Tag Archives: Tourist

Oslo Citywalk – Berus Eder! (Enebriate yourselves!) A guide to history of Alcohol use in Norway and Oslo from medieval to modern times..

I often join guided walks in other cities and countries, but until today I have never joined one in my own city. Today I joined one of the Oslo Citywalks with my mom and we were a group of 15 people. We had a very nice time.

The walk was very interesting and it was called “Enebriate yourselves!” It was a guided tour through some interesting facs about the drinking culture from the medieval times until more modern times through funny anecdotes, drinking stories and old folk drinking songs. The guide focused both on facts and on funny stories.

As a result of this walk I found the history of alcohol in my city and in my country to be very interesting and I started looking into it and here I have gathered quite a few known facts and I hope you will enjoy!

More about Oslo Citywalks and the Berus Eder guided walk.

Eearly History
People started producing alcohol as far back as 7-9000 years ago. The ice over Norway was barely melting at this time and for the early settlers brewing alcohol might now have been their first priority, but there are proofs that alcohol has been produced for at least 2500 years.

Wine God Bacchus at a good party!

Norse drinking culture
Viking Age
In the old Viking age alcohol was first and foremost linked to big celebrations, seeing that the country was poor on grain and that most of the beer that was brewed was quite mild and had a short durability. Hence one they had access to alchohol it was commonly believed the alcohol had to be finished off fast.

Offering your guests alcohol and enebriating yourself and your guests was seen as an expression of hospitality and generosity. Withstanding huge amounts of alcohold is seen as a good quality in a King.
Not drinking at a party was illegal for armed men.

Alcohol held a very important role in celebrations and visitation, especially for the religious celebration of Michaelmas and Christmas, and according to the law at the time – any farmer that refused to brew alcohol 3 years in a row for the religious celebrations, had to leave their farm and ground and flee the country. The beer was dedicated to Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ to thank for a good year, good crops and peace.  Other reasons for celebrations were Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals.

However the farmers weren’t only expected to brew the alcohol, they were also expected to participate in the parties in the beer houses and participate in ritual drinking teams where important descisions were made. If you were skipping your drinking duty you could risk punishment and if you became so ill he wasn’t fit for beer drinking or horse riding he could loose his right to vote.

During this period all celebrations were characterized by huge amounts of alcohol. One was supposed to drink to get drunk. Especially for the host it was shameful if the guests didn’t end up drunk, and in some occations wormwood was mixed into the beer to assure that people got drunk. A successful party was known to include a lot of Trouble, Fights and Drukenness.

Middle Age
During the medeival time the common Norwegian drank 6-8 liters of beer each day (even kids), because the food was very salty and the water was, particularly in big cities, quite polluted.

With easier access to alcohol it also became more common and pharmacists started selling Aqua Vitae as medicine. Mixed with different herbs the Aqua Vitae was supposed to help for a number of diseases.

Aqua Vitae became so popular that the pharmacy industry became more and more popular and the church created a law that no alcohol was to be sold until after midday on church day so that noone would have an excuse not to participate in religious activities. However with this new law it became normal to go to the pharmacy after church on sundays to get a few drinks and a tradition to hold parties after church on sunday started.

Other types of alcohol was not so common in Norway until the early 1600’s. The Vikings had however tasted wine during their raids and lootings in southern Europe, and they had also brought home samples. Liquor had been brewn, but nothing that tasted particularly well.

During the 1600’s the Hansa trade settled in Norway with the main seat in Bergen and with them, easier access to wine and liquor. However in the beginning the alcohol was imported in small amounts and only for the richest members of society.

Especially among Royals and UpperClass it became normal to drink huge amounts of alcohol and party without limits. It became so normal to drink until they lost their senses that policitcians were seen as suspicious if they did not show themselves highly enebriated in public regularly. There are descriptions of parties so wild with alcohol where people drank so much that someone regularly fell over dead.

The arrival of the potato ensured that the access to harder liquor was far easier. One could get 4 times as much Alcohol from the same amount of potatoes as grain. This was good news for the home brewers. Another good thing was that potatoes could replace grain as a food source and hence grain could be used to produce liquor without worrying that people wouldn’t have enough food.

In the early 1800’s home brewing harder liquors became fully legalized, but there were a few conditions. The farmers were allowed to not only brew, but sell Alcohol brewn on grain grown from the farm, however if the grain was bought from someone else – the alcohol brewn on it was only legal for the farmers private use. However there were no restrictions on alcohol made from potatoes until 1824 when it became illegal to sell alcohol made from potatoes bought from stores or other farms.

Between 1816 –  when the home brewing became legalized, and until the 1840’s, the liquor usage reached unknown proportions. While the import of liquor in 1814 was about 1,5 litre pure alcohol per capita, it was estimated that in 1833  the usage was about 7 litre liquor per citizen, women and children included.

During this period it was common for employees to receive parts of their salary in alcohol and they also had access to drinks during their breaks at work. Who wouldn’t need a drink every now and then when the workdays were often as long as 12-14 hours.

It is said that the average employee drank as much as 1/2 litre liquor each day and that the employees were drunk more ofthen than they were sobre. During the weekends consumation was significantly higher and often the new workweek didn’t start until tuesdays, because most employees were incapable of working on mondays.

However in the 1847 people started to worry about the development and a suggestion was raised by the government to liquidate all home brewing of alcohol. The King, however, refuesed to approve this decision. Instead a law was introduced that taxed people according to how much alcohol they brewed. In addition it became illegal to brew during summer months.

1900’s – The dark days
From 1916-1927 there was a ban of selling alcohol in Norway, but just shortly after the 1st world war broke out in 1914 the government forbade anyone to make alcohol from both grain and potatoes. The food supplies were running low and the government needed all the supplies as food.

The  restriction had very negative aftereffects. The legal import of alcohol increased dramatically and only in august and september that year over 200 000 liters of licor were imported, mainly from Denmark. Brewing their own alcohol became a very important way of earning some extra money in areas where imported licor wasn’t easily available. However the home brewers didn’t care about the restrictions and the Temperance Movement gained a lot of ground during this period leading to the total ban of alcohol.

However pharmacis were allowed to sell alcohol for medicinal use and each househould were allowed 1/2 a liter of licor. An increase in divorces was seen in those days (where the two parties still lived under the same roof with the kids) because that way they got two 1/2 liters instead of 1. One Oslo doctor perscribed over 48 000 perscriptions of alcohol in one year which led to the government restricting the alcohol sales from pharmacies even for medicinal use.

In 1927 the era ended and alcohol was made legal again.

The government did not wish to allow as uncontrolled sale of alcohol as they had previously seen and they introduced a liquor store, Vinmonopolet, where all kinds of alcohol was sold and controlled by the government.

Seen with a long perspective the alcohol usage from the 1850 decreased slowly from over 5 litre pure alcohol per capita (with a top of 6 litre per person during the mid 1870s) to just about 2 litre per person towards the end of the mid war period.

References (all links are in Norwegian)
Use of alcohol in Norway
History of alcohol in Norway
When King Alcohol reigned in Norway
Alcohols place in history
Norwegian journal of epidemology
Alcohol use in the old Norway
Alcohol in medieval times
Selvstendighet og brennevinsflom
Forholdene etter forbudstiden


A day at the Beach at Scheveningen

This morning I slept in. I have not really felt well for about 2 weeks now so sleeping in was lovely.

About 11 am I went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and pick up some breakfast and then I headed towards Scheveningen and the beach. I took the tram and enjoyed some nice music on my way there. Scheveningen is one of the 8 districts of The Hague.

It was a beautiful day, quite windy, but really beautiful. At the last stop of the tram line I walked towards the beach. Not so many other people were here today, but I enjoyed a long and nice walk along the left side of the pier.

I sat down to enjoy a drink at the Oase Beach Club and to enjoy the sun out of the wind, before I went over to the Restaurant area for a beach promenade. The sun was warm and lovely and Iwas having a great time shopping and walking along the beach.

I should have probably stopped to enjoy the fish spa, but it was quite nice to enjoy an ice cream and walk by as well :D

The wind was so strong that the sand was whipping towards my legs, and I was very happy to have brought with me my hooded jacket to keep me warm :D

The official symbol of Scheveningen is 3 silver herrings swimming to the right; above the head of each herring a crown of gold.  This emblem is printed in the sement tiles laid all over the city.

Links to Tourist Information in Scheveningen
Official Tourist Web Page for Scheveningen

Gent, Belgium

This morning I slept in. It felt soooo good. This past week I have started feeling quite bad in my stomach, loss of appetite and nauxeous. Not the best when you are travelling so it was very very nice to be able to relax a bit this morning.

Before breakfast Steven and I went to Albert Heijn to pick up food for the rest of the day. I had to pick up some allergy friendly food for myself as I have started having too many problems with food this past week.

After breakfast Steven and Katrien had to run some errands and I went to explore Gent. I spent a good part of the day walking and walking around. I went shopping and photographing and enjoyed spending the day outside.

We had a beautiful weather despite the clouds and the wind.

Lots of people were enjoying the day outside.

Once I was done exploring I walked home where Julie (Katriens roommate) let me in and I started working on my expenses for work.

When Steven and Katrien came home we talked and made dinner together and enjoyed a few glasses of good red wine :D

I had a very, very nice day with my friends :D

Spending my last day touristing Helsinki before returning to Oslo

This morning I woke up rather early and said my goodbyes to both my hosts that had to leave early to get to work :D

I spent my morning packing and preparing for my departure as well as looking for movie tickets. The pre-premiere Breaking Dawn tickets were released today and hence I had to make sure I got mine.

Once that was done, I rushed out the door and cought the bus downtown to get there in time for a 2 hour tourist bus tour that I had booked to participate in. I had to bring my luggage on the bus so I rushed from the Central Station to the Senate Square next to City Hall to get the bus from there.

We were taken around the harbour areas and the Uspenski Orthodox Church (which is beautiful from an architectual point of view)

We were taken past the Presidential Palace

and then a roundtrip along the harbor and towards the end of the tour we were taken to the Temppeliaukio Rock Church.
(In my mind it doesn’t look very impressive – either in the architectural or other ways)

Then we were taken to the Sibelius Park with the Sibelius Monument. It was built in honor of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

After the tour I  spent some time walking around (with my suitcase), I had lunch and sat down reading and relaxing until it was time to leave for the airport.

At the airport I checked in and went to pick up some cloudberry liqueur from the taxfree store. Not much else to do there. Return flight was quite uneventful but nice :D

I had an amazing stay in Finland and its definately not my last visit.

I actually learned a few words in Finnish as well (and quite a few more than when I was in Greece, where I learned 5, but only remember 3 or 4):

Ruoki = Food
Kiitos = Thank you
Kippis = Cheers
Kissa = Cat
Intie = way
Katu = street
Noita = Witch
Pupu = Rabbit
Ravintola = Restaurant
kirkku = church

Thanks to Ellie and Martin for hosting me and to Anni, Vince, Heydi, Harri, Timo, Orescent and Sanna for taking their time to meet up with me and making my stay a great one !

Museum visit and strolling around in Helsinki

I started my day having a nice breakfast at home with Martin and Ellie and the cats. I had a relaxing start to the day and that was great.
Then I cought a bus downtown to the Central Station.

From there I headed to Atheneum Art Museum where I spent a good deal of time. The museum was nice.  I particularily liked the exhibition about the Sami.

Once I was done at the Atheneum I went for a stroll in the streets of Helsinki and I went back to the Fazer Resturant that I went to with Ellie yesterday to have one of those amazing Omenapiirakka that I had yesterday.

It was just as delicious today!

I wonder if I can learn how to make those. The apple meringue pai with vanilla custard. Yummy :D

After Fazer I spent some more time walking around in the streets of Helsinki before I was about to meet Martin and Ellie at the central Station for our afternoon activities.

Daytrip to Suomenlinna Fortress in the Helsinki Archipielago

Finally I managed to sleep in. It felt wonderful ! I slept until 10 am !!
I promise you, THAT don’t happen too often in my life !

I had breakfast with Elisabete and then we readied up to spend a day in the sun.

Ellie went with me and she walked with me showing me around in Helsinki. First she took me to the Fazer restaurant where we had a fantastic apple meringue cake with vanilla custard (omenapiirakka). The Fazer Restaurant has a lovely atmosphere and … the most delicious confectionary :D

When we were done with our coffee break, we continued walking in the streets of Helsinki. Ellie showed me the Helsinki Cathedral and the small shops in the area around.

Then we walked down to the Uspenski orthodox cathedral past the Presidential home and to the harbour market. At the Harbour Ellie and me split up and she went to continue her errands and I took the ferry to the island of Suomenlinna.

Suomenlinna fortress was buildt by the Swedes back in 1748 when Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden. The dry dock of Suomenlinna is on of the worlds oldest. Over 800 people live at the Suomenlinna islands at all time.

Suomenlinna is buildt on 6 islands: Kustaanmiekka, Susisaari, Iso-Mustasaari, Pikku-Mustasaari, Länsi-Mustasaari and Långören which form parts of Helsinki.

I had a great day at the islands. I spent most of it walking around enjoying the site and the sunny weather.

For more information about Suomenlinna check these links:
Suomenlinna official web page
Suomenlinna @ Unesco
Suomenlinna on Wiki

Leaving Suomenlinna we just got in to the city in time for the sunset and a beautiful view.

Back in the city I continued walking around and then I went to have some dinner before I went home. Martin and Elisabete were out for a birthdayparty and I had the house to myself (and the 3 cats). It was really nice to relax after all the walking today :D

Total steps today 15042

Walking and Dining amongst Royals

Today after work two of my colleagues and I spent the evening in Royal surroundings in Windsor / Eton.

We started out leaving the Hotel at 7pm and Paul drove us to Windsor, where we found ourselves driving around to figure out where to park. Windsor was packed with people! There were people EVERYWHERE! We soon realized that the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Windsor Royal Castle Tattoo is going on for these days.

We soon found a parking spot and strolled down alongside the River Thames, before we crossed the bride over to Eton, where the Royals are schooled.


After seeing the school, we went back to Windsor again and we headed up towards the Windsor Royal Shopping Center (which is about where I had dinner with my colleagues last time I was in UK for the team meeting), following the Royal Castle. The guys were asked to help an old lady (probably not the queen in disguise) carry her shopping bags, which they gladly helped her with and I went around playing with my camera trying to capture some good images of the Castle.

The Royal Castle

The Crooked House of Windsor, also known as the Market Cross House, was built in 1592.

We walked in some tiny streets with lots of restaurants and of course we found The Crooked House of Windsor. The Crooked House of Windsor is a tiny house that is completely crooked.

The house was built in 1592 and it has a secret passageway directly to the Windsor Castle that back then was used for deliveries of groceries from the market and some even say it was used by King Charles and his mistress to meet.

The house didn’t start to tilt until 1718 after it was restructured with unseasoned green oak. The building now functions as a tea house for patrons who don’t mind sitting at a bit of an angle; the crooked floors were never leveled.

This passageway is, for understandable reasons, now sealed off :D

As we walked around the Castle, we noticed that the Royal Standards flag was hanging high from the flag poles at Her Majesty the Queens castle – meaning she was actually at home …

Wooohooo. We are now officially in company of Royals! It is a common fact that Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth likes to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show each year- which practically is being organized right outside her doorsteps.

We continued on and we decided it was about time to get something to eat. We walked down towards the lower parts of Windsor and found a lovely bar called The Royal Oak where we decided to have a stop. The food there was nothing else than lovely. It was so good.

The Royal Oak Pub

I had a Lamb Shank served on mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables with a rosemary and red wine sauce. It must be the best meal I had in UK – if not all times – definately for this trip ! For dessert I had a Chocolate Sponge cake – which was absolutely mouthwatering delcious …
I also got a taste of the Treacle Sponge cake the guys had (which I was very much tempted to have ordered instead of the chocolate… it was so good – I have to make that pudding at home one day.

We went home after dinner and it was already so late it was time to go to sleep.
It was a lovely day in great company.