A day getting to know Oslo better

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August 19th 2018
Published: August 20th 2018
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This morning we were heading off on a tour to explore Oslo at 10am - I love these 'reasonable' start times to the day! We met our local guide (oops, I couldn't pronounce her name so I have no hope in spelling it) and we hopped on our our private mini-bus. We headed up to Ekebergparken Sculpture Park on the southeastern side of the city and our guide, let's call her Sue, pointed out key buildings and areas along the way. Oslo is another city that is booming with infrastructure improvements and this was very obvious along the way. This sculpture park is relatively unknown to the tourists so we were really fortunate to be able to explore it with only a few locals in the park with their kids, for a Sunday morning outing. There are about 40 sculptures in this beautiful park that also contains a forrest with paths through it. There are some famous works from sculptors around the world - Salvador Dali, August Rodin and even Richard Hudson. We had a very enjoyable walk through the park, stopping to inspect different artworks along the way. Finally - day with sunshine and warmth!

After we were finished exploring here, we headed off to the other side of the city, to visit the more well know sculpture park - Vigeland. But before we headed there we drove through various parts of the city, both old and new. I was so impressed - there is so much more to this city than what i saw on the half day I was here at the beginning of the tour. They make full use of their waterfront areas and there is an amazing fort/castle building will this massive stone wall along part of it. We saw a beautiful that was built in 1666 (and is now an Irish Pub!) as well as very modern, architecturally impressive buildings.

An then we arrived at Vigeland Park and from the minute I saw the gates I knew we were in for a treat. Vigeland Park is the worlds largest sculpture park made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland (1869 - 1943). Vigeland was responsible for the design and architectural outline of the park. The park is free to enter and is open 24/7. Vigeland spent almost 20 years working in all the sculpturges of which there are 212 bronze and granite sculptures. He purposely did every sculpture nude as he believed this made all people equal. Every piece he did was so intricate - you could see all the detail like veins, wrinkles etc. I could so easily have taken a photo of every piece - they are truely stunning. Some of the main works are the Angry Boy, the Bronze Fountain, which is adorned in 60 individual reliefs that show the circle of life and the Monolith totem which is 14.12 meters tall and was made from one single piece of granite and contains about 121 human figures rising towards the sky. The latest addition to the park is a statue titled 'Surprised'. It was originally completed in plaster in 1942 only months before the model, Austrian refugee Ruth Maier, was sent to Auschwitz and killed. A bronze cast made in 2002 is now on permanent display. If you ever get to visit Oslo, this park is a must see.

From Vigeland Park we drove up to Holmenkollbakken - the large ski jumping hill that overlooks the city of Oslo. There have been many world ski jumping championships held here, as well as cross country ski events. Wow, is all I can say as we drive up the hill and got closer to this amazing ski jump! It must take nerves of steel to even consider going down one of these things - although they do have a zip line from the top to the bottom that I would have considered doing if we had of had enough time. Might have changed my mind once I got right up to the top though! The stadium itself can hold 70,000 people so that might help to put the size of thIs place into perspective.

Our next place to visit was the City Hall. From the outside the City Hall isn't very impressive but when you step inside you get to see all these amazing murals that have been painted on the walls, each one telling some part of the history of Norway. After Sue had explained all the murals to us, it was then the end of the tour. A few of us were interested in catching the ferry across to Bygdøy to visit the Viking Museum. It was an easy walk from the City Hall to the pier area where there were some food trucks, so we all grabbed something to eat first. We then purchased our ferry tickets and only had to wait 4 minutes for the next ferry. It was only a short 10 minute ferry ride to Dronningen (wharf) and then it was about a 15 minute walk to the museum. This island has about 6 major museums on it so you could spend a few days over there.

The Viking Museum has the remains of 3 Viking ships - Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune. The Oseberg ship is the most impressive and was found in the best condition, fully intact and buried under mud. The timber is oak and is 1,000 years old! The amazing thing when they discovered these ships, was the other item as they found with them. All these ships were used in ocean-going vessels and they were later drawn up on land and used as burial ships, mostly for kings and queens. In one ship there were two women buried and the Vikings would always include items that they may need in their after life (very much like the ancient Egyptians). Many of these items were still intact, including a wooden cart, combs, sledges, beds, buckets and tent components.

After i felt I had seen everything I decided to head off on my own and walked to the other ferry stop at Brgdøynes. As I was waiting for a ferry I saw a food truck selling Norweigan waffles and given it was my last day in Norway, it was considered my duty to make sure I had one. Hannah had told me all about Norwegian waffles and had made me promise I would try one so this was my chance. I had it with a scoop of ice cream and then they put raspberry jam on top. Omg, it was amazing and i polished it off just before the ferry arrived. Once I was back on the mainland I wandered around on my way back to the hotel, taking in more of the sights. When I got down to the harbour where the Opera House was I noticed a big wooden ship that looked very old and damaged and I wondered what it was. I will ask Erla later when I see her. Back at the hotel I spent my time rearranging my suitcase as I would be leaving tomorrow and needed to make sure my bag didnt exceed 20kg. I then spent a bit of time on my blog as I got ready for our final group dinner.

We all met downstairs in the lobby at 6:30 and then walked together to our restaurant location. Our restaurant (Lofoton) was along the harbour and a good 30 minute walk from the hotel. It is in a modern area that really reminded me of King St Wharf back in Sydney. The service was really bad to start - we asked for water about 4 times before we finally got it and for the first hour all we had was bread and (eventually) water. When the food finally did come out there was a little cheer from our table - and was all very nice! The first dish was salmon that had been lightly seared then covered in cracked black pepper, the main dish was white fish from the cod family served with cauliflower that had been grilled and desert was a black currant sorbet with chocolate and black currents.

After dinner we said farewell to some of the people that were heading off to another hotel and the next the rest of us walked back to our hotel. I mentioned the ship to Erla and at first she was bemused and didn't know but then when I showed her the photo she was very excited. Apparently this ship belonged to Roald Amundsen (one of my favourite Polar explorers!) and was what he had used to explore the northern polar regions. His ship Fram, which he used to explore Antarctica, is in the Polar Ship museum which, if I had more time, I would have loved to have visited. The exciting thing is this ship has just been discovered after 100 hours buried under ice in Greenland and has only just that day returned to Norway. So we all decided to head to where I had seen the ship and sure enough, it was still there and now that I knew it had belonged to Amundsen, I was even more thrilled that this is how I would end my Norwegian holiday 🛶.

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