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The traveler: An expected journey This time it's the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden & Norway before England again for several weeks and on to Croatia.

36 hours in Oslo

NORWAY | Saturday, 13 October 2018 | Views [92]

Such a short time for a city with so much to do, namely so many museums! After taking an hour to relax at our airbnb and getting to know the friendly kitten sized cat that came with it we headed out to explore a piece of Oslo. Perhaps the best moments of travel are the early evenings when museums are closing and all that’s left is a leisurely wonder in a park or old part of town with no closing times, no entrance fees, and nothing else to get to except for dinner sometime in the future.

The perfect place for such a time was Vigeland Park, a relatively small portion of a much larger park. In exchange for a studio, and lifetime salary Gustav Vigeland devoted his artistic career to creating hundreds of bronze and stone human statues to decorate the public park. Some of them are beautiful and playful, others my friend described as “weird” and leaves you to question what Vigeland was intending to convey. And all of the statues are nude. The central pillar itself is not entirely unlike the description of the pillar in the Minister of Magic in the last book. However the accompanying promenade past the various statues, fountains, and flower features made for an enjoyable and photographic stroll. As the breeze whipped up and the sun headed west we found an affordable restaurant for a warm dinner, which was mostly Italian with a touch of asian flavor perhaps.

The next morning we took the long way to town by following the path by the river. Given that it was a Saturday morning everything was rather still and quiet. After stopping at the train station to make reservations for our 6 something train the next morning owing to the fact that our earlier reservations had been lost by the parcel delivery company (the reservation system through Eurail is really a pain) we were left with the rest of the day for the museums on Bygdoy Island.

The ferry from the main part of Oslo to the island sounded so much more fun (and quicker than the bus). However owing to our stop at the train station we arrived with the rest of the sight seeing crowd and had to wait for 2 ferries before we were able to get on the relatively small boat considering the interest. Nonetheless we finally made it to the Open Air Museum with over 100 historic buildings from all around Norway. 

The highlight of our visit was certainly the Stave Church with it’s Viking like wooden shingled roofs and gargoyles rearing up from every point. The interior was small, dim, and had a slight, but pleasant burned smell. There are relatively few of these churches left in Scandinavia owing to the fact that they frequently burned down, not least due to the fact that the whole building is coated in tar! That does however make it waterproof.

Of the many buildings on the site only perhaps a 1/3 (usually the larger ones) were open to walk into. The majority of these were variations of the same farm house. In the main, dim room sits a long wooden table reminiscent of Bjorn’s huge dinning table in the Hobbit. In the corner is the fire place, and on one wall a built in cupboard bed (there are a few more beds located in a room or two off of the main room of the house as well). My fantasy of spending the night in a bed like this is tampered with the fact that I can easily imagine how cold it was!

In one farm house was a hand carved wooden roller used in the washing and ironing process. In the days long gone a man would have to make a gift for his beloved when he proposed to her. If she accepted the gift it was a yes, if not, well he left broken hearted. Down the road when he fell in love again he’d have to make a new gift, as he wasn’t allowed to “re-use” the old one.

Before leaving we stopped at the old fashioned sweet shop, which was actually staffed and selling old fashioned licorice sweets by the ounce in little paper bags. You either seem to love licorice, or hate it, and I definitely love it!

After a short walk to the other corner of the island we decided on the Fram Museum, which like the Vasa Museum in Stockholm actually houses the real ship, which in this case is considerable shorter in height, quite the opposite of unstable, and joyfully open to the public to walk through! My friend makes his way through museums much faster than I, so before long I was left reading the tale of Amundsen’s successful expedition to the South Pole along the bottom of the museum wall paired with Robert Scott’s tragic journey at the same time along the top. It’s easy to recognize Amundsen’s wisdom in planning his expedition including the use of sled dogs capable of surviving the harsh winter conditions compared with Scott’s ponies. Tragically from an animal lovers point of view though only the minimum number of dogs were meant to survive the trip.

The ship itself had several previous journeys to the arctic prior to its voyage to the other end of the poles, including being locked in the ice for 2 or 3 years to prove the existence of the northwest passage, or rather the northwest ice flow. Beyond reading that much of its earlier journeys though I spent the remaining opening hours exploring the rooms of the ship. I was actually taken aback at how much room there was on board, and how comfortable and homely it felt. Albeit with bedrooms just big enough for one person to sleep with a few personal items and the common rooms shared by the same people day after day I could see having spring fever months, or even years, before the trip was over!

However our short visit to Oslo came to a close after dinner at a distinctly American restaurant (which I had the hardest time recalling) and an all to short night of sleep.

Tags: fram museum, norsk folkemuseum, open air museum, oslo, transportation, vigeland park


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