Tuesday, May 19, 2009
This post comes from the Bocota Cafe in central Oslo, where I have purchased a cup of coffee in order to get some wireless access with my Macbook. I can finally upload pictures again! I have updated my post from 17 May with a few photos. Seriously check out the statue of the guy punting the baby if you haven't already. If you click on one of my pictures, you can see it at full resolution as well!
Anyway, today was museum day. Pretty much all the noteworthy attractions in Oslo are closed on Mondays, so today was the day to prowl about the city checking out the sights. Thanks to my trusty "Oslo Pass," I was able to get in to everywhere for free. My first stop was the Vikingskiphuset, a building in the outskirts of Oslo that houses the three best preserved Viking ships in the world, all of which were found in the Oslo area. Unfortunately, a lot of Viking kings preferred to be cremated along with their fleets and valuables, so there are a precious few remaining today. I was blown away by the level of craftsmanship in the vessels on display.
After paying homage to my seafaring ancestors, I made my way over to the Kon Tiki museum and had lunch. I packed a humble meal of Norwegian Laks (yum!) on a roll and a bit of chocolate. After my quick bite I checked out Thor (actually pronounced "Tor") Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki, a raft made of balsa wood. Heyerdahl was a scientist and outdoorsman that theorized that Polynesia could have been originally settled by Peruvians. No one believed him, so he traveled to South America and built himself a raft using ancient methods known to have been employed by the indigenous peoples of Peru and sailed it from Callao to Polynesia. What impresses me most is that he did this with a crew of only six men - in 1947 (no GPS!)
Right next door was the Frammuseet, a large A-frame structure enclosing the polar exploration vessel Fram, which was used on two successful North Pole expeditions and one trip to the South Pole. Fram was captained by the famous Norwegian explorers Nansen, Sverdrup, and Amundsen. Roald Amundsen was the first man to reach the south pole. The vessel was constructed to withstand being totally encased in solid ice for months at a time, so the walls are nearly three feet thick. Visitors to the museum can actually board the vessel and explore the decks and cabins. Really cool.
My last exploit of the afternoon was a visit to the Nasjonalgalleriet, one of Oslo's finest museums. I got to see Edvard Munch's "The Scream," which has been stolen from Oslo twice in the past fifteen years. Fortunately, it was available today. Just before I left the museum I walked through a room with a lot of stuff that looked familiar. Closer examination revealed an eclectic collection, including paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Manet, Gauguin, and Degas. I had previously thought that the gallery only featured works of Norwegian origin, so I was taken aback to see such a varied collection.
The day is winding down here in Oslo; I need to take the tram back to my hostel soon to grab some dinner. I probably ought to go to bed early tonight - tomorrow I have a seven hour train ride to Bergen that leaves at 8 AM. I'll leave with a few pictures:
Viking Longboat, Circa 850 A.D.
The Kon Tiki raft, which drifted from Peru to Tahiti in 101 days
Walkway at the University of Oslo, near the Nasjonalgalleriet