Scandinavia 2013:
Day 1 - Oslo, Norway


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Scandinavia 2013: [Day 1 - Oslo] [Day 2 - Oslo] [Day 3 - Copenhagen] [Day 4 - Vilnius] [Day 5 - Stockholm] [Day 6 - Stockholm] [Day 7 - Umeå] [Day 8 - Umeå] [Day 9 - Umeå]

Saturday, November 2, 2013: We flew through Newark and arrived in Oslo on a sunny morning. We took the airport express train which featured a giant reproduction of Edvard Munch's Scream on the side.
We saw these very cool harborfront buildings when we arrived at Oslo Sentralstasjon, AKA Oslo S.
We exited the building and walked 5 or 6 blocks to our hotel, the Thon Panorama.
We were lucky enough to check in early and our room was spacious and beautiful.
This was our first reminder that Scandinavia loves open showers with tiny half-doors.
Our room on the third floor looked out over a courtyard and the atrium, so the Panorama part of the name really only applies to the higher rooms that face Oslo Fjord.
We freshened up and headed out for a day of sightseeing. We walked past a restaurant named Gamle Raadhus. A small sign in the left window said "Tid For Lutefisk." Yes, it was almost time for lutefisk, but not just yet.
We stopped at a hotel and bought an Oslo card to use in the museums and on public transportation, then walked through the town center for a little while.
Here's the Hard Rock Cafe and a Dale of Norway store in the same beautiful building.
Eidsvoll Square contained what is likely a beautiful pond in the summer. It was most definitely not summer though.
This dude watches over the square. His name was Henrik Wergeland, not to be confused with Henrik Ibsen whose statue is a little further away.
Yes, there's the other Henrik -- standing to the right of this photo in front of the National Theater.
After several months of Swedish lessons that taught us to have meals at the theater cafe, we were amused to see that such a place actually exists in Norway.
Troll!!!
Oslo City Hall faces the harbor, which is where the mini-cruise ferries are located. Our 72-hour Oslo cards included one free mini-cruise each.
We boarded the 11:15 boat and got a couple of hot chocolates to enjoy on the open air deck.
This is the Akershus Fortress on the peninsula
As we headed to the first stop by the opera, we passed one of the two ferries that runs the Oslo - Copenhagen route that we'd be travelling the next day.
This cool metal-and-glass sculpture is just a warm-up act for ...
... the even cooler Opera House.
By now, the hot dogs were ready for purchase, so we bought a couple and washed them down with a couple of glasses of Coke Zero.
The mini-cruise passed several of the islands in Oslo Fjord, ...
... then stopped at Bygdøy, where we got off the boat.
Here it is, by the way.
We headed to the Kon-Tiki Museum first, easily identifiable by the large Moai statue in front. Our Oslo Cards gave us free entrance to all of the museums we visited.
This boat is the Ra II, ...
... and this one is the Kon-Tiki.
These reproductions of the food supplies were entertaining.
On the floor underneath the Kon-Tiki, ocean creatures were reproduced at actual size.
Across the parking lot was the Fram Museum. The Fram is said to have sailed farther north and farther south than any other wooden ship.
The Fram fills the entire A frame building, ...
... and the museum exists on several floors that circle the ship, ...
... including this fun tableau in one corner of the building.
Visitors can walk on the deck of the mighty vessel, ...
... and go belowdecks. This is a view of the ceiling with a large prism embedded in the top deck so that light passes through.
Here's a view of one of the cabins.
Names and years of the cabin's occupants were listed above each door on brass plates. Roald Amundson was so special that he got his name in print along the frame as well.
This framed copy of the Christmas menu from 1893 references Ringnes beer and Baker Hansen, both of which are Norwegian companies that still thrive today.
Here's another cute little scene with the Fram in the background and tiny, adorable penguins on the left.
Tom looks good in Antarctic gear!
Across the sidewalk from the Fram is the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
There's not a lot to see here, but here are some boats, ...
... and here's another one from Norwegian Cruise Line (obviously!).
Next, we walked the long, cold, uphill route to the Viking Ship Museum. The route passes through a residential area but you just have to have faith that you'll end up back at a museum eventually. And we did.
Here's the Oseberg ship ...
... and here's the Gokstad ship, which didn't survive as intact as the Oseberg ship.
Here's the headpost of the Oseberg ship.
Here's an artsy closeup of the prow of the Oseberg ship.
This is a reconstruction of the serpent's head at the stern of the Oseberg ship.
We headed back to the harbor, past the residences, with a quick stop at a convenience store to buy a bottle of water. Oops! We should have read the label carefully because we got sparkling water by accident. Ick.
The trip back was mostly downhill so it was a little easier than the trip up, but we were exhausted by now.
We stopped in at the Maritime Museum again to buy the nautical rope doormat we had our eyes on and got something delicious to drink in the cafe -- a Mozell apple drink.
Then, we had a quick stop at this location with the no-translation-needed sign on the door.
We walked around the park on the edge of the Bygdøy peninsula, enjoying the sun and scenery.
Check out these perfect shells!
This was a monument in honor of the sailors of World War I.
This monument is in honor of the sailors of World War II. The birds seem to enjoy it.
On the dock, we peered into the clear water to see what we could see. We could see a lot of starfish, that's what, including this guy right at the base of the dock.
The last mini-cruise ferry of the day was mercifully covered, so we didn't have to freeze up top.
Maersk! Yes, in this major harbor filled with many different containers, this was the only Maersk container we saw. Debbie got this photo through the window of the ferry.
We arrived back at the pier ...
... right on time at 3:45, ...
... and headed back down Rådhusgata to our hotel.
"Tid for Lutefisk"? Yes, it's almost time.
We changed clothes quickly at our hotel and walked a block or two to this pretty little restaurant, Engebret Cafe.
Starting in November, this historic restaurant serves Christmas dinner in two seatings, and we had reservations for the first seating at 4:30 PM.
We checked our coats and were seated at a beautifully set table. Our menu was completely in Norwegian, but that was okay, because we had brought a translated version with us.
Debbie was delighted to see that lefse was already waiting at our table for us, along with prepared mustard, powdered mustard, very thin flatbread, and what we think was shredded goat cheese.
Debbie started with a caviar appetizer featuring four different types of caviar.
Tom's lobster bisque featured half of a lobster on top, thus setting an impossibly high bar for all future lobster bisques in our life.
Here's the real reason for our visit: lutefisk. Being 5/8 Norwegian, Debbie had never had lutefisk except for a mail-order, home-cooked experiment that went horribly wrong the previous year, so she was determined to eat genuine lutefisk at a restaurant that specialized in it. Oh, yes, we understand now. This stuff is really pretty good. Debbie's meal also came with potatoes, fried bacon in rib fat (literally -- swimming in a clear, hot liquid), and mushy peas that she did not try at all.
Tom's entree was the Christmas plate: a gigantic selection of delicious Norwegian foods, including ribs, meatballs, Christmas sausage, red cabbage, apples, and prunes. We passed our plates back and forth to share our dinners.

After all this food and a couple of Coca Cola Lights each, we still had to have some dessert. This is Engebret's Delfia cake with pickled plums and a small piece of chocolate-tipped kransekake. It was rich and delicious. After we paid our incredibly large bill (nearly $300), we headed back to our hotel and slept for a very long time.

Day 2 >


Scandinavia 2013: [Day 1 - Oslo] [Day 2 - Oslo] [Day 3 - Copenhagen] [Day 4 - Vilnius] [Day 5 - Stockholm] [Day 6 - Stockholm] [Day 7 - Umeå] [Day 8 - Umeå] [Day 9 - Umeå]

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