The Oslo Museums

We arrived in Oslo expecting to see everything covered in snow but the locals were expressing their disappointment at the lack thereof. There were some patches on higher ground, keeping the temperature down, but nothing within the city.

                                                                                                                             Polar Fram MuseumPolar Fram Museum

Entrance to Kon tiki MuseumEntrance to Kon tiki Museum. Note the Norwegian words for Entrance and Exit

As we had just one full day in Oslo we decided to visit some museums unique to explorers and information about the Vikings of Scandinavian countries. In Oslo are 3 museums located within walking distance of each other – Kon-tiki , Polar Flam and the Viking Museums. It was very cold so this was definitely a good decision as they were all warm inside. We had an Oslo Day Pass so were not required to pay the bus fare from our hotel nor the museum entrance fees. These 4 alone would have cost more than the Day Pass so it was a useful recommendation by our travel agent.

Our booking at the hotel was for bed and breakfast and we were treated to an excellent buffet spread for breakfast. There was a large variety of food which was well cooked, with the exception of the fried eggs which were burned around the edges. The real treat was the smoked salmon which we later discovered we would get for breakfast at every hotel in Norway. Here in South Africa this is a delicacy so we made sure we had some whenever we could.

In Oslo the sun rose at about 9am and set around 4pm so we had sufficient daylight to enjoy walking around the area. Most of you probably know who the Vikings were, some know the story of the Kon-tiki but I won’t blame you if the Polar Flam is new to you. It was to us as well. Trevor said he had heard about it somewhere but could not remember much.

Luckily we went to the Polar Flam (pronounced flum) Museum first as it was the biggest and had so much information for us to take in. We spent over 3 hours there and could have easily spent more but we wanted to see the other 2 and had planned to visit the Cathedral so time was limited.

The ship, The Polar Fram, was used by a number of Norwegian explorers between 1893 and 1912. It was originally designed and built for Fridtjof Nansen's 1893 Arctic expedition in which the plan was to freeze Fram into the Arctic ice sheet and float with it over the North Pole. It is said to have sailed further north and further south than any other wooden ship and is preserved in the Polar Flam Museum. Fram means ‘forward’ and Flam means “little place with steep mountains”. The day after visiting this museum we visited the town of Flam and found this meaning to be absolutely accurate. We concluded our visit to the Museum by going through the polar simulator where you experience both the cold and the dangers of polar expeditions over a hundred years ago.

Trevor with statues of Norwegian explorersTrevor with statues of Norwegian explorers

From here we crossed the road to the Kon-tiki Museum, not as big but just as interesting. Norwegian explorer, Thor Heyerdahl and his wife, had spent their honeymoon on one of the Polynesian Islands and learnt from the locals that their ancestors had come from South America and not Asia as has been believed by anthropologists and historians. To see if this was possible, he had built a reed raft as would probably have been built by ancient Peruvian tribes and in 1947, with 5 other men, sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Peru to the Polynesian Islands using only the Trade Winds to direct and drive the raft. The raft is on display in the museum and it is hard to believe that 6 men lived on it for 101 days and sailed 6900 kms (4300 miles). We finished our visit here by watching the hour long film on the Kon-tiki Expedition created by Heyerdahl himself.

We had a 15 mins walk to the Viking Museum. It was very cold (7degC) but no wind so not too unpleasant. This museum was nothing like I expected, which was ships and pictures or drawings of Vikings. There were 3 rooms each with a Viking ship but no details of the Viking invaders at all. These ships had been found on various farms in Norway and had been used as burial chambers and the corpses had been buried with many valuables and household items. We also learnt that the museum will be upgraded and expanded over the next year.

Nave organ of Oslo CathedralNave and organ pipes of Oslo Cathedral

 

As the Viking Museum had little to keep us there for more than a half hour we returned to the city centre and went to visit the Cathedral.

 

As with most Gothic cathedrals it is a very ornate building with beautiful ceiling frescoes and well designed and created stained glass windows.

  

From there we walked to the Oslo station which is huge and a most fascinating place of shops, restaurants, fruit & vegetable grocers and more.

 

 We bought delicious, fresh sandwiches and apples for supper and returned to our hotel. About an hour after eating our supper we received an SMS from our daughter telling us that my youngest sister had died that morning. We knew that she would probably die during the month we would be away as she had colon cancer, but it was sooner than expected.

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About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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