Well, I think I jammed about all I could into today. The captain told us yesterday that we would be entering the Oslo Fjord at approximately 5:45am on our way to arriving at the city of Oslo by 10am. The word on the street (sea) was that the scenery would be beautiful by 7 or 8am as the Fjord narrowed.
I wanted to make sure I experienced this, so I got up at 6am and took a gander outside. It was cool and rainy with a low hanging fog, so land was very difficult to see. Since I was already up I decided to head to deck 18 for a 3-mile run on the track (21 laps!!). Most of this was completed in a driving rain, but it was still an enjoyable run as the land on either side of the Fjord grew closer and closer.
After a quick shower I headed back up to deck 16 to take some pictures and enjoy the scenery. There were lots of beautiful countryside views, colorful houses, leisure boats, and even a fortress. I kept switching back and forth between the port and starboard sides of the ship because there was so much to see.
I met Daddy, Patsy, and Ben for breakfast in the Horizon Court around 8am, and then headed back outside. Approaching the city of Oslo was awesome, even in the rain. There were so many interesting buildings to see, and Akershus Castle is stunning!! It overlooks the harbor directly beside where the ship docked.
The 4 of us met again in the theater for our excursion. We left the port via motor coach and headed toward the Viking Ship Museum. On the way, our guide Edward gave us lots of facts about Oslo, and pointed out many points of interest around the city (I ended up visiting many of these later).
We learned that the first settlement in the area is believed to have been over one thousand years ago. We also learned that the current population of Oslo is 650,000, that 15% of the residents own a leisure boat, and that it is the fastest growing city in Europe. This rapid growth could cause significant problems, because the land area is fairly small.
From the bus we got to see the new opera house (completed in 2008), the “barcode” area (tall financial buildings that are all in a row and alternate between black and white), the Parlaimant building, the U.S. Embassy, the Nobel Peace Prize headquarters, and the statue to honor Winston Churchill.
At the Viking Ship Museum (built in 1925) we got to see three excavated ships that were all over 1,000 years old. The first was a pleasure craft called Osberg and was built around 820 AD. The second was a practical ship called Gokstad and was built around 890 AD. The third, Tune, was in the poorest condition and was built around 900 AD. Osberg and Gokstad looked like they could still sail today, which is amazing.
All of these ships were used as burial chambers after they were decommissioned, and that is why they were discovered via excavation. I was blown away at the age of these vessels.
After the museum, we headed up to see the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, which was originally built in 1883. It is the only steel ski jump in the world. It has been renovated 19 times since its initial construction, and has seen the record jump grow from 21.5 meters in 1892 to 141 meters in 2011. This ski jump was once used for the Winter Olympics.
The structure is quite impressive, but I simply cannot imagine ever thinking it would be a good idea to strap on a pair of skis and head down that slope.
From Holmenkollen, we headed back down the mountain to the Vigelands Sculpture Park. This park contains 200 sculptures that were all created by the same sculptor…Vigelands. All of these contain people (800 figures), but none of the sculptures are named. The municipality gave him the land in 1920 to showcase his art. The theme of the park is the “Circle of Life” (just like the Lion King) and most of the sculpture arrangements are configured to show a progression from old to young.
Well, once we arrived at the park, we discovered that all of these statues are nude and quite detailed. I had to be somewhat careful taking pictures!! The rain became much harder while we were in the park, so we decided to head back to the bus a little early.
Once we left the park, we asked the bus driver to drop us off in the city center so we could explore. We started off around 2:45pm at the Oslo City Hall, which has two distinct rectangular towers and beautiful art inside and out.
From there we did a little shopping and then grabbed some lunch at a corner deli across from the Parlaiment building. We walked around the Parlaiment building after lunch and then Daddy, Patsy, and Ben decided to head back to the ship. I split of from them to do some more exploring.
My first stop was the National Theatre building which is really pretty, but our guide had earlier said that it was in quite a state of disrepair and that there was a lot of controversy about what to do about it.
About time I finished walking around the theatre it stopped raining, and I walked up to the Royal Palace where the King and Queen of Norway reside. This palace is quite stunning, and contains 177 rooms.
I arrived at the palace just as they were doing the changing of the guard. I followed the group of guards as the marched around the palace and changed out each station. It was quite fascinating. Each guard carried a rifle affixed with a bayonet.
Next I walked through the Palace park to see the U.S. Embassy, followed by the headquarters for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Winston Churchill Statue. The guide told us earlier that the statue was built to honor Churchill for the assistance Britain gave Norway during World War II. There is also a statue of Franklin Rooselvelt near Akershus Castle that was built for a similar reason.
From the statue I began walking back through town toward the ship and Akershus Castle, which was completed in 1779. I spent about 30 minutes exploring grounds of the surrounding fortress and the outside of the castle. Unfortunately the public is generally not allowed to enter the castle, and I’m sure this is partly due to it being the location for the office of the prime minister (among other uses). Anyway, the outside is awesome, and I thoroughly enjoyed walking around.
Finally I took a few pictures in the eastern harbor before boarding the ship just in time to meet Daddy, Patsy, and Ben for dinner at 5:30 in the Concerto Dining Room. I stepped out for a few minutes between my soup and entree to call Olivia, Kate, and Sara before the ship left the dock (I only have cell service when we are in port). It was great to talk to them. I’m having an awesome time, but I miss them so very badly.
For dinner I had Scallop and Shrimp Coctail (in a fruity sauce), Shrimp Bisque, and Lamb Shank with Brussel Sprouts. To top it off I had a warm fudge cookie with ice cream for dessert.
After dinner I went to the top decks to watch us leave Oslo before meeting Daddy in the theater for tonight’s show. It featured violinist Greg Scott, who was one of the most talented entertainers I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship. After the show, Daddy and I grabbed some soft serve ice cream on deck 16 before calling it a night.
Tomorrow we are back in Denmark for a visit to the city of Aarhus. Hoping to get some good rest tonight and be ready for another awesome day tomorrow.