by Fennah Guan 周芬娜
In summer of 2014, my husband and I travelled to Oslo during a Princess Cruises tour, a visit I had long dreamt about. Oslo is Norway’s capital and largest city. The day we went ashore, the high temperature was in the 60’s Fahrenheit (around 18° C). It felt unseasonably cool and we wore jackets to fend off the chill, but at the harbor we saw men working shirtless, a bright sun turning their pale skin lobster-red. Anything to snatch a rare sunbathing opportunity, one could only assume.
奧斯陸人口只有五十六萬人左右，可謂地廣人稀。它的面貌和我的想像相去不遠：輕巧而靈秀。 全城沿海而築，處處是秀麗峻峭的海灣，和方正莊嚴的建築物 。六個小時的自由活動，時間有限， 我們就近搭乘小渡輪去環繞奧斯陸峽灣（英語：Oslo Fjord；挪威語：Oslofjorden）一周，船程約一小時，一路上果然風光明媚，山明水秀，青山碧海間密生著深綠的針葉林，針樹林中點綴著一棟棟紅瓦白牆的小屋，都是一些有錢人的避暑別墅。
The city of Oslo comprises an extensive area but a smallish population of approximately 560,000 people. Its setting and cityscapes convey just the grace and soulful beauty I had imagined. Situated along a winding coastline interspersed with many pretty coves overhung by jagged cliffs, the city also constructed many stately, angular low-rise buildings. With only six hours to explore on our own, we yielded to time constraints and opted for a ferry ride round the Oslo Fjord (Oslofjorden in Norwegian). The hour-long ride featured many fine views. Dense swaths of evergreen forests took on a darker hue against the lighter greens of the surrounding hills and shimmering sea. Through the bristly evergreen branches were occasional glimpses of cottages decked out with white walls and carnelian roofs—the summer homes of the wealthy.
奧斯陸建城於1049年，歷史至今不到一千年，比起中國的古都西安、成都、洛陽等，算是小巫見大巫，卻也出過幾個著名的藝術家和大文豪，包括愛德華．孟克（Edvard Munch）、亨利．易卜生（Henrik Ibsen） 等。但奧斯陸峽灣美則美矣，卻令我覺得它美得太直接、太一覽無遺了，缺乏令人思考回味的空間；不像中國的長江三峽般的曲迴宛轉、柳暗花明，歷史典故俯拾皆是 。
Founded in 1049 CE, Oslo at just under a millennium in age is a mere babe compared with China’s surviving ancient capital cities, the likes of Xi-An, Cheng-Du, Lo-Yang. In terms of cultural achievements, Oslo lays claim to a number of famous artists, visual and literary, including Edvard Munch and Henik Ibsen. But, to me at least, the appeal of Oslo Fjord paled in comparison with the enchantments of the Yang-Tze River Gorges. The Fjord’s scenic beauty created a striking and memorable first impression and yet left little else for the imagination. The Gorges are different—their twists and turns draw you in and ever-changing vistas encourage you to reflect and to recall the many historical references to each particular sight through different times.
Having surveyed the Oslo Fjord, we ventured with eager anticipation to the city center’s Fenaknoken, a famous gourmet destination. This Norwegian gift and specialty shop offers a huge variety of cheeses and all forms of cured meats including sausage and ham. Inside the shop, sumptuous and luxurious displays are everywhere; for cheese alone there were at least a hundred different kinds. Here and there, legs of mountain goats, mutton and wild boars hung conspicuously overhead. The ruddy-faced proprietor was amiable and quick to charm. As his English was somewhat limited, he gestured energetically to recommend cheese selections and offered free samples. Norway has a short growing season and produces not nearly enough farm products for its population, and is especially short of fruits and vegetables. It mostly relies on frightfully expensive imports. All foods are precious, and nothing goes to waste. Leftover milk is turned into cheese; surplus meats cured and preserved as sausage, ham and bacon. During the long dark wintry months, cured meats are the main staple besides salmon and mackerel hauled from the North Sea.
Cheeses made with goat milk, like many Norwegian cheeses, are a special local treat. Rich and velvety, they are admired even by the fussy French. Gjetost is such a classic, perhaps the most famous specialty cheese from Norway. It is made by boiling a combination of cow’s milk and goat’s milk, mixed with whey, until dark as coffee and sweet-tasting like caramel. Gjetost is available also in the U.S. Serve the cheese in thin slices on bread, or serve cubed with raisins. It is mouth-watering good.
接著，我們參觀了格局超現代的諾貝爾和平獎中心。瑞典發明家阿爾弗雷德．諾貝爾（Alfred Nobel）於1895年遺贈創立了諾貝爾獎, 和平獎是其中獎項之一，也是唯一在奧斯陸頒發的獎項。頒獎典禮由挪威諾貝爾委員會主持，挪威國王和王后也親自監禮， 非常隆重莊嚴。諾貝爾和平獎中心位於奧斯陸市政廳（Oslo Radhus）附近，於2005年開幕，主要介紹諾貝爾和平獎的歷史，及創辨人諾貝爾的生平事蹟，另外還展示了從1901年首屆和平獎至今得獎者的個人功績和相關史料，包括南非的曼德拉、美國的馬丁路德金博士、緬甸的翁山蘇姬, 以及中國的達賴喇嘛和劉曉波等名人。今年死於獄中的劉曉波是2010年的諾貝爾和平獎得主。他得獎時已關在北京的監獄裡，被禁止前來領獎，算是對中國人權的一大諷刺。
The Nobel Peace Center with its ultra-modern design concept was our next sightseeing stop. The eponymous awards created in 1895 as a bequest of Danish Inventor Alfred Nobel include a Peace Prize, the only award whose presentation takes place in Oslo. Very much a grand affair, the Oslo award ceremony is officiated by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of Norway’s King and Queen. The Center, located near Oslo’s Radhus or City Hall and first opened in 2005, houses exhibits on the history of the Peace Prize and life of founder Alfred Nobel. In addition, there are displays that celebrate the achievements, with relevant historical documents and effects, of each and every individual prizewinner since the award’s inception in 1901. This includes, to name just a few, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Dr. Martin Luther King of the U.S., Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, and China’s Dalai Lama and Liu Xiao-bo. 2010 Prize winner Liu passed away this year while still a prisoner of the state. Already imprisoned in Beijing in 2010, Liu was denied permission to attend the award ceremony. This was inevitably seen as rich in irony, aptly reflecting the state of China’s human rights practices.
We toured the Nobel Peace Center, and later found an outdoor café nearby for lunch. Our lunch consisted of a chicken burger, green salad with goat cheese, and a single beer. The food wasn’t bad, but it cost a whopping $50 U.S. and when finished we were still hungry. In Oslo we rarely saw people who would be considered overweight. My guess is that people here skimp on food bowing to its scarcity and high cost. After lunch there was only one free hour left. We decided to visit Oslo Radhus, which hosts the annual Peace Prize award ceremony. The ceremonial hall was spacious and physically imposing, its walls decorated with colorful and exuberant murals. In comparison, the Nobel Peace Center seems abstracted and far less impressive.
Our visit to Oslo Radhus left us quite fatigued, and it was time to head back to the cruise ship. With a sense of loss and fond reluctance, we bade farewell to Oslo. Already we dreamed of plans to return. Next time, we shall rent a car and drive ourselves around the majestic Norway countryside to explore Songnefjorden, the King of the Fjords. All the better to take in the country’s striking beauty.
*Selections from an article that first appeared in sius1.blogspot.com. Translated and republished with permission by the author.
Translated by Wen Si-ding 溫思定 譯