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Around some of the world in 180 days


NORWAY | Friday, 29 June 2012 | Views [1439]



Day 1

A short 1 hour flight from Copenhagen and we land in Oslo at 1130, where I get a train direct to Oslo S(Central). At the ticket machines, I get my ticket and it reminds me to "validate" the ticket before getting on board. There are only tourists on the platform  and no one seems to know what validating the ticket means. It turns there are machines that will stamp the ticket with the boarding time and the conductor who "caught" me with a not yet validated ticket was very understanding.

Arriving at Oslo S, I'm determined as usual to walk to my hotel from the train station., which I started to regret after 10 minutes as Oslo is a surprisingly hilly city.

I'd only allowed for 2 half days in Oslo as I'd committed to going to Stockholm the next day. So I start the tour of Oslo with a visit to the Munch Museum because it's the farthest from the city centre. The museum houses the works of Edvard Munch and it turns out that The Scream isn't actually in the museum and then I wanted to scream. The painting is housed in the National Gallery, 5 minutes walk from my hotel. Housing a collection of who's who of the art work with an entire room dedicated to Munch and of course contaiings The Scream. Even though I've seen the painting many times, I'm still blown away seeing this great painting. I'm not a great student of art, but the museum did a great job of explaining many of the artistic styles on display. A couple of hours later and I decide to head for a late lunch in Karl Johan's Gate, a pedestrianised street and major shopping district. 

The next stop was the Nobel Peace Centre. Exhibitions introduce the visitors to all the peace laureates and the reasons for their award:

The current Nobel peace prize winners have their own exhibition, detailing in great detail their work. The present 2011 winners are Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakel Karman, who in the words of the Peace Committee won "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work":

I finished off the evening with a visit to Vigelandsparken or Vigeland sculpture park. It's a park contain hundreds of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, a man who seems to have a nudist fetish and quite possibly a crypto-paedophile. Most of the sculptures depict naked people in some kind of activity (not that kind) such as exercising, adults playing with children etc.

Day 2

The next morning I get up pretty early to ensure enough time to see Akershus Castle, Norwegian Resistance Museum, and Norwegian Armed Forces Museum, which are all located in the same area and only ten minutes walk from the hotel. There's a slight, but persistent drizzle all the way down to Akershus and I curse myself for having thrown away the umbrella I'd been carrying around throughout my travels in Asia.

Akershus castle started out an administrative office, a medieval castle, then the royal seat of the Danish-Norwegian monarchy, a fortress, renaissance castle and finally a museum. All this I got from the audio guide which came with the entrance fee. As castles go, Akershus isn't that impressive. What is impressive is the area the castle occupies with it's panoramic views of the surrounding areas as well as the still remaining cobbled streets and ancient buildings of the castle grounds.

Located inside the Akershus's grounds is the Norwegian Resistance Museum, which is one of the best of it's kind I've seen. The museum contains an amazing amount of information about the German occupation and a lot of exhibits considering the German occupation was "only" 4 years. By the time I've finished these, the rain is getting heavier and I make the fateful decision to go to the Armed Forces Museum as. Entry is free, a pleasant surprise for Scandinavia, until I see that the vast majority of the displays contain no English. Still I like military history and I end up spending an hour there (15 of those minute were spent looking for the exit).

With the 3 items done, I walk back to my hotel and realised I've haven't seen the the Royal Palace yet and changing of the guards in 15 minutes time. It's a heavy downpour now. At various streets between the royal palace and my hotel, I'm vacillating between having come all this way and having seen the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace (and the need to get out of the rain). 5 minutes of walking back and forth and I'm completely soaked through and I might as well go to see the guards as I can't get any wetter.

After this, I get back to my hotel at 1400 and wait there to dry up a little bit while hoping the rain would let up. After an hour, there's no let up and I'm forced to leave for my train to Stockholm.

In conclusion, Oslo is a surprisingly compact city with pretty much anything of interest located in the city centre area next to Oslo S train station. It's also a very charming city much like Copenhagen with it's mix of modern and older buildings. The city is expensive, more so than Copenhagen. I'd only change £50 worth of Norwegian Kroners and even then I ended up having to budget, so I was slightly relieved to be only staying for 1.5 days.

Tags: akershus, art, castle, munch, norway, oslo, rain, sightseeing


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