I slept pretty well, even though the pillow was basically a pancake. Eric said he woke up for a while around 2:30am because the ship was rocking so bad. He said he could hear items sliding and rolling around in the distance. I guess because it was a fairly small ship and because the weather was extremely windy and borderline rainy the waves were very noticeable.
We went to the buffet again for breakfast, and it was okay. They had a variety of breakfast items that would be familiar to American styles, British styles, and Nordic styles. Then we spent the final hours sitting up on the top deck watching the ship come into Oslo. It was gorgeous, sunny, and calm, not at all like the gray rain and wind we left in Copenhagen.
Getting off the ship was shockingly easy. We just sort of shuffled off with everyone else. There was no border patrol, no ID check, no security, just walk off the ship from Denmark and stroll into Norway. Thanks, Schengen! We caught a taxi right away who drove us to the Oslo Central Station where our hotel was located. Even though we arrived to the hotel at 10:30am they were able to find a room ready for us! So we went ahead and got settled in our room first. It was very nice to have a larger room. The first room in Copenhagen was in a sweet little hotel but it was very small and clearly the building was old. And the cruise ship cabin was easily the smallest one I’ve ever seen. So finding a more modern, funky room was very welcome. We also stopped in the tourist information office to buy the 72 hour Oslo Pass. No more FwCC, now it’s Free with Oslo Pass (FwOP!).
Having our hotel literally inside and adjoining the Oslo Central Station was the best idea. We were able to quickly walk to the metro (which they call the T-Bane so we felt at home with all the T signs!), and ride a couple stops toward the ferries. We were right on time to catch a ferry to Bygdøy where we would spend the day visiting museums. The ferry and all the museums were FwOP! Our first stop was my top priority, The Viking Ship Museum. It was as crowded with tour groups and buses as anywhere else we’ve ever visited, maybe on par with the Vatican. We wriggled our way through and around and enjoyed the collection.
After a small snack at their food shop we walked over to the Norwegian Folk Museum. That is an open air “museum” with several distinct areas of recreated buildings and some relocated/reconstructed buildings. It gives you a first hand look into daily life for Norwegians from different regions from about 1500 onward to almost present day. I was really excited to see and go inside the stave church there. This one was relocated and reassembled as part of a king’s private collection. It was originally from the 1200s, and as many of the old stave churches burned down there are very few you can visit now. The ones that are still standing were not going to be accessible to us on this trip so we were excited to see one in person this way. The next highlight for me was a short guided talk about the process of death and grieving in the rural towns of the 1700s. A costumed guide explained all about the customs and traditions related to death, dying, burial, and grieving in the context of this replica neighborhood we were in so we were able to picture everything and move through the process with her. After that we came upon some performers playing traditional Norwegian instruments and demonstrating folk dances. That was absolutely fantastic.
And finally we moved into a more modern Norwegian city mock up. There was a very cool three level building/tenement that had been restored and they recreated several apartments within it to show who lived there throughout the century. It was really cool to read the stories of families who lived in each apartment and see them furnished the way they had been in the 1860s, 1900s, 1940, and 1970. It was very well done. Oh, also in the city area of the museum was a few mock up shops like a bank, a liquor store, and my favorite, a dentist office. They had dental office mock ups from pre-1900, early 1900s, 1930s, and more modern. The history was very interesting and seeing the foot-pedal dental drill was kind of disturbing. Overall that was a really great museum/experience, but it sort of lacked guidance and information about how it is put together and best enjoyed.
We were pretty overloaded on museums again by this point, but we decided that we may as well check out the Fram museum before taking the ferry back to the city since we were already over there and it was, after all, FwOP. We didn’t know much about the polar expeditions before coming here, we hadn’t even heard of the Fram before. This museum actually has the ship fully rebuilt inside and taking up most of the building! Around the perimeter is information on all the people and animals involved in the several expeditions along with some collected items, and the center is the ship itself. You can actually go aboard and explore it, too. We thought you could just stand on deck and look at it, but you can actually go down below and see everything from the galley, the bunks, a lounge area, and all the way down to the boiler room. So that was cool. Adjoining that room and exhibit is another fully built ship named Gjøa. There was a room full of information on her voyages, too, and we read they are working to make it accessible to the public soon just like he Fram but it wasn’t when we were there. I think there was a movie to watch and probably more stuff to read and see than we did, but we just couldn’t absorb any more information. There was a beautiful green park outside the Fram museum so we spent a short while taking photos there and getting a view of Oslo from across he water. Then we rode the ferry back across, and took the T to the hotel.
After a short rest we chose a restaurant just downstairs from our hotel in a shopping center adjoining the central station. It was a lounge that served burgers and sides and sounded super good. Their vegetarian burger was excellent and I got to try my first Norwegian beer which was also excellent. We grabbed some ice cream bars from a shop and went back to the hotel to relax. We were exhausted.
My first impression of Oslo was that it is bigger and more modern than Copenhagen. The residents there seem far more diverse, the pace seems more metropolitan, and it just had a big city feel to it when we first arrived. Copenhagen was crowded in its own right, but it felt like a slower pace, and the buildings all seemed older and more charming. Also the sun set 45 mins later in Oslo and rose at a time that started with a 3. Ugh.