Treasures of Scandinavia & Russia

Oslo, Norway

Friday July 26, 2008

From the Navigator
After disembarking the pilot at Arhus, we will set a northerly course towards the Oslo pilot station, where we expect to be at 9:00am. Then we will proceed 54 miles inland towards our berth in the heart of the beautiful city of Oslo.

Scenes from our fjord transit

We expect to be docked by 9:00am. (Unfortunately another cruise ship was already occupying the preferred berth, so the Rotterdam was relegated to a cargo handling berth at Paulsenkaia in the far eastern section of the port.) This precluded all but the hardiest souls from “walking into town and back”. One member of our group came back to the ship in the afternoon with murder in her eyes after her “best” friend, who lives in Arizona, had talked her in to walking the whole way (she is used to NW weather). Although today’s forecast called for sunny weather with a high of 78 degrees, by mid afternoon it was in the high 80’s to low 90’s. There were shuttle buses from the city center, but the fare was $5USD.

Welcome to Oslo, Norway

“Founded in 1050 by King Harold Hardrade, Oslo is a city abounding in ancient history and present day interest, but very little of the early city remains. Duke Erik of Sweden attacked the heart of what was the ancient city, “Alershus Fortress,” only 10 years after it was built in 1310. Subsequently, it was besieged by Christian II of Denmark n 1531-1532 and by the Swedes again in 1537 and 1716, when Sweden was trying to win back Norway from Danish control. Periodically plagued by fire, the old wooden city was completely destroyed by a devastating fire in 1624. All of these reasons explain why there is a scarcity of old buildings in the city today. King Christian IV (the Danish ruler of Norway) rebuilt the town about one mile west of the original site, bringing it closer to the Akershus Fortress and named it Christiania. The King decreed that all buildings were to be made of brick or stone and the streets to be of uniform width.

For the next 200 years, the city progressed slowly with setbacks along the way. It was only in 1814 that Norway proclaimed independence from the Danes and Oslo began to expand. Most of the principle buildings of Oslo date back to this time, as does the increase in trade that finally brought Oslo to economic prosperity and stability. The 19th century also brought about an increase in population. Oslo’s population in 1855 was 40,000 and in 1900 had jumped to 150,000. In 1905, Norway achieved total independence when King Haakon VII was crowned as the first King of Norway since the Middle Ages. Oslo is a delightful mix of old European traditions and a new younger European Union vitality.” (Source: ms Rotterdam Daily Program)
Our visit

Prior to our entrance to the fjord, at sunrise, I was joined on deck by Lorin and we took pictures of the sunrise. Something special about this sunrise was it was accompanied by a “sundog”. I had seen many sundogs growing up in Colorado, but this was a new phenomenon for Lorin. My research describes a sundog thusly: “A sun dog also referred to as mock sun is a colorful patch of light that is caused by the refraction of sunlight by tiny six-sided crystals of ice within the atmosphere. When the sunlight passes through the crystals of ice, it is bent by 22 degrees before reaching the eyes of the observer, thus producing a sun dog. The sun dog scientifically known as parhelion is actually an atmospheric optical phenomenon (the phenomenon involving light). A group of sun dogs are known as parhelia( meaning with the sun).” (Source )

Sundog at Sunrise over the Baltic Sea

Two factors in determining whether we want to take a tour or try to “go it on our own” in the ports we have visited are the; a) arrival and departure times, and b) the distance from where the ship docks to the center of town or the main attractions. For Oslo, we chose the 3 ½ hour “Highlights of Oslo” offered by – our TA, Alan Schiller. The tradeoff of taking a guided tour is not having an opportunity to interact with the local population, as well as not being able to “linger” at interesting attractions and for Barbara not having the opportunity to shop in the local markets.

So, shortly after docking our group met up with our tour guide, Christina, and our tour bus driver, Trond. As Trond deftly maneuvered our “big” bus through the crowded streets of this beautifully city, Christina pointed out highlights of the new National Opera House, The town Hall and the Royal Palace and important government buildings.

Overview of the Park

Soon we arrived at Vigeland Park for a 30 minute walk through the 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron, the world’s largest collections of sculptures executed by one single artist, Gustav Vigeland who lived from 1869 to 1943. His sculptures are unique in that each one portrays some aspect of all ranges of “human emotion”. One of his most popular is pictured below:

“The Angry Child”

One of my favorites is what I call the “Father Juggling his Children”, below.

The majority of the bronze sculptures line both sides of a bridge over a beautiful lagoon which is visible behind the “Angry Child”:

At the edge of a beautiful fountain sculpture, a beautiful Norwegian Woman poses for pictures with “guests”.

Leaving the park, Alan informed us that we would be taking a side trip on the way to the Viking Ship museum; The Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Tower. This venue was used in the Olympics held in Oslo in 1952. The Ski Museum in Holmenkollen, the world’s oldest museum specializing in skis and the history of skiing, is situated in Holmenkollen ski jump – inside the actual jump, where visitors can experience the magnificent view of Oslo.

As we walked through the parking lot to our bus there was a Honda “Gold Wing” motorcycle club gathering. One bike of particular interest was the “family” bike pictured below. The side car contained car seats for the owner’s two children. The little boy is standing next to the side car wanting to retrieve his “binky”. Another interesting sight was the four or five Noregian Motorcycle Policemen who had “volunteered” to escort the Gold Wing club.

Leaving Holmenkollen we drove to our final stop for the day; The
Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset).

The Viking Ship Museum presents great Viking-ship discoveries from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. The world’s two best-preserved wooden Viking ships built in the 9th century. Small boats, sledges, cart with exceptional ornamentation. Implements, tools, harness, textiles and household utensils.

Impressions of Oslo

This is very vibrant, ambitious city. They have built one of the finest Opera Houses in the world, as bold in design as the one in Sydney, and they are in the process of rebuilding the road system along the waterfront. A plan is also currently underway to restore their waterfront to a more people friendly, livable area. They have an excellent transportation system of trains, buses, and ferries. This is another city that I would love to spend more time in if I had the money.

Drawing of Opera House

Ahh, tomorrow is a day at sea…….and our final day of cruising. This may be the last opportunity we will have to experience “rough” waters as we will be sailing in the North Sea along the west coast of Denmark.


2 thoughts on “Treasures of Scandinavia & Russia

  1. Norway is one of my favorite places, have had several trips, you bought back some happy memories for me.

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