A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: weary_feet

35: Mad Dash

semi-overcast 20 °C
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A nice calm start for Bookie and Conductor on their last day of their trip (and my last day of my Arctic Exploration Trip). We spent the morning, going to see the Nobel Peace Prize Museum. As someone who has seen both, skip the Oslo exhibition and go to the Stockholm one.. much more informative! The Peace Prize museum gave us a quick overview of previous peace prize winners.. The one’s that struck me are as follows:
- Kissinger (and his North Vietnamese counterpart) were awarded the prize for signing the peace treaty over Vietnam—the N Vietnamese guy refused to accept!—I mean Christ, how can you get an award for pulling out of a war that you shouldn’t have been in and were only leaving for economic and political reasons??
- About 5 different people were awarded the prize in the 20s and 30s for the founding of the League of Nations.. well that was a waste of time wasn’t it?
- Many US presidents have received the prize.. for what???? Carter was awarded for reconciliation work in the Middle East… Obama has been awarded for his speech about putting out an olive branch to Muslim people

Of course there are deserving winners.. The one’s that stuck in my mind were:
- This guy in Bangladesh (I never can remember his name) who won the award for setting up this bank in Bangladesh which is only for poor people.. Basically they are able to obtain loans from him in order to start their own businesses at a very low rate of interest (almost nothing) and a percentage of their wages goes to pay back the loan. I’ve seen a doco about the guy, he has also set up a company in Bangladesh providing interest free loans for solar panels for people’s roofs so that they can run a tv and a fluro light… Its kinda like a Amart interest free scheme, except that they can pay the panels back over something like 10 yrs! All of the panels are made in Bangladesh and so not only are the panels for Bangladeshis they are also made there creating more jobs.. A very deserving winner.. He was awarded the prize because the Nobel committee agreed that his low rate interest loans are pulling people out of poverty which in the long run is the only way to create a lasting peace throughout the world.
- Mother Theresa (of course)
- Yasser Arafat and Yiksak Rabeen (I know the spelling is bad) for calling a ceasefire in Palestine
- Mandella

We went for a bit of a walk after the museum before it was time for Bookie and Conductor to hit the road for the long journey home to AU (we did cut it kinda thin with only 5min to spare to getting them on the bus for the airport! Have the cramps gone away yet Bookie?). I spent the afternoon “netting” and then went out to see Harry Potter VII Part II (for the record, it’s the best one so far).

This is Weary signing out for the Arctic Explorer Blog and signing in on the Teutonic Tales Blog- Denmark, Poland and Germany.

Posted by weary_feet 23:36 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

34: Contorted Shapes

rain 18 °C
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Early start this morning as we wanted to get maximum use out of our Oslo Pass. Headed out to the Vigelands Park first thing via Oslo’s very effective tram system. Vigelands was designed by a Norwegian Sculpture by the name of Vigeland. The park’s main draw card is a road lined by human sculptures. It was really nice to get out and go for a walk but the sculptures really aren’t my cup of tea.

The rain started up again this morning so after seeing the sculptures we decided to go and see Akhus Castle before having some lunch. To begin we decided to enter the Resistance Museum. The museum outlines the impact of WWII on Norway and the impact of the resistance movement on the Nazi offensive. It’s probably one of the best museums I’ve entered in a while.. Really interesting tales and facts. A couple of amusing facts that I discovered at the museum;
- one of the ways that the pow’s received the resistance radio signal was by rigging up a crystal radios in people’s dentures!
- Dental health issues in Norway were reduced during the war years because sugar was heavily rationed by the Nazi’s!
- One POW’s (who was in isolation) only means of communicating was by writing his diary (using a pin prick) on toilet paper
Clearly it wasn’t all lighthearted information in the museum, most of it was quite compelling and in some cases shocking. As I was wandering through the museum, I spent some time contemplating whether or not I would join a resistance movt if another world war broke out and our country was attacked.. I would like to think that I would be happy to sacrifice my life either in the armed forces or as a resistance fighter to ensure others could live a free life but on the flip side………. I came to the conclusion that it is the sort of question you can only answer if you are ever placed in that position. Many Norwegian’s sacrificed their lives in order to protect others (as did millions of people throughout both wars from all nations).
On a lighter note, after leaving the Resistance Museum we went next door to the Akhus Castle. This castle was originally built in the late 1300s as the main fortress to protect the then city of Christiania. The castle was added to over the years to what we see today by the 1500s. It is the first real medieval feeling castle that I have entered in Europe (all the others have been 1700s styled castles). It had the stone floors and the wooden buttressed ceilings and the watch towers, dungeons and crenellations! Just awesome! Apparently a ghost or two still haunts the castle but we missed out on seeing it!

By now the rain was really coming down so we adjourned back to our digs for lunch. The rain had eased by about 4pm so we headed to see the Munch Museum. Munch is the famous painter who painted “The Scream” amongst others. He lead quite a torturous life, constantly struggling between alcohol and depression (hence the weird paintings). He died at quite an old age (mid 80s) in his house in Oslo, leaving more than 1100 works of his own art to the city of Oslo. The artwork that he left behind is the basis for the Munch Museum. Personally, I’m probably not the biggest fan of his artwork, I did really enjoy his pencil drawings more than his paintings. His pencil rendition of ‘The Scream’ and the ‘Madonna’ are much better (in my opinion) than the oil paintings! I have to give him credit though.. you can tell when you see a “master’s” painting.. the brush strokes are so vivid that up close it just looks like a bunch of lines, and then you move back a couple of meters and those brush strokes all blend together, adding the subtle colour and shape definition to give you an incredible painting.

To finish the day we boarded another train and headed up outside of Oslo to their new Ski Stadium, which was built for last year’s world cup. The centerpiece of this ski area is this huge ski jump. When you get up close to one of those jumps it is incredible to think that anyone would have the guts to actually take off on one… Imagine the biggest roller coaster you’ve been on and then imagine it double the height (at least) and you come close to what a ski jump’s angle is like! Conductor and I couldn’t resist but go on this simulation of the Ski Jump and a Men’s Downhill event… The G’s that are created on that downhill is just incredible.. there is no way you are ever, ever going to get me even close to one of those ski runs or the jump for that matter!

By now it was pretty late so we headed home to find some dinner on our last night together before Bookie and Conductor head on home to AU (for the record we had fish soup—Bookie and Weary—and some Plaice for Conductor.. it also wasn’t the cheapest meal that Conductor has ever paid for….!)

Posted by weary_feet 23:21 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

33: From Viking to Kon Tiki

rain 17 °C
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Got going at our usual 9am today with the plan to go and see the Folk Museum, Viking Museum and the Kon Tiki Museum. Unfortunately the weather has turned on us today and it started out overcast with rain likely! Not great when one of your plans is an outdoor museum.

We decided to purchase the Oslo pass (most cities from what I can discover all seem to offer some sort of discount card for a price.. this card normally gives you free entry or a discounted rate to most tourist attractions in a city). So far, for me, it hasn’t been worth my while to get a pass (because unless you plan to do a heap of museums etc in one or two days it isn’t worth the money) but today it was going to be worth the cash so we bought one. The pass gives us access to nearly all attractions in Oslo and includes free public transport or parking! Not a bad deal if you are only going to be in a city for a day or two.

Using our pass we boarded the public ferry and went out to see the museums (they are all located about 10min off shore from the downtown region of Oslo). Because of the likelihood of rain we did the outdoor folk museum first. The museum itself is set up like a lot of those sort of attractions- lots of old buildings and people doing tasks that they would have done a few hundred years ago (think the Norwegian version of Old Sydney Town). Highlight of the museum was going to the bakery where a couple of girls were cooking Lefske. Lefske seemed to be a cross between a pancake and a scone.. Really tasty and we grabbed the recipe so watch out for some Lefske coming soon to Tweed Heads!

After the folk museum (and an all-day gob stopper) we took off for the Viking Museum. The Viking Museum is actually a huge building that houses 3 Viking ships that were discovered inside Viking burial mounds back before 1000AD. I was blown away, here are these huge Viking ships over a thousand years old and you would think that they are replicas that were built yesterday. The preservation of these ships is astounding. The ships were discovered at the turn of the last century after these particular burial mounds were excavated. Inside the mounds they found whole ships (and the ships are at least 30m long and at least that high!), complete with oars, food, cooking utensils, horse drawn carriages, weapons—you name something that you would have used back then and it was buried inside these mounds.. The amazing thing is that all of the artifacts that survived were all wood! I find it amazing that wood can survive over a thousand years buried underground! Apparently the main reason the artifacts are so well preserved is because they were buried in clay, covered in rocks and then had another layer of clay placed on top. This amount of clay has been impervious to water meaning that the wood has survived!

Our day didn’t finish there! By now it had started to steadily rain so we decided to go back to the ferry and go around and see the Kon Tiki museum. Kon Tiki was a voyage undertaken by Thor Heyerdahl and 6 other Norwegian sailors in 1947. The unique thing about the Kon Tiki is that it was a raft built of balsa wood as similar to that built by South American sailors back before the conquistadors. Thor wanted to prove a theory- that the Polynesian Islands could have been colonised by South American people as opposed to people migrating across the pacific from Asia/ Australia. To prove the theory he built a raft and sailed it across the pacific (using currents and winds) to one of the Polynesian Islands. Looking at the raft today I’m amazed he got it across the Pacific! I mean it is a big raft but still it is a raft!

After conquering the Pacific in his raft (and going onto world renown) he then went onto build two papyrus boats, Ra I and Ra II and also led successful archeological digs to Easter Island. He was the first to explain how the Easter Island monoliths had been moved and was the first to really carry out an archeological research on the island. The museum (and really Thor himself) is a pretty inspiring! It is amazing what human beings can do when they really want to!

We finished our museum hopping by seeing the Fram. The Fram is the original ice breaker that aided the first successful crossing of the North Pole by Nansen. It was also used by Amundsen to be the first man to cross the South Pole. The ship is still in great shape and it looks like you could it take it out tomorrow and go for a sail!

Finished the day off with some McDs (after spending a good hour in a pub waiting for the rain to ease) before heading in for an early night.

Posted by weary_feet 13:03 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

32: Big Mistake

sunny 20 °C
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Relaxing start as we were heading out on the 11.40 train to Oslo.. Or so I thought.. For some reason I had checked the train tickets the night before and was certain we were leaving at 11.40. So we headed down to the train station about 10.30 with a plan to look through the museum and then board the train bound for Oslo.

Well the 11am train arrived and Bookie and I were having a great old chuckle over the amount of people running to catch the train as it had been sitting at the station for 30min and of course everyone decided to jump on board… Anyway the 11am train pulled away and 10min later I decided to pull out the tickets to check our seat numbers from Merdyl to Oslo to discover that our tickets were for the 11am not 11.40 as I was so certain we needed!

An hour later and 300 dollars we had changed our trip to 4.05pm and now had a whole day to kill in Flam (which considering we had done a lot of walking the day before was going to be difficult). Bookie sat down and did what she does well whilst Conductor and I decided to walk alongside the bank on the other side of the fjord. The walk took us passed the town and out towards the sea. Part of the route was some rocks designated as rock paintings from the iron age period. Both conductor and I tried very hard to see these rock pictures to no avail (to the point where we were joking that the archeologists had gotten a lot of kudos for nothing!) A good 15min later and at least 6 rocks later we are still walking along this route to finally discover that there weren’t any rock paintings on the rocks at all but that the council had done a tribute to the petroglyphs by making the pictures by using shrubs planted together (into a sort of shaped hedge) on the side of the fjord! It was pretty amusing, here are the two of us peering at these rocks trying to make out pictures and trying to convince each other that a couple of dots represented this or that picture when we finally discovered what the route and the rocks were all about!

4pm finally rolled around and we took off on the Flam railway. Again the journey out of the valley was just amazing.. I think I got better pictures this time around because the sun was shining brighter and was coming from a better angle to photograph the valley so I was a pretty happy camper! We had to wait almost an hour in Merdyl for our train back to Oslo and when it showed up we were pleasantly surprised to see how beautiful and comfortable the train was! We were sitting in first class (as there wasn’t any second class seats left) and it was quiet (not even a third of the seats were filled) and we got free coffee and tea!

The train trip from Merdyl to Honefoss must be one of the most scenic in the world. Just beautiful. Apparently it is the highest train journey in Europe and it wasn’t therefore surprising for us to find quite a bit of snow still up in the higher parts. As we climbed through the mountains the scenery reminded me greatly of Spitsbergen (minus the enormous glaciers and ice bergs!)- lots of lakes, running streams, rocky hills capped in snow and the occasional cottage. Very few trees at that altitude just a lot of shrubby things. Really spectacular… (For those reading, if you want to see the scenery of Spitsbergen, minus the animals and ice and for a lot cheaper price, take my advice and ride the Bergen to Oslo train!)

It was a real shame for us to have to hop off the train at Honefoss and board a bus for the final leg of our journey to Oslo (they are doing track work in Oslo so the train station is closed) as the train had been luxuriously pleasurable! Arrived into Oslo on time at 10.30 and hit the sack for a well-deserved sleep.. A big mistake ended up working out ok!

Posted by weary_feet 01:13 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

31: Torrent

sunny 21 °C
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Another glorious day (gee we’ve been lucky with the weather these last few days—shorts and t-shirts most days) for our trip into Flam. The Flam railway runs from Merdyl (on the Bergen/ Oslo line) into Flam. It is known as one of the great railway rides and after travelling down the mountain I can understand why. The hour long trip starts at about 800m above sea level and descends down into the Fjord to the small town of Flam. The 20km trip has 20 tunnels and the most amazing vistas. At one point the train stops to show you the biggest most amazing waterfall that comes over the mountain and crashes down into the river that eventually flows to Flam. It’s really well setup because you can get off the train, they have traditional Norwegian music playing and this enormous, huge, wet waterfall spilling over the mountain top! Just awesome.

After arriving in Flam (after heaps of photos) we went hunting for our digs before starting a walk through the Flam valley to see another waterfall. The township of Flam itself is tourist heaven—more souvenir shops per square cm than most other areas, plenty of cafes, and of course tourist operators all waiting to steal your money for the chance to head out into the fjord itself. Considering the amount of “fjording” we have done on the Hurtigruten we decided to skip the fjord boat trip and just stay wandering around the shore line checking out the old town and the surrounding farms. The residents of Flam are pretty lucky.. the view of this fjord is pretty special. V steep sheer mountain sides and a sparkling fjord.. Just awesome.

Ended up the day buying some dinner and cooking a pork and vege dinner before finishing off with another game of cards. Back to Oslo tomorrow for the last couple of days of this part of the trip.

Posted by weary_feet 01:11 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

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