We got an early start and took a bus to Bygdøy a peninsula on the western side of Oslo where many of the most popular museums are located. Armed with the 48-Hr Oslo Pass, we toured the most popular of museums in Oslo.
Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) presents great Viking ship discoveries from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. These ships were found in three large burial mounds where they had been buried to serve as vessels for their rich owners’ final journey to the realm of the dead, Valhalla.
The Osberg ship, built around 820 AD was used as a burial ship for a powerful woman and her maid-servant in 834 AD. The ship is constructed of oak timbers and is 21.5m long and 5m wide. The ship was fully manned with a crew of 32 men, including the helmsman and the lookout. In a burial chamber in the ship, the dead women were laid out in a ready-made bed. Their ship also contained a fantastic collection of burial gifts for use in the life hereafter; e.g. three elaborate sledges, a wagon, five carved animal heads, five beds and the skeletons of 12 horses.
The Gokstad ship was built around 890 AD and was used as a burial ship for a chieftain around 900 AD. The ship is about 23m long and about 5m wide; fully equipped with 32 shields on each side, painted alternately in gold and black. In the burial chamber lay the body of a man in his 40s.
Grave robbers had long since plundered the grave; no weapons were found among the burial gifts, but the finds included a game board with game pieces, a harness fitting of iron, lead and gilded bronze, kitchen utensils, six beds, one tent, a sledge and three small boats. Also buried in the grave were 12 horses, 6 dogs, and a peacock.
The Kon-Tiki Museum showcases the legendary expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002). Thor gained worldwide fame when he crossed the Pacific Ocean on the Kon-Tiki in 1947. He followed this up with spectacular expeditions on the reed boats Ra and Tigris. His recreations of prehistoric voyages showed that early man had mastered sailing before the saddle and wheel were invented. His reputation as a scientist was consolidated through his archaeological excavations on the fabled, mysterious Easter Island. Here, the munchkins and I were intrigued by the expedition journals of Thor and his wife, Liv.
Maritime & Fram Museums
We also explored the Norwegian Maritime Museum and the Fram Museum. The Fram Museum houses the world’s most famous polar ship and about the men, like Roald Amundsen, who made these expeditions possible.
Norsk Folke Museum
Lastly, we explored the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History or Norsk Folkemuseum. We had been most looking forward to this one as we have volunteered as living history interpreters in the past. However, much like Skansen in Stockholm, there was only one due to the fact that it was off-season. MeiLi became very disappointed in this .. many of the historic buildings were also closed .. and we became a little gloomy. We thereby missed the stave church … but it likely would’ve been closed as well. The nice thing about travel in the off-season, however, is we had the entire place to ourselves. There were no lines … no one stepping in front of our cameras … no crowds whatsoever.
Rather than take the bus again, we boarded a small boat or water taxi and returned to mainland Oslo. Craving fish & chips, we selected Amunsen Bryggeri & Spiseri … a local brewery and pub for dinner. We did a little shopping … and then boarded the bus once again for Frogner Park.
Frognerparken is a public park located in the borough of Frogner in Oslo, Norway. The park contains the world famous Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigelandsparken) designed by Gustav Vigeland as well as various bridges, fountains and a well known picnic area, popular in the summer for sunbathing, games, and relaxation. The sculpture park was my favorite tourist attraction in Scandinavia. I was previously unfamiliar with Vigeland’s work and I now count him among my all-time favorite.
We wandered about the park, taking many photographs and enjoying the incredible artistry of Vigeland’s work. MeiLi also enjoyed playing an interactive iPhone game, Den Hemmelige Parken. We weren’t able to visit the museum in his honor, however, but vowed to return.
We thereby returned to our hotel and crashed … it had been a long day.