Cities / Towns Visited: 44
Countries Visited: 14
Steps Taken Today: 22,823
Steps Taken Around the World: 1,545,827
Our time in Norway was sadly coming to a close, and by nightfall we would be in Sweden, but first, one last morning of exploration. With only limited time, we took the chance to wander over to the Akershus Fortress. Now, as this beautiful old waterside fortification is currently being restored you can only access the exterior ground, but this is not so much of a loss; the building alone delivers in beauty. With strong stone walls guarded by a vigilant armed female military guard, enchanting arches leading you to each new beautiful sight, historic old cannons lines up along the crested hill, and an evocative view of the bay.
Meandering back down to the bay we passed by the Nobel Peace Centre. With much sadness however, we had to accept that we would not have time to visit, and pay tribute to the many inspiring people who have endeavoured to make this planet a more peaceful home for all of us, especially in the face of so much war since the awards inception at the turn of the 20th century. It always seems so strange that this award is named after a man who’s most well known invention was dynamite; a somewhat less than peaceful creation; a man who donated his fortune after his death to founder the prize because we was worried his legacy would be one of causing death. Regardless of his somewhat egotistical motivations, it does not take away from the truly incredible acts the recipients of the prize have performed.
Stopping for a quick, and relatively cheap pub meal, we downed our food quickly and scrambled off to grab our luggage. Hauling it down to the train station, and sighing once more at the fact that every long haul train in Europe seems to have in inordinate lack of space for larger luggage, despite the fact that almost every single person boarding has a suitcase, it wasn’t long before we were beginning our 6 hour long trek to Sweden’s capital; Stockholm.
All ran smoothly, but as can be expected we were more than happy to be free of the confines of minimal legroom. Before long we were self checking into our dorm, just us and eight other people because, well it’s Sweden and this was all we could get that was in the city and remotely near our budget. Still, a short trip to the shops and I was whipping up a quick and relatively cost effective meal before we finally managed to slip into our bunks.
As I relaxed in my squeaky bed, I thought once more of the Nobel Peace Centre, and the incredible people who have been awarded this prize. Names we all know like Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luthor King Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama; and organisations like the Red Cross, and the United Nations. But among them people we should know but very few of us do, like Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian who (aside from being the first man to cross inner Greenland, and yes, being that same man I mentioned in my last blog as being the one to prove the polar ice cap moves and is not attached to a solid land mass) introduced the Nansen Passport, which helped stateless refugees who were displaced by war between 1922 and 1938 to travel safely to new homes. These passports were recognised by some 50 countries. He was such an ambassador for refugees that after his death the League of Nations started the Nansen International Office for Refugees, which would later win the Nobel Peace Prize as an organisation. Or how about Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to win the prize, an Iranian lawyer and former judge who founded the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, and fought tirelessly for the rights of women, children, and refugees. These and many others should be common household names and yet if you mention them very few people know of them, and even fewer know what their achievements were.
These prize winners, these more than 104 people and 23 organisations who have fought and continue to fight for the rights of vulnerable and oppressed people, refugees, women, children, minorities, and the underprivileged, stand as an inspiration to us all. They are a light in a too often dark world. Their actions force us to take stock of our lives; to check our privilege. They dare us to be better; to stand up for what is right, even if it ruffles feathers, and sometimes even if it means risking our lives; to help those who are unable to help themselves; and most of all, to live a life of altruistic compassion in the hope that one day this world may find peace. May we follow their example everyday.