A photography project I did for the Academy of Art University in 1996.

Sven's Tour of Norway

Sven Sends Unauthorized E-mail

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 (

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!”

Sven's Tour of Norway

Glitterind and Glitterheim

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.

Sven's Tour of Norway

Sven Saves Chooking Man

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.

Sven's Tour of Norway

Sven Finds Old Friend In Vigeland Park

While waiting for the train to leave Oslo, Sven and Olga spent a few hours in nearby Frogner Park, the open-air gallery dedicated to the works of Gustav Vigeland, the Norwegian sculptor. More people visit Vigeland’s park than any other tourist attraction.

“Vill yoou look at dat, Sven? Dey are all naked!” stated Olga, a bit embarassed by the sculptures.

“Oh, yah!” Sven replied.

They moved through the crowd, past the numerous bronze artworks. Then Sven thought he heard someone yelling his name.

“Vell, vell, vell! If it isn’t my oold friend, Sven!”

“Yumpin’ Yiminee! Iss dat Villem? Villem Knutsen?”

“Yah, Sven!”

“Oh, yah!”

“Yah, shoor!”

“Uff dah! Dat girl oover dere looks like she had a bad hair day,” commented Olga.

It was Sven’s old friend, Willem Knutesen. Willem had worked with Sven at TwinX Software in the United States. He then returned to Norway and was now writing restroom gasket replacement procedure manuals at the Oslo Sanitation Institute.

Sven told Willem about his train trip and Willem quickly ran home to pack in order to join Sven on the trip.

“Yumpin’ Yiminee! It vass goot to see Willem again,” said Sven

Sven's Tour of Norway

Der Svensens Goo Skiing

Here we see Sven’s family at a ski resort in the Marka, the area of forests, hills, and lakes that surrounds the whole of central Oslo. “I vass not in der pictoor, because I vass taking it,” commented Sven.

Sven's Tour of Norway

The Storting – Norway’s Parliament

The Storting is Norway’s parliament. In World War II, the Storting refused to appoint Vidkun Quisling (a Nazi puppet, whose name is synonymous with traitor) governor. In the crowd, in the upper right corner of this image, we can see Sven and Olga waving to us.

Sven is very proud of his fellow Norwegians, “Vhen dat damn Hitler vass trying to take oover da vorld, vee kicked his boot oout of here!”

Sven's Tour of Norway

Olga and Sven Prepare for a Train Trip

The hilly and mountainous geography in Norway is not very well suited for railways. This is the main reason for the somewhat limited network. But the scenery along the lines are in some places marvelous and attracts a large number of tourists to the country especially during the summer. Tickets with any combination of Train, Bus, Ferry and Airline are available and there are
good connections between the different means of transport.

Avalanches are a constant threat to train travel in Norway. However, Norwegian ingenuity and adaptability is displayed here with a man-made tunnel that any avalanche merely passes over and train travel continues on.

Because of the difficult geography, train speeds are restricted. The traveling speed including all stops is between 70 and 80 km/h. Maximum allowed speed in Norway is at the moment 160km/h. The new line between Oslo and Gardermoen Airport is built for 200km/h.


The BM71 (right) will be the train Olga and Sven Svensen will be riding on their train tour of Norway. Sven commented, “Uff-dah, dat is vun fast choo-choo!”

Sven's Tour of Norway

Olga and Sven Celebrate Tanksgifing in Their Dream Hoose

Olga Svensen, Sven’s childhood sweetheart and life-time companion, stands in front of their newly acquired sod-roof cabin near Kløfta (right and below), a suburb to the northeast of Oslo. “

Sven's Tour of Norway

Sven Svensen, Noo Nootroogeena Spokesperson

It was May 17th. All of Oslo was abuzz with festivities. Sven and Olgo joined the throngs of Norwegians marching through the streets in celebration of Norwegian independence.