August 9, 2016
One of the things that I really enjoy about being on a cruise is waking up to a new city. Since we we weren’t due to arrive in Oslo until after ten o’clock this morning, we sipped our coffee and watched seaside villages pass our balcony. Norwegian flags flying from homes and boats, were such a cheerful greeting to this lovely country.
We are so happy to be docked right in the city of Oslo, rather than a cruise ship dock many miles away from the center of things. We are docked right along side Akershus Fortress. We laced up our walking shoes and started our self-guided tour at the City Hall of Oslo (Radhuset) to see some rustic, yet very beautiful wood cravings that illustrate Scenes from Norwegian mythology. Some of these tales, which are totally unknown to me, are incredibly gruesome. The Grimm fairy tales have nothing on these stories. We also stood in awe at the murals inside the central hall, (where each December the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded). Artists from post WWII have painted murals that depict scenes such as the German blitzkrieg, a Norwegian family with a child clutching a Norwegian flag as Gestapo bursts into their living room and resistance soldiers being executed. It’s absolutely chilling, not only due to the horrific subject matter, but also due to the color and style the artists chose. Another wall has a more uplifting tableau, with mother Norway, symbols of Culture, Philosophy, Family and Charity. Very, very moving!
We stopped at the Bacchus Cafe for a local beer and charcuterie plate to share. The bread, served with whipped butter and meats served with sour cream also whipped, were delicious! The server responded, when I asked her what was in the sour cream, that it is just local organic dairy, and that all visitors comment on it. Happy cows are in Norway, maybe our California cows aren’t so happy?
We continued down Karl Johans Gate parade ground from train station to royal palace, the king was in the county because the Norwegian flag is flying. Constitution Day in May, is celebrated with childrens bands and costumed, flag-waving marching children. As Rick Steves says, the Norwegians chose to celebrate their children rather than their military during this major national holiday. The gardens, tree-lined walkways and elegant buildings along our hike, demonstrate the the nature loving and respectful nature of Oslo. Barry and I will return here in about a week and I am looking forward to seeing it all!