Fjord country

Balestrand, Norway

The Vikings had nowhere to turn but the sea.

Their home, the ragged west coast of Norway with its deep fjords, sheer cliffs, and countless islands, is unsuitable for farming.

And so, the Norsemen developed newfangled longships and sophisticated navigation techniques.

These advancements enabled them to expand and dominate their world. They raided and colonized northwestern Europe, including parts of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Iceland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Russia, and Newfoundland in North America.

Over the centuries, their influence waned as other empires rose. Today, the Kingdom of Norway is slightly larger than New Mexico with a population of over five million.

Again, however, the sea has provided Norway with a pathway to wealth.

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Free Norway

Constitution Day, Oslo
Constitution Day
In the skies above London
In the African desert
In the ruins of Stalingrad
And on the Normandy beaches
Norway was given back to us.

Norwegian Resistance Museum

In Oslo, most of the guests in the hotel’s breakfast room were wearing traditional costumes.

The women wore puffy white blouses, long embroidered skirts, and vests or shawls; the men waistcoats, knickers, and stockings. They were pinned with red, white, and blue ribbons and many carried small flags.

May 17 in Norway is somewhat like our Fourth of July, minus the fireworks. I said, “Happy Constitution Day!” to the server.

“We say ‘Happy Birthday!'” she said. “Today is Norway’s birthday.”

I walked up Karl Johans Gate, Oslo’s main street that runs from the train station to the Royal Palace. Along the way, marching bands entertained the crowd. Young folk dancers took turns spinning and leaping high in the air to kick a hat from the top of a pole.

Two horses pulled a wagon loaded with birch branches up the street. In Scandinavia, birch symbolizes adaptability, as it can survive harsh conditions.

Just like the Norwegians.

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