Friday, June 24, 2011

Our day in Oslo

Ceiling in the Domkirke
Akershus Fortress Complex
Ceremonial room in Akershus Castle
Underground publications from the Norwegian Resistance Museum
The Gjøa, the first boat to make the Northwest Passage
The deck of the Fläm
The Oseberg, a Viking pleasure ship used to bury royalty
The Stavkirke moved to the Folkmuseum from Hallingdal
Folk dancing exhibition

Why aren't barns in the US this nicely designed?
Clouds over masts at the Bigdøy dock
A view of the gathering storm from the harbor ferry
The scene strolling on Karl Johanns Gate
We had a sight-filled day for our one full day in Oslo.  We started by walking into the central area of the city to look at the cathedral or Domkirke – much less ornate than the typical Catholic cathedral in France or Italy.  From there, we walked own to the Akershus fortress complex (the photo is of the fortress as we saw it later from a ferry), where we walked around both the fortifications and the Akershus Castle (see photo of one of the ceremonial rooms, still in use).  Also inside the fortress is the Norwegian Resistance Museum, featuring extensive exhibits of the fight against the Germans.  Excellent recruitment posters by the Quisling government, documentation of correspondence and orders by the occupiers as well as secret correspondence among the resistance, underground publications, secret radio transmitters, the like.

From there we walked down toward the City Hall or Radhuset (ugly, brutalist construction!).  We had planned to visit the room where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, as well as some nice murals  But the ferry for Bigdøy was just pulling in, so we boarded it instead.  Bigdøy is a peninsula across the harbor with a variety of excellent museums, as well as some picturesque new and old houses.  We got off the ferry at the second Bigdøy stop, looking at the polar exploration museum (see photo of the Fläm that Admunsen and Nansen took on their Arctic and Antarctic explorations) and the “Kon Tiki” museum dedicated to the expeditions or Thor Heyerdahl.  Outside both museums was the Gjøa, said to be the first boat to make the Northwest Passage (pictured)

Then we walked to the other clump of museums, including the Viking Ship Museum that hosts three ships that were used to bury Viking royalty under burial mounds, and so were recovered partly or largely intact (the photo is of a pleasure boat dating from 834 AD). Then we went to the Folk Museum, a 35 acre tract onto which 150 building have been moved from all over Norway, including the pictured Gol stave church, originally built in 1212 in Hallingdal, as well as farmhouses, barns (photo), and other building.  We watched a folk dance performance (see photo), and joined in a circle dance at the end.

We walked back to the ferry and looked a bit anxiously at the clouds rolling in, presaging rain the next day).  Hitting land, we strolled down Karl Johanns Gate and took in the street scene as well as the nice typical downtown architecture.  We relaxed at the hotel before heading out for dinner.  The restaurant we were looking for in the newly hip Grünerløkka district had closed, so we heading over to the Grønland district for an inexpensive Turkish dinner.   It was just getting dark as we finished dinner around 11 PM.

(And a special shout-out for Thomas Bartholdsen of the Norwegian Consumer Council for his painstaking suggestions of an itinerary for our time in Oslo).

One nice possible tip for future tourists.  We bought the Oslo Pass which did very well by us, but there is a quirk about its operation that could have let us use it for a longer period.  The pass is bought for a set time period, such as the 24 hours that we bought, but the use period runs from when it is first time stamped.  Apparently, museums cannot affix a time stamp, only the modes of transportation such as subway train or bus can do that.  So, we first used it in the late afternoon when we visited the National Gallery, but it did not get time-stamped until we took the subway back to our hotel after dinner.  In theory, then, we could have visited several museums on the first day without starting the time running, and then have kept using the pass until 24 hours after the first subway ride.  As it turned out, though, our last use of the passes -- for the ferry back from Bigdøy, was roughly 24 hours after we first used the passes to enter the National Gallery. 

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