A Lot of Water and a Little Lighter Fluid – Scandinavia

A Lot of Water and a Little Lighter Fluid

August 1
The Vasa Museum, in Stockholm, shows an old ship that sank in 1628 on her maiden voyage. This wartime ship basically tipped over because it didn’t have enough counterweight. It was something different to look at; I’ve been looking at a lot of palaces and castles lately. I went back over to the main central area, the City Hall, and then down through Gamla Stan, which is the island that has the Palace. I talked to a local and he suggested walking around the old part of the city, Sodermalm, as they had a lot of nice bars and restaurants and the older houses from the early 20th century. This is a nice area that many tourists miss.

Vigeland Statue Park in Oslo, Norway depicts the struggle between manVigeland Statue Park in Oslo, Norway depicts the struggle between man
I got my laundry back from the hotel and it cost me $200! I had them double-check and this wasn’t a mistake. It’s expensive in Sweden and they are environmentally conscious so the prices of laundry mats are inflated. They did give me the laundry bag for free, however.

August 2
On to Oslo. I got in and I went to Use It, which found a place for me without a booking fee. The room was a few stops away on the train and it’s actually an apartment. It has a kitchen, bedroom, and a sofa; it’s the first time I laid on a sofa for a month. It’s owned by Arvie Noss, he’s an interesting guy. I’m cooking spaghetti; it’s the first time I’ve cooked in a month. It sounds weird, but I got sick of eating out even though some of the food is really good.

Located in Frogner Park is the Vigeland Museum, which depicts human relations in sculpture form. I’m not really an artist or art critique, but even I liked it. The sculptures show something I can relate to because it’s how people interact. There’s a bridge and a fountain made of sculptures. There are four sculptures of trees and they show how people move from youth, to young love, to adult to death (where the human sculptures fade into the trees) and how things get more complicated as one gets older. At the end of the bridge is an obelisk made of sculpted humans who are trying to reach the top.

I visited Parliament and the old Akershus complex, a fortress and a military base. In 1624 King Christian IV rebuilt the city and moved it slightly and named it Christiana after himself. Some of those buildings still exist and that’s what I looked at.

August 3
This is my second day in Oslo and the first thing I did was reserve my travel arrangements through the 6th. I went through the City Hall, government is more important than religion in Scandinavia. It was built in 1931 and was finished after a WWII delay in 1950 to celebrate the city’s 900th birthday. Norway’s leading artist, Munch, helped contribute to the avant-garde design it has today. The interior’s theme depicts social harmony via murals showing townsfolk, country folk, and people from all classes working for a better society.

Vasa, the 17th century version of the Titanic, sank on her maiden version
Vasa, the 17th century version of the Titanic, sank on her maiden version
After that I went and took care of going to Bergen and back tomorrow, put my big backpack into storage and e-mailed home. Then I went over to a different island that is still in Oslo, but less densely populated, it’s called Bygdoy. They had a series of museums over there. One is the Fram Museum, which was a Nordic exploration boat that got Amundsen close to the South Pole. Second, the Kon-Tiki which helped prove that it was possible that Polynesian people could have came from South America as Thor Heyerdahl built a ship similar to an ancient Polynesian ship and sailed to South America. The Ra II, made of papyrus, was to prove ancient Egyptian exploration. The Viking Ships Museum includes three Viking ships and art, with a lot of burial artifacts. Finally, the Norwegian Folk Museum, which is a recreation of old Norway. They had a folk festival full of dancing, singing, and some fiddle-playing and story-telling as well as old buildings with grass on the roof.

August 4
Today is the “Norway in a Nutshell” trip to Bergen. First I took a train to Myrdal then one to Flam, a boat to Gudvangen, then a bus down to Voss, a train to Bergen and then an overnight train back to Oslo. When it gets past Myrdal, that’s where the scenery starts getting good. The train stops in an area where a woman comes from behind a waterfall and starts singing. A lot of the hills and waterfalls and small towns in the fjords made for a good cruise. I was glad it rained today as the clouds sank to the hill’s tops. Then Gudvangen to Voss, a neat bus trip, because it curves up very slowly back to the hilltop.

I accidentally drank lighter fluid on the trip, thought it was water, but spit it out. In the stores here, water bottles look and the cost the same as lighter fluid. I’m OK I think. In Bergen, I did go to Mount Floren, which is a nice view, and then down to the fish market at night. I was rushed and wanted to spend more time in Bergen.

August 5
It was an early train from Oslo to Kristiansand, where I caught my breath. It is a city with 70,000 people but is a resort town in the summer. Not much to do on Sunday but I’m worn down. Anything after the sights from yesterday would be a letdown; I was impressed with what I saw yesterday. There is a little fortress here as well as a beach and river front area and a fish market area where I ate. Norway is pretty expensive, and this resort town is really expensive.

August 6

“Norway in a Nutshell” allows beautiful views of fiords and small towns
Today I made it from Kristiansand to Arhus, Denmark. I strolled down the luxury-walking mall and sent home some mail, film and souvenirs. My backpack was getting heavy. I ate at some pizza and pasta place and then went to a park nearby. They have an outdoors-folk festival, Den Gamble By, like Skansen in Stockholm. I didn’t go there, it was getting late and I had already gone to a couple of these folk villages. Arhus University is the second university after Copenhagen, 20,000 people that go here. I am getting sick of looking at royal palaces and museums, so I decided to not do that today.

August 7
This morning I made it to Hamburg. I went to the huge City Hall. I enjoyed looking at the bombed-out church St. Nicolai; they left it after World War II and it is an anti-war memorial now. At night I went to the main tourist area St. Pauli, yes, the beer is named after this area. This is a bit sleazy with a red light district, but more moderate than Amsterdam. It was an interesting place to start my tour of Germany.