Images of Norway

I spent several weeks in Norway in the Spring of 2008. I was there primarily for a concert tour with a group of harp players. When not performing, rehearsing, or traveling to the next town, there was time for a bit of sightseeing -- not to mention some time after the concert tour when Jo and I did some sightseeing of our own. Jo kept a photo-enhanced blog of the trip as a whole.

This is a photo collection of odd things we saw, most of which didn't make it into Jo's blog. I took some of these and Jo took the rest, often at my instigation.

By the way, I highly recommend a trip to Norway. Among the many things recommending it, the country is beautiful and the people are very friendly. If you can't see everything, the hard part is figuring out just where to go.

In Norwegian, brann means "fire". The sign on the right means "firehose", even though the literal translation is "firesnake". Other fire words are brannmann (fireman), brannjef (firechief), and branndør (firedoor).

The Norwegian word for "fire extinguishers" is brannslukker. I first saw this word on a bus, when I wasn't wearing my glasses, and thought it said, "brainsucker". I thought it was really, really cool that Norwegians would not only keep brain suckers on a public bus, but that they'd also openly label the cabinet where the brain suckers were kept. I started plotting how I could sneak a peak to see what a brain sucker looked like. I was disappointed when I put on my glasses and saw what it actually said.

The white marking on this goat reminds me of the Uffington White Horse (which first came to my attention in Terry Pratchett's "Hat Full of Sky".) That would make the marking the essence of what it means to be a goat. It also reminds me of the petroglyph of the pregnant moose from Alta.

This moose head was on the wall at a small Williamsburgy museum in Telemark. His name is a Norwegian word that means "angry".

This is a tiny port village one of our ferries stopped at. I included this picture for the sake of some folks who might read this so they'd know what a "hella good port" looks like.

This is part of a gorgeous fountain in Oslo in a very small park beside the Oslo town hall. The fountain has carvings of lots of Norwegian-native animals. I love that the Oslonians have commemorated a polar bear chowing down on a reindeer head.

I included this picture because it's a great picture of Jo and I really like it. Nothing odd about the photo, I just like it.

This is a statue of a pirate or freebooter. It's in Oslo down at the harbor. I include it for the sake of the pirate fans among us.

Trolls are a big part of Norwegian folklore. They're also a big part of the tourist souvenir industry. The troll statue on the left was about three feet tall and somewhat the worse for wear. The picture on the right is looking down on the top of his head and shows that it's a lobotomized troll.

This sign was in front of a fast-food joint in Alta. A reliable source tells me the bottom line means "Tastes Like Beef." As she says, "With that advertising, it kinda makes you wonder what the food really is." I include it here because of the way it sounds if you say it out loud -- "Her servers smack 'er some beef." It just sounds wonderful.

This church is in Hovin, down in a valley. I was told by one of the residents that the church used to be up on the mountain at the top right of the picture. It was on the site of the "old church", a church of the Old Religion -- pre-Christian. When Christian church was built on that site, the local troll got so mad that he kicked the church bell out of the tower and it flew down to the site of the current church. Rather than haul the bell back up, the residents built the church where the bell landed.

I love this sign. I love the way the moose looks like he's trying to skulk around and sneak up on you. I love the thought of skulking moose.

The sign says "very big moose hazard".

This sign is used to tell you where not to drive your car or motorcycle. However, as Jo pointed out, it looks like it's telling you where you can't jump your motorcycle over cars.

These two signs show the linguistic and cultural similarities. I bet you can read and understand both. The one on the left is for a pizza delivery joint. The one on the right is for a Persian carpet store.

I don't know if this cross gravemarker is supposed to be sinking like this, but it was really eerie.

This is a bizarre sculpture in Stavanger. I understand what each element is, but I have no idea why they're combined like this. A parrot, a monkey, an anvil, a top hat. I really, really like this sculpture.

The picture on the left is a stave church, something that is unique to Norway. This is a fairly typical design. You can't see it very well, but there are grotesques projecting from a number of the peaks. They're usually dragons, but this particular church has something different. The picture on the right shows that it has laughing horses.

It has been brought to my attention that stave churches also occur in Russia. The high-quality digital photograph to the right shows a Russian stave church. Given the extreme difference in construction quality between the Norwegian stave church above and the Russian stave church to the right, it seems clear the Russian stave church is a completely different sort of entity, and therefore my statement of their uniqueness to Norway stands.

Note the distinct lack of laughing horses and fire-breathing dragons on the Russian stave church. Also, in this particular photo, the Russian-style onion domes are only represented by the bags of onions hanging in the church rafters.

Christopher Rowley wrote several SF horror books dealing with an alien race called the Vang. The Vang were really dreadful; they made the aliens from the Alien movies look like cuddly puppies. We passed this campground in the Vang municipality. Remembering the Rowley books, I was quite amused to think of the Vang coming to this nice pastoral location for a campout.

This sign tells you where to find a firehose.

Text copyright 2008 by Wayne Morrison, all rights reserved.
These photographs are all copyright 2008 by Jo Morrison ( and Wayne Morrison ( All rights reserved.

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