Posted by: Ryan | September 30, 2007

Norway-Iceland, Day 6

It was Sunday morning, and central Oslo was quiet as we took a walk around after breakfast. Below is the Stortinget, home of Norway’s Parliament.


And this is the Nationaltheater, just a couple of blocks away from our hotel. The statue on the right is of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, native Norwegian poet, novelist, and playwright, who won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature.


We took a ferry from the Oslo waterfront across the harbor to the Bygdøy peninsula, home of several of Oslo’s most famous tourist attractions. Our first stop here was the Vikingskiphuset (Viking Ship Museum). The photo below is Kim standing underneath the Oseberg ship, the first of three on display at the museum.

Kim & Ship

The plaque by the Oseberg ship explains:

“The Oseberg ship was found in a large burial mound on the Oseberg farm, in Vestfold, and excavated in 1904. The ship was built sometime between 815-820 AD, but was later used as a grave ship for a woman of high rank who died in 834 AD. The woman had been placed in a wooden burial chamber on the aft deck of the ship.

“The burial mound was constructed of layers of turf which preserved both the ship, and its rich contents of wooden objects, leather and textiles. The burial mound was plundered by grave robbers in ancient times – probably the reason why no jewellery or gold or silver objects were found in the grave.

“The 22 meter long ship was built of oak. The number of oar holes indicates that the ship was rowed by a crew of 30 men. The ship had no seats, and the oarsmen probably sat on their own wooden ship’s chests. The oars could be drawn in when the square sail was raised. The steering rudder was placed on the right aft side of the ship – the starboard side. The Oseburg ship is less solidly constructed than the Gokstad ship – only the upper two rows of side planking extend above the water line. It was probably a royal pleasure craft used for short journeys in calm waters.”

Oseberg Ship

The museum also displayed relics found in the burial chambers on the ships. There were hand tools, tattered millennium-old textiles, and even an open-air horse-drawn carriage (minus the horses); but the most visually intriguing pieces to me were the ornamental animal heads, below.

Eye to Eye

After looking around the three ships and various relics, it was time to escape the crowds of the ship museum and wander a couple of blocks over to the Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Folk Museum), an open-air museum devoted to the life and times of ordinary Norwegians. One of our first stops was a beautiful stave church, below.

Stave Church

The Folkemuseum featured many varieties of sod-roof houses, constructed to increase insulation during the cold winters. How cute!

Sod Roof

Another sod-roof home, this time a more modern 1845 farmhouse (below).

Time to Mow the Roof

And along with the authentic sod-roof houses, there were backyard farms for livestock. Cows and goats, and below, four dirty little pigs digging their noses into the fetid mud. As city-slicker American tourists, we took pictures of these pigs for ten minutes as they acted like, total pigs.

Pig Butts

At the end of our trip to the museum, we watched a group of kids folk dancing and having a good ol’ time. Below, they were doing a dance where two boys vied for the affections of a girl; the girl danced with one boy, who would brag and strut in front of the other downtrodden boy, until the girl changed her mind, and switched partners.

Two Boys and a Girl

We hopped back on the harbor ferry to the Oslo waterfront. Below is a view of the Rådhuset (City Hall) from the waterfront. There was a greater quasi-Socialist vibe about Oslo than anywhere else I’d been. The City Hall, the house of the workers and citizens, was the most prominent and central building in Oslo, square and brick, adorned with statues commemorating the working man’s spirit and honest toil; and the central church was rather small and nondescript, smaller than many neighborhood chapels we saw in England.

City Hall

We ate a late lunch/early dinner at Pascal’s, and then took a tour of the Norges Hjemmefrontmuseum (Norwegian Resistance Museum) in nearby Akershus Fortress, with interesting exhibits about life under Nazi rule and Norwegians’ attempts to subvert the occupation. We only had 30 minutes inside the museum before closing time, so we sped through it faster than I’d wanted to, and then exited into another downpour. It was time to go back to the hotel. We had a flight to Iceland to look forward to tomorrow!

More pictures here (Ryan) and here (Kim).



  1. Very interesting. Especially about the ship building. We were in Denmark in 1999 (I think) and we saw a viking ship under construction. It also showed us all of the things the Vikings knew about ship building and sea travel. Even though it was centuries later, the technology that they knew was totally beyond my fragile mind. The craftmanship was phenomenal. Please send me an email if you have not heard the legend of where the term “blackmail came from” I find that also very interesting. Thank you very much for the interesting article.
    M. C. Ries

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