The first night we arrived in Oslo, we were beyond exhausted. It had taken us nearly 24 hours to travel to our final destination in Norway; aboard two planes, a car, a bus, a train, a streetcar, and our own two feet; and upon very little sleep. Our hosts in Oslo were delightful, and I was tickled pink with their super friendly cat, Sputnik.
They happened to be having a graduation party that evening, and they graciously invited us to join. However, as the room filled with strangers, our energy waned, and Aaron and I made a polite escape to seek quieter ground for a while.
Not far from their home, we discovered the impressive Vigeland Park.
At first, we saw only a massive stretch of green lawn, and we were drawn in by the pungent smell of burning coals. This led us to a space buzzing with people. Couples wandered along the expansive path; groups of adolescents sat laughing on stretched-out blankets, a joyful tune emanating from their portable speakers and a beer in their hands.
And they all tended to meats resting atop a tin roasting pan full of coals – a little portable grill! They were everywhere!
I was surprised by how many people were out. Sure, it was Friday night, but it was also nearly 10pm. However, in good, northern-latitude fashion, the sun still had several hours yet in the sky.
As we ventured deeper into Vigeland Park, we reached a broad bridge sporting dozens of sculptures on either side.
The first thing I noticed was the sculptures were all unabashedly nude – men, women, children, all completely out in the open. But as I observed the artwork, I was taken aback by the simple beauty of the scenes depicted.
Children played; lovers embraced; families shared in the sheer joy of life. This guy did whatever the heck he’s doing with these babies….
And while they were all in their birthday suits, not a single one gave even the slightest hint at anything sexual or untoward. They were all simply and beautifully comfortable in their most natural forms. It was truly remarkable to behold.
Next, the monolith beacon – the centerpiece of the park – beckoned us forward. Details emerged as we drew closer, revealing hundreds of figures comprising the tower. It was beautiful in the evening light. More ensconced interactions surrounded the dais – intimate moments that bespoke of utter love and respect.
Statues were everywhere. And they contributed to Vigeland Park’s theme of joyful life. We saw fountains and flowers as well, but these statues were what really stuck with me.
The Light Pillar
Ultimately, it was time to leave. Seriously, how were we still awake?? As we finally made our way out of the park – beyond wrought-iron gates – we glanced backwards to witness an odd column of light in the sky. I had never seen anything like it!
Of course, pictures don’t do it justice, but you know I still had to try. Afterwards, I had to look it up. These are evidently called “light pillars,” and they occur when light is refracted off of ice crystals in the sky. I can understand how this might be a more common phenomenon in a generally cooler climate such as Norway. I found it mesmerizing, and it was the perfect end to our crazy day.
We returned to our hosts and promptly fell asleep – despite the still-raging party – hoping to recover some energy to hit the ground running the next day. I’m glad we got out for a little bit. Despite the lack of sleep, it was fun to explore the city and this remarkable park!