacier that sits between Jondal and Odda, and on the Jondal side they have a summer ski IMG_1141.JPG center on the glacier. We drove up to 1200 meters (on a road much smaller and more windy than the one between Utne and Jondal), right to the edge of the glacier, and stood on the frozen snow at the end of June. Pretty crazy stuff! Matt, having grown up in Florida, was excited to be on so much snow. It was a pretty incredible experience!

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