Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Of Stave Churches and Siberian Dumplings

The altar of the Stave church at the Norwegian Folk Museum, Oslo.

Wood carvings surrounding one of the four doorways.

When you visit Europe you see a lot of churches. Initially you think 'Oh, aren't these beautiful!' and of course they are beautiful but after a dozen or so, you do get a little bit of church-lag (very similar to museum-lag). So when we went to the Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo - another wonderful open-air museum (the museums in Scandinavia are on the whole extraordinarily well done) - the promise of a Stave church was greeted with a little bit of ho-hum on my part. Until I saw it. First, they are so distinctive. Wooden throughout there is not a marble altar or plaster cherub to be seen. Second, they are often decorated with very beautiful and symbolically rich wood carvings. Third, the one in Oslo had the most incredibly serene and simply still air to it. My photo doesn't do it justice but it was mostly dark save for a little candlelight and natural light, what brightness there was emanated from the wood panelling and wall paintings themselves - as though the very building itself had become imbibed with the spirit of the place over so many centuries.


The best food we ate while we were away was in Bergen, which, incidentally, was also our favourite stop on the trip for spectacular landscape and hiking. For three nights running, we ate at a tiny, walk-too-fast-past-and-you'll-miss-it Russian cafe called Det lune hjørnet (Steinkjellergaten 2, 5003 Bergen). The woman running the cafe was so friendly and warm and the food was just so good and incredibly cheap given the prices we had been paying elsewhere. We feasted on blini with meat and pickled vegetables, pelmeni (Siberian dumplings) and pancakes served with sour cream and homemade jam (apple, strawberry and plum). It was comfort food of the very best sort! By the third night, after another long day of walking, it was like sitting down to a warm, edible hug! If you ever go to Bergen, you have to go there.


Pina said...

I agree that we have lots (too many) of churches over here. A pity is that most of them are lighted during the night which kills many flying animals, like moths and bugs...

Feronia said...

Oh, I didn't know that. How horrible!