Finally arriving in Oslo

Trip Start Aug 12, 2012
Trip End Aug 29, 2012

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Flag of Norway  , Oslo,
Friday, August 24, 2012

Woke up at 6:45 and packed our bags. Breakfast was another wonderful meal filled with too many choices, so I nibbled on a great many different items.  We were on the road by 8:30 and on our way to our final destination of Oslo.

Our first stop today was in a nearby town of Torpo, which boasted a Stave Church that was built in 1192 and dedicated to Saint Margareta.  It is the oldest building within the Hallingdal Valley.  Margareta, or Margaret the Virgin (d. 304) was made a martyr, since she had refused to marry the King of Antioch.  As a result she was flogged, humiliated, tortured, and later beheaded for her refusal.  A portion of the church was taken down to make way for a new church next door in 1880.  At the same time wood was used to build houses in the community and items were confiscated.  In the 1970's there was a revival to preserve the old stave churches and try to bring them back to their original form.  After the tour, I talked to our guide, Ingebjorg Tragethon, who happened to live in Gol, where my ancestors resided.  She knew the name of the man who we arranged to meet with (Halgrim Ulsaker), and also of several of the family names that still live in the area.  We exchanged numbers for possibly meeting with her on Sunday afternoon.  In addition, I purchased a guide of the 29 Norway Stave Churches for 125 kroner.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until several hours later that I had taken the Norwegian version rather than the English version.  Maybe I can exchange it on Sunday when I go to meet Halgrim.

We drove through Gol shortly after our trip to Torpo, which was an unexpected stop, since our driver had to pick up a part for the bus.  The Hallingdal Valley is definitely a beautiful area, and can’t wait to explore more here in a few days.

Our lunch stop was at Kroderen Kro Motel, which had a great view looking out over the water.  We sat in at the table and ate our graham crackers and bread we had confiscated from breakfast, and I got some water for my water-bottle.

From Gol, it was about a two-hour trip along the scenic road between the Steinsfjord to the Tyrifjord.  We stopped by the side of the road for pictures with the most beautiful view of the Fjord below.  Here we got our first group shot of our tour.  We should have done this more often, but it is really difficult to organize such a large group, and there are so many people who would want their cameras used.

We arrived in Oslo at about 2:30 and we had some time to get settled in our room.  Our optional excursion was not going to meet until 6pm, so we had some time to kill.  Therefore, we walked two blocks down to the National Gallery, which houses some of the best known paintings by the Norwegian artists.  The price of admission was 50 kroner, but I think it was something that was well worth the cost.  The only thing disappointing was the fact that some of the famous paintings, such as Edvard Munch’s, "The Scream", you were not allowed to photograph.  However, as usual, I did not let that stop me from taking a picture of it from inside the adjacent room.  The Scream was one of four versions that Munch painted in 1893, and at one time this same painting had been stolen from the museum.  Edvard Munch (1863-1944), which is pronounced as “Moonk”, was one of Norway’s most famous and forward thinking painter, who helped usher in the expressionism period.

After walking through the entire exhibit and taking Rick Steves’ walking tour with his Scandinavian Guidebook, we decided to take a walk down to the pedestrian street.  Karl Johans Gate was just down to the end of the block and we turned left walking through a nice park with a statue of Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), whose sculpture garden at Frogner Park we will explore tomorrow.  The street was packed with people enjoying the outside café’s, while others shopped from store to store.

We headed back to the hotel at 4:45 and I spent some time downloading the pictures onto my computer.  At 6pm, we met our group down in the lobby and boarded our bus.  We headed out through the city and up into the hills.  The apartment buildings soon turned to residences, and the higher we got the more beautiful the homes became.  We stopped at a turnout and took pictures of the great view.  When we got up further, we arrived at Holmenkollen.  This was the site of the Holmenkollbakken Ski Jump, which was built for the 2011 World Championships and cost a total of 300 million dollars.  This site was originally the home of a ski jump that was built in 1892 and later became the home of the 1952 Olympics.  After being satisfied with all the pictures, we got back on the bus and continued on up the ridge to the site of our restaurant, Voksenasen.  It was a large hotel perched on the top of the ridge, and used for culture and conferences.  One interesting note is that it is located on land given to Sweden as a gift for their help during World War II.  Therefore, we were back on Swedish soil ever so briefly.  The view was to die for, as it looked out over the city of Oslo as well as the Oslofjord.  Our meal started out with bread and a small appetizer of shrimp cocktail.  This was followed by the main course of a Salmon Trout, which seemed a lot like what we in Oregon would call Steelhead or Kokane.  The meal was then capped off by a wonderful chocolate cake with strawberries and whipped cream on the side.  My father and I had a great discussion during dinner with our table guests, the Wolfgang family from Pennsylvania.  Their family consists of Jayson and his wife Louise, their two high school children, Rachel and Ryan, and Louise’s mother.  It doesn’t get much better than this family, and we really enjoyed getting to know them better.

After dinner we retired to the library and lounge area, where coffee and tea was served.  We took pictures out on the deck of the nice view of Oslo far below.  One funny story took place as I was taking a picture with a statue located on the deck.  It was a nude metal sculpture of a women with no head.  Being the ham I am, I got behind the statue and placed my head where the women’s head would have been, and then cupped my hands over her breasts.  I had Jason take several pictures, and afterwards just happened to look over into the adjacent rooms.  It is was a group of about 50 dinners guests listening to a speaker at some sort of conference.  They were not paying too much attention to the speaker, as most of them were grinning ear to ear and pointing at the “crazy American” molesting the statue on the deck.  I sheepishly walked around the corner and out of sight of the onlookers.

We arrived back at our hotel at about 9:30 and I spent the next 3+ hours writing my blog and posting pictures to my facebook.  Tomorrow is a big day of sightseeing in Oslo, so I better get some much needed rest.
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