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Around Oslo

The year 2000 marked the 1000th birthday of the city of Oslo. By chance, many of the birthday celebrations took place the weekend of our visit -- called "Mad Weekend" in the local paper. The downtown location of our hotel, the Continental, put us in a great position to take part in the festivities. (http://www.hotel-continental.no) The Continental is located on the Storingsgaten, a boulevard that runs about a mile from the Stortinget, or parliament, to the Royal Palace. The hotel is right across the street from the National Theater, next to a subway stop, and just around the corner from the modern Rådhuset or Town Hall. The waterfront is just on the other side of the Town Hall. The Town Hall chimes play a different melody each hour, and I remember groggily hearing them ring Griegg's "Hall of the Mountain King" late one night. The Town Hall is the big red brick building in the background of the "Ready, Aim Fire" picture of William and a cannon.

Oslo reminded us of Seattle, with mountains rising nearby and a lively harbor opening onto a long waterway. On Saturday, we took a guided tour of the city center area. Our guide, Iori, met us in the hotel lobby and took us to see Ibsen's home, the Royal Palace, the University, Munch's Scream in the National Museum, the Town Hall, the shops in Aker Brygge, and a boat tour of the harbor. Iori provided us with a great commentary on Oslo and its history.

Because of the 1000th birthday celebration, we saw a lot of unique sights: carnival rides on the waterfront; a tall crane in a park for urban bungee jumping; University students had painted the value of pi to thousands of digits down the main street; and everywhere you looked, banners, umbrellas, and little cars advertising Ringnes beer -- along with plenty of the fine beverage itself adding to the festivities. As we walked out of the Town Hall, we saw a big crowd gathering around an unusual-looking sports car. It turns out this car is Il Tempo Gigante,  the star of a one of Norway's favorite movies, Flåklypa Grand Prix (http://www.media.mit.edu/~solan/norway/pages/jul02). Our guide told us this is probably Norway's most famous car. It was being driven by its creator, Ivo Caprino, who brought it into town for the special occasion.

Royal Palace
Royal Palace

Royal Guard
Guarding the Palace

Norway's Most Famous Car
Norway's Most Famous Car

Modern Viking Boat
Modern Viking Boat

Stave Church
A Stave Church from the 13th Century

Family Hike
Hiking in the Mountains Above Oslo

Oslo Town Hall Mural
Mural inside Oslo Town Hall

Vigeland Park
Vigeland Park

We spent most of Sunday outdoors, and it was a beautiful summer day. After our big hotel breakfast, we attended the Lutheran service in the Domkirke, then took the subway to the Majorstuen stop and spent a couple of hours at Vigeland park (http://www.museumsnett.no/vigelandmuseet/eindex.htm). The sculptor Gustav Vigeland donated most of his life's work to the city, which created an 80-acre park to house his marble and bronze statues. From Majorstuen we continued on the subway up into the mountains, to Frognesetern. This area is sort of the end of the "urbanized" zone. The Holmenkollen ski jump is here, and trailheads lead upwards from the end of the tram line. We hiked a ways up to a big TV transmission tower, and took the elevator ride up to the observation platform to get the 360 degree view of mountains, city, fjord, and forest -- all the way to Sweden. Our hike back down included a traditional Norwegian dinner of meatballs and "mushy peas" at the Frognesetern Hovedrestaurant (Home-Restaurant). The desserts included Jello cheesecake like JoAnne Shekleton makes!

Monday was cloudy in the morning and rainy in the afternoon, and we spent this day at museums on the Bygdøy penninsula -- a short ferry ride from the hotel. We first visited the outdoor Norwegian Folk Museum, which is similar to Stockholm's Skansen. We were especially impressed with the ancient stave church (from the 13th century). Next we walked to the Viking Ship Museum, which has three very large and impressive Viking longboats and numerous artifacts. Then it was on to the the Fram museum, which houses a complete polar exploration ship from the late 19th century. The name Ringnes appears in this museum, as the brewery founders Ellef and Amund Ringnes sponsored one of the Fram's expeditions. We were able to take one more museum that day, the Kon-Tiki museum which displays Thor Heyerdal's famous ship. (http://www.norskfolke.museum.no, http://www.ukm.uio.no/vikingskipshuset, http://www.fram.museum.no)

On Tuesday morning we wandered around inside Akershus castle, then in the afternoon took the tram out to the Ringnes brewery. The day ended with an excursion to the Post Office, from which we shipped several boxes of souvenirs (including Ringnes beer paraphernalia) back home.

Akershus Castle

Akershus Slott (or Castle) is about a 15 minute walk from the Continental Hotel, and we visited it three times. The high walls, cobblestone paths, and cannons appealed to the boys, while Ed and Marjorie enjoyed the fresh air, the quiet, and the view of the city.

The castle was built during the 14th century, and renovated and expanded over the years as a royal residence. By the 19th century it had become neglected, but in the last 100 years was renovated once more. Now it is run by the military as a historic area. The Castle houses several museums, including the Norwegian Resistance Museum, which details the "home front" activities during World War II. We visited the Resistance Museum and also toured the castle itself. Interestingly, when the castle was built it stood in a marsh at the edge of the sea. Over the years, the land below the castle has gradually risen, so that the castle is now surrounded by dry land.


Akershus Castle

The Dungeon
The Dungeon (with mannequin prisoner)

Ready, Aim, Fire!


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This page last modified on January 15, 2001