Our next stop was Oslo. After having a chance to explore the smaller city of Bergen and the even smaller communities in Nordfjord, we were eager to see what the Norwegian capital was like. The morning we left Isane was hectic; we were worried about whether our 8:30 bus would wait for the 8:15 ferry we were taking. Fortunately, the bus was waiting for us (as Anne Britt and Roar assured us it would) and off we went. The bus ride was long (about 10 hours) but beautiful, with snowy hillsides and pretty houses. At the lunch stop we even got to run down the street and snap a couple pictures of the local stave church and surrounding area.
We arrived in Oslo that evening at the busy, and huge, train station. Taking the tram up the mountainside, we had our first glimpse of Norway’s capital and were looking forward to exploring the next day. Siv (Nathanael’s cousin and daughter of Anne Britt and Roar) and Terje welcomed us into their home, initially to the chagrin of their adorable children who were shy since they couldn’t understand us.
The day after we arrived, we all piled in the car and headed for a favourite museum of Andrine’s (their daughter), the Viking Ship Museum. The ships here were something Nathanael had always wanted to see, especially since we had seen ships in Iceland that had been designed after these original Viking Age ones.
The kids were a bit tired of museum after this so they went home with Terje while Siv, Nathanael, and I went on to the Fram Museum. This museum details Norwegian polar expeditions with a special focus on the Fram exploration ship that has been preserved there. After reading about all the trials and tribulations these explorers faced, I have to say that I would never have the guts to go on an adventure like that. But it was very cool to wander the ship that they sailed in and admire their daring.
Following Siv and Terje’s advice, we set out the next day to explore Ekeberg park and its new sculptures. Unlike other sculpture parks I’ve seen before, where you leisurely walk down a path flanked with statues and their descriptions, this one required a bit more on your part. You actually had to find the statues! Some were along the paths (one that was disguised as a lamppost scared the crap out of me when it suddenly started talking and blinking), but others were off in the forest or hiding in trees or just a ways off the beaten path. After an hour or two *cough* four *cough* of searching for statues (those of you at home know how much I love scavenger hunts :)) we found our way to the bottom of the mountain/park. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city taking pictures, eventually stumbling onto the botanical gardens. It’s too bad that it’s fall and there wasn’t too much growing, but we did see a neat little garden where willows had been laced and woven into cool designs. We could have gone into the Munch Museum, but opted to save it for another day.
Next up, and one of my favourite parts of Oslo, Vigeland park! This park was beautiful; the gates leading in were an art piece themselves, and accordion music serenaded us as we wandered down the bridge leading to the most iconic pieces in the park. Unlike the botanical gardens, the roses here were still in bloom.
A lot of cities offer tourists a deal on public transport and local attractions with a city pass card. We had fun with them in Reyjavik, so we decided to take advantage of the one available in Oslo. And so began an epic day of museum-hopping.
We slept in and got a late start to the day, but we still managed to get to five of the ones on our list. The Kon-Tiki Museum was a lot of fun; even if Thor Heyerdahl’s theory on Peruvians colonizing French Polynesia is now considered mostly incorrect, we still loved the story and ended up watching the 2012 movie when we got home that night. After a quick peruse through the Maritime Museum across the street, we decided to quickly move on to the museum we were both looking forward to the most.
I could have wandered around the Folk Museum for hours. The collection of buildings is stunning. The stave church on display was originally built in the 12th century in Gol before being disassembled and relocated to Oslo (then Christiania) in 1884. Another amazing building in the collection was an old wooden (yes, wooden) house dating back to 1250-1300 AD. That blows my mind that these wooden structures could survive that long and still look, probably, more or less like they did back then. In one of the town set-ups some Norwegian dancers were practising their routine for photos, so we were lucky enough to watch them for a bit.
For our last day exploring Oslo, we really wanted to get in a good hike since that had originally been one of our big ambitions for our time in Norway. Taking the tram all the way up to Frognerseteren we emerged into a quiet, foggy wilderness. It soon started to snow, and the dainty snowflakes soon turned to golfball-sized clumps that threatened to choke you. After a picnic at what we guessed was a scout’s camp, we began to head back home talking about what was next. The plan is to bus through Sweden, staying a couple nights here and there, before arriving in Copenhagen. We have finally gotten a hold of a place we can possibly volunteer at near Copenhagen, so wish us luck!