Today we are in Oslo, Norway and there is still snow on the ground at the ski jump behind the city. For three and a half months we have been in tropical weather and today for the first time we are in parkas, mitts and hats. Guess what? The temperature today in Oslo was in the mid seventies and it could not have been a nicer spring day.
We were surprised to learn that Norway is the second highest producer of oil and gas after the Middle East. Most of their facilities are in the North Sea. Coupled with this is the fact that Norway is the fifth wealthiest nation in the world. Their expertise in tunnel building and winter sports also makes them the best in the world. Now you know!
The trip up the fiord to Oslo was spectacular (an overused word on this trip) and it reminded us of Georgian Bay. The rock and pine islands we passed were very similar as our boat carefully manoeuvred its way between the shoals and rugged rock outcrops as it approached Oslo.
Our dock in Oslo was essentially an extension of the Main Street and provided easy access to the downtown and the busy harbour. Located directly opposite us was the Nobel Peace Prize Centre where the Peace Prize is awarded. We noted that Lester Pearson has been the only Canadian to receive this prestigious award in the mid fifties and his picture is there with the other super stars in this award category.
With perfect weather and dressed in summer wear we visited three major tourist sites including the Olympic ski jump at Holmenkollen just north-west of the city, the sculpture park know as Vigeland named after the sculptor Gustav Vineland and the Viking Boat Museum which has two Viking ships dating back to the first century.
Each of our stops on our tour will not soon be forgotten. Holmenkollen was the site of the 1952 Olympics and still had snow on the landing surface and around the park area. It is mind boggling to see the height of the jump and progressively better distance records that the jumpers are able to achieve. The sculpture park was like none other. The very lifelike castings are some of the best we have ever seen. All are displayed in a park setting and there was no admission charges.
The two major Viking ships were intact and we marvelled at the contents of the ships when they were discovered. One had 14 horses on board while the other had beautiful hand carved carts. Two bodies were also discovered on board as was an apple that was still red in colour. The male body had his legs cut off. This was done by the Vikings so the “soldier”, once captured, could no longer return to battle. It was fascinating to know we were looking at artifacts from the year 100 A.D.
The downtown core, like so many of the other European cities we visited, was alive with pedestrian malls, beautiful historic buildings and a waterfront complete with wooden schooners that was totally accessible by the public. A waterfront promenade stretched for 9 kilometres across the city. Fortunately we will cruise both in and out during the daylight hours so it should be very scenic.