Norway - Oslo & Bergen - Wednesday, August 27, 2003

We spent ten days in Norway to return to Dave's Norwegian (& German) roots... We began our jet lag/head cold recovery in the beautiful, modern town of Oslo. A harbor city with ferries, trams, and modern buildings mixed with those from the 19th century, Oslo was a great place to play tourist for a few days. And were we ever quite the tourists.... Here are some of the places we stopped:

Our first touristy stop was Akershus Castle from 1200's - This ancient castle guarding the Oslo harbor was taken over by the Nazi's when the King fled to London during WWII. After touring the castle, we listened to a sympony playing on the grounds and visited the Nazi Resistance Museum. It was pretty amazing how the Norwegians, with their small population and virtually non-existant military forces, became a big thorn in the German's side.

After a quick water taxi ride across the harbor we visited the Thor Heyerdahl Kon-Tiki Museum. It was interesting to learn about this explorer's exploits in the South Pacific and other places around the world with his balsa wood and reed boats. We the took a quick walk to the Viking Ship Museum to see some of the ancient boats the crazy marauding red heads used to put fear into the hearts of Europe. To continue our day of tourism, we went to the Norwegian Heritage Museum and learned of the history and culture of this beautiful country. They have recreated an old village by relocating old buildings as well as a Stave Church, and all the people are dressed in period costumes.

On our way to dinner we made a stop at Frogner Park, which is like a Central Park of Oslo. Besides the beautiful layout and grounds, the main feature is a display of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, Norway's most well known sculpture artist. Too bad our camera batteries decided to die after one shot while looking at the sculptures. You can see a few in the one photo we did take.

The next day we took off for Bergen, a beautiful harbor town on the west coast, and where Dave's Great Great Grandfather was a lighthouse keeper (Right Mom??). The best part of the journey was the amazing 7 hour train ride over the mountains. It is considered Europes highest rail journey and it didn't dissapoint. We saw much beautiful countryside, lakes, rivers, glaciers, and houses with grass roofs. On arrival into Oslo, we did a long walking tour of the beautiful town. High on our list were the amazing area called "The Bryggen" which is a UNESCO World Heritage listed collection of some of the original buildings the town was founded on.

After getting the lay of the city, we took a Funicular Railway up to a mountain overlooking the town and harbor. We caught a beautiful late summer sunset over the harbor followed by a great downhill hike back into town. Other highlights of Bergen - the fish market with all the smoked salmon Marisa could ever want (we also had reindeer and elk sausage and could have had smoked whale too!). Oh, by the way the Norwegian folk tales are laced with stories about Trolls and hobbit type creatures. They are statues everywhere.

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