Oslo: Day 2
by Céleste | April 10
We slept really well the night before, so we were ready for a day out! Except…Vincent was starting to feel sick. He had a sore throat and just generally felt bad. So we tried to take it easy for the most part, but we had a lot on our list, and Vincent was a good sport.
We started out by just walking around the neighborhood, taking in the wooden houses. We were using another Use It map, this one taking us through the old neighborhoods and ending at the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Vincent was excited because he saw a lot of Tesla cars in the city that day; he wants a Tesla some day, so he was intrigued about how many are in Norway. I was happy because I was looking forward to seeing Frognerpark. I had been disappointed with Oslo so far, if I’m being honest with myself, and I was hoping to make up for that on day 2.
Deli de Luca
For breakfast, we hit up Deli de Luca every day. They have cafe lattes for about 20 kronor each, and they sell skolbrod (rolls with cardamom, they are delicious) for 25 kronor for three. We would buy coffee and skolbrod in the morning, and then eat 2 of the rolls and save one for dessert, or for the next morning’s breakfast. This was a pretty cheap place to get sandwiches as well. It’s definitely a place to keep on your list to save money in Oslo.
Next, we walked by the Royal Palace. The walk took us through the back garden, but we would be back again later for the changing of the guards.
Frognerpark — Vigeland Sculpture Garden
We walked all the way to Frognerpark for the Vigeland Sculpture Garden. The park is full of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, who Wikipedia tells me was a Nazi sympathizer. Great. We didn’t know that at the time, and enjoyed ourselves at the park. It still had interesting art, and we had a good time. Here are some of the sculptures we saw and found fascinating.
I think Vigeland also hated babies.
There was a preschool group exploring the sculpture park that day, and it was funny to watch the kids looking at the sculptures. One child we saw grabbed the breast of a female statue and then laughed. He walked away when he realized we were watching him. Kids are the same in every country.
Changing of the Guards and Bari Pizza
We headed back to the Royal Palace for the changing of the guards. Interestingly, when the flag is up at the palace, it means that King Harald is in. You can see in our photos that the king was in when we were there! We first went to Bari Pizza and picked up some really scrumptious gyros (I had a falafel) to eat while we watched the changing of the guards. The guards change at 1:30pm every day, and quite a crowd pops up to watch. The Oslo residents just passed by nonchalantly; it seemed like no big deal to them.
We wanted to sit down in the shade, so we sat at the base of the statue in the middle of the road. We were a bit far away, but we were still able to see the action. It took about 15 minutes, so we got sort of bored. Also, the crowd really seemed to get in the way of the marchers, which must have been annoying for them.
I got bored, so I took a photo of my falafel sandwich. It was interesting to see the process, and I’m glad we went, but it did get overly long. Even one of the marchers seemed bored; he had his head down, looking at the ground for several minutes, waiting to be relieved of duty!
Docks and Ferry to Bygdoy
We walked down to the docks next, to take the ferry across the fjord to the Bygdoy peninsula. You can also take bus number 31 to get there, but we had heard that ferry number 91 was more exciting, with better views. You can also take a fjord tour for two hours from this dock. We had originally planned to do this, but Vincent got sick, so we opted out. I don’t think we missed out on much, since we got to see the harbor by sea through the ferry anyway.
The ferry ride is about 10 minutes to Bygdoy, and it gives you some really beautiful views of the coastline and the city. The staff was very friendly, and Vincent had a nice time taking pictures way too close to the edge of the boat. I think he was just trying to freak me out.
Viking Ship Museum
The reason we were headed to Bygdoy was to go to the Viking Ship Museum. Vincent was quickly getting sicker by the minute, but we made our way through the museum. There are three ships in the museum, two of which are from the year 800.
They were all dug up by farmers on their lands, and they had all been burned and buried as a Viking burial. One of the ships contained the remains of two women, one at age 50 and one around age 80. It’s unknown whether they were noblewomen, or one was the servant of the other. But they were both buried together in a sort of Viking pontoon.
I really enjoyed this museum. I don’t know much about Vikings, so it was fascinating to learn more about their culture and way of life. The ships themselves were amazing, and the fact that they had survived this long was almost unbelieveable. The museum also has a section with items that were found on the ships.
Unfortunately, no jewels or swords or other weapons were found on these ships, due to grave robbers. Vincent was sad that he didn’t get to see any cool swords, but I was happy that the Viking women were prodigious knitters and weavers.
The Norwegian Folk Museum is also on Bygdoy peninsula, and I had an idea that it would be fun to see the Stave church there. We had left the Viking Ship Museum because it was now closed, so I had little hope that the Folk Museum would still be open. I remember walking swiftly to it, saying “please be open, please be open” under my breath. We were in luck! The museum itself was closed, but the grounds were still open, and they contained the Stave church that I wanted to see.
A stave church is an old wooden church common in the Middle Ages in Northern Europe. The reason I was so keen on seeing one is that there is one in my hometown of Minot, ND. It’s the church my sister got married at, located at the Scandinavian Heritage Park. It’s apparently a replica of the Gol stave church in Norway. (The park itself is really cool, and is believed to be the only park in the world representing all five Scandinavian countries).
The second reason we wanted to go, and really one of the reasons for the whole Oslo trip was because my family is Norwegian, and my grandfather always wanted to go to Norway. His father emigrated to the United States in 1914 from Norway, and my grandpa Stan always wanted to go. He never got the chance to, however, so I wanted to use this trip to symbolically visit Norway for him. I wasn’t able to set up a trip to the region my great-grandfather is actually from (it’s about 6 hours from Oslo), but I thought grandpa Stan still would have appreciated the trip. As part of that representation, I brought with me a picture of him and my grandma Barb. I had a plan to leave the picture, with a bit of writing on it, at a church in Norway, because my grandpa was a pastor in the Lutheran church for fifty years. I had vaguely decided on the Oslo Domkirke as the church to leave the picture, because it was the oldest church in Oslo.
But when we got to the stave church, we saw how beautiful it was and sat down to relish the moment. As we sat, a light breeze came through the trees, highlighting how silent and beautiful the area was. I knew that this was the right place to leave the picture. I picked some flowers near the church, and left them on grandpa Stan’s picture in the stave church. I felt like it was a fitting place to memorialize him. And I was totally not crying, until Vincent had to say, “Your grandpa would be proud of you.” Then I lost it. Thanks, Vincent.
After the emotional end to the afternoon at the Folk Museum, we decided to actually visit the Oslo Domkirke. We had tried to go in the morning, but it was closed until 6pm (fate, perhaps?) The church was actually open over night, which I thought might be so that homeless people would have a place to go. We never found out, but I hope that’s the reason.
We went in, and I lit a candle in memory of my grandpa. It was a great end to the day.
By the end of the day, Vincent was pretty sick. He was such a trooper the entire day, through a ferryboat ride to the island, trekking to several museums, and stopping at the church. So I told him he should go home and sleep, while I looked for a souvenir for my shelf. I didn’t find one, so I decided to get us some soup. What better way to get well soon?
We had heard of a to-go soup place called Lokk, located about 4 blocks from the apartment we were staying at. I headed over there and picked up two soups: celeryroot with goat cheese and hazelnuts for me, and a meat stew for Vincent (he loves meat). The soup came with delicious home-made bread, too! And with pink and green butter. Strange, but good. We ate and went straight to bed, so that Vincent would feel better!