Monday morning we were scheduled to leave Bergen for Oslo on SAS airlines. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and made our way back to the Skyss light rail station where we could board the rail for a 40 minute trip to the airport. After looking at taxis and buses, this turned out to be our most economical and efficient way of getting to the airport.
A brisk walk along the cobblestone streets of Bergen was just what we needed to awaken our senses. A quick stop to get one way tickets and we hopped on for an uneventful ride to the airport. The flight from Bergen to Oslo is just under an hour and was a smooth ride. We landed in Oslo around 10:30 and got our luggage and again took the train back to the Comfort Hotel Grand Central. After resting awhile, we set out to finish our exploration of Oslo.
Our first stop was the Italian eatery at the train station called Olivia that served various Italian foods. They had pizzas and pastas that were delightful. Leaving the hotel, we walked towards our first stop of the day, the Akershus fortress. A medieval fortress dating back to nearly 800 years ago, this has been renovated into a royal residence in the last 4-5 centuries. We walked the fortress but could not tour the castle as there was some event going on. The visitors center at the fortress has a lot of good information. Guided tours are available.
Walking away from the fortress, we came across the old shipyard and the piers. There was a large park across from the harbor and in front of the Radhuset, the city hall offices. We spent some time here before moving across the street to the Nobel Peace Center located in the old train station. This museum and event center was one of the hallmarks of our trip. While guided tours were available, we chose to go on our own. This museum is well done with lot of good information on Alfred Nobel, his life and times. As also about the winners of the Nobel Prize and the ongoing efforts with the Syrian refugee crisis. I think we spent more time here than we originally intended to. The center also has a cafe and gift shop, lockers are available to stow away all belongings. Children under 16 have free admission.
As I walked away from the Peace Center, my thoughts rang with the voices of the refugees in crisis and the efforts and struggles of the winners of the Nobel Prize. There is something powerful here, that transcends borders, ethnicities, languages and time-the very essence of human spirit.
Outside again, we traversed the busy street to reach the bus line and hopped onto Bus 30 for a trip to Bygdoy. This peninsula is a happening place with lots of fantastic museums, hiking and biking trails and a beach. The Viking ship museum, the Kon-Tiki museum, the Norwegian folk museum, the maritime museum, are but a few of the many attractions here. Bygdoy can be accessed by the Bus 30 from city hall as we did. There are also ferries that run between Bygdoy and the pier across from City Hall.
Our plan was to visit the Viking ship museum since so much of Norwegian history is closely related to its seafaring prowess. And then if we had time, to visit the Folk museum as well. Now, had we spent more time in Oslo, we would have considered obtaining the Oslo city pass that covers a majority of the museums, the Akershus castle and the Nobel Peace Center. It also provides free transportation in the city and the ferries to Bygdoy. However, in our scenario, it made greater sense to pay individually at each location.
The Viking ship museum is a joy to visit. There are three Viking ships on display here alongwith the treasures and relics discovered from Viking ship graves. I loved the large open halls where the ships are displayed. Each ship can be seen close up from little platforms accessed by stairs. The design and construction of a Viking ship is a marvel in itself. How those Vikings of yore used these ships to travel far and wide, to trade and prosper, to plunder and loot is astounding. In addition, there are several treasures that were recovered from the Viking burial ships, including gold, silver, household utensils, clothes and weapons. There is a film that is played frequently detailing Viking nautical history.
A quick snack stop was in order after the museum visit. Energised, we took Bus 30 again to our next stop, the Frogner Park/ Vigeland sculpture park. After getting off at Olav Kyress plass, we had a ten minute or so walk to the park. We explored the option of renting bicycles but somehow we couldn’t get the app to work on our mobile. So we walked instead as a slow drizzle accompanied us. Soon we entered the park premises and made our way to the center where the famous Vigeland sculptures are on display.
Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures dot the landscape of the park from the main gates to the towering Monolith and beyond. The sculptures on either side of the foot bridge leading to the fountain are interesting, at times confusing and overall, immensely appealing. In all over 200 of Vigeland’s sculptures reside in this park. The fountain draws one towards to the center and behind it, the Monolith carries the eye all the way to the sky, or so it seems. The wide open spaces of the park with its verdant beauty complemented by the sounds of the fountain waters and the mute yet lively sculptures come together to form a resounding symphony. There is a museum here as well but was closed on Monday.
After spending close to an hour enjoying the park, we took the rail back to our hotel. We spent some time packing for our flights back to the US the following morning. Then we headed back out for one last meal in Oslo, the now famous Veggie McSpice Burger at the local McDonald’s. On the way back, we picked up some Kvikk Lunsj, the quintessential Norwegian wafer covered in chocolate.
As the sun set that evening, our thoughts were turned towards the flights home. We had three flights, from Oslo to Reykjavik, then to Boston and from there to Dallas. The end of a trip is always fueled by mixed emotions, a little sadness at having to leave the place, a little joy at returning home to familiar people and places and routines. Iceland and Norway had been wonderful countries to visit, but home sweet home beckoned. I think we were ready to answer her call.