Revisiting Paris – or how I almost wore out my hiking boots over the course of a weekend

Joking aside, when your 50/50 French/Norwegian cousin invites you along to the city of cities, you should be prepared (mentally and physically ofc) to see and experience as much as humanly possible, within the given time frame. Oh yeah! 😀

We, the marathon team, can be seen below, eager to begin!

We arrived late at night (from the airport) in the apartment belonging to Johanna’s family, situated right in the middle of ‘everything’! What a luxury! Here is a photo of the backyard:

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Early next morning, (or, pretty late if you were to ask the other two, lol), we went out and got ourselves some fresh croissants (and my favourite, pain au chocolat) from a local bakery. Note: Breakfasts doesn’t get any better than this. Really.

Warning #1: Quite a lot of architectural photos were taken on this trip, and consequently, the subset of images shown here, maintains that same proportionality. Sorry?

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Warning #2: A new reader of this blog – if such a person exists – might think that we quite recently visited Paris. No, – no no no. This was 2 years ago, which, by the standards of this blog, is quite recent. What I am trying to say is: the level of detail describing the whereabouts of this trip, encompassed in the bank of memories called “my brain” has shrunk somewhat. Fear not, any memory of activities related to “food” and/or “eating” are still vividly alive.

Another thing I distinctly recall is a visit to the Jewish Quarter (Rue des Rosiers, as can be seen on the street sign below). Johanna, our lovely, local tour guide and travel companion, gave us an excellent tour of the area; the narrow streets, the small shops and best of all, the bottom left corner of the collage below:

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B-e-a-utiful!

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Later that day, or maybe it was the next day. Who knows, maybe this happened previous to the visit to the Jewish Quarter, the point is, I can’t remember lol…

…anyways, we had a nice break from sightseeing on foot by jumping onboard one of the “tourist ferries” going up and down the River Seine (never underestimate the joy of stretching your legs!). From there this view presented itself:

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We got to know the Paris Opera (fr: OpĂ©ra de Paris), at least from the outside – absolutely beautiful of courrrrse. (Yeah, btw, that’s right – the one below spelling “Academie Nationale de Musique”, haha, quick fun-fact: after looking at its Wikipedia-article, it became clear that this place has changed its name more times than you can count!)

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…and again, from afar:

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Next morning, clear blue skies with the moon peeking out from behind Notre-Dame (might need to enlarge the image to see it)

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We boarded an early train to Versailles to avoid spending hours waiting in line at the entrance. We then went on to spending hours in line at the entrance. Also, on a side note, good thing a whole bus load of tourists didn’t cut in front of us, even getting the guards to side with them. Good thing…yeah

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Not much needs to be said about the garden(s) around/behind Versailles – sumptuous! …and large, over 800 hectares (8 kmÂČ), filled with sculptures, pathways, fountains and tourists: around 4 million each year come visit.

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A hyperlapse-video of a walk around the “Mirror Pool” can be seen below. The video was captured on a phone which unfortunately resulted in it being very shaky – and kind of unwatchable… luckily, modern video software has excellent stabilization filters built-in. For your entertainment – to see just how shaky the video really is, I have left the video uncropped:

 

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We lost track of time in the huge labyrinth-like garden, but still managed to sneak into Versailles right before close. This gave us a completely new view of the palace – suddenly the dense crowds were gone, and all we could see in the mercury mirrors were ourselves. What a stunning view both inside and outside (the palace, that is – well, us too lol)!

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Later that day we went to the well-known restaurant, La Coupole, that has served traditional French food since 1927! A walk back in time…

As the sun went down, we strolled through the streets of Paris, enjoying a mild breeze and pleasant summer temperatures.

This one guy also stayed up this night:

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Next day – woke up with sun burns 😩 Meh! That’s what you get for staying out all day…

We went to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a varied park with POIs like a large cave, kilometers of pathways, cherry trees and a temple on top of a cliff – surrounded by a lake. From the summit you can see all the way to SacrĂ©-CƓur:

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But Paris has more to offer than just, “pfft Versailles” and its large, lush parks… it has the most interesting waterways leading right into the hearth of the city.

But first, a photo of this smiling guy standing in front of some mildly disturbing graffiti:

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Canal Saint-Martin, ordered built by NapolĂ©on himself in 1802, is a fascinating sight with its locks that are still in use. I might even have a timelapse with a retro-twist to show later…

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As promised – video!

And now, rain. Lots of it. I loved it, my two companions, not so much… haha

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…I mean, I have seen her happier than this:

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We ran home, then used the (warm) shower as a means of resuscitation…

That same evening, we went to an intimate concert at Sainte-Chapelle. This was a wonderful experience and something I’d highly recommend if you ever have the opportunity! Saint-Chapelle is in my opinion the prettiest Gothic-style chapel in Paris; simply a must-view:

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More evidence of just how picturesque Paris is, ensues:

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Marit et moi, vis-Ă -vis de Notre-Dame:

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The picture above, (and below), is from a close-to 5 km long, partly elevated walkway known as Promenade plantée  or Coulée verte René-Dumont that was built on a railway that no longer were in use. It starts off at the Bastille.
A birds-eye view of the walkway can be seen here (link to The Guardian) – I even think the apartment building is the same one as above(!).

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When in Paris, do stupid stuff in front of the Eiffel tower. This is the law.

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I don’t even…

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On a more serious note, let’s end this blog post with the most well-known landmark in the world, – and without me. Paris, we love you! …and we will most surely return.

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Oh look, more Eiffel tower AND the French flag! Woah! Thought this blog post were finished already??

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This just doesn’t end.

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Oh well, it did. SO LONG, have a delightful summer!

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Backpacking through Myanmar [part 2 of 3]

Allow me to quickly pick up where I left off:

We rented bikes the following morning, and went out at the crack of dawn.

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After the marked, we headed out of the inner city and cruised by at least 5-10 (plus/minus 50) temples. (We even set foot in some of them – surprise, surprise!). Soon, we departed from our luxurious asphalt and let a dirt road show us the way to the countryside and the people living out their (calm?) lives there.

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As always (well, maybe), I asked for her permission to take a shot. She looked up, tilted her head to the side and it was clear she did not understand why on earth I would approach her, let alone talk to her while she did the laundry. So I pointed at my camera, we exchanged a smile and I called it an agreement.

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This little boy lived right across the slow-paced river and I guess he tried to figure out what we all where doing there. I cracked a smile, he didn’t, we left. Notice to self: I have to stop smiling awkwardly to everyone we meet. However, JĂžrgen clearly knows more than me about how to get people to smile back at him. To support this claim, I have a ton of evidence, like this one (and the next):

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All in all, we biked for nearly 20 kilometres that day. That called for taking the rest of the day off (you know, having a mini-vacation while busy “vacation-ing”). To accommodate this need, we found a splendid restaurant with a fantastic view of the river Irrawaddy. As the sun set, the sky went through a broad spectrum of warm colors, – and we, a broad spectrum of food. Delicious food.

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From Mandalay, we went south to Bagan by bus. The driver was, to put it mildly, an aggressive man when it came to honking, overtaking – AND – honking while overtaking (and, I kid you not, overtaking while honking). More times than I could count, vehicles in the opposite lane had to come to a complete stop because WE SURE AS HELL WASN’T GOING TO! His horn conveyed an important message, I’M BIGGER THAN YOU; HERE I COME, AND – THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. Jeez. BEEEP-de-BAAP-dii-BOOOP. No sleep for you, mister.

Our hotel was really nice, situated close to “Old Bagan”. It was not the first (nor the last) to proclaim free wifi access. However, as it turned out, the router, was not in any way connected to the internet (as a rule of thumb, this is always the case in Myanmar). A-okey though; we weren’t there to browse the web, but to explore, climb and wander through the semi-dessert, which was filled-to-the-brim with temples of all sizes.

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With (the superbly manly) means of transportation – an electrical scooter (that maxed out at 15-20 km/h), we tumbled into the wilderness head first. Among the many (monstrously) dangerous challenges we faced, perhaps JĂžrgen getting his front wheel stuck, spinning erratic in the sand, stood out as the most perilous. Or maybe when his battery pack started to decay… and we barely made it out alive… (#Picturesbelowunrelated #notreally)

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We came across a vantage point, a tower (kinda easy to spot). After 2000 steps or so, (just kidding, elevator #privilege) we experienced an amazing view. As can be seen in numerous pictures below, the landscape was mesmerizing, especially the way it slowly faded into the all-surrounding white haze.

We found some 10-20 Buddhist monks sleeping / relaxing at the top of the tower, in the shade. They found us interesting to look at, but not quite interesting enough to talk to 😛 

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Temples are excellent places to take a nap during the hottest part of the day. The 1-4 meter thick stone walls makes it nice and cool inside.

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After 3 days in Bagan, we returned to the road with destination Inle Lake. Time estimate: ~9-10 hours. It took 8 hours. How? They had calculated an average of at least one tire change. Real analysis folks.

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The mandatory suicide of one of the tires – to keep us on schedule – happened in the middle of absolutely nowhere. However, we had no problem with taking a break from the bus, and went out for a short stroll to stretch our legs and more importantly, empty our fluid containers.

3 Burmese men, patiently waiting:

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The next morning, we had a date with the at-most-3-meters-deep Inle Lake, a nice wooden boat – and a lovely, yet way to fancy dressed tour guide. She had by far the best English accent to date.

The morning mist made the first few hours on the lake magical. The water seemed to continue on and on, infinitely far in all directions. The two images below bring back some of that floaty feeling for me. Ah, what is better than a state-funded, culture-preserving fisherman-actor, showing off “the old ways” to the tourists, so that you, i.e. me, can snap a picture of him and his ancient, ineffective fish catching technique? Absolutely love it!

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Especially this one:

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Until next time, so long and thanks for all the fish!

Backpacking through Myanmar [part 1 of 3]

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I’ll give you 5 seconds to answer: What is the very first thing that comes to mind when you think about Myanmar? Let me guess – Aung San Suu Kyi, right? At least for me it was. When I got around to think about what I actually knew about this nation before travelling there, “not much” sums it up, I’m afraid..

Now, let’s take this from the beginning. My two childhood friends, JĂžrgen & Martin has got two parents (as one commonly does) with a slight taste (read: huge appetite) for the Pacific Ocean and all of its remote, tropical islands. So, last winter they left Oslo to spend a couple of months in paradise (look up Rarotonga – no, not on a physical map, …yes, use Google image search, … and yes, that is actually the place, …no, that is not photoshopped (you get the point now, I figure)). Accompanied in part by their children; these two young boys wanted to do a sweep across Asia, before returning home. A part of that exciting quest was exploration of Myanmar. I was invited along – and gladly accepted!

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Flight DY7205 from Oslo through Stockholm to Bangkok. Appropriately named “BANG-kok!”, a complete opposite to “The sound of Silence”. However, it felt strangely familiar, having been to some of the great, busy cities of India. A picture of traffic in two-three elevated “channels” feels appropriate:

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Flying to and from Myanmar is restricted to some chosen destinations, and for that reason, we used Thailand as a springboard to its neighbour in the west.

Here’s a portrait of Martin before we move on!

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We spent two days exploring, and amongst other things, joined in on a trip into the backwaters of the city; a web of interconnected canals – with “swarming” wildlife… at least a couple of laid-back lizards or two… (pictures to come!).

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I’d like to call the next picture “The river captain, and his wife”. Strangely, he is not the one doing the dishes at this one instance in time.
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There are no longer predators around that hunt the water monitors. Thus, with a steady supply of food available around-the-clock, they have become lazy and “fearless” of humans, and human activities. We could almost touch it, – that’s how close we could come.

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According to our guide, a lot of the traditional way of “slow(-er)” living is vanishing at an accelerating rate. This can perhaps be seen by the brand new buildings that are mixed in with the old canal-side houses.

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One thing you don’t escape (in Asia in general), are temples. Literally everywhere, and with an astonishing amount of gold and glitter. However, the golden tan doesn’t come naturally, someone has to paint them shiny…

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Back to the backwaters again!

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…where we found an orchid farm:

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…and an insane amount of fish (carp, I think), that was used to being fed white bread lol. When we started to feed them, the water literally turned into fish. H-Fish-O2. The battle was ON!

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Back in the city, this stray dog caught my attention between two parked, colourful buses.

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The air quality is plain awful, no surprise here. The drivers try to be cautious, and most use a facial mask.

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The next day, we swapped out Bangkok with Mandalay. It’s situated on the banks of Irrawaddy, in the heart of Myanmar. (This is a good time to hit play on Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece “Waters of Irrawaddy”, to really set the mood!). We got a small bungalow all to ourselves, – left our belongings there, and went outside. Our first impression of the people of Myanmar was that they were very friendly, polite – and by no means accustomed to tourists. This is of course a big plus, as it means not getting ripped off in taxis, restaurants and most stores.

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JÞrgen and Martin posing in front of our accommodation. Award for being the easiest to recognise person, goes to JÞrgen, for his exemplary orange shirt.

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The first image of this blogpost, was taken just outside our hotel at night time. Same night, some sort of festival were held in the streets, with loads of exotic food and fun activities, mostly for children.

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We got in touch with some locals – or more correctly, JĂžrgen spotted a guitar. They were nice, and we sang along. No english though. But guitar. Fun!

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We rented bikes the following morning, and went out at the crack of dawn. First stop was the local marked, were we got to try out a few tasty sweets and meet some of the people that worked there; which to our surprise was (almost) women only! Here are some of them:

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I leave you with the following image from the marked entrance, which I really like – may even go as far and say that I think it’s the best picture of this blogpost! Until next time (part 2), cheerio!

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FjorĂ„ret oppsummert med 5 bilder

Det er ingen hemmelighet at denne bloggen har hatt bedre tider hva gjelder hurtige oppdateringer. Her kommer et lite plaster pĂ„ sĂ„ret i form av 5 bilder – utvalgte – fra Ă„ret som nĂ„ (forlengst) er over… I tillegg har jeg spyttet inn ett arkivbilde fra Lofoten!

Stjernehimmel over hytta

Bildet er tatt pĂ„ hytta til kamerat Anders som ligger i nĂŠrheten av RisĂžr. Neste bilde ut er tatt pĂ„ Lambertseter, i “skogen” som ligger ned mot hovedveien, etter fĂžrste skikkelige snĂžfall i vinter.

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PÄ vei hjem fra Geilo og en meget awesome hyttetur, fant jeg denne godbiten av en tÄkekladd.

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En tur til Bergen har jeg ogsĂ„ hatt – i regi av et bryllup – de bildene kommer forhĂ„pentligvis hit en gang fĂžr dette millenniet er over – og pĂ„ vei dit kom jeg og Marit over denne fine fjorden.

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Vann er fint – ogsĂ„ nĂ„r det fosser. Her, Tvindefossen utenfor Voss:

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Til slutt, som lovet, et arkivbilde fra Lofoten – en Ăžrn!!!!

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Tur til Roma, andre del

I Vatikanet, der del én sluttet, gjennoptar vi Roma-trÄden. Sagaen fortsetter. I farger. Iallfall de fleste bildene.

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Her har vi utsikt fra toppen av Peterskirken. BĂ„de den ene og den andre veien.

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Kirken er overdÄdig utsmykket, spesielt innvendig. Ingen tegn Ä spore etter nÞysomhet her nei. HÄhÄ. NÄlÞye til himmelen ser ut til Ä ha fetet seg opp litt siden Jesu tid. HÄhÄ. Slik ser for eksempel taket ut:

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Tilbake igjen pÄ utsiden sto vi, med lange varme bukser (synlige knÊr var nemlig ulovlig). StÄr du midt pÄ Petersplassen kan du ikke se at det er tre(?) ringer med sÞyler, da de er plassert radielt rett bak hverandre. Ser du derimot fra et hvilket som helst annet sted, ser det omtrent slikt ut:

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Jeg har fremdeles ikke gÄtt lei vidvinkelen min (som er brukt i 4 av 6 bilder sÄ langt..) og knaller pÄ med iallfall ett til.

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Det blir fort lunsjtid etter den evidelige trappetraskingen pÄ vei opp (og ned!) til/(fra) toppen av kirken. Vi kastet terning (du vet en sÄnn en med to sider, der det stÄr pizza og pasta) og det ble pasta til lunsj. FornÞyde vandret vi videre i retning Piazza Navona.

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Dit kom vi aldri! ..men vi fant tilslutt veien til Borghese-parken.

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———-

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Der stÞtte vi pÄ denne litt overraskende karen:

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…og denne overraskende bjĂžrnen som ikke var helt klar/konsekvent nĂ„r det gjaldt rĂžykebestemmelsene:

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…og nĂ„r vi fĂžrst er inne pĂ„ temaet rĂžyk:

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Vel hjemme pĂ„ hotellet og rett fĂžr kĂžyetid, fant jeg det fram en ukjent “kreativ” side av meg selv:

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Morgenen etter skulle vi mÞte Meyer og Fredrik som ogsÄ tilfeldigvis befant seg i Roma samtidig som oss. Etter en litt treg start pÄ dagen, med en del vanskeligheter for Ä komme oss framover i denne byen (fotgjengeroverganger = parkeringsplass), fant vi tilslutt fram til Forum Romanum & Colosseum, der vi skulle mÞtes.

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Hva gjelder Colosseum, den ubestridt mest kjente severdigheten i byen (for ikke Ă„ si landet), sĂ„ synes jeg den gjĂžr seg godt pĂ„ bilder – fra utsiden vel og merke. Hadde ikke like mye hell fra innsiden.

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Ingen skikkelig bloggpost uten minst én mÄke:

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Og som alltid her pÄ bloggen, bilde ut av flyvinduet pÄ vei hjem!

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Tur til Roma, fĂžrste del

Under planleggning av Ă„rets ferietur, en langdryg prosess, kom vi fram til at Roma hĂžrtes spennende ut – og med et par temmelig gode priser pĂ„ flybilletter slo vi til! I trĂ„d med et visst (veldig) oppbrukt ordtak, valgte vi Ă„ bo pĂ„ et hotell som lĂ„ i et boligstrĂžk for romere. Det hadde nok vĂŠrt smartere Ă„ finne noe litt mer sentrumsnĂŠrt, men vi fikk iallfall god trim.

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Bildet over er tatt fra “toppen” av Spansketrappen, et omrĂ„de med svĂŠrt mange rosegivere. Rosegivere? Yes sir, de gir tilsynelatende ut roser gratis, men sĂ„ gĂ„r det en liten stund fĂžr de kommer tilbake for penger – og da i et helt annet humĂžr. Vi hadde lest om teknikken pĂ„ forhĂ„nd og takket hĂžflig nei (igjen og igjen og igjen … og igjen) , men ble allikevel overrasket over stĂ„-pĂ„-viljen til enkelte som rett og slett la rosen oppĂ„ oss (spesielt Marit), samt antallet som prĂžvde Ă„ livnĂŠre seg pĂ„ dette. Tilbake til hotellet vĂ„rt. Rommet vĂ„rt sĂ„ slik ut:

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Da vi kom nedover lĂ„ store regntunge skyer over Roma. Muligheten for regnvĂŠr hadde ikke slĂ„tt meg, men det hadde Marit tenkt pĂ„, som hadde med paraply. Om Roma er like vakker som Paris i regnvĂŠr vet jeg ikke, men farger og lukter kommer fram pĂ„ en helt annen mĂ„te, hvis du skjĂžnner hva jeg mener…!

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Vi tok buss inn til det jeg mÄ kalle begivenhetenes sentrum i Roma, Piazza Venezia. Dette er en stor plass som leder deg til attraksjoner i alle retninger. Her ligger ogsÄ Altare della Patria, Fedrelandsalteret som ble reist til Êre for Viktor Emanuel II. Mektig skue!

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Brostein i gatene som muligens senatorer og keisere har vandret pĂ„? Eller kanskje nylagt – uansett et fint motiv i regn.

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“Senatet og det romerske folket”. Obligatorisk bilde fra Roma.

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Her fra Piazza Navona:

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…og tilbake til Spansketrapp-utsikt:

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For Ä knytte bildene her litt sammen: ØverestÄende bilde kan sees i nedre hÞyre hjÞrne pÄ bildet under. I det andre nedre hjÞrnet kan Peterskirken sees. Bildet ble litt vel dramatisk, men det mÄ til.

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Ikke alt trenger Ä vÊre stort, for Ä vÊre et interessant motiv i Roma. Eldre damer med to altfor smÄ hunder for eksempel:

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Her titter vi (opp) i retning mot Villa Borghese, et stort og fint parkomrÄde. Likte komposisjonen her:

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..men nÄr alt kommer til alt, sÄ er det ingenting som slÄr Pantheon. Episk bygg, spesielt sett innenfra. Med god vidvinkel fÄr du med nesten hele kuppelen:

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StÄr du i inngangspartiet (og sperrer for folk som gÄr inn og ut) fÄr du en litt annen vinkel (mÄtte rett og slett ha med begge bildene hehe):

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Gjennom Roma renner elven Tiber. Her er noen bilder fra en av mange ganger vi mÄtte krysse dette vesenet.

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PĂ„ kvelden dro vi til Trastevere, et distrikt fullt av restauranter. Spiste selvsagt pizza, meget fornĂžyd med det.

Neste dag sto Vatikanet for tur. Vi tok tog til stasjonen Roma S. Pietro og gikk resten av veien. PÄ forhÄnd hadde vi kjÞpt billetter til museet og slapp unna noen timer i kÞ! (Kan kjÞpes her forÞvrig. Nettsiden ser ut til Ä ha blitt laget pÄ Jesu tid..)

Det var overraskende mye Ă„ se pĂ„ museet og spesielt noen korridorer som “The Gallery of Maps” var smekkfulle av overdĂ„dig kunstverk. fra vegger til tak. Eksempler fĂžlger:

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Peterskirken var selvsagt synlig fra museet:

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…hva med en ny frisyre?

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De tre siste bildene for denne gang stammer fra utgangspartiet i museet. Her er det en stilig spiraltrapp som slynger seg nedover. Designet av Giuseppe Momo i 1932. Flink fyr. Trappen ligner litt pÄ DNA faktisk, ved at det er en sÄkalt dobbel heliks, som igjen betyr at du kan gÄ opp eller ned trappen uten Ä mÞte pÄ de som gÄr andre vei. SÄ vet du det.

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..og mitt favorittbilde for denne gang:

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Oppdatering: Del 2 fra Roma kan sees/leses her.

Enda en fotograf besĂžker bilkirkegĂ„rden i Töcksfors!

Starter med et bilde fra veien tilbake:

Summer

BilkirkegĂ„rden i Töcksfors er vel noe av det mindre originale man kan besĂžke i disse dager. Vi dro nĂ„ uansett (da vi hadde ogsĂ„ annet fĂłre pĂ„ svenskegrensen…hehe)

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For Ă„ komme hit kjĂžrer man fĂžrst til Töcksfors, tar av rett fĂžr “sentrum” til hĂžyre pĂ„ FĂ„gelsvikvĂ€gen og fĂžlger denne et stykke. Deretter er det Ă„ ta av pĂ„ en liten sidevei til BĂ„stnĂ€s (se kart under).

Her har altsĂ„ biler kommet for Ă„ dĂž. I hopetall ligger de strĂždd rundt, sporadisk tildekket av vegetasjon og alt mulig annet som vokser og gror. Blir ikke sĂ„ mye Ă„ lese denne gangen, – beklager. Starter showet:

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En eldre Saab tror jeg:

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Ser du nÊrme her sÄ kommer det tydelig fram at dette er en Peugeot: (hÞhÞ)

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Mange biler her har sett bedre dager.

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Mer Peugeot:

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Overraskende mye farger i en gammal bil

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..og litt nĂŠrmere:

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