Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Back from the Baltic

Tere! Returning from a nice and eventful week in Estonia, here's a retrospective travelogue. Üks, kaks, kolm - let's go!

Sunday 20 July: Arriving at Tallinn and checking in at my hotel, in the heart of the mediaeval Old Town Vanalinn (and with 60 tv channels...). I spend my afternoon strolling along the city walls and admiring towers and churches in the Olde Hansa town.

Monday 21 July: Outing with Estonian colleague Tiina and her family (on a day trip to Tallinn) to the city's huge zoo.

Tuesday 22 July: Sightseeing to Kadriorg Park and the song festival area, plus my own backyard, the Old Town. In the afternoon I move on to the spa town of Pärnu, where Tiina and her spouse offer a little city walk to wooden villas, a sculpture boulevard and the beach promenade.

Wednesday 23 July: Swimming and sunbathing by Pärnu's white beaches, followed by a visit to a refreshing spa/sauna, one of the town's specialities.

Thursday 24 July: Return to Tallinn. In the afternoon a walk in the imperial Kadriorg Park and along Pirita harbour. Then leave-taking dinner by the Old Town's Raekoja plats (Town Hall Square).

Friday 25 July: Spending the morning in the brand new Estonian Art Museum KUMU, with treasures primarily from the country's 90 years as an independent nation. Then the afternoon flight back to Oslo, with lots of new impressions and memories in my luggage.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Destination Estonia

Although my summer holiday already has lasted for a month, I still haven't crossed the city limits. As long as Oslo's weather gods are in a good mood, that's quite ok. But now I'm starting to get a little restless, and fortunately I have one - nay, two - trips to look forward to. Tomorrow I'm off to the Baltic and a neighbour it's about time to pay a visit: Estonia. And yesterday I also booked a trip to the gods' and philosophers' Greece, where I'll spend the first week in August. I bet both trips will be quite exciting. In order to really prepare myself, I've even purchased an ultramodern suitcase in polycarbonate (whatever that is), equipped with the hottest suitcase technology. Despite a hint of travel fever at the moment, I'm sure I'll be both excited and expectant when flight DY1062 for Tallinn takes off tomorrow morning.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Confessions of a Former Promising Young Man

One of summer holiday's advantages is the chance to break with your regular routines. You get more time to read, meet up with friends, and generally idle about (an activity not to be scorned!). This weekend one of my improvised city strolls brought me to a part of town I've hardly been since my first year at university. Such an experience may literally be a trip down memory lane! Suddenly you remember what it was like being a green student, fascinated by this new, stimulating opportunity to broaden your horizon. Call it youthful naivety, or maybe rather an immaculate receptivity to new impulses. You recollect your first good female friend at university (whom you also fancied a bit), the study tour to England (where, in retrospect, even the horrible campus meals have a hint of idyll), the bittersweet, inspired ballads you would plunk on your guitar, and not least the social activities, which at that time were more than just the odd cup of coffee in the break.

The rest of the day I tried to keep this rediscovered sense of curiosity and thirst for knowledge, from a time before the Internet and mobile phones, when every second radio hit wasn't a hip hop tune, and Norway still hadn't become a nation of spoilt whingers. Sometimes it can be useful to be confronted with the one you once were, a reminder of not getting too staid and sedate and stuck in your everyday routines. At the same time I suspect that in twenty years' time I might look back at 2008 with a similar kind of nostalgia...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

This Is Pop!

And now music. I really have to recommend the book This Is Uncool, in which the British musical journalist Garry Mulholland presents his personal, chronological list of "The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk and Disco", including well-written, humorous and insightful essays about every single (!) song. Not least impressive is the musical breadth; on the first pages you'll find bands like Sex Pistols, ABBA and Kraftwerk side by side. Unfortunately, my musical taste isn't quite as broad-minded as Mr Mulholland's, so I may have a slightly more tepid attitude towards some of the genres covered in the book (such as hip hop and disco). But when most other musical styles are concerned, I just have to say that Garry is my man! Several of the tunes and artists he selects are definitely also among my all time favourites.

I also find it quite indicative that Mulholland starts his chronological list in punk's "Year Zero", 1976. Although this was several years before my own musical awakening, I still feel this was the start of the musical generation I too primarily identify with. Exit Pink Floyd. Enter Clash.
Post-Punk Pat

Friday, 4 July 2008

Summerland 1968-2008

We're entering my 41st summer, a season that has always generated my best memories. This week Oslo has been blessed with lovely summery weather, and I've just returned from a trip to the islands. Sun, beaches and salty sea stimulate all the senses: The fragrance of seaweed. The sound of screaming seagulls. The sight of the sun glimmering in the waves. The sensation of flood waters enveloping your body. The taste of salt on your lips. All these sensual impressions bring back memories of the summers of my childhood: The fresh fragrance of flagstones after a rainy night. Walking down to the village to collect the mail and buy ice cream. Coffee and cinnamon rolls by the cottage wall. Hiking through the woods to the world's bestest beach. Back at the cottage, slightly tired from sun and sea air, enjoying a hot pea soup. Then rowing out in the evening to fish whiting, cod and flounder. And then, as darkness is falling, playing eights on the veranda while lighthouses blink drowsily in the skerries...