Oslo: So Many Sights, So Little Time
"Every object has a history that also relates stories of its time period." This was the message on a sign hanging above an exhibit in the Nordic Museum in Stockholm, but its message stuck in my mind today as we set out to explore the museums of Oslo.
Weather wise, this has probably been our best day on our trip so far. Although we have had very little rain at all in any of the cities, today it was sunny and warm with low humidity. The Oslo City Hall is an impressive building with a bell tower and carillon. Inside we took advantage of the free English tour and learned that in the great hall just inside the entrance is the place where President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Opened in 1950, it has Europe's largest oil painting.
The Oslo Pass includes a ferry ride to the island with the museums. In the evenings it turns into a dinner cruise. The poster said, "Shrimp au natural, bread, butter, and lemon," which I thought was funny that they mentioned lemon too.
In the Viking Museum we learned that during the age of the Vikings, 800-1050 CE, wealthy people were buried in boats. At the turn of the 20th century, two Viking ships were discovered buried in mounds. Archaeological excavations took place and the items, including the reconstructed boats, are in the museum. Items found in the boats such as carriages, animals, cookiing supplies, and tools tell the story that the people probably believed in the afterlife. Balconies jutting over the boats are conveniently placed in the corners. Apparently the type of blue clay the boats were buried in prevented a lot of decomposition,
The Fram Museum has many artifacts which tell about the life of polar explorers from Norway, Nansen and Amudsen. This story was told through a series of storyboard panels with excerpts from the explorers' journals as well as their photographs. In the center of the museum store is the actual sailing ship, the Fram, and we were allowed to explore it inside. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live on a sailing ship in the winter.
The oldest folk park in Europe is also on the island. With our pass we were able to tour it late in the day. The highlight was a stave church. Stave churches are built completely out of wood due to a lack of stone. Only 28 of these churches remain in Noway. The one we saw dated from the 1200s.
Inside the exhibition hall was an extensive display telling the story of the Sami people. Although the Sami people still celebrate and value their ancient traditions today, the museum explains, people are people everywhere, and the technology the youth has is all the same even though the museum shows an office with a computer that is five years old. This shows that an exhibit can never catch up with real life.
While waiting for our ferry back to the city center, an ordinary ferry pulled up. Looking inside we noticed men dressed in tuxedoes. Suddenly a bride and groom stepped out with the entire wedding party and guests. The groom looked like a prince in full military attire with a sword.
Just a short tram ride away is Vigeland Parken. Between 1924-1943, Gustav Vigeland worked on designing this 75 acre park which is always open and illuminated at night.The statues are unusual in that they show people expressing different emotions, all nude, There are 28 bronze statues on a bridge crossing a stream, and marble statues surrounding an obelisk, People had fun climbing on the statues to strike funny poses. The most famous statue is on the bridge. It shows a toddler who seems to be enraged and throwing a tantrum.
Back at the waterfront, the boardwalk was full of energy. In the evening Oslo looked beautiful with outdoor cafes and the castle lit up on the hillside. I noticed that the full moon bathed the harbor in light. Tomorrow we will see the moon rise again, but this time it will be in Venezia!