Sunday, June 05, 2005

Asking Advice, Kissing the Frog

June 1, Oslo

In “Journeys for Mind, Body and Spirit” (www.stolaf.edu/cll; click Study Travel), I wrote about ways to get the most out of travel, including using personal contacts and asking local people’s advice. That paid off in Oslo. After the seminar by Per Egil Hegge, professors Solveig Zempel and Dan Dressen were off to meet a Norwegian couple for lunch. They invited me along.

When we asked the Norwegians for a recommendation, they chose a restaurant I’d walked by and rejected numerous times because it looks like a tourist trap done up to seem old and authentic. In fact, it IS old and authentic, and we shared a lovely meal of traditional smørbrød in the sunny outdoor courtyard.

The husband is a musicologist who specializes in jazz and composition at the University of Tromsø. His wife just completed her doctorate in pedagogy. They’d flown in to hear the band, choir and orchestra in Oslo. We talked about music, education, travel, life and the St. Olaf students who will study at the University of Tromsønext year.

Kiss What?
We accepted their invitation to tag along to the Kyss Frosken (Kiss the Frog) exhibit at the National Gallery, something else we would have missed without a local recommendation.

The “frog” is a winding, green plastic tube that fills the back courtyard of the National Gallery. It’s as contemporary as the gallery building is traditional.

The exhibits in the frog are intriguing: edgy videos, a spooky diorama of crows, a giant papier-maché frog. The Super Loo’s at the entrance made me smile: one each in French red, white and blue. A sign topped each one: Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité. Public toilets as ironic art?

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