Hamar’s Glass Cathedral

Day two in Norway and the clouds cleared and gave way to blue sky and sunshine.  We headed north on the E18, catching glimpses of Oslo-fjord as our hire car picked up its heels, making the most of the 110km/hr speed limit that this stretch of road allowed.  We soon reached Oslo and we plunged underground as we navigated the tunnels beneath the city.   Emerging, dazzled, on the other side, the E6 took us further north still until we were driving alongside the Mjøsa lake at a steady 80km/hr – a speed we would become very familiar with on our trip!

We had stopped briefly for lunch at a picturesque roadside picnic area, overlooking a sheltered inlet that harboured dozens of tiny day boats, and eventually pulled off the road at Hamar, at the Glass Cathedral.

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Having only read a brief paragraph in our Lonely Planet guide on the glass cathedral we weren’t quite sure what to expect, and stood in surprise staring at this giant greenhouse-like structure.  The ‘greenhouse’ was built over the ruins of Hamar Cathedral, the construction of which was started by the first Bishop of Hamar, and completed between 1232-52.  The cathedral fell in to disrepair during the Reformation in Norway and in 1567 the Swedish Army attempted to demolish it.    The arches remain inside the glass cover, and today it appears to be a popular place to get married!

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Set on the side of a beautiful lake, we saw at least three couples in the cathedral and grounds.

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The cathedral sits on a small peninsular into the lake, alongside a collection of historic Norwegian houses.

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A large, traditional wooden house sat proudly on the edge of the lake, watching teenagers play in the water and boats sail past.

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The turf roofed cottages, with their heavy log walls and wild hair-dos were both quaint and amusing.  The jaunty angle of this one gives it so much character!

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Even on a sunny day, the park was quiet as we strolled around in the sunshine and had an icecream from the gift shop.

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A wonderful place, combining the old of the traditional farm buildings, and the sleek, ultra-modern design of the glass cathedral.  A place where lots comes together but oh, so peaceful.

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Ocean Hope

This month I’m trying out Plastic Free July – part of a wider campaign to reduce consumption of single-use plastic and as a result reduce the amount of plastic getting into our oceans.  Plastic in oceans is everyone’s problem and has huge impact’s on wildlife and ecosystems.  A million single use plastic bottles are bought every MINUTE worldwide,  and plastic is washed up on remote Arctic beaches that rarely see a human soul. 

I took these pictures last week outside the Maritime, Fram, and Kontiki museums in Oslo, Norway.  The Kontiki museum was particularly fascinating as it was Thor Heyerdahl – builder and Captain of the Kontiki – who started the ocean conservation movement after finding washed out oil in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a subsequent voyage on Ra II. 

I think the sculpture represents how much we lean on the ocean for so many reasons – fishing, shipping, recreation – but also put a lot of strain on it with pollution.  A lighthouse is designed to lead sailors safely into harbour and around dangerous rocks – perhaps this one will lead us around dangerous levels of pollution and lead us to change course to a healthier ocean. One can only hope.