Tag Archives: Oslo

Day 3: Finishing our Oslo Visit

To finish seeing everything we wanted to see in Oslo meant today would be a busy day.

We breakfasted in the hotel, then took the subway to the Munch museum. We got there at 9:30. We thought it opened at 10. We were wrong, it didn’t open until 11. Waiting made no sense, so we got back on the subway to return to center city. This time we got on a ferry near City Hall to visit the Viking Ship Museum and the Norway Folk Museum. The Viking ships were first; one well preserved ship and 2 in not as good shape. The ships were used for burial after their useful life, and found over the years in Norway.

We then walked to the folk museum, which captures how Norwegians have lived over the years. The highlight was a stave church, built in the 1200’s and moved to the museum. Beautiful on the outside, with carved wood paintings on the inside. Next we took a bus back to city center.

We hopped back on the subway to return to the Munch museum. At least we knew the way! The security was tighter here than anyplace we have been, but that is owing to the art theft that took place here several years back, when a copy of Scream and Madonna were taken. Munch’s paintings were organized in chronological order, which was helpful since he painted what was going on in his life at the time.

We came back to the hotel briefly, then went to dinner near the water at an Italian restaurant called Olivias. We shared a pizza, walked along the water, then got some tasty soft serve ice cream.

We pack up tonight, rent a car in the morning, then make our way west toward the fjords. The big city portion of our Norway vacation is over.

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Day 2: Busy Tourist Day

We got a decent night’s sleep for a first night after traveling. The hotel features a fabulous breakfast, including breads, smoked salmon, meats, cheese, eggs, fruit, etc. A great way to start the day.

We have only two full days in Oslo, so we packed the day with as many sights as we could. And having purchased the Oslo Card, we didn’t feel bad if we didn’t spend too long in a place that required admission.

We started at City Hall. Twin brick towers built in the 30’s, it isn’t much to see from the outside. But the inside was fabulous. Most importantly, it is the location where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. We joined an English-language tour, that gave the stories behind wonderful murals and tapestries that tell the history of Norway. City Hall was the highlight of the day.

We then visited the Nobel Peace Center, a museum next to City Hall. It was a museum with an agenda, delivered not so subtlely. We didn’t love it.

We then walked east to the old city. We went into the museum of the Norwegian Resistance, telling the story of the Nazi occupation. Next we visited the Norwegian Castle, where we got to see a lot of rooms, tapestries, etc. Not as ornate as others we have seen, but worth the time.

We then took a tram to Vigeland Park, filled with over 200 bronze statues from the artist Gustav Vigeland. The statues feature all human states and emotions. It was a beautiful, sunny day, about 77 degrees, and the park was full of sunbathers.

We went back on the tram to our hotel. We got off the tram, and happened upon the National Art Museum. We spent a good 20 minutes inside (the museum was about to close), but we saw Munch paintings including scream and impressionist and Van Gogh works.

We rested briefly back at the hotel, then walked to visit the Royal Palace grounds on the way to dinner.

Dinner was at a restaurant called Dinner, an Asian place that was excellent. We had spring rolls, Chilean sea bass and pang pang beef. Delicious.

We stopped by the Parliament building on the way back to the hotel. Like almost everywhere in Oslo now, there were flowers and candles at the gate. Notes are also common. I happened to see one from the British Embassy, expressing official sympathy.

Tomorrow will also be busy, the Munch Museum, Folk Museum and Viking ships. Except for outrageously expensive food and drink here and a little too much sun for me today, the trip is going wonderfully so far.

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Day 1: Discovering Oslo

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We have gotten off to a good start for this vacation. Best decision we made was to fly Economy Comfort on Icelandair. That got us access to the clubs in Dulles and Reykjavik and the same seats as business class from Dulles to Iceland. We did our best to sleep on the two flights, and got to Oslo not total zombies.

We took an express bus from the Oslo Airport to the center city. Without a map or a GPS that could find a satellite, we decided to take a taxi to our hotel. It was a great decision. The taxi driver said we were just 1km away, but he saw our luggage and could sense our long journey, so he told us to get in. He recounted his experience from last Friday, being just a few blocks away, hearing the explosion that feeling the shock waves. He said the center city had been deserted the first 2 days after the attack, and he hoped that tourists would come again to experience Oslo, saying it is beautiful and safe. We told him that is why we came, because we had wanted to see Norway and now we could add our support.

Our check-in to the Hotel Bristol was funny. A very pretty, perky hotel clerk told us how much she likes the USA and is happy to have Americans visit. Ellen offered her to go stay with our kids while we were gone. The clerk immediately asked if we had a son, and when she was told he was 20, wanted to know if he was single and handsome. She then said she wanted to Facebook him. Ben, you are welcome!

Our room is perfect for our needs. On the small side, it has a queen bed, a nice bathroom and fast Internet. What more could you want? We rested for a short time and then headed out.

We hadn’t meant for the bombing to be the early focal point to the trip, but our location just steps from where it happened gave us no choice. The taxi driver had pointed the sites out to us, the flowers that marked where the dead were found, the buildings that had all their windows blown out, the Domkirke (church) that had become the central mourning site.

We watched as Norweigans came to these sites to bear witness. We saw workers still putting plywood up, the police tape still blocking roads, chain link fences that had become memorials. To us who lived through 9/11, it was all too familiar. We saw the media trucks with their satellite dishes, reporting the grim news. The block of nothing but flowers in front of the church, with Norwegian flags sticking up, showed the pain and the national pride all in one. Ellen and I bought a flower to add to the piles.

We went into the Domkirke, where an orchestra was practicing for a memorial concert and mourners were lighting candles and writing notes. Just very powerful and moving scenes.

The mood in Oslo was not all somber. Away from the sites, life seemed close to normal. We stopped for some cold drinks, and took advantage of our latest technological travel wonder. Ellen had bought several guidebooks via Kindle, and we had downloaded them to our iPod Touches. We plotted dinner, which was at Brasserie 45 near the National Theater. We hadn’t eaten much today, but wanted something light. I had chicken stir fry, Ellen had salmon.

We walked back to our hotel, seeing more flowers in a fountain and in front of the Parliament building.

At our hotel, we bought Oslo city passes, which include museum entry and free public transport. For the next 2 days, we’ll do regular tourist stuff. We feel we’re off to a good start.


Heading Out

It’s time for our big summer vacation. Planned for almost a year, it took on a changed outlook last Friday when the horrible attacks occurred in Oslo. Nevertheless, we’re off tonight for a 12 day vacation. We’ll be in Norway for 10 days, starting in Oslo and including Flam, Bergen, Voss and Lillehammer. On the way back home, we stop for 2 days in Iceland. We were supposed to have vacationed in Reykjavik 3 years ago, but never made it. We are excited and can’t wait to get going. Look for updates along the way, wherever WiFi allows them. If you’ve been to any of these places before, would welcome suggestions.