Rock Bottom. Fondling It.

Vigeland #1

Vigeland #1. (Among all the giggling tourists, this lady closed her eyes and put her head against the rock baby’s back, like if she was listening for a heartbeat.)

Giddy tourists petting stone genitalia. Families collecting pokemonkeys. Terrified small children whose fathers, inspired by the sculptures, try to juggle them. Yup. It’s the Vigeland sculpture park.

Vigeland #2

Vigeland #2

Vigeland #3

Vigeland #3

Vigeland #4

Vigeland #4

Vigeland #5

Vigeland #5

Vigeland #6

Vigeland #6

Vigeland #7

Vigeland #7

Vigeland #8

Vigeland #8

Vigeland #9

Vigeland #9

1:1280

Geiranger #1

Geiranger #1

That’s the ratio between townsfolk living in Geiranger year-round and cruise passengers visiting during the tourist season.

Geiranger #2

Geiranger #2

When Wikipedia declares the place a “tourist village” you know it’s going to be bad. Cruise tourism in Geiranger can be traced back to summer of ’69. That’s 1869, of course. Since then, Geiranger, with its year-round population of 255, has grown to be the second busiest cruise port in all of Norway, with an estimated 320,000 passengers from close to 200 ships. Jeez.

Geiranger #3

Geiranger #3

Geiranger #4

Geiranger #4

Geiranger #5

Geiranger #5

Geiranger #6

Geiranger #6

Geiranger #7

Geiranger #7

Geiranger #8

Geiranger #8

Geiranger #9

Geiranger #9

Geiranger #10

Geiranger #10

Geiranger #11

Geiranger #11

Geiranger #12

Geiranger #12

B.I.P. (Bark In Peace)

Pet Cemetery #01

Pet Cemetery #01

At a kid’s grave you leave toys and teddys. What do you leave at your dog’s final resting place? Tennis balls of course!

Pet Cemetery #02

Pet Cemetery #02

Trench dogs. Proper canine war heroes dead of exhaustion after pulling 40 wounded men off of a battlefield. Pups having been too brave in the Paris traffic. Also some cats. And a horse. A chicken even. Yes. And a monkey.

These are dead animals interred at Paris’ Le Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques. Or – as my girlfriend told the Über driver – le cimetière des wouf-wouf.*

Pet Cemetery #03

Pet Cemetery #03

I try to visit at least one graveyard on each trip when travelling. Usually I end up on war cemeteries, like Arlington or Douaumont, but sometimes something special shows up, like Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery. Or this.

This. This is peculiar. The place is silly and sombre at the same time. A completely over-the-top thunder storm set the mood when we visited (at what was probably much the same time as I was admiring the tomb of Bibi the Bichon Frise, a lighting strike at another Paris park electrocuted eleven children at a birthday party. Jeesh).

Pet Cemetery #04

Pet Cemetery #04

An old, deaf cat lady at the cemetery who obviously couldn’t hear the thunder still felt something thunder-y in the generel atmosphere and tried seeking my advice on whether to take shelter. My French being limited to mispronounced high school-Victor Hugo-highlights, I tried hand-signalling, failed miserably and took a taxi to the Deyrolle taxidermy showroom where I fell in love with a stuffed platypus valued at €22.500.

Oh well.

Pet Cemetery #05

Pet Cemetery #05

Pet Cemetery #06

Pet Cemetery #06

Pet Cemetery #07

Pet Cemetery #07

Pet Cemetery #08

Pet Cemetery #08

Pet Cemetery #09

Pet Cemetery #09

Pet Cemetery #10

Pet Cemetery #10

Backstory: My girlfriend tried ordering an Über for us, but the driver who obviously hadn’t heard of this place before refused to believe there was such a thing as a dog cemetery in Paris. So when my girlfriend was tired of repeating “Cimetière des Chiens” to a man who seemingly thought she was trying to say something else, she decided to drive the point home by barking at him.

Tower Hour

A trifle tower #1

A trifle tower #1

Paris is trying to one-up their competitors by building their own “Eiffel tower” three times the size of the original monuments in gambling cities Las Vegas and Macau. Tourists are thrilled though.

A trifle tower #2

A trifle tower #2

Pardon the sillyness. But really. Not five minutes had passed before a timid, young Hong Kong-fellow had asked me to help him frame his Eiffel-tower-as-erect-penis-selfie. Classy. And classic.

A trifle tower #3

A trifle tower #3

A trifle tower #4

A trifle tower #4

A trifle tower #5

A trifle tower #5

A trifle tower #6

A trifle tower #6

 

Cherry Blossom Beauty

Picnic Area #1

Picnic Area #1

The Japanese tradition of hanami – the celebration of the transient beauty of flowers, observed through enjoying a nice picnic in the shade of a cherry tree – is a brilliant concept that lends itself very poorly to Norwegian weather.

Picnic Area #2

Picnic Area #2

Picnic Area #3

Picnic Area #3

Picnic Area #4

Picnic Area #4

Picnic Area #5

Picnic Area #5

Picnic Area #6

Picnic Area #6

Picnic Area #7

Picnic Area #7

Picnic Area #8

Picnic Area #8

L’Enfer de Verdun / Die Hölle von Verdun

Three hundred days of bloody hell, starting today, a century ago.

No names. Just bones

No names. Just bones

There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them
– Ezra Pound

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of one of the most costly battles in human history: the Battle of Verdun. Some 300,000 died over the course of 300 days. Another half a million were hurt or lost, all in a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometres.

Green fields. Once red

Green fields. Once red

I visited Verdun last summer. I saw the village of Douaumont, or what was left of it: a forest, with inscribed stones indicating where houses had once stood. The rest had been reduced to rubble by months of continous artillery fire. More impressing was the graveyard and the mausoleum.

L’ossuaire de Douaumont is a necropolis. 16,142 graves, dead soldiers, mostly young men, names written on white crosses, white Stars of David, white muslim tomb stones facing Mecca, row upon row on a sleek hill among green trees and red flowers.

And on top of that hill: the mausoleum, the bone house. Built over those not identified. Through small outside windows you look in on the skeletons, the bones, of 130,000 people, combatants of both nations. 130,000 men! The population of a small city, reduced to skeletons, in heaps.

No names. Just bones.

Men of war. Dead

Men of war. Dead

Village Douaumont. Today

Village Douaumont. Today

Soldier. French, unnamed

Soldier. French, unnamed

France. Fraternité

France. Fraternité

See also my photos from Arlington cemetery.