Oslo Part 2: The Museums and Ski Jump

Sunrise in Oslo

September 17: We woke up Saturday morning to beautiful sunshine and the challenge of what to see first. Oslo has so much to see from sculpture gardens to an Olympic Ski Jump to museums of all kinds.

Not that we needed to eat anything after the meal we ate the night before, but our reservation at the “Thief” included a great breakfast buffet every morning, so we started our day with coffee, pastries, fruit, yoghurt and protein before heading out.

Everything in Oslo is easily accessible by electric trolley, electric train, electric ferry or just walking. We began by walking to explore everything nearby along the wide pedestrian promenade that runs along the waterfront.

It was funny because this Saturday was the annual Oslo marathon. It’s a big deal here, and there were at least 1,000 athletes participating, including some very fast ones. Some of the runners do all three races consecutively: first the full Marathon, then the half Marathon and finally a 10K. The competitors who do all three races consecutively looked awfully tired when they finished, but apparently it’s very popular to compete in all three events among the local athletes, where pushing yourself beyond the limit of ordinary endurance is common. We would never do that ourselves, of course, but it was fun to watch all the runners and the pomp and circumstance of a major marathon.

Our hotel is not only beautifully located, with great views, but it has a wonderful spa with a lovely small swimming pool. We had scheduled a spa swim and I felt bad going inside given the beautiful weather, but Jim was right. My body loves to be immersed in warm water (I’m a Pisces you know!) and I have never seen a pool like this. The pool is lined with aluminum and beautifully lit in a way that makes it appear to be shallow at the opposite end of the pool even though the depth is completely uniform. There were also two steam rooms and a big sauna. After our midday swim we took another nap as we continued our quest to recover from jet lag.

It was hard to choose to go inside with the nice weather, but after another walk we chose our first museum: the Noble Peace Prize Museum. It’s beautifully presented. And although it isn’t perfect and the awards are occasionally given for political reasons rather than merit, Nobel’s innovative idea of creating an international prize for those who work for peace and to advance science was way ahead of its time and most of the winners are truly amazing people. You can even take a kind of Nobel Peace Prize personality test to discover what kind of peace prize winner you most resemble.

On the way back to the hotel we ate a light snack at a restaurant called “The Salmon”. Norway’s salmon farming industry uses these restaurants for public relations. This restaurant even has a small attached museum area and film they ask you to see after you finish your meal. We watched the video. It was top notch propaganda. We have no doubt now that farmed salmon from Norway is the key to feeding the world’s growing population. Do you know that more people have eaten salmon than live in all of Asia? Apparently that’s true!

We tried to see if we could get any football on the TV. The answer to that was no. However, the sports channel in Oslo had some very interesting programming. They were covering a chess tournament where the players (#1 Magnus Carlson and a much younger American challenger) sat across from each, but couldn’t see each other because both players were using computers with big screens to register their moves and monitor their respective remaining time available. Meanwhile, the whole scene was being live streamed on the video gaming platform Twitch, complete with live commentary by several chess experts, who used their own giant video chessboard to analyze the latest moves and future possible moves. Finally, IBM’s Watson computer was generating updated odds with every move as to which player was more likely to win, lose, or draw. The odds shifted back and forth, but even though Magnus Carlson had a 90% chance of winning near the end, the young American somehow avoided a loss and earned a draw. Now, we are chess nerds, but I’m sure we weren’t the only ones who found the whole broadcast quite compelling.

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September 18: We woke up in the middle of the night early Sunday morning (our time) and streamed the Husky vs #11 Michigan State football game which was played Saturday afternoon Seattle time. Woof! But after listening to the Huskies’ amazing first half performance we just couldn’t stay awake anymore. Sunday morning in Oslo there was sunshine once again so we decided to head out to the “Vigelandsparken” or Vigeland Park. This park represents the life’s work of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland and includes more than 200 life size human sculptures displayed in a very large park setting. I couldn’t stop taking photographs. It’s definitely a must-see if you ever visit Oslo.

We love our hotel, but the hotel coffee – it stinks! So when a local walked by us in the park with her venti-sized coffee we asked her where we could get a coffee like that. It turns out it was only a short 5 minute walk away! So that’s where we went next to get delicious lattes as good as any at Starbuck’s before we returned to the sculpture park for more park walking and photography.

After the sculpture park we took the trolley and a commuter train up to the Olympic ski jump that overlooks Oslo from a hill that is about five miles away and 1,000 feet above Oslo’s waterfront. Jim loves trains, and we both love skiing, so we were both thrilled with the journey. And WOW the ski jump is so much fun. I can imagine how great it would have been with all the Olympic energy. After riding up the elevator to the top I noticed that lots of people were zip lining down. This isn’t usually my thing, but it looked like so much fun that I convinced Jim to join me on the quick 30-second, half-mile ride to the bottom. It was a blast and we were both so glad we did it.

The couple behind us on the zip.

After the zip line we walked to the nearby mountain-style restaurant and had an early dinner while enjoying truly magnificent view. When we made our way back to the train station we met another two people. Both of them had just ran the Oslo marathon and one was from Kirkland! She of course new about Dick’s Drive-Ins and was so excited about our newest restaurant at the Crossroads Shopping Center in east Bellevue. Once again we all marveled at how wonderfully serendipitous travel can be because, as everyone who has been to Disneyland knows: “it’s a small world, after all!”

Sunday was a very full day and Jim fell asleep almost immediately that night after putting his head on the pillow. I read a bit and then got to video with James and Robert, who were just waking up to start their day in Seattle. Technology is amazing!

September 19: We both awoke on Monday feeling more rested. We feel like the jet lag from traveling through 9 time zones is finally fading. We can’t believe it, but we woke up again to sunshine. It was a bit chillier (ranging from the mid-40’s to the high 50’s), but truly glorious.

Today the ferry was our mode of transportation as we traveled from the waterfront promenade to a nearby island that holds many maritime museums, including the “Fram” museum and the “Kon Tiki” museum. The Fram is a large, extra-sturdy wooden sailboat that was specifically constructed in the late 1800’s to be locked in sea ice for several years, so that the polar current could take it very close to the North Pole. Before the currents pulled the ship south again, dog teams would try to reach the pole. The mission was unsuccessful, but the ship survived. After many subsequent trips to both Artic and Antarctic waters, the ship was retired, pulled out of the water and the current museum built around it. The historic ship is presented with videos and lighting that make it seem like its still sailing dangerous, iceberg laden seas as you board it and explore it. Launching specially designed ships to unknown territories reminded us of NASA’s Apollo Missions to the moon. What an amazing display of courage for the crew to risk their lives in a wooden boat, over 3-6 years, to advance science by testing theories about the survivability of ships trapped in crushing sea ice, along with the reliability of Artic currents, drifting ice flows, and the ability of a small crew to survive the harsh conditions and complete isolation of multiple Artic winters.

After the Artic Exploration museum we went on to the Kon Tiki Museum where the story is shared about the Norwegian scientist and explorer Thor Heyerdahl who couldn’t really swim and didn’t really like water, but tried to prove his theory that ancient Peruvians populated the Polynesian Islands by building a large raft with a primitive sail. Most scientists said that such a voyage would be impossible, so Thor built the Kon Tiki using native balsa wood trees, ropes made from vines, and a primitive sail with the hope that the typical easterly current and easterly wind would carry them all the way across the open ocean from Peru to Polynesia. Most scientists thought they would fail, just like most of the early Artic explorers. But they proved it was possible by doing it themselves, catching fish along the way and drinking rainwater that they mixed first with seawater to extend their fresh water supply. It’s such an amazing story. I had no idea balsa wood even came from a real tree. But there was a sample of a balsa wood log and you could pick it up and see for yourself how remarkably light and buoyant it was. So even though the “experts” thought it was impossible, Thor and his small crew proved them all wrong by reaching the Polynesia Islands in less than 60 days.

After the morning museums we took the ferry back to Oslo’s central waterfront promenade for another yummy coffee and then exploration of the medieval fortress and the WW2 Norwegian Resistance Museum. In April 1940, Norway was one of the first western European nations conquered by the Nazis, but the civilian population continued to resist until they were finally liberated by allied troops in 1945.

For dinner we tried a nearby Indian Restaurant “New Delhi” and enjoyed excellent food and service at a reasonable price. The variety of food we have eaten of the last few days has been excellent, from local gourmet, to salmon, to handmade Italian pasta and fresh cheese, to the yummy local sourdough breads, yummy Indian food, and of course, gelato! It makes us think about the Brad Paisley song “American Saturday night” but with an Oslo twist. The world is such a diverse, amazing, and tasty place!

Tonight, I worked on this blog while Jim was able to conference in to his quarterly Dick’s Drive-Ins board meeting. It’s amazing how technology brings the world together.

September 20th: Our last day in Oslo. Time to do the newly opened National Museum and the ornate City Hall before swimming one last time and packing up.

The City Hall is a remarkably ornate building and it is where the Noble Prizes are awarded each year. Because they have multiple political parties — not just two — there are about 50 City Council members. The guide didn’t know how many actually and was surprised that we thought that was a lot. The murals and views are stunning and hopefully inspiring.

Here’s just a taste of what we saw at the National Museum.

We ended our day with a swim in the beautiful pool and packed for the next part of our journey. We’ve loved coming here and are looking forward to the next stop in our Norwegian travel way up north at Senja Island to hunt for the elusive Aurora Borealis. The weather looks much less nice, but you never know? And the area looks spectacular. Either way it should be another fun True Love Adventure!

Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “Oslo Part 2: The Museums and Ski Jump

  1. Shana Tova you guys!
    So happy you are enjoying Norway’s offerings.
    I really enjoyed virtually exploring, tasting and zip lining with you! The details are delightful.
    I’m having one more day of work Monday and then Knee replacement Wednesday. I’m calling it my 6 month holiday.
    Another grandchild arriving in February.
    Mexican resort with Lou at Christmas, Makaha this winter ( not sure dates).
    In the meantime, all the best!

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