It was early in the morning when Sven Svensen entered the Sistine Chapel to clean the floor. After a few minutes of mopping, Sven stared at the ceiling and admired the 500-year-old works of Michelangelo depicting many scenes from the Bible.
Sven bar Sven swept the wood floors of Bethlehem’s Hanukah Inn, trying to keep pace with the flood of people who had returned to their hometown for the Census. The Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus had ordered all of the citizens of Israel to be counted so he could keep better track of them. Israelites from all over the region were returning to the cities where their families had originated and Bethlehem was no exception.
Back on the train, heading for Bergen, Norway, Sven plugged in his laptop computer and logged into his Internet provider account. He had received numerous memos from several of his friends at the Oslo Sanitation Institute. One of the memos struck him as humorous, so Sven decided to parody the memo and mail it back to a public e-mail alias at the Institute (email@example.com).
The e-mail caused a small disturbance. Here we see Institute administrators scrambling to deal with the problem. Unfamiliar with the basic operations of Internet e-mail (such as forward, reply, read, and send), several administrators were puzzled that Sven could have received the memos.
Their solution was to cause a poppy field to appear along the train route. This would put Sven and company into a very deep and permanent sleep. Fortunately the train sped through the poppies at speeds of over 150 km/h and no ill effects were experienced.
When Sven heard of the furor he had caused, he replied, “Yumpin’ Yiminee! I vuss yoost yoking. I vill neffer do dat again!”
Sven did received many warm response memos, but he is not divulging the names of his friends, lest the Institute administration decide to go on a “witch hunt”. (As in “Snow White”, they won’t have to look beyond the mirror on the wall.)
Der Fishermen of Osoyra
To the south of Bergen is Osøyra. The early settlers of Norway lived in small villages on the mainland and islands along the Atlantic coast. There are more than 150,000 islands off the Norwegian coast, all rich in wildlife.
Here Sven met three fishermen from the village who took him out to fish in the North Sea. Sven got seasick and spent most of the day sitting near his mop bucket.
In Bergen, at the Lutefisk and Lefsa Festival, Sven and Olga met another Olga, Olga Cramling, novelist and poet laureate. Here we see her joining in the festivities, dressed in traditional Norwegian garb.
When the festival concluded, Ms. Cramling invited Sven and friends to her cottage by the sea for a poetry reading. Knute, the tour guide, was enthralled by Olga’s “Norsk Haikus” and commented,
“Uff dah! When I hear Der sound dat trills my big ears. It makes me happy!”
Well, Sven, family, and friends have finally left Oslo and have travelled north about 350 kilometers to the Jotunheimen mountain range. The summits are more than 2000 meters above sea level and there are quite a number of smaller glaciers in the area.
Knute, the tour guide (in the lower right corner of the picture above), took Sven and two other travellers, Dansk Husqvarne (lower left) and Harald Härfagre (lower center), on a hike up the second highest mountain in Norway, Glitterind.
After the hike, our friends spent the night in a hostel owned by Lille and Thor Grensen.
Lille was a fellow janitorial engineer with Sven and the Oslo Sanitation Institute and presented Sven with his set of horns when he graduated. She has made several all-expenses-paid trips throughout Europe for the Institute.
For Sven’s birthday, Lille sent him this card:
Thor is known throughout the area as “Der Noomber Vun NASCAR Fan.”
Thor worked with Sven in America and introduced him to the exciting motorsport of NASCAR stock car racing.
Thor and Sven spent an evening racing go-carts in the back yard of the hostel, Thor pretending he was Mark Martin and Sven pretending he was Tom Cruise.
After an Easter Sunday sunrise service on Mount Glittern, Sven and Olga were met at the lodge by Sven’s friend and fellow janitor from the Olso Sanitation Institute, Yason Olsen. Yason had missed the train earlier, but caught up with our party by riding through the mountains on his motorcycle.
“Uff dah!” Sven exclaimed, “Dat boy can moof!”
Darren Battles der Vhite Vater
Near Glitterheim Sven met Darren Lycklama, a janitor at the Inn where Sven and friends are staying. In the picture above, we see Darren battling the whitewater.
Darren invited Sven to go with him, but Sven declined, claiming to have eaten too much lutefisk for breakfast.
Soon it was time to leave Glitterheim. To get Sven and company back to the train station, Edvard Reedsker, chief janitor from the Oslo Sanitation Institute and Sven’s former boss, drove all the way from Oslo in his pickup to give them a hand.
“Vhen I heard dat Sven needed soome help, I came a-roonin’,” Edvard proclaimed. Soon all the luggage was loaded in back of the pickup and Evard drove our friends back to the Glitterheim depot.
Shortly after their train left the Oslo station, Olga and Sven made their way to the dining car for dinner. During the course of the meal, a man seated near Sven started choking on a herring bone he had swallowed.
Sven quickly whipped out his Norwegian Army plunger and performed a modified Heimlich maneuver on the man, saving his life. The man, Ludwig Olsen, had this to say about Sven, “Yoou saved my life! Tank yoou, Sven!”
Sven and Olga were later introduced to our tour guide for the trip through Norway, Knute Willemsen. Knute is a native of Sandvika, the first stop to the west after leaving Oslo.
“Vee are gooing too haff a loot of foon,” said Knute as the train pulled out of Sandvika.
As the train wound its way through the mountains outside of Sandvika, Sven jumped up and shouted, “UF DAH! I foorgot der loogage!”
Yes, Sven had forgotten to bring the luggage which prompted an quick trip back to the Oslo train station.
Knute, the humorous tour guide, suggested that they visit Nordas Lake, the home of composer Edvard Grieg and also the location of the famous Fantoft Stavkirke. The stavkirke (stave churches) derive their name from the solid, upright timber trunks from which they are built. The Fantoft Stavkirke has been standing for nearly 700 years. Knute has been standing for nearly 50.
When Sven et al returned to Oslo for the luggage that Sven forgot, Knute the tour guide suggested they visit Oslo University while they waited for the next train.
Standing in front of the Olso University building is Dr. Mamoun Babiker, Professor of Computer Science. Before Sven left Norway for the United States, he was Dr. Babiker’s personal janitor at Oslo U.
Dr. Babiker is not a native of Norway, but comes from Sudan. Dr. Babiker had this to say, “Yumpin’ Yiminee it vass goot to see oold Sven again. I remember vhen he used to empty der trash in my ooffice.”
Next to Oslo University is the Oslo Sanitation Institute (OSI), where Sven spent several years as the head custodial engineer. After visiting with Professor Mamoun, Sven dropped in on the Janitorial Staff as OSI.
When they found out that Sven was going on the tour of Norway, all four immediately left their posts, packed, and boarded the train to accompany Sven and Olga on their journey.