We had a stopover in Iceland on our way to Norway, but we will stop there again on our way home in August so I’ll wait till then to recap it.
We arrived in Oslo at 9 pm, but with the sun not setting until 11 and our bodies two hours behind, it still felt like early evening to us. We saw the Domkirke on our way to our hotel, a beautiful church built in 1664. We checked in to our HTL Grensen, which turned out to be in an excellent area for sightseeing- just one block from Parliament, Cuty Hall, two blocks from the ferries, museums, and the palace. What a great travel agent we have!*
The next morning Chris’s two sons, 18 and 21, joined us for the week. We spent the first day on what probably felt like a forced march to them, visiting many of the free things to do in Oslo. We started at the beautiful Opera House, with its gleaming white sandstone and ramps that go from the water up to the roof. Inside they had a display of costumes from different productions that have been staged there. From there we meandered through the Radhus (City Hall), the Nobel Peace museum, the ferries to different islands, the quay promenade, and the Akershus Fortress. A quick stop at the National Library, and then a stroll through the Vigelund Sculpture Garden- the largest sculpture park created with just one person’s work. Finally a walk through the Royal Palace grounds, and then time for a rest. The kids were jet lagged and out for the count, but Chris and I went out to dinner at 8 and then discovered the Parliament building and a lovely park and sat and people-watched.
On Tuesday we all agreed we wanted to see Munch’s The Scream at the National Gallery, so we started there. It was quite a nice museum, arranged chronologically, which gave you a nice sense of how some movements influenced others. A nice representation of all the greats, from Matisse to Cezanne, to Manet, Monet, and Munch. After, we took the ferry to see the open air Norwegian Customs museum (the highlight of which is the 12th c stave church), the Viking Ship Museum, and the boys went to the polar ship Fram museum and the Kon Tiki museum, while I relaxed outside in the park. We all had dinner, and then the kids decided to try out the metro to go see the Olympic ski jump.
The next day, after an amazing breakfast at HTL, we boarded a train bound for Stavanger. What a beautiful countryside! Pine forests, farm houses, fishing villages, islands, and lots of water. Western Norway is gorgeous. The train was quite nice, with free tea and coffee, wifi, outlets, and a tv room for small children. Arriving at Stavenger, we walked around the lake to find our Comfort Hotel, and then set off for the Norwegian Oil Museum. It had a lot of interactive displays so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. Afterwards we made the kids try some new Indian dishes for dinner.
Thursday was our hiking day. After another HUGE and awesome breakfast, we took a ferry and a bus to the base of Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock. For two hours we hiked to the top, stopping to take in the views. And the view from the top? Wow. Seriously, wow. No guard rails. No signs. Just you, your own common sense, and the power of Mother Nature. We spent an hour at the top and two more heading down, then back to town for us. Mexican food for dinner, and then this girl hit the sack while Chris and his oldest somehow had the energy to go visit Sverdifjell, the place where in 872, Norway was unified under one crown.
On Friday we went up to Bergen, on a bus and two ferries, which was a nice little fjord tour as well as our cheap transport north. Upon arriving in the small town that was once the seat of the Hanseatic League, we found our P-Hotel, dropped our bags, and rode up the funicular to see the city from the top of Mt Floyen. Up there we walked around, found a lovely lake and forest, and enjoyed some nature. Back down at sea level, we walked around the UNESCO heritage site called Bryggen (the old shops and buildings that have been there for centuries) and wandered through the fortress of King Hakon and the Rosenkrantz tower.
Yesterday, our last day, we visited the Edvard Grieg Troldhaugen (Troll Hill) estate. Chris is a Grieg and is distantly related, and in fact his dad had given us a family ring stamped with initials and dated 1872 to show the museum staff. At the museum the staff showed us a family tree, last updated in 1941, that had Chris’s father and aunt on it! The estate is quite pretty, consisting of a small museum, the composer’s house and a small hut by the lake he would use for work, the grave site of Edvard Grieg and his wife Nina, and a concert hall that looks out upon the lake. They have daily concerts there in the summer. After, we had enough time for giant kebabs for lunch and a quick trip to the Leprosy museum (they were closing in 15 minutes), before we put the kids on a bus to the airport, for their flight to Oslo and then home. The pub near us had a live band playing and later a fun soccer crowd, so we sat outside and listened to the band play while we sipped hot chocolate.
Today we are resting! We’ve been going going going for ten days and we need today to reconcile receipts, read a book, write a blog, and plan the next leg of our trip: Finland and Estonia. We leave on a flight this afternoon for Helsinki. Stay tuned!
*me, hotels.com, and trip advisor