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Published: September 17th 2019
Oslo is wonderfully laid out for sightseeing. After breakfast, those of us interested in the museums, hopped the ferry to cross the harbor. The sun was shining and we were all excited to get our day started on the water. The ride over was perfect. There were already quite a few people out on boats and we even saw an 80ish year old woman and her friends out rowing. Water is life in Norway.
The ferry dropped us off right in front of the Fram museum. The Kon Tiki and the Maritime museum were just steps away. We started with the Fram which is dedicated to polar exploration. Again, I wasn't sure I would find it interesting but I should really learn to keep my mouth shut. Ha! Right. Anyway, it was amazing to realize that our knowledge of the polar regions is really very recent. Explorers tried to find the NW Passage for centuries before being successful. The lessons explorers learned from the Inuit peoples, like using dogs and sleds, foods to take and how to dress and shelter for the extreme cold, were really what made expeditions successful.
The museum is exhausting in it's descriptions and so after reading as much as we could possibly take in, we just walked about the exhibits and looked at all the pictures and artifacts. After our ferry experience, I simply cannot imagine hopping on a ship without any promise of reaching your destination or even returning home at all. That takes a different breed of human. Clearly though, we need people like this. The reason we have scientific studies happening in the polar regions today is due to these magnificent men and their hopes and dreams.
The Kon-Tiki museum was up next. Thor Heyerdahl's expedition, captured on film and Academy Award winner of 1951, was the focus of this museum. He and a 5 man crew crossed the Pacific Ocean in a balsawood raft to prove that South Pacific islanders could have come from South America. The film that we watched was fascinating. The only reason I would prefer this expedition to the Fram's is that I could at least get a suntan before I died instead of frostbite.
Again, the research that this team of six men conducts on their trip is instrumental for generations to come. They caught fish to eat. Rain provided fresh water for drinking. The only real dangers were falling off the raft because the currents wouldn't allow the raft to maneuver quickly enough to save you (you would just drift away!) and sharks because you had to jump in to clean off every once in a while. (My guess is that the sharks followed because of fish guts and human waste) Personally, I would have brought a bucket for rinsing off and my rear end would have hung over the side just far enough to do my business. No jumping in the water for me!! I also would have slept in the dead center of the raft and lashed my self to the mast.
We finish up in the Kon-Tiki and head out to the bus stop. The Maritime museum is just across the way but I am beginning to be "museum'd" out (it's a real condition) and I need to save myself because the best is yet to come. We hop the #30 bus and take it a few stops up the road to the place I have wanted to see for decades.
The Viking Ship Museum houses the most complete ship ever found. The Oseberg ship dates back to the 800s and it was found in a mound and excavated in 1904-5. The museum has 2 other ships on display but neither is as ornamental nor as complete as the Oseberg ship. The detail and workmanship make it a wonderful work of art. The museum also has additional artifacts from the excavation like tools, carts, wood carvings, buckets and even some fabric.
The biggest issue for the museum is visitors. When they built the museum, they expected 14,000 people a year. At this point, attendance is 500,000 a year! The tv series, "Vikings", has been wonderful for tourism. They are currently building a new museum which will house the Viking Ship collection as well as more artifacts from the Natural History Museum.
The last stop we wanted to make in the Bygdoy area of museums was the folk museum. It was laid out to show you life throughout the ages. In the Ohio/Michigan area, it would be like Sauder Museum or Greenfield Village.
This museum was a complete letdown. None of the buildings seemed to be open. It could have been the time of year and that it was a weekday. As we were already pretty tired from the previous three museums, we didn't even have the energy to try and enjoy it. We made a quick pass through, only stopping at the stave church which was full of Spanish tourists who wouldn't move as they listened to their tour guide drone on. I took my pictures and we were out as quickly as we came.
Another few stops down on the #30 line and we got off near the Natural History Museum. There was one final exhibit I wanted to see that Stian had recommended. They had some Viking artifacts on display including the best preserved Viking helmet in the world. When the Viking Ship Museum and this exhibit are finally combined into one building, it will have the most amazing collection of ancient artifacts.
As we turned to head to the hotel, we realized we needed to walk up the street with the Freia store. That's THE chocolate store! Within minutes we have a few more Kvikk Lunsj and some other kinds that look like Roll-Os but aren't. Again, I should probably hide them but there are only so many places to hide them in a backpack and duffel. (That is definite foreshadowing).
I happened to notice that A.C. Perch (the tea shop in Copenhagen) has an Oslo location. Lo and behold, it is about 3 blocks from our hotel! We stop in and the young lady asks if we would mind returning in an hour because they are fully booked with reservations. This actually gives us the opportunity to change and try to look partially civilized even if that means jeans and a top with my hiking boots.
We return within an hour and we are seated right next to the window! I love a window seat in any restaurant. Watching the people on the street is always entertaining.
Once again, we order tea and scones with that heavenly combo of clotted cream, lemon curd and raspberry jam. The scones were fresh out of the oven! It's the little things that make my day. We slathered them with cream and jam/curd. Honestly, it would have been embarrassing for someone to notice how much was on our scones. Mom even ate the rest of the lemon curd with a spoon. There wasn't any waste on those plates. It is such a great way to spend an afternoon with my mom. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Full from massive amounts of scones, we are certainly not having dinner but we can't sit in the room all night so we decided to walk around the shopping/cultural district. It's getting late and most of the stores will be closing soon but the weather is nice enough to just enjoy being out with the crowds.
Walking up toward the cathedral, we both realize we had wanted to see it and are hoping it's not closed. As luck would have it, there is a concert that evening! We sneak in along the back and listen to the choir fill the sanctuary with beautiful sounds. There is a conductor and a piano accompanying them. More people are arriving late and I find all of the movement distracting so I close my eyes and let the music take over. I don't know why church is such an emotional trigger for me. It's almost always overwhelming in a good way.
I notice a couple get up to leave just as a soloist steps up into the pulpit. I grab Mom and sit down before someone else notices the open spot. We sit and enjoy for a while longer but not knowing how long the program is (the church is open the entire night), we take an opportunity during a piano interlude to make our way back out into the night.
Still too early to turn in, we stop into Winston Churchill's Public House for a beer. Well, I'm drinking beer. Mom has developed a fondness for non-alcoholic ginger beer. I ask the bartender for a local beer and he point to the Ringnes Hoppy Lager! Ringnes happened to be my favorite Norwegian beer before they were bought out by Carlsberg and even though it's not the same beer, I'm happy to try something of the same name. Mom and I take a seat and chat about nothing for a while.
Before long, we head back to the hotel. We have one more thing we'd like to fit in before we leave the city.
Oslo has been terrific. Anyone want to come back with me?
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