Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Days 115-125, Beliebers in Oslo

We've just had the most wonderful holiday within a holiday! Eleven days with our dear friends Cameron (Aussie) and Jan (Norwegian) who live, for most of each year, a half hour south of Oslo.
Cam picked us up from Oslo train station and drove us home to their bright yellow, cosy and welcoming small cottage where Jan awaited with homemade cake and tea in glorious afternoon sunshine. We were happy to offload many bottles of wine and beer which we had lugged from Estonia where alcohol costs HALF the price of Norway!

As luck would have it, the neighbour's cottage was free so we had the best of both worlds - our own space and friends next door. Good company, great dinners, silent countryside, no plans and relentlessly damp, grey weather sent us into a careless stupor. Our sleeps got deeper and deeper; some mornings we struggled to swing our limbs out of bed. Oh dear!

For three days we arose from slumber and made the most of our 72 hour Oslo passes - all public transport and entries into all Oslo's major tourist attractions included for around $80 per adult, $30 per child.
Seeing Munch's Scream - and the location where Munch had the panic attack that inspired it - was a highlight. Both kids knew about this painting and were thrilled to see the original. None of us knew it was done in crayon on cardboard. Amazing.
The museum which most excited us, though, was the Fram Polar Museum. It housed the Fram, the mighty ship that Nansen designed and captained to intentionally get stuck in the north polar ice to prove his theory that the arctic drift would take them up and over the pole. (They entered the ice too far east and missed the pole, but it was nonetheless a remarkable story - 1.5 years in pack ice.) Amundsen later sailed the same ship down to the Antarctic for his successful assault on the South Pole. The museum was really atmospheric; standing on the deck (alone - the museums were empty out of season) marvelling at the light show casting the night sky and northern lights onto the walls and ceiling of the museum was magnificent.
For homeschool the kids were tasked to select one museum and do a mini project for it, with introduction, three key points and a summary. They both chose the Polar Museum and did a great job. They got totally wrapped up in the story.

A highlight for Rosie was Justin Bieber being in town. We happened upon his bus taking him to the arena, followed by many screaming girls who had left their vigil outside the Grand Hotel.

We squeezed in a trip to the nearby village of Drobak with Cam and a chance to see many bronze artworks saved from the prows of now defunct freighters.

And we laughed when we found a sculpture of Helen's dad...

There were walks in the forest and around the fjord, lots of homeschool, snowman building, attended a local rally fighting for community use of a heritage house (here they are dipping into the fiord) and Shane got tasked with demolishing Cam and Jan's guest annex.

Every day Cam and Jan cooked up a storm: fish cakes, salmon in 3 styles (including the memorable gravlax served with crackers and Aquavit liqueur), sausages over the fire; cloudberries, ice cream, chocolate coated almonds; cloudberry liqueur, homemade plum vodka. Four very happy bunnies and a very memorable stay. Thanks Cam and Jan!

Museums we visited:
Viking ship museum (3 ships used for burials)

Fram Polar ship museum
Kon Tiki museum (the actual raft used plus the Egyptian based Ra II)
International children's art museum
History museum (exhibits of Stone Age and Viking eras particularly wonderful, plus a History of Horses exhibition)

National Gallery (closed but for Munch's Scream, Madonna and perhaps another ten or so Munchs)
Folk Museum (various old Norwegian farm and town buildings relocated into one outdoor space)

City Hall (very funky 50s building, a wonderful surprise)

Renzo Piano's Astrup Fearnley museum (Shane, while Cam, Helen and the kids explored the enormously fun sculpture park)

Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom

Location:Vinterbro, Norway

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