From trolls to fjords to mountains to snow, and of course Vikings, Norway is not like any country you have visited before. This is the first country you will visit with Aardvark International and was chosen simply to inspire you through its majestic beauty and unique culture. You will cross the country and visit Oslo, the capital on the east coast, and Bergen on the west coast. Historically Norway’s Jewish community has been small, which is understandable considering that Norway's latitude places it among a unique group of countries whose Shabbat stretches beyond that of more southern regions. Norway's distance from the equator means that some Shabbats pass beyond the 24 hour mark. During the Holocaust virtually all of the Jews were either murdered by the Nazis or fled to Sweden. Today 1500 Jews reside in Norway. This country of explorers and adventurers is also the home of the annually awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
Arrive in Oslo and visit the Viking Ship Museum to see ships over 1,000 years old. You will search for Leif Erikson’s boat and, let's face it, you will probably buy a Viking hat. Next climb the Holmekollen Ski Jump for breathtaking view of Oslo and carve your way to the Museum of Skiing. Stroll through one of Norway’s top tourist attractions, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, designed by Gustav Vigeland.. If museums do not peak your interest than perhaps the Oslo nightlife will be more culturally relevant.
From Oslo we will take you on a tour across country and show you how glad you should be that Israel has great public transportation. Using a train, a mountain train, bus, and boat you will cross all of Norway from east to west. You will go on one of the steepest mountain trains in the world up into mountains where only the toughest Vikings called home. Making your way across the country you will eventually reach the west coast and boat through the fjords. Yes you have heard of fjords your whole life but it is quite a different story to actually see them (and it is also fun to say the word “fjord” as many times as you can.) Spend the evening in Bergen having a great time. (Many of you have already Google "fjord")
Spend the day touring the charming city of Bergen, visiting the home of Edvard Grieg, Norway’s greatest composer (you need a little culture). Stroll through the famous Fish Market where you will see and smell…fish (this also counts as culture). Other areas of interest are Bryggen, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Leprosy Museum, and the Old Bergen Museum. At night we get to return to Oslo by taking a sleeper train across the country.
Our tour of Jewish Oslo will begin with trips to the Jewish Cemetery, Holocaust Memorial, the Norwegian Resistance Museum, the Oslo Synagogue and Jewish Community Center. Meet local Jews and hear about their lives as a very small minority in this country. Learn about the relationship with Israel by visiting the Israeli Embassy. You can also ask about the Oslo Accords and look around to see if there are more secret peace meetings occurring. In the afternoon explore the National Gallery Museum where you will see original works by Cezanne and Munch including the very famous Scream painting.
Start the day at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, one of Europe’s largest open air museums where you will find over 155 traditional homes from all over the country. Notice that several of the homes have grass growing on the roof….why? Why were some of the beds built for people to sleep in while in a sitting position? Then enter the Akershus Fortress located in the city center by the Oslo Fjord. This fortress and castle was built in the 1300’s. We get to then see the castle of the current Norwegian royal family, because castles are awesome.
Educational Rationale for a trip to Norway
By Keith Berman
Honestly when we were originally planning Aardvark International I wanted to start off with a unique country that was safe and not controversial. No one could foresee the tragic terror attack that transpired in July 2011. Despite this rare incident, Norway is known to be a highly peaceful country where their worst problem is how to spend their oil revenue. We are starting off in a country with a very small, but significant, Jewish community. Norway is a very liberal democracy which has which has a good but sometimes lukewarm relationship with Israel. I think it will be a good experience for us to learn about this country that is considered one of the most liberal in the world, but has not always had a great track record with the Jews nor has given enough credence to the fact that Israel is the only other liberal democracy in the entire Middle East.