Exploration Scandinavia: Bergen-Denmark via Oslo. Well, really just Bergen and Oslo.

7/20/2007 06:32:00 am

Well, when we left off last time I had just given you a fairly uninspired account of the first leg of the trip. I'll try to make it a bit more interesting now as we progress down to Oslo on the famous Bergen-Oslo railroad.

As promised earlier I will now bring you an hilarious story about two Norwegian sailors:
While in retrospect it was most likely a had-to-be-there moment, these two were just so funny, especially the one on the left there. They got on the train in Bergen with two massive bags of food, drinks and snus and proceded to alternate eating and napping, eating and napping, for the next 8 hours. Like kittens. Snooze, and then out would come a litre of chocolate milk and some pasta salad, then snooze again. I guess protecting their nation, in their little matchy shirts (too cute for the armed forces, surely?!), really takes its toll.
And I can tell you now, getting a photo was not as easy as you might assume: the one on the right kept waking up just as I would take the lens cap off, and I'd have to pretend I was taking photos of scenery...

Which brings me then to the next part of the story, which is the Bergen-Oslo railway itself. I remember reading in some guidebook a comment that went along the lines, "this trip will ruin all other train journeys for you". And really, it was pretty amazing. As we went from west to east, at times it almost felt like the Arctic Circle again- snow, ice, mountain peaks. And then suddenly lush greenery and massive lakes, all in one day of travel. If only I'd been able to work out how to get the blind back up on the window after pulling it down very far, not far out of Bergen (my ongoing attempts to get it back up caused some amount of amusement for navy boy on the right, but he was too polite to actually laugh out loud).

On to Oslo then, where the weather turned from not so nice, to incredibly rotten. Good thing Mum had held on to her emergency raincoat from Stockholm. Yes, the bright blue garbage-bag-type one with "SVERIGE" printed in bright yellow. Moving on.

I've been holding out all year for a trip to the Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy, mainly because I'm a nerdy nerdy geek geek, but it was worth it.

I really can't get over how well these ships are preserved, or the work that must have gone into their restoration, because they were pretty amazing. Even the Tune, which is really just a skeleton now, still has some intact ribs giving you some idea of just how strong these karv, clinker built oak ships must have been. In terms of detail the Oseberg was really beautiful, but for the sheer size and technical skill involved the Gokstad was mind blowing.

Also at Bygdøy is the Fram Museum, we just peered through the windows, but it probably would have been quite interesting. The Fram ("forward" in Norwegian) was used by Roald Amundsen and others for both the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. It makes the claim of being the strongest ship in the world, which I thought was a fairly broad statement, because surely, if it's really strong, they should still be using it?... But actually, make that the strongest wooden ship in the world and you have me pretty impressed. The idea was that it would freeze into the ice sheet and then be carried with the ocean current, and because of the shape of the hull it would resist the pressure of the ice by sort of sitting on top of it. Clearly I'm no naval engineer, but you get my drift *baboom ching*.

We caught the ferry back across the harbour to Aker Brygge and spent the afternoon wandering around looking for the polar bear statue I posed on many months back (we didn't find him, and looking back at those photos, I think it's because we were looking in the wrong place...) while the rain held off.

Whoosh, this is getting to be a long post so I'll do the rest of Oslo in point form:

-Vigeland Park: more photos on Flickr. Too lazy to add commentary here.

-National Gallery: Picasso, Monet, Manet, Rodin, JC Dahl, Munch (saw Scream and Madonna, got in while they weren't stolen, though they were bolted behind very thick glass)
-Coffee in the nice bread shop on Karl Johans Gate: never realised they had seats in the back and that you can see down into the basement bakery; the bread comes up to shop level in little baskets that move along the roof.
-Ferry to Denmark: very civilised, had cocktails with One Eyed Mickey in the lounge bar (a Prince of Norway..mmn), and at some point acquired more chins than I remember previously having (see photo and you'll see what I mean)

saw Norway and Sweden at the same time

pilfered supplies

marvelled that you can really fit 145 people in one of those life boats, got alarmed by the amount of boat-rockage going on late in the evening, read evacuation plan, freaked self out..went to bed.

Well, Demark and the rest of Sweden can wait. I had planned to write about them tonight but that's not going to happen now since I'm going to Oslo tomorrow and have to wake up before 6.30am, which is about 12 hours earlier than I've been waking up this week. Must pack and do all types of panicky last minute things because I'm going to Milan from Oslo and therefore must remember all kinds of important things- documents, clothes, argh! it's all too much!

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