Days 14, 15, and 16 – Island, Fortress, Ferry

Day 14

I started the day off up bright and early. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to wander around places without very many other people, and the Akershus Fortress opened at 06:00 (No, I wasn’t there at that time, more like 08:00). So off I went. It really was empty! Of course, there’s always guards on duty, as it is a national fortress and castle, and I didn’t realize this until I turn around and see one standing back in the trees. They patrol around, so they can appear in places you were looking earlier and no one was there. Scared the shit out of me! They carry big guns too.

Anyways, gave some timer selfies a try. Most looked horrible, half shadows doesn’t do well for my camera at all.

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The fortress was interesting to wander around, but there’s not much in the way of information. I found it amusing to look up the side of the castle (which was closed on this day) and see the many different building materials.

It's easy to see 3 different types of stone here.
It’s easy to see 3 different types of stone here.

After this, I decided to check out one of the islands in the Oslo bay area. I went with Hovedøya, the one that the past day had the most people in line, and the sign with a two sentence description said it was a good recreation and beach area.

There was also a monastery ruin, which is part of where some of the different stones for the fortress came from.

Just free to wander around as you please
Just free to wander around as you please

Going over a hill on the path to the beach and I heard some weird noise, get to the top and see these lovelies staring back at me.

 

Apparently used for mowing that area
Apparently used for mowing that area

I wasn’t properly prepared though. Everyone else that went over was ready with lunch/snacks and beach gear. People were carrying foam mats, which made more sense when I saw that they would simply lay on the hard rocks. I grabbed a bench and did a little reading before ending up hungry and heading back. I took the ferry that made stops at some of the other islands, just to get a mini sight seeing trip out of it.

After grabbing lunch, I did a bit of shopping. I had a mission when I went to Norway to come home with some Comfy Balls Boxers, and so needed to find those. I heard of them through the Norwegian Curling Team, Team Ulsrud. They did a hilarious commercial for them, which I have to link even though I’m sure no one else will find it as funny as I did. Anyways, mission accomplished. No other shopping needed here where everything is so expensive.

My next task was finding some food for dinner and for my next days lunch, as I planned to go back to the beach, this time better prepared (including sunscreen). Grocery shopping in a country that speaks a different language will never be a simple task. Perhaps it would be less difficult if I wouldn’t end up sick if I ate the wrong things. So far, meat, cheese and crackers have been my go-to snack, once I found GF crackers.

Day 15

Pretty much the same activities as yesterday, just in the reverse order. That and the castle at the fortress was to be open, so I went back. I will never understand why displays which contain chronological information are presented out of order. Makes it rather difficult to follow. Oh well.

Turns out this castle ran into the same problem as most castles/churches/towns and burned down a few times. That’s part of the reason for the many materials. The other is that it went through many different uses over time and fixes/improvements were done and no one bothered to care what they were using to build the walls so long as they stood.

This is the fortress where Norway was overtaken by the Nazis in 1940 at the beginning of the German Occupation of Norway. Luckily, they managed to sink a ship which held off the Germans long enough to allow the King to escape.

Castle Pictures:

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Beach pictures:

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Then I went back to my hostel, grabbed my stuff, and headed to the boat I was taking to Copenhagen.

The boat was like a mini-cruise ship. I did some laundry quickly, grabbed dinner, wandered around, watched the scenery, and then was bored. So I went off to grab a drink. I ended up running into some ladies that were heading to Copenhagen for the day as a girls night/weekend trip. I ended up spending the rest of my evening with them, which was quite fun! The Thursday night trip must not be the party trip though, because pretty much all the bars and club were empty, and there was a lot of them.

Day 16

Off the boat with my clothes that apparently do not all dry in 12 hours (sad). The ferry terminal in Copenhagen is not quite in the city. They provide a bus that brings you to the city center, which being that my hostel was by the train station, I figured was good enough. Well, at least I got a lot of walking in. It’s always tough to find your way around a new city. Usually it takes me a couple times walking around, then I’ve totally got it, but that’s never when you’re also carrying all your things.

So I dropped my stuff off at my hostel (too early for check-in) and headed to the tourist information, then the store to grab lunch, and then to a park to grab a spot in the shade.

This is where I learn how to get around the city. After lunch I spent some time looking through the materials I picked up and at the map and planned all the things I wanted to see, and came up with a plan of attack.

After everything was all decided, I headed back to the hostel and got settled. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to just do nothing at the hostel, so I decided to check out Nyhavn (pronounced like na-haown, I’ll never really figure it out though). It was packed as it was happy hour/dinner time on a Friday, so I grabbed some ice cream (yes, for dinner) and grabbed a seat on the side of the canal to watch the world go by.

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This happens to be where the most commonly seen picture of Copenhagen was taken. Looks just like it too.

I gave up after not too long and hopped the bus back home. I am learning that two showers a day will probably be the norm for me this trip, especially if it’s going to stay in the 30’s (90’s for us Americans – I had to learn Celsius or I sound crazy).


Day 14

Steps: 22,875

Floors: 35

Day 15

Steps: 20,260

Floors: 87 (lots of stairs on that ferry boat!)

Day 16

Steps: 18,485

Floors: 23

 

Day 13 – Ships and Sculptures

I started today out heading to the Maritime Museum in Oslo. The museum is located on the end of a peninsula, which has a ferry that runs between there and essentially downtown Oslo. I bought myself a 24 hour transportation ticket (bus, tram, ferry) and got ready to go. Turns out, the ferry to the museums is the only thing on the maps that doesn’t work with a normal bus ticket. So bus it was.

Almost everyone else got off at the Viking Ship Museum, but I kept going. The museum had been open for about an hour by the time I got there, yet there was no one in the exhibits. Like really, I was the only one in there for a long time. They had a lot of awesome information about shipping in Norway. Did you know that the largest cruise-lines in the world started from Norwegian Ferry companies? Nope? Me neither. I finally figured out what they meant by the different styles of boat building, which is useful, if I was going to build some ancient boats, or if I’d known it when reading descriptions for the past 6 days.

The view out from the museum, towards the fjord and the islands.
The view out from the museum, towards the fjord and the islands.

The views from outside the museum were quite amazing as well. Turns out lots of people in Oslo own sailing boats. Not sure if you can even distinguish one mast from another in the picture.

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From there, I headed back up the road to the Viking Ship Museum, which was still crawling with people. The museum has the remains of 3 viking ships which were found in Norway, between 1896 and 1904, and have been preserved and reconstructed. The ships were all used as burial vessels for important people of the time (all are believed to have been buried before 920). The first one was assembled from 90% original material! The second one, not as much, and the third one… just scroll to that picture.

First Ship
First Ship
Second Ship
Second Ship
Third Ship!
Third Ship!

The found a fourth around the same time, but that one had nothing left of the actual ship. They found lots of bits and pieces to go with the burial. The Viking people appear to have believed in the after life and that you needed the same material things there as in the living world, so animals, food, tools, etc. were also buried with the person. They believe jewelry was also buried, but the mounds were all robbed (evidenced by broken things) shortly after the entombment.

Hopped the bus back to town and up to the Vigeland Park. This is something I need to read up on a bit more, but I couldn’t talk myself into the museum with how nice of a day it was. Essentially it’s a large park a bit outside the city center, with a ton of Vigeland Sculptures. Some of them are very well known, others perhaps not as much. I, ofcourse, was drawn to the big things, like everyone else. I took some time to look at all the smaller sculptures around, and regardless of the position the people were in, they all just seemed so sad! I could tell some things were clearly happy events depicted, but the faces were so somber and sad looking to me. All of the sculptures are people, with the extremely large majority being groups of people.

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I pretty much just hung out in the park until the massive rush of tourists left. It really is a thing here to just sun bathe and have lunch in the park (which I was happy to participate in). Lots of people were in the park: some groups of friends, some families, some single people. A lot of the groups and families were grilling food. However, grilling here is totally different than home. Since everyone travels by bus/tram or bike or walking, no one owns actual grills. And there aren’t any in the park. But you can buy these one time use grills from the grocery stores! Pretty neat contraptions if you ask me. No long time grilling on them though, and probably nothing that wasn’t pre-cooked.

I was glad I brought sunscreen with me otherwise I would be fried pink! Such a nice day. Now off to my room, where I now have 3 other roommates!


 

Steps: 16,480 (even with a bus pass!)

Floors: 23

Days 11 and 12: Train, Hostel, Oslo!

Day 10

I caught and early, but not too early, train to Oslo. We left at 07:57, right on time. Of course, the first time I’m using a train as my method of transportation to get from one place to another, it ran into problems. Turns out, there were some electrical problems past Myrdal (where we got off to go to Flåm) in the mountains. So we got to spend around an hour and a half at the station in Voss. Lucky for me, I was staying at the end destination for the train, other people had some bigger problems. However, the conductor went around to each person and asked where they were going, and then solved how to get there for them. Pretty awesome as that would be hard to do on the fly.

The track is only single wide for most of the trip, so if there’s a problem somewhere, it affects all the trains as the passings are very well coordinated at the specific locations where there is double width track. It’s not surprising that there is only one track when you see what the train goes through. Past Myrdal, we hit the mountains. The top elevation of any station was 1222m above sea-level. People got off with their cross country skis.

Left: see the chair-lift for skiing. Top: just a pretty view. Bottom: Lots of snow.
Left: see the chair-lift for skiing. Top: just a pretty view. Bottom: Lots of snow.

The train then goes down the mountain, and the rest of the trip is pretty much through pretty green valleys. Coming into Oslo, the train runs mainly underground.

I made it to my hostel safe and sound, without getting lost, and they even had my reservation! That’s a win in my book. I got assigned my room and bunk and handed all my linens. Off to make my bed. I thought that having to make a top bunk bed was done the day I moved out of the dorms in school. Nope. Top bunk it is. No one else joined me on night one, but they say to use the bed they assign, so I have been!

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A quick trip to the Tourist Info for some maps and that was that for the day. Spent the rest of the time planning what I’m doing in Oslo.

Day 11

Today was day 1 in Oslo, and the first day that I’ve been traveling on my own. Eek!

I decided to start the day off by heading to the Edvard Munch museum (by way of the botanical gardens). Right now they have it displayed where it compares Edvard Munch and Van Gogh. It was interesting to see where they drew comparisons, because when I just look at their body of work, they seem so entirely different, but when they break down the influences, it was really cool to see the similarities. Most of the Van Gogh pieces were on loan from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, which is also on my to visit list.

I learned the very valuable piece of information, that we should all go back to coloring with crayons. Perhaps the most famous Munch piece is “The Scream.” Which it turns out is a crayon drawing on cardboard. So much for claiming art supplies need to be expensive if you want to be famous.

No pictures allowed. Sorry. You can probably google all the works anyways.

I then meandered down the road back towards city center, with a stop at the grocery store for lunch. Saving up my food budget for places that have interesting food. The top restaurants on Trip Advisor, and on the bulletin board in the hostel are other foreign foods, like Indian or Thai. Weird.

Off to the Opera House because it was a gorgeous day. The Oslo Opera House is a rather new building (2008) and is designed to allow you to walk on the roof. Mind you, the roof also goes into the water on one side, so maybe it’s not so much of a roof in that spot. Either way, it’s something you can’t do elsewhere.

Top: where I was when I took the big picture. Middle: steps and channels in the roof. Bottom: different finishes on the stone
Top: where I was when I took the big picture. Middle: steps and channels in the roof. Bottom: different finishes on the stone

Most of the stone has a rough texture to it. I’m sure that’s designed so people don’t wipe out all the time. But as you can see in the bottom picture, maybe, there’s other textures to it too. I’m not sure what the function of it is, but some was smooth, and some had a wave texture. In the middle picture I tried to capture the fact that the roof isn’t a flat surface. There are lots of channels running down it, and spots where it comes up and you have to step down, but not across the whole area, just part. I’m sure seeing the building in the rain or snow would answer some of my design questions, but hopefully I won’t be doing either while I’m here.

Next up was a tour of the Grand Palace, or Royal Residence. This is where the king and queen live, and conduct business. You can take a guided tour, thankfully in English, multiple times a day. There are a lot of tours in Norwegian as well. The Palace is only open for tours for roughly a month in the summer, and hours are overall limited as it is still used for it’s intended purpose. Did you know that the Norwegian King and Crown Prince meet with the parliament cabinet every week?! Other things I didn’t know was how recently Norway became it’s own sovereign state, having been in a union with Sweden until 1905. There have only been 3 kings of Norway. When they decided that they wanted to have a monarchy, they had to go out looking for someone to be their king, as Norway no longer had a royal family after so many years under other rule. I’m going to have to look up the history of who ruled Norway here soon.

Anyways, the palace is gorgeous, and apparently small (173 rooms, in comparison to 600 or 700 other places). We got to see some of the functional rooms, along with the reception halls and a visitors suite (the nicest one, where only heads of state are allowed to stay). Once again, no cameras, or anything else with you for that matter. We even had to wear booties on our feet! So a picture of the outside is the best I can do. There’s a huge park around the palace as well, that was designed at the same time as the palace, back when the palace wasn’t part of the city (it was finished in 1849).

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That was the end of my day because it started to rain, and I decided I should probably sit down for a bit. Now I’m not moving ever again! (Until tomorrow)


Day 10

Steps: 9,569

Floors: 20

Day 11

Steps: 25,313

Floors: 51 (floors also count steep uphills)