The Norwegian Capitol

Trip Start Jul 02, 2008
Trip End Jul 25, 2008

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Where I stayed
The Fabulous Eurodam

Flag of Norway  , Oslo,
Sunday, July 6, 2008

see additiaonl note at bottom added 8/17/08
It looked as though rain was threatening the day as we sailed into Oslo Harbour.  I spent my first hour or so awake with breakfast and coffee on deck.  It was cool, and I needed a jacket as I walked around the promenade with my morning java.  I then spent the ensuing hour writing yesterdays bog entry and posting it on the site, which was a pleasant way to spend the hour in the Explorations Lounge.  Carol, Bob Michael and I were off the ship as soon as we docked.
I was a bit disappointed there was no Viking clad HAL employee to have our photo taken with, but we were on our way and into the tourist info office on the dock so we could purchase our OSLO Pass for the day.  $43 or so US dollars gives us access to all the public transit, and entrance into all the museums we wanted to see.  And we were off just as it started to drizzle a little.
What a lovely city, and I can see what the Norwegians saw in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.  It felt like home, because I felt as though I was in Seattle all day, but different.  Fortune would have it that the ferry service we wanted to take was near by so we were under the cover and out of the rain in no time.   A quick ferry ride (more like the water bus in Copenhagen than a "ferry") and on our way to the Viking ship museum, meeting a few fellow travelers along the way (see pic) [Janna & Greg] from Oklahoma.
A quick walk from the ferry and we were at the museum, which was swamped.   It was fascinating, and we were in and out in 30 minutes or so.  Michael was on a mission to see everything and at one point said he didn't want to see anything, just show up and take a picture and go.  Carol and I just looked at each other.... Like father like son?  Needless to say he was stressed out, and had to be reminded several times to just relax and enjoy.  Several melt downs later he actually did just so because someone was gunna smack him. I have a video of one, but he said he would disown me if I posted it, and tomorrow IS his birthday!  From the Viking museum we took the bus (after asking a local for directions) and headed to the Vigelandsparken.
Vigelandspaken is an enormous sculpture garden, and was AMAZING!  Look at these photo's!  I was awed, and it just kept going on and on.  The centerpiece of the garden being the large monument in the middle of a large plaza surrounded by many of Gustav Vigeland's sculptures.  I particularly enjoyed the gates surrounding the plaza, which were inspiring and beautiful (see photo).  Everyone seemed to relax some at this point. 
From here we took the subway and a tram,  heading to the Henrik Isben museum, and a tour of his residence (the museum is on the first and second floor of the apartment building he lived in with his wife).  We did the guided tour, included in the Oslo Pass, and found it interesting.  The guide did it in English for our benefit, but I felt she was not able to pass as much on to us because of he language barrier.  Michael found it especially  odd that she talked very little about his actual works, instead focusing on the man and his life in the apartment.  I still found it interesting, and the museum exhibit was further enhanced by Michaels knowledge of the poet/playwrite.
Walking back to take the subway again it began raining in earnest.   Our next stop was another subway ride away, the Munch Museum and the famous Scream!  Larry began to sink during that journey, and much needed coffee and scream cake at the Munch Museum café (see pic)  helped lift me back up to "keep up with Michael" level.  I am not a big Munch fan, but we are here, and why not see it.  Some of his other stuff was interesting, I particularly liked two others that we bought prints of.  You'll get to see them when you visit us after the trip.  The whole museum is not that large, and neither is the Scream.  What I found interesting about that picture is that there are maybe 6 or so canvases of the same picture, but with different people in place of the scream.  Interesting.  He must have liked that particular spot.  I only spent 10 minutes or so actually viewing his works, and rejoined Bob back in the café to relax before we headed out again. 
Much debate ensued as to where we go and what we see next.  We should have gone to see the Thor Heyerdahl Kon-Tiki museum when we were at the Viking Museum, but Michael had nixed that at the time in a meltdown.  Carol REALLY wanted to see it though (having talked about it for years to her students) , so we opted out of the National Museum and headed back across the city (back tracking) to see the famous rafts and to lean about his expeditions to prove that ancient peoples could have sailed across the  vast expanses of the sea.  By the time we made it back to that area of the city (subway, tram and busses later) the skies seemed to have opened up and it began to pour.  We trudged on and got soaked, but it was worth it.  The Museum was fascinating, even if I was over the day by that point.  We'd been off the ship since 10:30, and it was almost 5! 
Almost five!  Michael had us scrambling to make the ferry back across the harbour, and it wasn't only raining, it was now torrential.  He was frantic, if we didn't make that ferry, he would miss the Nobel Peace Museum.  Things were beginning to close, and he really wanted to see it.  Like drowned rats, we raced to the boat, and barely made it.  But where was Michael?  He was ashore, frantic because he couldn't find his Oslo Pass.  He even admitted once he was on board that he had a meltdown at that point.  I have never seen him so frantic, and I was like "Michael, it's no big deal, we can pay for you to go on the ferry and to get into the Museum if we have to", but it fell on deaf ears.
Alls well that ends well though.  He made the ferry, and found the pass.  I was soaked to the bone, Bob was tired, Carol seemed the most dry (she had the umbrella), and Michael was ready to see the Nobel Museum which is right at the ferry dock.  Bob and I begged off and headed back to the ship while they went onward.
Some shopping ensued, then a long wait in the pouring rain to re-board the ship.  I was ready for some relaxation!
I left my cloths in a seeping heap and changed into my suit, the spa was waiting for me!  It was and is amazing, all those swirling jets of mineral water, the heated loungers, the sauna.  I was in heaven and finally got warm after 45 minutes of soaking, sweating and relaxing.  Those heated bed/loungers are awesome.  And the view out the window of the castle was amazing as well.  I returned to the cabin relaxed and refreshed. 
Dinner was lovely, preceded by a nice gin and tonic (nod to Jason).  The dining staff wasn't able to reseat us permanently with Carol and Bob,  but the did find a table nearby that we'll be able to ask the people who do belong in the two seats we've been occupying to sit at should they ever arrive.  It will all work out, and I have asked everyone to relax about it because certain people were getting a bit stressed over it.  No wonder there is high BP meds involved!  And gin!
Jumbo Shrimp cocktail began dinner, followed by pate encroute, that I don't remember now that I am writing this.  Did it ever come?  Hmmmm.  The entrée was a filet mignon and shrimp as well, delicious.  Although I had ordered mine medium rare and it came medium well (and was notated so as well) .  Wine and a cappuccino rounded out my meal.  None of the deserts looked appetizing, and who needs the calories.  Much lively conversation ensued, and then Bob suddenly disappeared, followed by Carol who headed to the show (Lord knows where Bob went).  Michael and I chatted with our dining companions a short while longer, then left ourselves and went to the Pinnacle Grill's new wine bar.  Michael had seen a bottle of South African Shiraz he had wanted to try. (I know, Wine?  Red wine at that!  Michael? 
We ordered the bottle and enjoyed, laughing about the day and enjoying each others company.  From there we went to the Silk Den, a cool Pacific Rim style lounge over looking the middle of the ship.  It is so cool, with it's sheer curtained off areas with loungers, and an exotic feel.  We had night caps and met Mark, a nurse/companion for one of the others guests aboard.  We chatted with him and the staff (one of which we knew from the Oosterdam last summer) over virgin margarita's (Michael) and a scotch on the rocks (Larry).  We sat there for an hour or so then back to the cabin, and restful sleep to get ready for Michael's Birthday and our day at sea! 
Gosh I love these beds, and those lovely 400 thread count sheets!  So cool, so comfortable to slip between!  Ah, this is the life!
8/17 My in laws are once again aboard the Eurodam, sailing from Copenhagen to New York on the tranatalantic crossing that left CPH on the 14th... these are some additional notes about Oslo and the Vigeland Park he e-mailed me.  I though they would be a nice addition to anyone traveling to Oslo:

 "Hello all, we have just had a wonderful tour of the southern, land, portion of Norway, south of Stavanger, and into the mountains to the east and slightly north of Stavanger, which is on the most southern fjord of western Norway.   Wonderful trip to a portion of the interior of Norway. However, I wanted to make some more comments on Oslo, and the Vigeland Park located there, which I still insist is a "must see" if you ever get to Norway, and Oslo in particular.  This park contains 214 sculptures, with more than 758 figures, all modeled in full size.  it is amazing.  The bridge leading in towards the center monolith is 328 ft. long and 49 ft. wide.  It alone has 62 sculptures, many including more than one individual, such as "man with baby in his arms"--one of my favorites.  Then, again, before you climb the three tiers of steps to the massive monolith there is a large fountain, supported by six large men, of varying ages.  Outside of the fountain are another 80 sculptures, some in trees (20) and then 60 that are Relief Bronzes.  Then, just at the base of the monolith, are some wonderful full sized  granite groups (36 sculptures, with multiple individuals.  One of my favorites here is the "swarm of babies."  My favorite of all of them is "man and woman sitting with baby between them." and then my second or third favorite is "boy and girl riding on woman's back" using her pig-tails as a "bridal." Please, if you ever get to Oslo, you have to take the bus, or cab, or something to get to this park, as it is not within close walking distance of the port.  Many Best Wishes, all. bob a"
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