Fredrikstad & Oslo Norway 5 & 6 June 2014

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June 7th 2014
Published: June 7th 2014
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Fredrikstad & Oslo Norway 5 & 6 June 2014

After crossing from Sweden into Norway with a heavy cloud in the sky and a little rain. Not even this could have lowered our spirits because we have been looking forward to actually seeing the amazing scenery we have seen in photos....and more.

Norway is one of Europe's most sparsely populated countries. With a population of only 5 million people and a land area of 385,802 km2, the population density is only 16 inhabitants per km2. Most of the population are Norwegians. The indigenous Sami people traditionally inhabit the northern part of Norway, that along with parts of Sweden, Finland and Russia outlines an area known as Sapmi (or Sameland). Other recognized minorities are the Kven people, Jews, Forest Finns, and Norwegian Romani Travellers. In recent years, immigration, in particular from the European Union, has increased greatly.

Norway is no longer formally a Christian country. In 2012, the government seperated from the church, leaving the country without an official religion. Before this, almost 85%!o(MISSING)f Norwegians were part of the national church, even though most Norwegians are either atheist or agnostic and the regular church attendance was, and still is as low as 5%.

Norway has become rather liberal in moral issues and thus similar to neighbours like Denmark and Sweden. Homosexuality is accepted by most people and recently (2008) same-sex marriage was given the same legal status as traditional marriage.

Norwegians enjoy the second-highest GDP per-capita in Europe (after Luxembourg) and fourth-highest GDP per-capita in the world. Today, Norway ranks as the second-wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation.

The country is richly endowed with natural resources including Petoleum, hydropower, fish, forests and minerals. Large reserves of petroleum and natural gas were discovered in the 1960s, which led to a boom in the economy.

We drove off the motorway and popped into a town called Fredrikstad, established in 1567 after Frederik 11 gave permission to establish a new town after Sarpsborg was burned down. Fredrikstad became a fortress town in 1663 and Gamlebyen (the Old Town) developed within the bastion walls. We saw cobbled streets, shops, restaurants, handicraft centre, the old Town Hall, Rampart Gates, and a draw bridge that was built in 1957.

It was well worth the stop. We then drove further north to Oslo. We had found a parking spot for motor homes on a Marina but do you think we could get there? Not until we stopped several times and then asked a young fellow at the Oslo Folk Museum to Google Maps for us. He printed the directions out for us.

Before parking for the night, we visited the incredible Viking Ship Museum where the world's three best-preserved wooden Viking ships from the 9th century are on display at the Viking Ship Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula, which also shows Viking tools, sledges, a horse cart and wood carvings. These ships were used to transport highly ranked chieftains on their last journey to the kingdom of the dead. A few bits of jewellery, weapons and implements were found (which weren't stolen), as well as wagon and sleighs, which were beautifully carved and decorated with silver nails.

The ships were unearthed in 1904 and have been dated as 1000-year-old ships. They were covered by blue clay and covered with stones beneath 6 metres high burial mound. Ground movement had partly compressed the ship and caused one of them to break up. There were 2 females buried on one of the ships so their clothes and some tapestry were also found.

Next door was the Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum) where more than 150 buildings from all over Norway have been assembled. It is Europe's largest open-air museum and was established in 1894. There were many wooden buildings including an impressive Stave Church. Note the foundations of one of the buildings in the photos I have included. Traditional folk costumes, wood carving and folk art were on display as was examples of past lifestyles and demonstration of the culture of early Norway.

It was 6.00pm so we thought we had better park the motor home. By the way, it was still raining intermittently. This attempt to find the parking in the marina was successful. We paid our 200 Norwegian Krone and settled in for the night. By the time it was night fall (10.45pm) there were quite a few motor homes parked. The Marina was busy with boat owners repairing their boats of all sizes.

I was filling the water tank of the motor home and a Belgium bloke came up to me as he saw that we had tape over the opening of the water filling inlet as our cap lock had broken so Tom had gaffer-taped it on. We found out he was a retired General. Two hours later we got a knock on our van and here was the Belgium man with a new cap. How good was that? Oh the friendliness of travellers is wonderful.

We had dinner in the van after doing some food shopping for the next couple of days, and slept well being serenaded by the rain.

The next day continued to rain. After calling Kerrie & Adam before we got out of bed (!!) we rigged ourselves out in wet weather gear and headed for the sites of central Oslo. The bus stop was right out the front of the Marina which took us right into central Oslo at the National Theatre.

We walked up to the Slottet (Royal Palace) and watched a senior guard speak with the guard on sentry watch. The building is on an elevated part of the city looking down the famous Karl Johan Gate (avenue). We then walked down the avenue visiting the Nobel Peace Centre (where I called my sister Sheryl), the Town Hall, built in 1950 to mark the city's 900th anniversary.

We then went to the Tourist Office next to the Town Hall. They were very helpful telling us about Fjord trips and were to get more detailed maps of the country. We went to the book shop to buy the maps but the fire alarm went off before we could get on. So we went next door to the Hard Rock Cafe for a coffee until the alarm stopped. There was an incredibly helpful lady waiter who was very keen to tell us the best sites to see in Oslo. We listened with pens in hand. She loved Australians.

The Norwegian Opera & Ballet was next on our list. The marble and glass building in Bjørvika features award-winning architecture and world-class opera and ballet performances.

Next was the Akershus Fortress where Oslo's rich history is on display in the grand buildings and museums at this 13th-century fortress in the city centre. The fortress is also a popular recreational area with great harbour views. We took lots of photos!

It was then time to go down to the waterfront for lunch (in the rain still!). We found a place called Wayne's Cafe and had lunch. We then caught the tram to the National gallery with Munch.

The National Gallery is home to Norway's largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. Most of the art is pre-1950, and central attractions include The Scream and Madonna by Edvard Munch. Munch mixed nature in with his work of arts. We then walked around the Botanical Gardens of which the museum was on the edge. Still raining!

We decided to go back to the motor home and drive further SW to try and get out of the rain. One advantage of the weather was that it wasn't cold which was excellent. We busses it back to the Marina and drove out of the city. Before doing so we decided to go to the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park. This is an 80-acre park in western Oslo features 212 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Every year over one million locals and tourists visit the park, which is always open. As soon as we arrived, the rain was pelting down. Not to be deterred, we walked around seeing some of the sculptures. Once our umbrellas were not protecting us from the rain anymore and our slacks were wet nearly up to our knees, we decided that the weather had beaten us.

So it was out of Oslo for us.

Additional photos below
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