First, an apology: I seem to be having difficulty uploading pictures to my website while on the ship. Thus, I will have to post pictures at a later date, when I return home. My daily posts will therefore be simply narratives.
It is just before 5:00 AM and I am fully awake, eagerly anticipating our dramatic arrival, via Geranger Fjord, into Oslo, Norway, our first port-of-call. Oslo is the second most northerly world capital (only Reykjavik, Iceland is further north). It is also the oldest and smallest, population-wise, of the Scandinavian capitals.
It is fully daylight at this time, with sunrise occurring this morning at 4:12 AM. Sunset last evening took place at 10:20 PM, reminding me of our 2011 sojourn to Alaska. Long days and short nights are characteristic of this entire region in the summertime.
Each December 10th, Oslo is the host for the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize, a gift to the world given by Scandinavian Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. We hope to visit the Oslo City Hall, where that presentation is made each year.
As soon as we embark, scheduled for approximately 10 AM, Lee and I plan to walk into the City Center from the cruise ship terminal to test and refine my Walking Tour of Oslo — a lengthy update and pictures to follow later today.
The first stop on our walk was Akershus Fortress which turned out to be right across the street from our cruise ship dock.
The fortress was constructed around the year 1300 to protect the harbor. On the grounds is the German Resistance Museum and many other buildings. From here we walked to the Oslo Cathedral. The interior was much more highly decorated than Lutheran Churches that we have seen elsewhere. The Cathedral dominates Cathedral Square and sits across from the Oslo Flower Market.
From the Cathedral, we walked to Karl Johan’s Gate, the primary sometimes-pedestrian boulevard which connects the train station with the Royal Palace. Along the way to the palace, we stopped and noted the Parliament building, a yellow, crenellated structure, and the National Theater, with its statue of native-son Henrik Ibsen.
The Royal Palace is a grand, stately, and elegant, Versailles-like residence whose grounds were under construction. Nearby is the magnificent City Hall, mentioned earlier in the post. The exterior of the huge building contains statues dedicated to working people. The rear courtyard contains numerous wooden scultures which depict events in Norse mythology (with excellent explanations in English). The interior of the City Hall is spectacular, with the walls adorned with huge murals.
Across the square from City Hall is the Nobel Peace Prize Museum which commemorates the contributions of over a century of recipients, a virtual who’s-who of important political and cultural figures.
Before we completed our walk and returned to the ship, we took the #12 Tram to Vigeland Sculpture Park, the world’s largest sculpture garden. Gustav Vigeland, in exchange for a free house, created and left for posterity hundreds of bronze and granite sculptures, along his general theme of the continuing circle of life. The focal point of the park is a huge monolith which features numerous humans crawling over one another in a seeming attempt to reach the top. The park is staggering in scope and yet fanciful and delightful to stroll through.