March 2nd, 2012 I received a sms telling me that a relative of mine, Ivar, just passed away. Ivar & Brita. Two names together, now only one left behind, Brita. Last Xmas, December 2011, we could not see them when Tian and I went back to Norway. They were too exhausted to receive visitors so we could not meet them, not even briefly. The Xmas before that, December 2010, we were fortunate enough to see them.
That year, 2010, I only brought one camera body and a wide angle zoom lens with a slow f stop, f.4. Last year, 2011, I brought a new, fast zoom lens, f.2.8 and a flashgun, sb-800, so I would be better prepared. It did not help. My last images are taken by the camera with the slow lens. It was the best I had at that time and even though I got a better one now, it cannot me help to create memories when the time has passed, when the moment has slipped away.
The best camera will always be the one that you have available there and then.
I am glad that a slow lens did not stop me from capturing these moments, my last memories of Ivar, the gentleman in every word, may you rest in peace.
End of 2011 brought no snow and no white Xmas to Bergen, Norway. Instead we faced strong wind, one of the worst storms ravaging the coastline and rain as the year drew to an end. Not really an incentive to leave the cozy home for shots that would end up as mediocre. So a study of bokeh in fireworks became the solution. Enjoy the countdown!
Two years ago, Tian and I went back to Norway on Xmas holiday and experienced a white Xmas. Last year, we did the same trip and got a snowless experience. That didn’t hamper the Xmas mood, seeing friends and family during the holiday is simply a priceless experience in itself.
So is the travel to get there. From Saigon, Vietnam to Bergen, Norway you travel 9608.6 km and a direct flight would take 12 hours and 24 minutes. Not too bad, except there is no such thing as a direct flight. Three stopovers and security check points and extra waiting time pushes the real traveling time to 29 hours. So what do you do when en route? I peeked over Tian’s shoulder, as he enjoys the window seat view, and made a photographic study of the wing. As we travelled, the light changed, and to Tian’s chagrin, I interrupted his iPad games every so often. “Pappa, enough photos, don’t take more now.”
The iPad is a great travel companion. Just before the trip, Montessori released a geography application that teaches you both North and South America. All the countries and their national flags. I guess we impressed everybody with perfect score each time we showcased the program as we had plenty of practice time during our flights. So this is what we capture as we are in transit, en route to Bergen, Norway. Enjoy!
Two unique attractions. One seasonal and one permanent. We did them both.
Pepperkakebyen, or the Gingerbread Town, is a unique Christmas tradition and is growing in size year by year. I still remember the time it was held indoors at Galleriet, a shopping mall in the city centre. In 2009, somebody on his way home, utterly drunk, got the idea of conducting a rampage and destroyed the works of all the children and became the most hated person in town. After confessing his crime, he was forgiven and his name was not released in public as the police feared for his safety.
The Aquarium in Bergen, considered one of the largest in Northern Europe, a great place to bring kids. Watching my son growing more and more confident feeding small fish by his own hand was incredible. Open all year around.
It is almost that time of year again. Only a few months away. Christmas. Snow. Norway. It is such a contrast celebrating Christmas in Norway versus Vietnam. As my son is growing older, I prefer to let him celebrate in Norway to both experience the culture and the climate. Seeing snow for the first time and having to wear a lot of clothes was strange the first year only. Now, it is with great anticipation he gets to travel, with three planes as he will proudly tell you, in order to visit his grandparents and play in the snow.
My hometown is surrounded by seven small mountains. The house of my parents reside on one of them. 300 meter above the sea. Five minutes away from the mountain hiking trail. Twenty minutes by car to downtown. Bliss as you can see for yourself below:
Every year the Norwegian community get together and celebrate 17 Mai. The meet up place is the Norwegian consul’s house, and everybody participate to bring Norwegian food for the event, either by import, returning from a recent visit to Norway or receiving visitors or to source the ingredients locally and make it yourself. True community spirit.
The celebration starts in the afternoon, a few speeches are held, the national anthem sung and then the parade around the neighborhood. Norwegian marching tunes from an iphone streamed by cables to an old school ghetto blaster sets the tune.
Once the parade is done, a group photo session is done before the buffet is served. Games for both children and adults take place in the evening, and then the day is over. Until next year.